Comparing the Faema President, Urania, and Lambro - Page 2

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IamOiman
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#11: Post by IamOiman »

realdoctor wrote:Do you have a rough idea when thermosyphon designs appeared in the Urania series? I have never seen one. All the Uranias I have seen have been either dipper, open loop, or the occasional rare model with a heating element in the group and the boiler used only for steam.

I have seen a couple of vertical boiler Uranias. I believe they were dippers. They used to show up for sale about 10-15 years ago in Europe now and then. I suspect they are all in collections now.

Jim
I think the mid 50's (1956 circa give or take a year is my best estimate) is when the thermosyphon machines started appearing. You might be referencing what I've been describing as Thermosyphon with the Open Loop style, where water from the brew boiler cycles itself via two tubes that constantly draws hot water from the top of the boiler, cools slightly from the group acting as a heat sink, then returning to the boiler from the bottom.

This is an example (borrowed from Cuppajoe) of the 9 hole boiler that is often seen on the 1st gen thermosyphons, where you start seeing the two tubes (one connected to the top of the boiler, and one connected at the bottom of the boiler) going to one group.



Inside the boiler is simply a tube that draws water to the upper pipe, and returns via the bottom fitting in the rear of the boiler (bottom right in the 2nd pic below, both borrowed from mingiunate and the same 9 hole boiler style). My Urania has slightly different boiler fittings but still has that same tube.



The groups on these machines are not quite the zodiac groups seen on Presidents and Lambros. The 1st gen groups have the older style 4 studs to secure the group to the frame instead of 2, the shutoff valve was originally a little different, and a few form differences too among other things. The aluminum housing came in different heights for different spring lengths too. I know of four sizes: circa 60mm, 75mm (the common size still used on Zodiac groups), 90mm, and 105mm. The groups originally had chromed caps too instead of aluminum, but they can be switched out with each other.

This is a stubby 60mm group (mingiunate's machine again)


This is a 75mm group, the most common style. From my Urania



This is a tall 90mm group on my Mercurio, which the last series was a thermosyphon too even for the narrow boiler.




m e g a tall 105mm group (A Piero/Vcarola machine)
-Ryan
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LObin
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#12: Post by LObin »

Does this mean that the taller 105mm can hold a larger volume of water vs your 90mm and therefore yield a longer shot, if needed?
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IamOiman
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#13: Post by IamOiman »

From what I've seen with my 105mm and 90mm groups the height change from pulling the piston up is around the same. It's restricted by how far down you pull the lever from upright resting position, and that arc just about identical among the various groups
-Ryan
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realdoctor
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#14: Post by realdoctor »

Ryan,

You are right. I call the design open loop that you term thermosyphon. The first time I saw that design was the Lambro that was Paul Pratt's first venture into restoring old machines.

My older Urania is a dipper that uses the "V" group. It is a first series machine that, unfortunately, remains unrestored.

Thanks for the short tour through some early Faema designs.

Jim

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#15: Post by IamOiman »

Nice, may I request a pic or two of your Urania? It sounds similar to my 2 group Urania.

I didn't even get into the fact that Faema played with a preinfusion mechanism similar to the San Marco group that results in the piston only needing one V seal. They got rid of it when the Zodiac group was introduced, but it can be found on the 1s gen thermosyphon groups.






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#16: Post by espressotime »

My Lambro has the short(56 mm) alu part of the group.
Only have seen one other Lambro was that group.
Still don't t know if it was produced like this or if the group has been changed.


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#17: Post by Brick88 (original poster) »

IamOiman wrote:Internally they are all similar. Boilers on the Uranias, especially the earlier ones, can differ, but seals and heating elements can be purchased pretty easily for most cases and configurations (or can be made). For the group I'm presuming only the Zodiac group or 1st gen thermosyphon group is used (earlier groups use similar or the same seals).

Performance should be very similar between the three models, and I've used all three models as daily drivers for 3 months or more. It's just some different frame chassis and body panels surrounding the boiler with the group(s). I actually dislike my Lambro, and that is because of the extremelly small clearance between the portafilter spout and drip tray. The Urania and President give more height for my tall cups I occasionally use.
All of this is very insightful and very helpful!

I know you have lots of experience and probably know a lot about sourcing these machines but any recommendations on sourcing these to the United States and where to look? I know these are an investment but I also do not have unlimited funds and want to try and be economical and not overspend where I can.

I also know some stuff I should look for when taking to sellers but do you have a list of questions you typically ask sellers when talking with them?

Thank you again for all your help and insight!

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#18: Post by IamOiman »

There are networks of collectors and resellers that exist. Starting out from nothing, it is a little difficult to break into the collection space with a good mindset and expectations of what will happen during the restoration process just due to lack of experience.

Asking general questions of "hey where do I start if I want my first vintage machine" on forums and social media sites may not yield the best answers from those who perceive is obvious about the basics (there is one post I can think of right now on one of the the facebook groups that have iffy answers which prompted me to write this). I want to try to dispense with that by doing my best to answer questions here and have my various machine topics be available and open to everyone.

What to expect as someone living in the US
As someone who wants to start in the US, the majority of machines are in Europe. That's reality. Australia also has lots of machines but their pricing is bonkers, maybe the most expensive active market for vintage machines. Thus I don't recommend buying from there (also mega pricey shipping costs). The west coast (Bay Area and Seattle especially) appears to have the most machines that pop up locally, but still less frequently than Europe. Maybe machines are hiding in New York City or other places but I haven't seen them. This means you will probably need to buy then ship the machine. What you need to realize is anything you purchase as of February 2024, add around $1000 (maybe more) to shipping and import fees for one machine from Europe if you don't have commercial discount rates. If nothing else just use it as an estimate for calculating expenses/budgeting. You will not likely find the bargain 500-1000 euro bargain machines that I see colleagues achieve. Expect to pay closer to market rates (which itself can fluctuate based on machine model and brand).

Buying machines from private individuals vs resellers
It can be a gamble to deal with individual/private sales, especially when dealing outside of resale websites like Ebay with buyer protections. Basic Buyer Beware logic will apply here, and this is where having the contacts local to the machine you potentially find becomes helpful, as they can potentially inspect and pick it up for you. Resellers do this a lot, and the well known ones like Piero/VCarola, Roberto, etc will take payment for the machine you want to purchase or they are offering. What they paid maybe 1000 euro for they'll ask 2000 to pay for their time, gas, and to profit. People will also specifically reach out to these resellers to find buyers as well for a small cut. TLDR: Expect to pay more if it's through a reseller. They will also package machines for shipment (private sellers will do this sometimes), and make sure you ensure they do properly for heavy machines. Pallets are highly recommended. Full wood crates are the best.

Besides collecting in person from a private individual, I think the best source to buy machines is from other collectors. They are often in the hobby like you who are not usually trying to make a huge profit, but rather sell a machine due to space constraints or to fund a different machine they want. That is the only time you will ever see me sell a machine. I sold my Gaggia America two group to fund a Duchessa purchase this past month. They also are more likely knowledgeable in packing machines properly for shipment. People like Pascal is a good example, and I have purchased machines from him in the past. There is also a large number of German collectors, they are a good resource to befriend in the process. Many threads in Kaffee-Netz are very useful for referencing projects too. Google translate is a big help to read their posts and to speak with people.

Note that purchasing from collectors applies usually to the "smaller" ones, like less than 50 machines probably. The BIG collectors, like with hundreds of machines, are probably wealthy enough to have the luxury of only buying, no selling.

It will take time to build up these relationships, but eventually it pays off. I am a little beyond what most people will consider reasonable, but the more machines and projects you complete, the more well known you become. You will become more trusted and people may even start reaching out to you and offer something they have or found.

Parts and tools
References and parts are hidden in various catalogs, websites, and manufacturers. Some parts that need replacing are no longer available and are hard to obtain. Sellers who are completely legitimate may still sell machines that have issues that only appear after disassembly or even after repairing and using the machine. Knowing where to source needed materials, parts, wiring, etc comes with research and referencing past restoration threads. It's also useful to know how easily missing fittings, valves, knobs, etc on a machine you are considering purchasing with this parts knowledge. Common machines with missing parts are way easier to get full valve assemblies, panels, gaskets, etc than say a La Cosmo machine missing a very unique bakelite knob. It's also good to know that EU parts suppliers are totally valid and often cheaper sources than US sellers, but may take longer to ship. Eevad, TSE, Brooks Espresso, Avola coffee systems, etc are good sites to know.

Tools are also important. Even if you intend to fix more than one or two machines I recommend purchasing the specific niche tools necessary to get the job done. C hook spanners, pin spanner wrenches, various drivers, heating devices like Propane torches, etc will be needed one way or the other during the job. I will not even go into machining new parts, which I cannot do but want to learn.

I know a guy, ie external help
Something to remember when working on a project is to consider who you can reach out to for specific jobs you cannot do yourself. Stuff like powdercoating, plating, media blasting, repairs, fabricating, etc. Try to figure out the answers to those questions early on so you're not stuck on a task in your project. Few people can do an entire restoration themselves, so check out your local options. Remember that these will add to your project costs, so keep extra money set aside for these specific tasks if you don't/can't do it yourself.

What is the best machine to start a first timer project?
Faema E61/President just because you can source basically every part new today. Parts are available because of the E61 Legend and Quality Espresso still makes the Zodiac lever group for their machines. From a reseller, the cost for just the machine will probably range from 1800-2500 euro for a 1 group before shipping if it's in decent to great shape.

Holy Sh*t that was too long, what's the TLDR Ryan??
For a first time vintage machine project I recommend an E61, Faema Lambro, or Faema President. A Faema Ariete and Zodiaco, the 70's version of the prior machines, are also valid responses and are often cheaper. You can purchase almost an entire machine worth of parts if anything is missing. You will likely purchase the machine in Europe and have it shipped. Costs will likely range anywhere from $2500-4000 including shipping at market rates. Parts and labor can add anywhere from 500-1500 depending on issues and condition of the machine, maybe more.

I know and wrote this word vomit because it is what I experienced when I began buying old machines.
-Ryan
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borntodie
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#19: Post by borntodie »

Can confirm the Lambro clearance is short, I use a bottomless portafilter with mine which more or less solves that problem (for my cups). I've found the warm-up times much faster than other people experience. I fill the boiler and pull half the volume through the group if I'm in a hurry. You're really just waiting for the group to heat up. No more than 20 min from cold for me.

I tried a bunch of baskets and the best results for me are 16gr in the 14gr espressoparts basket. I can't get enough water volume to do modern 21gr 1:2 shots. The bigger baskets take forever to fully saturate. There must be a trick to it that I don't know.

I recently went through this hunt myself, found a basket-case machine on a german forum. The cost of restored machines was outrageous when I looked.

This guy below also offered me one (unrestored) for 1200€, which was about as cheap as I could find. He seems to always have interesting stock. No history of dealing with him though.

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100086792473922

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IamOiman
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#20: Post by IamOiman »

EspressoDM is a known reseller, and I know people who have purchased from him. He is a Spanish reseller, and there seems to be a slight bias against Spanish made machines (even if they're Faema, Gaggia, etc) that result in lower prices than what I'd see in Italy.

The most reasonable pricing will be via the private transactions from collectors and resellers, although the true bargains may briefly appear on the public resale sites :D
-Ryan
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