Bezzera Family Restoration

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NicoNYC

#1: Post by NicoNYC »

After a few false starts, I recently bought a Bezzera Family, a machine I had been searching for for some time now to use as a daily driver. I bought it from another member of this forum, who had bought it at auction years ago and started working on it before getting sidetracked (I think some of us can relate...). My plan is to complete a functional restoration, then maybe lightly touch on some cosmetics and some updates/improvements. There are some other great threads about this machine on HB that have been a great help to me, so I'm documenting my process in the hopes that it helps someone else down the line.



The Bezzera as I received it. Overall, in good condition (as I said, the previous owner had started working on it), missing the pressure gauge, and many of the fittings loosely done up for transport. Interestingly, the case is a warm red, definitely not the same bright orange I've seen on other users' machines here, and it doesn't have the silkscreened logo. It might have been repainted but I don't see any obvious signs (original color peeking through inside corners, or near threads).

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NicoNYC (original poster)

#2: Post by NicoNYC (original poster) »

On to the good stuff:



Everything came apart easily as it had just been assembly hand-tight for transport. All three valves are tough to open up, I had to heat them over a flame and really wrench on them. The vice-grips+rag does a good job, one of the valves got some marks but nothing significant. There's some kind of thread sealant in there (smells like artificial grape when it's hot) that is really doing it's job well.



There's a little bit of scale inside the valves, so the brass parts of the valve get descaled, just for an hour or so.



The replacement heating element I've got has different kinds of terminals, so I swap the connectors on the wires. Wires are in good shape, they seem to have hi-temp silicone insulation that's still flexible and no cracks so I'm not gonna change anything.



I have the original sightglass but no seals. The sight glass is 10mm OD, closest I can find is for the MCal or PV Lusso, which are 9mm OD, but I can only get them from Europe. For now, I'm trying small sections carefully sliced off some silicone tubing, in theory it should be fine, we'll see if it leaks.



Valves are descaled and dried. They get new seals, and I also got 13mm ID PTFE washers for the back instead of thread sealant. The shaft of the valve gets a light dab of Dow 111.

Seals:
https://www.cafeparts.com/Conical-Ptfe- ... mbi/703332
https://www.cafeparts.com/Gasket-11-X-4 ... ra/5496042

PTFE washer:
https://www.cafeparts.com/Flat-Ptfe-Gas ... oni/362058

*I hope it's ok that I'm including links to cafeparts, it's where I ordered the parts from and they do a good job of listing cross-reference parts numbers for multiple manufacturers.



New seals on the left, old on the right. The old ones are a lot stiffer and are permanently deformed. They may have worked well but it's easier to change them all now, the valves are kind of a pain to remove once the boiler is fully in.



Valves reassembled and installed, thermosyphon reconnected, and boiler bolted in from below.



New gauge. I used one that is for a modern Bezzera or ECM, the important thing is it's 39mm body diameter and 1/8" fitting. The one for a PV Lusso should also fit, but it's more expensive and might have the PV logo - I've seen it both ways for the same part number. I wouldn't mind sourcing a more appropriate/vintage looking replacement but I'm not going to worry about that for now.

Gauge:
https://www.cafeparts.com/Boiler-Pressu ... duct/18356

The gauge goes in first, then the sight glass as I don't want to risk breaking the sightglass. The black washer on the back of the gauge is just so that the pipe fitting can press on the mount for the gauge, it's serving no sealing purpose at all.



New Mater pressurestat. It's entirely possible the original one works but a new one is only $20 and it's worth it for the peace of mind. I'm keeping the original and might swap it in later.



It's at this point that I realize the piston seals that came with the machine are for a modern Elektra MCal, and stand no chance of fitting. They're about 30mm ID, and the largest diameter of the piston is about 50mm. No amount of hot water, Dow, and force is gonna get them on.

Others on this forum have had good luck with this gasket from Stefanos, so I'm ordering some and I'll give them a shot.
https://www.espressocare.com/products/i ... -old-style

I'm also curious about the silicone gaskets offered by Cafelat. The dimensions are very close, I might try a set in the future.
https://www.cafelat.co.uk/collections/s ... ver-piston
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IamOiman
Team HB

#3: Post by IamOiman »

Sounds like you've been making good progress!

The old Elektra seals are what should fit, we are talking before 1991 I believe, and measure 50x38x7 mm. The link to Stefano's is the exact seal I am referencing to, but I bought my seals from lamacchinadelcaffe (either will work fine). The glass sight seals are the same ones used on Ponte Vecchio.

The valves were hard for me to get undone too and had that odd thread sealant you meantion, but I cleaned them up just like you did and threw some loctite 55 to get the job done, but those ptfe seals should work too. I simply have not finished my Bezzera because I am trying to find a gasket that will not leak when pulling shots. I've tried different sized o rings to no success, so I am now going to look into getting a square or rectangular shaped gasket.
-Ryan
Using a spice grinder violates the Geneva Convention
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LObin

#4: Post by LObin »

Amazing find!

These threads showing every step of a restoration journey, detailed pictures, part numbers and online shop links are invaluable!
Everyone that has restored a vintage espresso machine know what I'm talking about ;)

Thanks Nico for your contribution!
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LObin

#5: Post by LObin »

IamOiman wrote: I simply have not finished my Bezzera because I am trying to find a gasket that will not leak when pulling shots. I've tried different sized o rings to no success, so I am now going to look into getting a square or rectangular shaped gasket.
Have you tried the Olympia group gasket?

I've also had success using two seals on a Olympia Club. With the stock Olympia gasket, the portafilter would lock so far right that it'd be in the way when steaming milk.
Can't remember if I used the old Olympia and a 49mm La Pavoni or two La Pavoni gaskets but it now locks firmly at 6 o'clock. It's a different group but who knows...
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NicoNYC (original poster)

#6: Post by NicoNYC (original poster) »

IamOiman wrote:Sounds like you've been making good progress!

The old Elektra seals are what should fit, we are talking before 1991 I believe, and measure 50x38x7 mm. The link to Stefano's is the exact seal I am referencing to, but I bought my seals from lamacchinadelcaffe (either will work fine). The glass sight seals are the same ones used on Ponte Vecchio.

The valves were hard for me to get undone too and had that odd thread sealant you meantion, but I cleaned them up just like you did and threw some loctite 55 to get the job done, but those ptfe seals should work too. I simply have not finished my Bezzera because I am trying to find a gasket that will not leak when pulling shots. I've tried different sized o rings to no success, so I am now going to look into getting a square or rectangular shaped gasket.
The previous owner had bought the seals almost a decade ago, before there was much info online about the Bezzera. I can't remember which thread it was, maybe beer&mathematics who had confirmed that the pre-90s Elektra seals work.

Good to know about the sight glass seals, for now I'm hoping my diy ones hold and I can bundle some official ones into another order.

This is the GH gasket that came with my machine, I'm assuming you've tried it already: https://www.espressocare.com/products/i ... ocasa-leva
Seems to fit fine, I'll let you know how it works out once I can get pressure in the group. I noticed there is a small spring pin in the back of the group that acts as a stop to the portafilter as it locks in. If all else fails you may be able to get away with removing that pin, or narrowing the one ear on a spare pf so it can rotate further.
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NicoNYC (original poster)

#7: Post by NicoNYC (original poster) »

LObin wrote:Amazing find!

These threads showing every step of a restoration journey, detailed pictures, part numbers and online shop links are invaluable!
Everyone that has restored a vintage espresso machine know what I'm talking about ;)

Thanks Nico for your contribution!
Thanks. I'm very grateful for the members that have documented their work before me, so I'm trying to add to that in any way I can. Most difficult was getting the proper valve seals, I took a gamble on the modern Bezzera parts based on diagrams and the rough measurements I could find and thankfully they were a perfect fit. The cosmetic bits on the front of the valve have changed (and body is chromed), but internally, the Strega/BZ10/etc. valves are the same as they were half a century ago.



I also got lucky and a member here reached out to me about this machine. I had tried to buy one in the south of France, and then one stateside (I think Ryan's), before posting here. They're not easy to find in the wild, certainly less common than their Club and Lusso bretheren.
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NicoNYC (original poster)

#8: Post by NicoNYC (original poster) »

Thanks to the magic of USPS priority mail, I got new gaskets in last night, so I was able to wrap up the initial repairs this morning.



There are 3 identical seals for the piston, they are the pre-90s Elektra MCaL ones: https://www.espressocare.com/products/i ... -old-style
Actual measured dimensions as listed in the photo, also as pictured I can slip one on the small end of the piston easily without any pre-heating or grease.



Installing the piston seals. Preheated in a pot of simmering water for a few minutes, then a healthy amount of Dow 111. I chose to start nearest the bottom of the piston and work my way up. I took a disposable chopstick, cut it in half, sanded any rough spots, and generously greased to make a pair of soft tools for getting the seals on.

Also, having a way of securing the piston is essential, I'm just using a small clamp-on vise as it's what I've got on hand, I think one could make do with a "quick-grip" style clamp at a minimum.



I wipe off most but not all of the excess grease, and slide the piston into place. It's a snug fit that requires a firm push, but at no point am I forcing it to fit.



Grouphead gasket and shower screen. The gasket is this one for the Elektra MCaL, shower screen is original, but I'd imagine the MCaL one would fit. Dimensions as measured (this one is pretty flexible so ID and OD are only accurate to about 1mm).
https://www.espressocare.com/products/i ... ocasa-leva



Turning on the machine for the (almost) first time. The piston seals hold pressure no problem, a few fittings leak slightly so I tighten them as needed. The new Mater p-stat has the boiler idling around 0.8 bar, I turn it up to idle around 1.0 bar. You can see I added a ball to the sight glass - it's about 6.5mm in diameter, large enough that it won't get into the tubes that feed the sight glass and end up in the boiler.



First espresso! I've packed the basket a little too much at a slightly too fine grind so it's a bit of a slow shot, but still drinkable. I added a temp strip to the group head and with the boiler at 1.0 bar, the group stabilizes at about 80°C/176°F. I might bring this down a touch to try and have it closer to 75°C, I'll see once I've had a few days with it.
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IamOiman
Team HB

#9: Post by IamOiman »

nice 8)

I am waiting for my Cremina pf gasket to see if I can end up with the same result. It's good to see visually that the old MCAL seals do in fact fit
-Ryan
Using a spice grinder violates the Geneva Convention
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