New Elektra Microcasa a Leva with piston problem

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#1: Post by scerchio »

I received a new Elektra Microcasa a Leva in early March 2022, and although I am not entirely a novice, this was my first lever espresso machine. After only a few days of learning and experimenting with beans, grinds, temperature regulation and lever timing, I was making quite satisfactory shots with a decent crema and fairly consistent. I was looking forward to further experimentation and honing my technique. Used it daily, making 2-4 double shots /day, for about 2 or 3 weeks before leaving on a 5 week trip in April. Returned in early May and started up again, same general usage, maybe closer to 2 shots/day.

After about a week I started to notice the lever was sticking a bit on the ascent, moving in a slightly jerky motion about 1/4 to 1/2 way up. This progressively became worse, getting nearly stuck on the way up and also at the top not fully pushing the piston back into the grouphead, and requiring me to "help" the lever up to get the piston down. Quality of the espresso degraded as well, with almost no crema and inconsistent results. I did a bunch of tests with different grind coarseness, and it had no effect. As of this weekend (May 22), the spring lever essentially no longer works, and although it is not seized, I have to essentially manually raise the lever, and use quite a bit of force at the top to push the piston completely down.

I am not sure what to do at this point and concerned I have already damaged the apparatus. Is this something that commonly occurs with the Microcasa, and that others have had to deal with? I am uncertain of whether I should attempt to return it to the distributor, or try to fix it myself. I have not tried to open the grouphead yet, but I wonder if it is a relatively simple problem with the piston gaskets that I could fix, by either repositioning or replacing the gaskets. It seems really screwed up that this happened after only several weeks of use, and makes me wonder about whether there was a problem with the machine to start with, and therefore I should push for a replacement. These aren't cheap, and you expect better quality. Feeling pretty frustrated and disappointed right now.

Any advice is greatly appreciated.

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#2: Post by HB »

Sounds like the piston needs lubrication with Dow 111. I searched for a minute and found lots of prior discussions:
As the post above suggests, it's an easy maintenance item.
Dan Kehn