Help IDing older Astoria

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#1: Post by berkinet »

I am trying to rebuild an Astoria 2-group lever machine for a local restaurant. For what its worth, I am not charging them for my time. The main problem seems to be water leaking past the piston inside the sleeve. I have taken one group apart and tried to order parts from But, unfortunately the piston does not match the one they show in their online catalog. Devon referred me to General Espresso and they could only say it doesn't look like anything built since hey took over the business in 1995 - but, they will forward my pictures to the factory to see what they think - but, since its vacation time in Italy, they said it could be a few weeks to get a response. So, in the hopes of getting an earlier resolution, I have posted this here.

The big difference is that the piston I have has six white rings, not unlike piston rings on a car. Note the break in them (red circle) in the first photo below. I have included a picture of the espresso-parts piston with the gaskets they sell - you can see they are quite different.

I have also attached a picture of the group since it differs from the other more bulging barrel shaped ones I have found on this board.

Finally, I have included a picture of the machine itself. If it helps identify the machine, (the tag with identifying information is missing) the Astoria metal label on the back, upper left shows a red outline map of the world behind the name Astoria.

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#2: Post by Heckie »

They are pretty common in CA. The tag on the front says it all Or am I missing something here??

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berkinet (original poster)

#3: Post by berkinet (original poster) »

Mr. Espresso is a coffee sevice company in Oakland, CA. At some point the must have provided this machine to a customer as part of their coffee service package. But, after it became too old for them it was sold off. All of this happened well before the current owner got the machine. I previously tried to get information about a another used machine from Mr. Espresso and they said they did not keep records, but I wil try again on this one tomorrow.

If you recognize the machine, do you have an idea about when it was manufactured or anything else that would help me locate the correct parts?

BTW. You can't see it in the photo I uploaded, but, the area code for Alameda, noted on the Mr. Espresso tag is shown as 415. That changed to 510 in 1991. So, the tag (and the machine) must be at least 19 years old.

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#4: Post by erics »

I suppose it's WAG time. Perhaps those six rings were precisely diagonally cut from a roll of "packing" by a repair garu who did not have access to the original parts replacements. In the "old days", that is how rings were made for reciprocating pumps and packing for the shafts of centrifugal pumps.

Assuming the remainder of the machine is in good shape, it might be a good idea to simply replace the piston and rings in their entirety.

Eric S.
E-mail: erics at rcn dot com

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berkinet (original poster)

#5: Post by berkinet (original poster) »

I have made some significant progress and hopefully this will help someone else who runs into the same problems I have had finding the right parts for an older Astoria lever group.

As a result of my post I was referred to someone who had previously worked for Astoria with a lot of experience in their products. It turns out that the piston is the same for all of these machines. What changed was the gasket conformation. The older models (I am not sure when the change happened) used smaller (shorter) gaskets separated by white split-ring spacers. Those spacers are no longer available. But the replacement gaskets are simply bigger (taller) so that they will fit in the same groove that the combined gasket spacer previously fit into.

I am going to order the parts today and will post pics of the work-in-progress and result.

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#6: Post by emil »

If you recognize the machine, do you have an idea about when it was manufactured or anything else that would help me locate the correct parts?
Your machine dates from the mid 80s and has totally standard astoria groups - that means all parts are available with no hassle at all.
Does the leaking water come out the dispersion screen or does it come up to the spring (the foto doesn't look like that) - in the second case be sure to change the o-shaped rings inside the group, too.

Best regards
LMWDP #282

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berkinet (original poster)

#7: Post by berkinet (original poster) »

Danke Karsten:

I just finished the group rebuild yesterday. Given the general state of what I found on the tear-down I had decided to simply replace all the gaskets including the upper and lower gaskets between the sleeve and group body - in fact, the lower sleeve gasket was completely missing and whoever had previously tried to fix this machine and just used spacers to keep the group head from pushing the sleeve to far into the group. BTW, the leakage was from the top, and was clearly coming from up between the sleeve and group body.

The machine is now running again. But, there are still some problems: The arm tends to snap back, instead of returning to the top slowly. Careful control of grind and tamp seems to help, but I don't think it should be that sensitive. Also, the right side group seems to get noticeably less water on the arm down stroke, and that arm almost always springs back up - regardless of grind/tamp. I tried replacing the springs. But, the springs I found at Espresso Parts NW were a little longer (that might be because the old springs were simply compressed) and also had 10 winding instead of 8 on the old ones. In any case, with the new springs there was no way to get the arm to return slowly, even a superfine grind that let no water pass through wouldn't cause the arm to rise slowly on its own. I have put the old springs back for now. Any ideas on what to do next would be appreciated.

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#8: Post by orphanespresso »

As far as the fast lever the lower power seal on the piston sealing properly? Is the cylinder filling with water ? These should be some kind of adjustment for the rate of water entrance to the group, usually a ball valve with a screw adjustment which will open or close the aperture. Is the pressure set high enough to force water into the group? Seems that fast snap back of the lever could be caused by the lower seal not working right, or the cylinder not filling completely with water to saturate the grounds so you are compressing air in the cylinder and not 100% water. You can also shorten the spring if it is too long but the diameter is correct and the wire size the same, with a hack saw and grinder , if you think a new spring will change the kinetics of the pull, but I would think a new spring would be needed only if the old one is rusty or pitted....I don't think the spring gets "tired" if it is not damaged in some way.

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berkinet (original poster)

#9: Post by berkinet (original poster) »

Re: Lever snap...

Yes, all three piston gaskets are correctly installed and seem to be sealing well. The cylinders fill with water, though the left group fills noticeably faster than the right. The ball valve is missing. I was told that they were unnecessary and not to waste money replacing them. But, since you bring up the subject, it does seem that if water can come in, pressure can go out... Although, the left group seems to work more-or-less correctly, so the ball valve may not be the issue?

The springs are in good shape. This is my first lever machine repair, so having read elsewhere that springs should be periodically replaced (every 5 to 6 years) I figured that would be a sensible thing to do while the machine was apart. Guess not - especially if the springs were still Ok.


#10: Post by kitt »

Doesn't the astoria spring come in 2 lengths? 130mm and 140mm.Is it possible you got sent the wrong one? What was the length of your old spring vs the new one? Re the lever snap, there's always a certain amount of lever travel with no resistance.On my Brugnetti its about 1/3 of the travel, on my Pavoni P67 its about half the travel, i guess it depends on how saturated the puck is.Is it possible with no ball valve water is being forced back into the boiler? What sort of volume and time shots are you getting?