Hands on experience with Elektra Microcasa a Leva

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Chert
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#1: Post by Chert »

A collector from this forum sold his 80s era MCAL to me. It has no vacuum breaker valve. It had very nice build quality , pretty brass and copper and some remaining chrome patina. It has the brass portafilter with two spouts. The gauge reads 1.25 bar but it may be a little sprung from the false pressure of cool down.

Internal to the group it has a spring within a spring as some have been modded to up extraction pressure some and so now we are getting to my question. But I will get back to that shortly- decaf espresso and cake and ice cream beckons...
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Chert (original poster)
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#2: Post by Chert (original poster) »

Ok, so where was I? Ah yes: There are some hands on videos of MCAL extraction, like this one.
Geez, he likes his MCAL, but plans to upgrade and prefers his souped up Gaggia Classic. Anyway at about 4:40 is the extraction. Is this fellow that much stronger than me? He pulls that lever and holds it in valve open position with very little effort. Almost like a commercial spring group. Pull down, and the knuckle assembly holds it in boiler pressure pre-infusion.

But with the unit I have, or my puny arm, I find it quite a strength feat to pull that lever down to start pre-infusion and hold it like that.

Is that what a second spring does to the group action? Is it vastly easier with just the one spring arrangement? Or is there something about this group that I need to refurbish? If you have hands on experience with MCAL extraction, what do you think?

That issue and question aside, I am quite enjoying the experience of coffee with MCAL, and such a nice home lever machine.
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baldheadracing
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#3: Post by baldheadracing »

FWIW, the old spring in my MCaL was easier to use than the current spring sold by Stephano's. I found the increase in effort noticeable. I would guess that your double spring would be even more effort.

I have a little bit longer lever handle to make pulling - and holding down - require a little less effort. I use my left (weaker) arm for pulling, as my right hand is holding the portafilter.

(BTW, my gauge is off just like yours. Eventually I cobbled together a bunch of fittings to add a vacuum breaker. It's fugly but convenient.)
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florenz

#4: Post by florenz »

Regarding the video, I would say that the spring is a bit soft - compared to my MCAL with one old spring.
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drgary
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#5: Post by drgary »

Chert wrote:Ok, so where was I? Ah yes: There are some hands on videos of MCAL extraction, like this one. But with the unit I have, or my puny arm, I find it quite a strength feat to pull that lever down to start pre-infusion and hold it like that.

Is that what a second spring does to the group action? Is it vastly easier with just the one spring arrangement? Or is there something about this group that I need to refurbish? If you have hands on experience with MCAL extraction, what do you think?

That issue and question aside, I am quite enjoying the experience of coffee with MCAL, and such a nice home lever machine.
Flint,

If a booster spring makes it hard to depress the lever, have you thought of placing it higher so that you are pulling it down and not pushing it down?
Gary
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Chert (original poster)
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#6: Post by Chert (original poster) »

I'm not sure what makes this unit difficult at the valve open.

To adjust the ergonomics like that is a good suggestion.

Do you recall much change in tension with the pre- versus post 2nd spring addition? I think perhaps something else is causing resistance near valve open.

My old CMA groups I did the same thing with, ie added a 2nd spring. IIRC, an MCAL spring sat inside the CMA spring in that iteration. Anyway, with a lever arm of usual length, the additional spring did not adversely affect the usability.
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drgary
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#7: Post by drgary »

I didn't have a problem with the MCAL with a booster spring, but then you've met me. I'm very tall, so I loomed over it, and it wasn't hard to press down. There's no harm in servicing it, but if you still have a lot of resistance please drop by next time you're in the area and bring the MCAL with you.
Gary
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guyy

#8: Post by guyy »

I don't have any problem holding the lever down. It's pretty easy, at least for me. I'm somewhat laller than average and have used a manual grinder since forever. Maybe that helps. My MCAL is a recent one.

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Chert (original poster)
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#9: Post by Chert (original poster) »

guyy wrote:I don't have any problem holding the lever down. It's pretty easy, at least for me. I'm somewhat laller than average and have used a manual grinder since forever. Maybe that helps. My MCAL is a recent one.
This one isn't really hard to push down or pull down except at the point of opening the valve where it's like exerting 7-9 bar of pressure on a Pavoni extraction gauge. It seems like that level of force.

Is it normal to require more force to the bottom of the downward pressure?
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drgary
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#10: Post by drgary »

At that point you're cocking both springs to maximum pressure. I ended up liking my MCAL the best with a new and current version single spring.
Gary
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What I WOULD do for a good cup of coffee!