My Great-Grandmother's Vintage Chicobar Espresso Machine

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AGordo

#1: Post by AGordo »

Hey HB! I was hoping you guys might be able to help me out. I recently found out that my family still has my great-grandmother's old espresso machine, but that unfortunately it hasn't worked in something like 50 years. I would love to be able to restore it to working condition, but I have no experience with the inner workings of espresso machines and have no idea where to start. That's where I turn to you!



First off, I'm not quite sure what make and model the machine is! The only thing that is written on it is the word "chicobar" repeated around the body and the words "Made in Italy." There is no branding of any kind on the machine. I have tried to do a bit of research on my own, looking at vintage machines online, and based purely off the look and design, my best guess would be that it was made by La Cimbali. But even with that information, I have not been able to find my great-grandmother's model anywhere. Does anybody know what model of espresso machine it is?

It is worth mentioning that unfortunately I don't actually have the machine with me (I was sent the picture), so for the time being I can't examine it myself to answer any questions, but if there is anything that we absolutely have to know, I should be able to get more pictures sent.

Lastly, if we are able to figure out which model it is, is there any documentation that I can look at to try and learn how to determine what might be wrong with the machine and what I could do to fix it?

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

pacificmanitou

#2: Post by pacificmanitou »

Rebranded microcimbali? Sure looks like one, the porthole is pretty distinctive
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AGordo (original poster)

#3: Post by AGordo (original poster) » replying to pacificmanitou »

That's exactly why I figured it was made by La Cimabli, it looks very similar to the microcimbali. But I wasn't sure if it was another model from the same company. Is rebranding something that used to happen? To the point where the shape of the body looks fairly different? And if so, is it safe to assume that the internals would be the same as the microcimbali?

Headala

#4: Post by Headala »

Looks very very similar to a Microcimbali. There is overhaul information at Orphan Espresso: http://www.orphanespresso.com/La-Cimbal ... 551-1.html

I'm a bit concerned that this version does not appear to have the boiler drain. IMHO it is critical that these aluminum boiler machines be drained after each use.

AGordo (original poster)

#5: Post by AGordo (original poster) »

Headala wrote:Looks very very similar to a Microcimbali. There is overhaul information at Orphan Espresso: http://www.orphanespresso.com/La-Cimbal ... 551-1.html
Thanks for the link! I'll be sure to use their resources once I try to give fixing it a shot. Do you have any idea why it's different from the microcimbali? And if it was made by La Cimbali? My family's best guess is that it's from the '50s.

Headala

#6: Post by Headala » replying to AGordo »

It's not only a little different. The Microcimbali has a totally different boiler structure, where the boiler is behind the piston housing (still all one piece though). The piston linkage looks very similar, and the drip tray grate looks exactly the same though. Very interesting!

IMAWriter
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#7: Post by IMAWriter »

Headala wrote:Looks very very similar to a Microcimbali. There is overhaul information at Orphan Espresso: http://www.orphanespresso.com/La-Cimbal ... 551-1.html

I'm a bit concerned that this version does not appear to have the boiler drain. IMHO it is critical that these aluminum boiler machines be drained after each use.
Perhaps as it is not exactly a a MicroCimbali, the boiler is NOT aluminum? Guess we won't know till Paul Pratt, Francesco, etc weighs in? :)
Rob
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Headala

#8: Post by Headala » replying to IMAWriter »

Yes, I'm no expert, I've just worked on my own Microcimbali. One thing is for sure, if there's anywhere on the internet that can figure it out it's HB! :)

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yakster
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#9: Post by yakster »

Could be related to the Chic Sprint.

http://www.francescoceccarelli.eu/m_chic_eng.htm

My other thought was that someone had it labeled for their bar, Chicobar instead of the name of the manufacturer.
-Chris

LMWDP # 272

donn

#10: Post by donn »

Headala wrote:It's not only a little different. The Microcimbali has a totally different boiler structure, where the boiler is behind the piston housing (still all one piece though).
To me, this looks like an open boiler design, even though it clearly isn't. I mean the shape - modern pressure boiler designs push the group away from the boiler for temperature reasons, where the open boiler machines were often shaped just like this. We saw an old Campeona machine here last month, different shape but with the same apparent hybrid design where it was pretty clear that the piston was indeed surrounded by the boiler, and someone claimed the overheated brew temperature would be fine for a "torrefacto" coffee, whatever that was. (Wonder if it's anything like Brazilian cafezinho, which does as I remember it kind of resemble an espresso brewed far too hot.)

In practice, it would be worth trying the machine with the cap off, to see if it will draw water into the group at sea level pressure. If so, at least you have the choice to use it as an open boiler machine, which means the group and water reservoir are maintained at a constant brew temperature. With the cap on and the water heated to steam temperature, it will be far too hot to make a good espresso; the shape of the normal Microcimbali is a typical attempt to solve this problem by isolating the group a little from the boiler, but that isn't a stable effect.

You might want to find out if it has any indication of what voltage it's supposed to run on, if you plan to use it. I use a step up transformer for my old machine made for the European market.