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Astoria Propane Madness!

Postby Chad C. on Sun Jul 17, 2011 12:45 am

I finally got a propane tank for my Astoria. Dialing in its regulator was a bit finicky, but it's holding steady at 1.0 BAR. Very steady. More so than with the stat. It's stat is new, and cycles between about 2 atmospheres. The stat for the propane system is also diaphragmatic, but it holds amazingly steady. It also responds instantly to the opening of the steam valve. The resting flames rise instantly in response to the steam valve opening. Very cool. It also seems to recover a bit faster with the propane than on 110v.

Is a propane set-up really more thermally stable than 110v?

I also gave the machine a new set of legs today. They're a set that I've had sitting around for a long time, but I believe they're available from Espressoparts. They're the same brushed stainless as the machine, and they're longer. They also adjust out longer than the original legs, making it easier to get a steaming picture under the machine, and easier to clean under the machine. It also makes the Astoria look a little bit more bad ass.


The pic below shows the machine's flame tube, its electric (battery operated) push button ignition component on the left, and its thermocouple on the right, which defeats the incoming gas when a flame is not detected.
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Below is a look through the hole in the back splash as the machine was coming up to temp.

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Below is a look at my set-up from the neighbor's back porch.
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Here's a shot of the new legs:
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I have several espresso machines, but this one is my favorite. Thanks for allowing me to show it off.
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Postby zretineo1979 on Sun Jul 17, 2011 8:22 am

That is a HOT set up! Love the gas! I have a 1974 Faema with a gas option. It was installed when I got it. I think I will have to make sure it functions properly when I put her back together. That gas is neat! Great set up! :D How much did your gas option end up running? Was it worth the effort in the end?
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Postby Chad C. on Sun Jul 17, 2011 11:07 am

Thanks! I was really excited to get the propane system up & running yesterday. I had gone through the propane system that was with it when I got it, and it looked like it had never been used. I took apart the propane regulator, the 3 way safety valve and I de-gunked its thermocouple probe. After 20 minutes of f-ing with it, it held a steady 1 BAR. My out of pocket expense was the propane regulator hose, and the 15 gallon tank. Together, they cost about $85. Totally worth it!


I got this machine in trade for $300, installing its replacement, and providing its replacement with an 18 month service warranty. Good deal! It had always been used with an Everpure filtration system, and a look in the boiler through the heating element (110v) hole showed how well the Everpure worked. In addition to inspecting the propane option, I've pressure washed it, given it new inner & outer piston gaskets, group gaskets, screens, new stainless longer legs, and a naked PF.

I totally recommend the propane option. For its temperature stability, ( I could be wrong, but it seems to beat that of my 110v system) its increased autonomy, and for fun playing with FIRE, it's tough to beat. I'm surprised more people don't do it. These can be connected to natural gas as well...
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Postby Clint Orchuk on Sun Jul 17, 2011 1:53 pm

It's completely stable thermally. If you get the regulator set right, it will maintain absolutely constant pressure. I never have to fool around with the lower screw, just the upper one if I want to increase or decrease the set pressure.

Chad, what jet did you end up using? My kit came with a 65 and a 75 for propane and a 110 and a 135 for natural gas. The 65 and the 75 were useless (too small) so I went to the bigger natural gas jets even though I ran it on propane. It heated up super fast, but the soot buildup was spectacular and so was the mess. I got an 85 propane jet which is equivalent in heat output to the 135 natural gas jet, so now it heats up fast and has much less soot.

If you ever use it anywhere else like an event or a market, make a little skirt to go around the bottom of the machine to keep the wind out. You're right the gas option is a lot of fun.
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Postby Chad C. on Mon Jul 18, 2011 6:57 pm

I used what I assume is the factory jet. There is no noticiable soot in the air, and none yet on the boiler, but I've only had it running on propane for a few hours total so far.

I am entirely out of the coffee for profit scene at present. I've worked for four different roasters, one equipment importer, and a handful of cafes over the years. It's really refreshing to have coffee purely as a hobby, and leave the money/profit part out of it.

I graduated from the U of Oregon last summer, and am working as a mental health counselor for adolescents. While I may have jumped out of the pot and into the kettle, I have a better sense of which roasters (and in come cases origins) I like best, what equipment I like best, and what preparation techniques I like best. Do I really care about organic coffee? All of these considerations are cool to revisit within a hobby/personal interest context, as is taking my time with equipment projects.
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Postby the_trystero on Mon Jul 18, 2011 7:55 pm

Chad C. wrote:I finally got a propane tank for my Astoria. Dialing in its regulator was a bit finicky, but it's holding steady at 1.0 BAR. Very steady. More so than with the stat. It's stat is new, and cycles between about 2 atmospheres. The stat for the propane system is also diaphragmatic, but it holds amazingly steady. It also responds instantly to the opening of the steam valve. The resting flames rise instantly in response to the steam valve opening. Very cool. It also seems to recover a bit faster with the propane than on 110v.


So awesome. Thanks for the report!
"A screaming comes across the sky..." - Thomas Pynchon
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Postby Chert on Mon Jul 18, 2011 8:02 pm

Excellent! Is there an Astoria Lever World Domination Plot? ALWDP?
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Postby Chad C. on Wed Jul 20, 2011 7:41 pm

Let the plot begin!


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Postby bill on Thu Jul 21, 2011 9:55 pm

Hey Chad,
I'm really impressed with your propane project. My Gaggia has a gas burner but I've never even considered hooking it up. Now, thanks to you, I've got another project for my "things to do" list. Also, I like the looks of the longer legs; may have to add those to the Gaggia, too.
Bill
I wasn't born in Texas, but got here as fast as I could!
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