Now, while both of these machines are considered manual levers, there are some key differences in how they approach the pull. The first indication of the difference in these two machines is the comparison of their group heads
While dispensing about the same amount of fluid per pull, you quickly realize that the Elektra has something else engineered into it to require a group head almost twice the size of the Pavoni.
The Pavoni is a full manual machine, meaning that you manually push it to the top of its stroke and then it is up to the user to apply the necessary pressure on the handle during the pull stroke. Some feel that this adds more variability to the Pavoni process, while others will argue that it give the user more control over the shot.
The Elektra machine removes this variable by utilizing a massive spring to control the downward thrust of the piston. The manual step is to load the spring and bring water into the group head and then the pressure of spring controls the piston to give you a consistent down stroke with each shot.
I pulled the head on the Elektra to give you a view of the spring and piston:
While I had the heads open on both machines I thought I would also compare the pistons and gaskets, since this is the most common maintenance that you do on these machines...
I have covered gasket replacement on the Pavoni in my refeathering thread
but, it is worth a quick look again at the piston:
Piston is make of a high density plastic and the two primary gaskets are identical and installed in opposing directions.
Now on the Elektra, the piston is solid brass with two unique washers. It is also clear that you can replace these washers without having to deal with the main spring.
On both of these machines, the group head fills with water at the top of the piston stroke. Pressure from the boiler forces water into the cylinder and then the lever pressure forces the water through the coffee puck. It is worth noting that on the Elektra there is full pressure on the lever until water enters the group head. Since you are pulling against a large spring, if you release the handle prior to the water filling, it will quickly snap back to the top....thus how these machines get the reputation of a "chin/teeth buster" to the non-attentive barista. While this is not a risk with the Pavoni, a good shot on the Europiccola does require significant pressure on the down stroke and may be a bit intimidating to initial users as to just how much force is needed to operate the machine.