Elektra T1 - # 759 built in 1999 is now mine

Need help with equipment usage or want to share your latest discovery?
User avatar
Posts: 3545
Joined: 19 years ago

#1: Post by shadowfax »

[title inspired by one of my forum forebears, Mark Hoy. Thanks for the manuals... and the excellently documented restoration!]

This beautiful machine hails from San Francisco, and doesn't appear to have been used much at all. Great, right? Unfortunately, the machine doesn't seem to have been used much at all. Or cleaned. Ever.

The portafilters were completely gross. I've never seen scale on top of gobs of rancid coffee. I don't understand how anyone can be so stupid as to make coffee using equipment this dirty. I mean, you wouldn't bake a cake in a casserole dish without cleaning out the casserole remnants first, would you? Disgusting.

As you can imagine, the group was a piece of work. I just about destroyed the shower screen screw getting it dissassembled. It was stuck bad.

Still, nothing revolutionary. It's gotten pretty clean with a little bit of work.

The one bit of unexpected horror (considering this machine was sold as "working fine") was that the pump was completely seized! Pulled it off the motor, and the motor is intact... spins perfectly. The pump's spindle was stuck like a rock, and it took me some serious torquing with a wrench to un-seize it. It still spun really roughly, so it's getting retired to use as a bookend...

The seller has agreed to cover the cost of the new pump in the form of a partial refund, so all is well, other than having to wait a week to try the machine out.

I completed a full descale of the boiler and all tubing last night... I will post more pics, issues, etc. as the story unfolds.

I'm looking forward to some tasty 'spro.

Nicholas Lundgaard

User avatar
Team HB
Posts: 5012
Joined: 18 years ago

#2: Post by RapidCoffee »

Woohoo! At least one good little boy didn't get coal in his stocking... :)

Congrats on your new machine. May she give you years of espresso bliss!

Posts: 193
Joined: 17 years ago

#3: Post by ccfore »

Congratulations on a great find! It looks to be in excellent shape for a 1999 model, same year as mine but probably just ahead of my #921. I like the look of the intact front stencil which is partially missing on mine. Can't wait to see it up and running with plenty of pictures. Also, let us all know how the espresso tastes from this beauty!
Todd / LMWDP #109

User avatar
Team HB
Posts: 10507
Joined: 19 years ago

#4: Post by cannonfodder »

I had my A3 off for a while this spring (using a different machine). My pump had seized as well. I used pliers to break if free, worked it a little to make sure it turned and put it back into service. You could try putting a little descale solution into the pump, turn the pump shaft a couple of times to work it in and let it sit for a while. My pump just needed freed up and has been working just fine since then.
Dave Stephens

User avatar
shadowfax (original poster)
Posts: 3545
Joined: 19 years ago

#5: Post by shadowfax (original poster) »

I unseized the pump last night with a wrench just like you did, but it sounds awful when you run it. The motion when turning by hand is not at all smooth. It also leaks out the bypass valve after unseizing it (I pulled it to see if I could see anything wrong with it). Maybe I put it back on wrong? I just assumed the screeching was from shot bearings, but I don't know...

Anyway, I will try to descale it this weekend when I get home and see if I can fix my assembly error so it stops leaking and screeching.
Nicholas Lundgaard

User avatar
shadowfax (original poster)
Posts: 3545
Joined: 19 years ago

#6: Post by shadowfax (original poster) »

Thanks Todd. Overall it's in excellent shape. The levers for the steam/water tap were bent in shipping, as was the front part of the frame (ever so slightly). Other than a few scratches (strikingly few for a nearly 10-year-old machine), those are the only cosmetic issues with it, and I am going to get them fixed on UPS' dollar it looks like (seeing that they did the damage).

just what I was afraid of...

Any suggestions other than buying a pair of these, particularly if you know it will be impossible to separate the bent levers from the spheres without causing damage. I've already gotten the wood handles off of the lever part, so that's a non-issue.

Internally, the T1 was your average trainwreck, as I mentioned, with the exception that there was absolutely no evidence of leakage, ever. The frame is pristine, other than a little rust around the bared areas where the legs thread in. I will probably brush some rustoleum on these areas as a stopgap. I'd love some advice in that vein--i.e., how to patch the few scratches on an otherwise excellent frame.

The boiler had surprisingly minimal scale, but the grouphead was rough:

It took me some time to fully realize that the gicleur screen and cap were removable. I knew they were, but they sure wouldn't budge. It's amazing to me that this machine was backflushing (on line pressure) or even delivering water at all before I dismantled it.

I didn't have any cork, so I wadded up paper towels and stuffed them in the HX inlets and the solenoid pilot hole. This worked really well, because the towels got soaked with citric acid and descaled the blocked off parts. It leaked slowly, but that just allowed me to refill it with more acid regularly.

Meanwhile, the boiler and pipes got some love in a white bucket formerly tasked with holding dirty diapers (was bleached judiciously before use on the boiler descale):

After a lot of scrubbing around the heating element area, it's ready to go:

all holes capped; I am going to size the insulation directly onto the boiler before hooking it up... too easy to pass up the opportunity.

So, with all that work done, I am waiting on new parts--pump, insulation, steam/water tap levers, and I am out of town for Christmas. The Elektra is waiting patiently to be completed, but looking beautiful while she waits:

I have a question, looking at that picture. How in the world does the lid go on, fellow Elektra owners? I see there are 2 parts, one with 2 rows of vents, the other with 3, and they are out of phase so that there's no direct drain of water down to the internals. It seems like one of the lid pieces is larger than the other one, so that the small one fits inside it, presumably it's intended to go "upside down" inside the big lid piece.

... and then you drop it into the top of the machine? This seems obvious, but it's such a pain to get back out, I feel like I must be doing something wrong.

This afternoon I needed coffee and I didn't feel like setting Vetrano back up. so...

Juxtaposition. The La Pavoni was so upset at me over the Robur, that it refused to get dialed in right. Tough times, these...
Nicholas Lundgaard

User avatar
Posts: 1138
Joined: 16 years ago

#7: Post by mhoy »

Most excellent, another T1 owner on the forum. Great find! Was this the one on craigslist in the SF area?

I can empathize with your group head horror having been there already. :shock: The pump may have been working and just seized up with non-use. I seem to remember someone else having this problem. Boiling hot water and Cafiza do wonders to caked on oils. I had to use a pin to open the holes in the water dispersion block.

Cosmetically, your stainless looks to be in excellent condition. The Elektra plate and front etching also appear to be in near perfect condition.

For the life of me, I could not get the handles off the steam/water valves. I think if I was willing to destroy them I could have done it.


User avatar
shadowfax (original poster)
Posts: 3545
Joined: 19 years ago

#8: Post by shadowfax (original poster) »

Mark, thanks for the welcome. It was indeed that machine. I paid a little more for it than I would have for a machine in the cosmetic condition yours was in. I remember how much time you spend polishing away, and I'd pay a couple hundred bucks to avoid that... :D
mhoy wrote:For the life of me, I could not get the handles off the steam/water valves. I think if I was willing to destroy them I could have done it.
Really? I remember you saying that. I couldn't grip it right with my bare hands, but I had no trouble removing them when I locked the lever part with a 12 mm wrench and gripped the handle with a damp rag. It gave me all the traction I needed to thread it right off. This worked with the portafilter handles, too.

I am hoping that, when I disassemble the main steam/water tap valve assembly, separating the sphere from the lever will be as easy as taking off the handle.
Nicholas Lundgaard

User avatar
Posts: 1405
Joined: 17 years ago

#9: Post by stefano65 »

Nicholas are you sure the lever is bent and not only the normally swivel position on the ball stuck because of the counter nut is too tight?
before I'll send your parts order out ( thank you by the way) try to loosen the counter nut and see
the lever front shaft it's so short in the new style that it's hard for me to imagine that it got bent
let me know
Stefano Cremonesi
Stefano's Espresso Care
Repairs & sales from Oregon.

Posts: 138
Joined: 18 years ago

#10: Post by SylvainMtl »

mhoy wrote:Most excellent, another T1 owner on the forum. Great find! Was this the one on craigslist in the SF area?
Could HB's review of the Elektra has the same effect to Mark Prince's work on the Silvia?
mhoy wrote: For the life of me, I could not get the handles off the steam/water valves. I think if I was willing to destroy them I could have done it.
You mean unscrew the bakelite handles from the steel balls or unscrew the whole handle assembly from the valve? I had no problem with the latter. Actually it is kind of loose and if I screw the handle too much it opens the valve and some steam/water leaks.