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Pasquini Livietta bottomless portafilter - to chop or not?

Postby russel on Sat Apr 28, 2012 12:52 am

So, I'm almost done with the functional restoration of an '85 Livietta. The one thing that I'm missing is a double basket that fits in the stock 54mm PF. I have a single and a larger double that will fit a bottomless PF. I don't really want to bother acquiring a vintage double, it's hard to find and expensive. I'd rather use a bottomless PF. What I can't decide is whether or not to chop my vintage PF, buy one of Richard's from OE, or try to have my local machinist make one for me. I feel irresponsible cutting up the original PF but it would cost $30 or less (I wish that I could do it myself...but I don't have time to track down access to a drill press the the proper sized bit, cut, and then finish), and without a double I'm not likely to use it. The espressme PFs are $150. I'm not sure if having a custom made one would be any less, but it would be helpful to have a source of custom bottomless PFs for my current and future restoration projects (I currently need a 51mm and two 49mms in addition to the 54mm).

Would I be doing something really wrong by chopping the original PF, or am I being overly sensitive/sentimental about the machine's "complete-ness"?
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Postby jonny on Sat Apr 28, 2012 2:59 am

I don't think you'd be doing anything wrong, but if I were in your position, I would not cut the original. It is nice to have a spouted pf and if you cut the one you have and ever wanted spouts, it would be near impossible to find another original pf somewhere. The Penney portafilters are very nice. If you have the money, go for that. If you know you are a bottomless portafilter kind of guy, and resale value doesn't matter, chop away as long as you know it will be done well. As far as baskets go, Orphan Espresso was carrying a nice range of modified La San Marco 54 mm baskets but now they only have the "16" and "21" gram sizes in stock. You could contact them and see if they plan on getting any more in stock. The "12" gram size probably would be close to the original basket size. Anyways, that's my input. It's all about what you personally value.
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Postby Cafedenda on Sat Apr 28, 2012 3:54 am

As I am also into other vintage stuff, if the PF is in very good to mint condition I'd keep it original. However, it does seem like home baristas don't have as high esteem for nice original condition so you probably won't lose much on resale. In fact, we'd probably pay more for one with chopped PF if you write the ad correctly.
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Postby opother on Sat Apr 28, 2012 4:41 am

No! Do not chop the original. You already went this far restoring it.

Buy the bottomless one for your machine, sit around and wait for the right sized basket for your original to pop up. That is my vote.

In my experience bottomless brews do not taste the same either.

I wonder if a slightly oversized 54mm basket insert can be found and ground down a tad, just enough to fit, (something I never tried.)

I don't fault you for wanting to have a machinist do it for you but if you want to do it yourself this is my experience.

For all the work you will put into chopping your hard to find and get portafilter you might as well buy another more common, plentiful, cheaper (in price not quality) 54mm portafilter and put all the work into modifying it to fit your machine.

I would try to find a 54mm that is already bottomless and lean towards carefully filing down the ears to fit your machine. You can use your original portafilter as a model to duplicate.

If they don't make any bottomless 54mm candidates then you would have to make it bottomless also or if it takes your large double basket maybe you can live without bottomless. It would take a bit of research to find the right candidate. I am not familiar with your machine so I can't say for sure if it can be done but I think with all the different stuff out there it's not inconceivable.

Of coures the the most practical way is to buy one already made for your machine which I admit would be relatively costly compared to buying a more standardized one and modifying it yourself.

Consider that the amount of time and work you will put into either modifying (some would say destroying) your original portafilter or modifying another type to work on your machine will probably add up to much more cost (in time and labor) than just buying a customized one.

I have done it myself. I once ordered a "commercial portafilter for Rancilio" and was sent one with the wrong sized ears (too thick) and a rim that was ever so slightly too wide. Since this was a nice thick portafilter compared to the old first of the first generation cheapo original Silvia portafilter (they use good commercial portafilters on Silvia these days but not way back) I did not want to let it go. I ever so carefully filed the the ears and rim (you can always remove but you can't put back what you file away) and got it to fit perfectly, but it was a lot of work. I would choose not to repeat the experience again if given the choice (I should have just sent it back.)

I later made it bottomless as well (using a hand drill with 1/8 inch bit {I made a circle of tiny holes} and file I don't have a machine shop) which I admit was less work than retrofitting it to Silvia but it was still work nevertheless. It is not a full width bottomless though, as I did not want to decrease it's thickness too much (the thickness is why I like it and chose to keep it.)

It does not allow taller baskets to poke through the bottom but I made it bottomless to observe the flow and get bottomless flavors (yes bottomless does change brew characteristics) not to accomodate bigger baskets (it would be nice if it did but I could live without it.)

I still have this portafilter. It is currently the thickest portafilter I own and it fits my Brewtus.

Of course if you have access to a machine shop and enough machinist skills the above issues may be moot and simple as pie.

Maybe you can have a machinist modify a more standard 54mm portafilter to fit your machine using your original portafilter as a template and perhaps even your machine to test its fit. If it spurs the machinist's curiosity enough he may want to do it.

Would that cost too much more ?

Here are some pics of my chopped portafilter note file marks on bottom of ears and rear of rim near handle.

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Note triple basket can not poke through bottom

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Note the thickness of my modded portafilter compared to the fully cut portafilter that came with the Brewtus. This is a good example of the thinness of your typical full cutout bottomless portafilter.

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Now with the standard fictional "LM Ridgeless" double basket there is no problem with fit

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Of course with Brewtus's temperature controller and bigger thermal mass the heat retention of a thicker portafilter does not matter as much as it probably did with Silvia.

Does it matter with Pasquini Livietta ?

I still have a fondness for the nice thick bottomless portafilter and now that I think about I am going to start using it on Brewtus again for pulling shots rather than just back flushing just to see if there are any differences however small (again.) I never did figure out what machine this portafilter was originally made for.
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Postby cannonfodder on Sat Apr 28, 2012 11:02 pm

Get yourself a hole saw for your drill. Put the portafilter in a vice. Use the pilot drill bit to centre it with the portafilter and drill it out. I use a drill press but you could use a hand drill. Then sand the portafilter smooth and you are in business.r
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Postby russel on Thu May 10, 2012 2:54 pm

I solved my problem, and all for $15. I decided not to chop the PF. I'm a big fan of bottomless PF, especially on a machine that doesn't see everyday use, I find that it speeds up dialing in and lets me quickly identify technique issues and correct them on the next shot. Never the less I couldn't bring myself to cut up an original part that can't be replaced. Anyway, I started looking around for other machines with 54mm baskets and bumped into the Della Corte Mini, a machine that I hade never bothered to read up on because I find the carbon fiber group cover to be ridiculous. I called WLL, they redirected me to the US importer, Absolute Espresso. I called, they were very nice, they had several 54mm basket sizes, and for $15 including shipping I have a new 54mm double basket that fits in the 54mm Livietta PF without trimming or other modifications. I've pulled a few shots and they have been pretty good. The basket is the absolute largest that will fit in the PF. I think that the outer edge is in contact with the bottom of the PF and I'm not sure if the tight fit will effect shot quality.

If some other Livietta owners out there are looking for a double basket that will fit the 54mm PF (or a single or triple for that matter) the Della Corte Mini baskets seem to be an option.
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Postby SpromoSapiens on Fri Oct 12, 2012 12:03 am

I know this is an old thread, but I've been thinking about finding a bottomless PF for my Livietta and I'm not sure where to look, as individual spare Livietta/Maximatic PFs don't seem to surface very often and I don't intend to plunk down the dough for a Penny PF, beautiful and finely-crafted though they may be. Pardon my confusion, but was it your solution, Russel, to use a Dalla Corte PF on your Livietta, or was it only a basket that you co-opted? Do you think a Dalla Corte PF would and be suitable for the purposes of making bottomless for a Livietta without sacrificing the stock PF?
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Postby russel on Fri Oct 12, 2012 5:56 pm

I only used the Della Corte basket. I just bumped into this issue again. There is a Livietta being sold around me that lacks a PF. OE does not sell 54mm Penny PFs at the moment. If any Della Corte Mini owners out there have an extra PF that they would be willing to send to either me or Howard I would be happy to pay the postage just for the opportunity to test this out. There are a lot of poorly cared for used 54mm Liviettas out there, and a source for replacement PFs would do a lot to bring them back into service.
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Postby drgary on Sat Oct 13, 2012 4:13 am

The Dalla Corte Mini and Super Mini are still being made. I'm told by someone who tried the Mini that it's an excellent machine. If you can't find a used portafilter you might contact the USA rep.

Dalla Corte Espresso Coffee Systems
1305 Thornin Court
28405 Wilmington N.C.

Tel.: (805) 331-0564
Fax: (910) 792-6043

skip[at]dallacorte.com
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Postby russel on Sat Oct 13, 2012 6:41 pm

The Dalla Corte Mini and Super Mini are still being made. I'm told by someone who tried the Mini that it's an excellent machine. If you can't find a used portafilter you might contact the USA rep.


Thats exactly the idea. I think that it's probably worth my time and money to test this out. I'll contact Dalla Corte and see how much a PF will run me. If its reasonable I'll have one sent out west and see if it fits the 54mm Livietta.
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