La Pavoni Europiccola v1.5

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#1: Post by Tjyven »

Never owned a lever machine but for a while now I have been thinking about buying one. Feel attracted to both the look and the more autentic way of making espresso. Mostly been thinking about buying a new Europiccola but now there is a guy selling a La Pavoni v1.5 and I wonder if anyone here has any experience of those machines. How is the workflow, temperature stability, easy maintanence, result in the cup and so on? How are they compared to the newer ones?

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#2: Post by baldheadracing »

- similar to post-millenium (current) machines (unmodified in both cases)

Temperature stability
- as above, but if you value temperature stability of a machine in and of itself, then an unmodified La Pavoni is not that machine. It is your actions and/or machine modifications that make the temperature stable; and you must learn and take those actions. The machine won't do it for you - there isn't even a pressurestat or vacuum breaker in a stock v1.

- The main issue of the 1.5 (and earlier) is that the group cylinder has to be removed to service the group. (The shower screen is permanently attached to the group cylinder.) However, a 1.5 (or earlier) may have been modified with a removeable shower screen - it is a fairly common mod, albeit one that needs a lathe to do properly.

As far as I can tell, the actual difference is a matter of the time needed for group servicing and having a cylinder removal tool - as long as the particular machine has been (and will be) regularly serviced. On the other hand, if the cylinder has been in the group for a long time and is more-or-less seized within the group, then maintenance will take a lot more time (and many colourful metaphors).

- another issue is that the group is screwed into the boiler; v2 and later machines have a group that is much easier to remove and replace. A removeable group makes many temperature stability modifications possible.

Result in the cup
- hard to say as you are by far the biggest factor in the results in a manual lever, especially a La Pavoni.

Newer ones
- I have a v1.6 primarily because James Bond had a v1.6 8). Some of us prefer the aesthetics of the v1 machines; I find the current Europiccola's to be a design mess compared to v1 machines.
- Less whimsically, the build quality of earlier machines is arguably better.

- unless you absolutely need milk steaming and/or love the looks of a Pavoni, something like a Robot or an EspressoForge is probably the way to go if you are primarily looking to satisfy your curiousity about levers.
The main reason that I have a (modified) La Pavoni is that it gives me the shortest time between a cold start and drinking a cappuccino.

Good luck!
-"Good quality brings happiness as you use it" - Nobuho Miya, Kamasada

Tjyven (original poster)

#3: Post by Tjyven (original poster) »

Thanks for a very good answer!

I am aware that heat stability isnt great on La Pavonis but I was just curious if those older versions were much worse (or better) than the newer ones.

To sum up would I be correct to say that the most negative is that it is more difficult to do service and the positive with this older one is that it is better built than the newer ones?

That vacuum breaker, what does it do? Big drawback it doesnt have one?

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#4: Post by baldheadracing replying to Tjyven »

For heat, I'd say that an unmodified second gen has more issues than the current models or the v1's. However, there are mods to make the performance of the second gen similar to the third gen. Post-millenium is probably the "best" stock, but it depends on the person using the machine.

Also, I wouldn't say that the earlier gen 1 is significantly more difficult to service; it is more that any machine needs to be properly maintained. The price of fixing poor prior maintenance is just higher in the v1, and, due to age, you're more likely to encounter the effects of poor maintenance. I'd have no issue buying a well-maintained machine.

For the vacuum breaker, all early La Pavoni's did not use a pressurestat or a vacuum breaker. (Essentially the two go together.) Early machines have two heating elements; one powerful and one weak. You control which elements are on and when they are on (and off). Thus, you have absolute control over what happens in the boiler, but it is up to you to actively manage the boiler. (It isn't as difficult as it sounds.) Manual control of boiler behaviour is arguably a good thing for La Pavoni's, but opinions vary.

In modern machines (and modern La Pavoni's), there is only one (powerful) heating element, and it is controlled by boiler pressure (pressurestat). The element is on below the pressurestat's set pressure, and off otherwise. However, as the pressurestat controls, ah, pressure, it suffers from "false pressure" - every time the machine is started up, the air inside the boiler needs to be bled off so that when the boiler is at operating pressure there is almost no air in the boiler: there is only water and steam. A vacuum breaker takes care of the false pressure without any action on your part (except it needs proper maintenance, and the particular design used in La Pavoni's needs very regular maintenance). If there is a pressurestat with no vacuum breaker, then, every time the machine is turned on, you will have to manually open the steam valve once the boiler heats up to bleed off the air trapped inside the boiler.
-"Good quality brings happiness as you use it" - Nobuho Miya, Kamasada

Tjyven (original poster)

#5: Post by Tjyven (original poster) »

Thanks again for a very good answer!

For me it sounds like this thing with two heating elements is very good. If doing head to head shots wouldnt this then be a rather good way to prevent overheating of the group head?

Same place also has a beautiful La Pavoni Professional from 1996 for sale, it also has an isolator between the boiler and the group head. You have any thoughts of this machine? How do they compare?

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#6: Post by baldheadracing »

The heat in a La Pavoni is related to its relatively light and compact group (unmodified - there are heat sink mods sold). Regardless, you have to control the heat manually, whether there are two switches or not.

For the Pro, I don't know as it depends on the specific isolator and its installation, and I have no experience with any of those. I also have no need for the larger boiler so I haven't looked too much into Pro's. On a '96, I would confirm that the piston is brass, as unreliable plastic pistons were used from 1997-2007 according to Francesco Ceccarelli's site, and there is always overlap. For a Pro, I would stick to 2007+ for the Pro unless you like to do mods. (As an aside, I'm also not a big fan of the swivelling steam wand that was introduced around 1994, but that is a personal preference.)
-"Good quality brings happiness as you use it" - Nobuho Miya, Kamasada

Tjyven (original poster)

#7: Post by Tjyven (original poster) »

Yes I understand there is no solution that "automatic" gives perfect temperature.

I would also prefer the smaller boiler even though it might not be a too big issue with a bigger.

Will check the piston, but I read that the steam tip been modified, there is now a single hole custom made stainless steam tip.

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#8: Post by drgary »

One essential thing with any La Pavoni home lever is measuring temperature at the group, which can be done by attaching a thermometer or a temperature strip. If you don't do that, you are flying blind. Also, you'll want to run boiler pressure at about 0.8 bar and use half pumps to bring the group up to brew temperature. For most home levers, you won't get the best temperature stability but they are good for temperature surfing different roast levels, which is why you'll want to measure group temperature. The external temperature will often seem higher than what's happening in the brew chamber, but you use the external temp as a guideline.

If it hasn't already been mentioned, build quality was best in 1st gen machines and declined from there. Most of the 1st gen machines had a cast aluminum boiler. The very last models went to plain steel that could rust. Soon the cast base became stamped plain steel that was plated. A few models had true brass bases.

Something to master with La Pavoni home levers is eliminating the air pocket in the group, especially before the first pull. If you get that machine, use Search to find the rpavlis method for purging the group of air.

What I WOULD do for a good cup of coffee!

Tjyven (original poster)

#9: Post by Tjyven (original poster) »

Understand there will be lots of temperature surfing and I will need something to measure the temperature, I would prefer some sort of analog thermometer, think that would look best, but I have trouble finding those.

Both machines I have mentioned here are very good restored and both have modification. For about the same price as the one from 1996 I could buy a new europiccola and have it modded, question here is just which one is best.

Will search for the rpavlis method and I also think there is a modification that should solve this problem.


#10: Post by RobAnybody »

Tjyven wrote:modification that should solve this problem
indeed there is a mod ... oup-heads/

Personally i would go with the V1.5, the cast-aluminium base provides a much more stable platform than the later bases and is not as succeptible to corrosion.
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