Building Myself A Nice Spring Lever Machine

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AK[enthusiast]2022
Posts: 5
Joined: 2 years ago

#1: Post by AK[enthusiast]2022 »

Hello, Everyone;

My name is Eddie Goans. I'm 17 and I live in Soldotna, AK. This is actually my very first post on Home-Barista, and I appreciate anyone who responds to it. I'm seriously considering building my own spring lever espresso machine. This is due to the fact that there aren't many dual-boiler spring levers out there. The only two I'm aware of are the Nurri Leva S.A. and the ACS Vesuvius Evo Leva. I want tons of steam power, fast heat-up, and rock-hard temp stability, among a few other features. Has anyone on Home-Barista ever attempted such a thing? I'm thinking of maybe a 5-liter (or larger) steam boiler with an HX that leads to a 0.25l (or larger)micro-boiler for brewing. I'm also thinking of adding two or three PID temp control points, some kind of hands-free pressure control for the group via geared rotary vane pump, or some sort of servo in the lever mechanism that could be digitally controlled in order to raise, lower, and stop the lever hands-free as desired by the barista. Any ideas, suggestions, or advice on where to buy boilers, PIDs, group heads, etc.?

Thanks and have a great day!

Regards,
-Eddie G.

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Jake_G
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#2: Post by Jake_G »

Hey Eddie,

Welcome to HB!

A user here by the name of Curtis Ide build such a creation. He goes by pizzaman383 on HB.

Double Dipper Lever

Much can be learned from his posts.

Cheers!

- Jake
LMWDP #704

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pizzaman383
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#3: Post by pizzaman383 »

I will be interested in learning more about your build!

Here is another relevant build From Scratch DB Home Lever
Curtis
LMWDP #551
“Taste every shot before adding milk!”

AK[enthusiast]2022 (original poster)
Posts: 5
Joined: 2 years ago

#4: Post by AK[enthusiast]2022 (original poster) »

Thanks, Jake! I love reading HB posts, and I learn a great deal from each one. I'll definitely look at Curtis' posts regarding his double dipper lever.
Regards,
Eddie

AK[enthusiast]2022 (original poster)
Posts: 5
Joined: 2 years ago

#5: Post by AK[enthusiast]2022 (original poster) »

Hey, Curtis! Thanks for your speedy response. I will keep you posted regarding my lever build. Any important tips and/or tricks before I start? Also, where did you buy the majority of parts for your build?

Regards,
Eddie

palica
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#6: Post by palica »

Interesting project(s).
Instead of a dual boiler, have you considered a hybrid machine, with a single boiler for the brewing side, and a Thermobloc for vapor?

Giampiero
Posts: 850
Joined: 8 years ago

#7: Post by Giampiero »

Hi Eddy, welcome on board.
Great project.
Years ago i built a spring lever ...."object", and i only used a thermoblock and a film heater for the group head, i was looking for a pump that could recirculate the hot water to the group head to maintain it hot, but i did not found it, so i opted to the film heater.
Keep us updated.

Primacog
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Joined: 2 years ago

#8: Post by Primacog »

It sounds like you have ambitions of building the lever machine with the most new innovations (leaving aside of course LM's LEVA X which js beyond most laypeople)! That is most commendable as it is just what Nurri did to push the envelope of impkementing new innovations past where ACS had ventured successfully with the Evo.

I want to just ask though whether with a 5 litre boiler, do you really need a double boiler system to provide enough steaming power? My izzo pompei is a commecial lever machine but it is a simple dipper design with a single 5 litre copper boiler and it has vast steaming power and enough water for cup after cup of espresso out of the same boiler. The multiple group commercial levers used by the coffee bars of Naples can serve 2000 espressos in every shift but they r usually single boiler dipper designs from my understanding.

It seems to me thar simplicity is always to be preferred for elegance and to reduce risk of breakdown and failure and for ease of repair and low cost maintenance, unless more complexity is needed to fulfil a particular purpose but only to the limit required to fulfil that purpose. Would a single boiler of 5 litres be sufficient for your purposes if you are using ut mostly for yourself or your family?

The other really interesting idea you mentioned you had wanted to try to implement is to be able to control the ascent of the lever and to stop it at any point with servos. Is that a development of the LEVA system innovated by La San Marco? Will you be using a clutch to be able to stop the ascent at different points? Or do you mean making a robotic lever arm that can be remote controlled to raise or lower on command by itself? If its the latter, that would be something amazing to bring to operation though i jave to wonder if that will totally take the hands on fun out of using a lever machine...
LMWDP #729
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pizzaman383
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#9: Post by pizzaman383 »

AK[enthusiast]2022 wrote:Hey, Curtis! Thanks for your speedy response. I will keep you posted regarding my lever build. Any important tips and/or tricks before I start? Also, where did you buy the majority of parts for your build?

Regards,
Eddie
I bought most of my parts online from espresso parts.com and cafeparts.com. Getting the group head and boilers was the most expensive and hard to source challenge. I bought the condor group from a posting here and got my steam boiler on eBay. I first used a brew boiler scavanged from a kitchenaid and then switched to a modified Silvia boiler.

I did a lot of experimentation. I first built a classic dipper (group head heated by the boiler with brew water fed from the steam boiler). I then switched to a double boiler with separate temperature control for each boiler and the group head feeding water from the steam boiler through a cooling coil into the brew boiler. I prefer the dipper configuration because the water in the steam boiler is constantly refreshed. After using this configuration for several years I rebuilt it with the Silvia boiler and better internal configuration, wiring, maintenance, and group head temperature control. It is in its final configuration and I haven't changed anything in a couple of years.

The one area I would suggest you focus on is temperature control. I have done a lot of experimenting with group head and brew boiler temperature control with five very different espresso machines. With my three different PID controlled levers I have experimented with different offsets between boiler water temperature and group head temperature. When there is an offset between them the shot's water temperature is an average of the two based on the thermal characteristics of the group head. This inherently means one must do some temperature to get the same water temperature between shots.

I have made the best and most consistently good espresso with machines having the most consistent temperature control within and between shots. The current configuration works like a modern commercial saturated group machine in that the brew water temperature and the brew water temperature are held at the same temperature. This is what the LM Leva and the new Kees Idrocompresso do and it is possible with the ACS EVO leva (not sure of the Nurri).

I accomplish that by heating the group head from the flange and a silicone band heater around the portafilter attachment bell/ring. I got the idea from another H-B member but I can't remember his name. Anyway, I have been surprised how much better and more consistent my espresso has become!

The first big choice is what spring lever group to use. Think carefully because changing that is very expensive and the group head sets the stage for several important consequences.

Hope this helps!
Curtis
LMWDP #551
“Taste every shot before adding milk!”

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drgary
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#10: Post by drgary »

I would add just a couple of things to what others have said. I have a vintage commercial lever with a 4.5 L boiler. It's a dipper tube machine, a Conti Prestina. Steaming is very powerful. The group is still made, creates wonderful shots and looks very steampunk. Conti offers two spring strengths. I have the Prestina connected to a PID with a temperature sensor in the boiler, a very simple configuration. This allows very precise temperature control unless I would serve many people in a row, in which case I might simply move to a lighter roast coffee as the group temperature increases.

For group heating, wonderful writing and many other details, you may enjoy this thread, which documents the beginnings of the Lapera lever machine.

Building a lever machine.... from scratch
Gary
LMWDP#308

What I WOULD do for a good cup of coffee!