Ok pulled 3 shots this morning, all of them 14g.
Started by letting the machine warm up for 20 minutes. For each shot, I did 5 slow flushes to try and heat up the group head. Then I pulled 2 oz of just hot water to heat the cup. Then I pulled the handle up slowly until I heard water just start filling the chamber and immediately stopped, pulling back slightly. I secured the PF and proceeded.
Shot 1: On pre-infusion, I felt minimal water entry. I only felt back pressure around 10 degrees below horizon of the lever and the shot yielded 18g.
Shot 2: (<5 minutes later). This time, I felt much more water entering the chamber. Still no back pressure until horizon (my typical experience) but the shot was 27g. Tasted pretty good but I wanted more crema.
Shot 3: (20 minutes later) This time, thinking I was not getting enough back pressure, I reduced the grind on my Lido E by 0.5 marks. This time, I felt/heard a good deal of water entering the chamber but when I pulled the lever, I had no back pressure essentially all the way down. The shot was perhaps 4 drops but the lever was easily pulled to baseline. I looked at the puck and it was wet but essentially undisturbed. EDIT: In retrospect, I did use an older coffee for this shot as I ran out of my fresh roast... Burning through so much coffee trying to get this process down! I should have some new fresh beans tomorrow.
Thanks. (Don't worry RHP, still loving this hobby)