The Arrarex Caravel

A haven dedicated to manual espresso machine aficionados.
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peacecup
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Postby peacecup » Jan 04, 2008, 10:07 pm

If you search the forums for "Caravel" you'll find several threads that discuss these antique Italian home lever machines. In this thread I'll attempt to link to these others in a general discussion of the Arrarex Caravel, their use, and the exquisite espresso that they produce.

As I mentioned recently in hbuchtel's "Caravel tamping" thread,

Caravel Tamping...

a very lovely 1960-ish Caravel arrived in Juneau just in time for Christmas. I've been enjoying at least as much as my new socks :oops: , and today it made the move to its main home, the office. Thats it, in front of a forlorn Estro Vapore, and next to the Dell:

Image

As I ramp back up for work after the holidays, I expect to be doing a lot more brewing with this machine. I'll have a look over the older threads to link to some of the photos of the mechanics, but for now let me just say that this machine is a masterpiece of functional simplicity and design beauty. It is rather on the far left end of the technical spectrum whose right end is anchored by the mighty G-3. I suspect within its limits (7-9 g solos espresso) it is the equal of that long-awaited home-espresso Holy Grail, but even if it can't quite compare to its most distant relative, it still makes a damn good cup:

Image

Thus far I'm just finding out how she likes the grind, dose, tamp. I have experimented very little with different coffees, but have found lighter roasts to be tastier, as might befit a daughter of Milano.

Its great to have a machine that is completely dedicated to solo espresso; no milk here please, but great little drinks any time of day.

PC
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hbuchtel
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Postby hbuchtel » Jan 04, 2008, 11:16 pm

Thanks for making this topic PC!

I took this video a couple days ago when it was sunny-


The lever went up (opening the valve to the kettle) at about 6 seconds, and the pull started at about 13. First drips at 19.

I usually use more pressure then I did here, which makes a shorter darker shot.

PC, are you doing double pulls like on your P.V.? Or lungos like Timo mentioned? I really like the one pull style... so easy and simple... and I love the gradual build up of resistance and slow release under my hand. Quite a sensual experience! (not to be confused with sexual ;) )

Henry
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mogogear
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Postby mogogear » Jan 05, 2008, 1:57 pm

Hurray! For Henry's video and to see the Caravel perched on Jacks work desk! Jack, you can buy an adapter that will allow you to plug the machine in to 110v- but it will be a slow heat up process and I am not sure you will get to full temp....Have fun with that thought...

I bet your co-workers are always amazed at your dedication to not only Salmon but Espresso as well :shock:
I am sure you have found that the basket "screws " into the PF slightly... and that the diffusion screen is affixed to the bottom of the cylinder. I don't think it is removable.

Lastly I did check at my local Radio Shack and they checked at the Radio Shack affiliate in Juneau to see if the voltage converters we had spoken about to allow the Export to function in Sweden are in stock....

I look forward to reading more on your Italian "blonde" getting back to work!

Ciao!
greg moore

Leverwright
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peacecup
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Postby peacecup » Jan 05, 2008, 5:53 pm

S-U-N-N-Y? What does that mean? We are now finally experiencing increasing daylength, but its still dark from 4 PM until 9 AM. And in Juneau, its usually cloudy as well as dark. Its like living in a dream. I wonder why I drink so much espresso in the winter?

Yes, this Caravel is the same that mogo imported a while ago:

/forum...?highlight=caravel

It is due to his generosity that I'm able to enjoy it. And, as I said, its amazing. I do have a plug converter, so I'll try it on 110 next week. So far the pour-over method is working fine.

The dispersion screen on this one does seem to be attached, but this is no problem since the entire piston assembly is easily removed, and the cylinder can be cleaned from the inside (someone posted a phot of this in an earlier thread, and I need to find the link and post it).

The screen barely sticks out from the "group" (its steel, not brass, wiht no heat sink properties needed). This means the basket requires VERY little headspace, so I can cram it very full, which, contrary to the "downdosing" fans, is my wont. As KS noted in the Smackdown thread, the Ponte Vecchio is also very forgiving of overdosing.

And even in 1960 someone figured out a way to keep the basket in the PF, as mogo notes. Very handy for cleaning, but I still prefer to dose with the basket off the PF, probably because it works best with the hand-grinder.

I'm having so much fun with the Caravel that I'm re-discovering the single basket on the Ponte Vecchio- just pulled two solos on the PV, the first of which was just ok, but the second was...well...a perfect compliment to the winter sun that is shining very low on the miday horizon here in Juneau...

THANKS AGAIN GREG!

PC
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Hand-ground, hand-pulled: "hands down.."

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peacecup
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Postby peacecup » Jan 05, 2008, 6:02 pm

Walter's thread has a lot of good photos of the pistons, etc., and some good observations on the Caravel:

/forum...?highlight=caravel

I note from my own responses on the old threads that I've always had Caravel envy. Maybe even worse than Cremina envy. If that's possible...

PC
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Hand-ground, hand-pulled: "hands down.."

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peacecup
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Postby peacecup » Jan 07, 2008, 11:07 pm

A new batch of Café D'Arte, and some time in the office have combined to allow me to be a little too close to the Caravel today! I remember it was difficult to resist pulling too many shots when I first got the Ponte Vecchio, but the Caravel seems to be even more tempting.

Firstly, I plugged it right into the 110 V outlet with just a plug converter. It heats up to boiling no problem, although it takes a while if the boiler is full. Since I'm only pulling one shot at a time (~15-20 ml) this is not a problem. I hope running it on 110 for a couple months won't hurt it.

Second, I'm now trying to figure out how to control brew temperature. So far it seems that pulling the shot right as boiling begins is working - I may experiment with letting it come to a rolling boil, then turning it off and waiting 1 minute.

Third, I was tending towards coarser and coarser grinds to get the type of faster flow similar to the Ponte Vecchio. This did not seem to work as well, and the last shot I pulled was ground a little more finely, and seemed to bring back the better flavor and crema I'd been getting before.

I'd like to hear how others run the Caravel. This is going to be a fun week.

PC
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Hand-ground, hand-pulled: "hands down.."

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peacecup
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Postby peacecup » Jan 08, 2008, 10:55 pm

"There is nothing more stimulating than a case where everything goes against you." - Sherlock Holmes, Hound of the Baskervilles

Well, today's Caravel experiences were stimulating, although not everything went against me:

"We have not yet met our Waterloo, Watson, but this is our Marengo,for it begins in defeat and ends in victory" Sherlock Holmes, The Adventure of the Abbey Grange

I did get off to a shaky start, with a shot of Café D'Arte's Fabriano, their alderwood-smoked espresso blend. This blend needs to be brewed right on, and it wasn't, perhaps my worst shot ever on the new Caravel. The next few were the more reliable Firenze, and the got consistently better, as I tightened the grind and learned not to pull quite so hard. I'm discovering that the Caravel likes to be pulled gently, and therefore, if ground finely, it is pulled slowly. The last shot I went back to the Fabriano, and this time it was finely-ground, slowly-pulled, and it brought out all of the subtle smoky flavors beautifully.

Also today I discovered that the thermostat works very nicely - its just a steel spring that expands as it heats, and turns off the element manually - Walter described it in his "Flea Market" thread.

I also had the very small O-ring in the center of the piston fail during a hard pull. This allows brew water and pressure above the piston. I repaired it, but the O-ring is cracked and will eventually need to be replaced.

The Caravel has three pieces of rubber inside the piston assembly - two O-rings, which I hope will be easy to find, and one piston gasket, which I suspect may be more difficult. Has anyone ever found a source for Caravel gaskets.
LMWDP #049

Hand-ground, hand-pulled: "hands down.."

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hbuchtel
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Postby hbuchtel » Jan 09, 2008, 1:25 am

Hey PC, I also had a problem with the little o-ring in the piston- I cut a new one and have replaced it twice. The other o-rings in the piston chamber (different in my model then in yours) were also replaced (Timo sent me some that he had made for his Caravel... no idea how he managed to get them made!).

I'm with you about the slow pull+not too much pressure. My experience in the last two days seems to indicate that using very little pressure in the last 1/4 of the pull produces a particularly soft mouthfeel for the shot... I'll try again this afternoon.

Here is what I'm getting-

First 1/4 no resistance
Second 1/4 slight resistance, sudden build up towards the end
Third 1/4 high resistance, bringing the lever almost to a standstill... gradual release under the weight of my hand
Last 1/4 lessening resistance, requiring a controlled release to slow down the extraction

I was trying something new today- I cut a small tin disk to act as a (leaky) blind basket- this way I can fill the chamber with water before the shot to make it as close as possible to the temp of the water in the kettle. This is intellectually satisfying, but I don't know if this extra effort is going to make the espresso that much better! Only time will tell...

Henry
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mogogear
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Postby mogogear » Jan 09, 2008, 1:57 am

JAck,
With reference to the o-ring in the center. The old original one was pretty deteriorated and brittle when I got the machine. I sourced the o-ring that failed you at a local hardware store. I think I have a few. It just sits in the recess in the center of the piston and is held in place by the pressure of the movable lever part. If that makes sense. I can mail you some backups if you don;t find anything close at hand.

I think in my memory that this seal was actually more of a rectangular cross section as opposed to round. This is only a guess as the old one was quite old, flattened and deteriorated. It also may have been what someone else sourced to replace the original.

Let me know if you want the o-rings- I will drop them in the fast- mail !
greg moore

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peacecup
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Postby peacecup » Jan 10, 2008, 3:16 am

Here are a couple of mogo's original photos of the piston assembly - more can be found on this thread:

/forum...?highlight=caravel

Each of the three assemblies on that thread appear to have slightly different designs.
The little O-ring in the center of the piston is the one that is damaged on my machine. I'll ask Greg to mail one up, then try to match it locally for some spares.

Image

The O-ring seals the piston in there:

Image

The temporary fix is working well for now - today's espressos were all pretty good. I'm getting the hang of it. The basket is surprisingly large- it holds up to 10g.

PC
LMWDP #049

Hand-ground, hand-pulled: "hands down.."

 
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