Real brass or fake brass re: used La Pavoni Europiccola

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redbone

#1: Post by redbone »

I noticed this LPE online and wondered if it's real brass or the fake stuff. The owner who lives far away can't verify it nor can he post any pictures since he had someone else post the one and only picture for him.
Any insight welcome.

Image
Between order and chaos there is espresso.
Semper discens.


Rob
LMWDP #549

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rpavlis

#2: Post by rpavlis »

This one looks like real brass and copper. The "fake" ones are nickel-chrome plated, and then plated over with copper.

The brass alloy used for the fittings on the boiler are a different colour than the boiler which are, in the "real ones", unplated copper.

In the "fakes" every thing is covered with copper, so it is all the same colour.

Note the base of the boiler, the group mounts,and the "lips" of the boiler. Here they are a lighter brass colour than the copper boiler, strongly indicating this to be a "real" one.

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redbone

#3: Post by redbone » replying to rpavlis »

Thanks Robert something told be that you would have this answer. I believe it's a 1995 model. What are your thoughts on this gen ?
Between order and chaos there is espresso.
Semper discens.


Rob
LMWDP #549

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rpavlis

#4: Post by rpavlis »

This one is a two switch model, I noticed. Around 1995 they started adding the detachable steam wand. That was really a good idea.

It probably is just before the plastic piston era, which is a good thing. The base is much less likely to have corrosion problems, since it should be made of brass. By this time the inlet port into the group probably has been changed so it should have just one hole, early models run water into the space under the piston too fast. (I have described constricting the end of the dip tube to slow it down.)

The essentially all brass and copper construction makes this a wonderful machine when used properly. It is ideal for making espresso when one is in a rush. (Power on to espresso--7 minutes.) One needs to play by its rules, and understand how the thing works very very thoroughly. A ramekin is a wonderful thing to use with these machines. One can clean out residues between shots and cool down the group by having the group imbibe water from a ramekin for from 5 to 10 seconds between shots. Watch with an infrared thermometer--the coating on these is an extremely good emitter of IR, so this works well, and when the base of the group reaches about 88 to 90C pull the shot. Individuals may like other temperatures, that is what I like. One must also bleed the group thoroughly. It is futile to measure the temperature of the TOP of the group, because when properly bled, the top will be at boiler temperature! One also needs late lockin to prevent spongy shots. As long as it is thoroughly bled, with the bottom of the group at the desired temprature, and when late lock in is properly applied, these things are absolutely consistent. If one always clean off and clean the bottom of the group with a ramekin of water after each shot there NEVER is a temperature problem.

I have embellished mine quite a bit because I have metal working equipment that I also use for other things. With the standard pressure it will steam well, especially if one replace the stock steam tip. (M6x1.0 threads.) Watch out for badly contaminated water, mine was a mess when I got it when it was ten years old.

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redbone

#5: Post by redbone »

Robert R, seems similar to my previous Zacconi Eagle. It use to suck up a lot of grinds until I learned to never over fill the basket, 12g max since the shower screen made contact with the grinds otherwise. I use to use my frothing pitcher almost filled with water to draw water into the group for cleaning purposes. Never thought to do it for temperature control purposes.
Does you process vary regarding the LP levers based on generation type ?
Between order and chaos there is espresso.
Semper discens.


Rob
LMWDP #549

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rpavlis

#6: Post by rpavlis »

The second generation needs to use the ramekin method for doing it fast and consistently, I think.

I have a first generation which is the same design as the third, only better construction. Its temperature can be controlled by moving the handle up and down to bring hot water to the space around the cylinder sleeve. The 2nd generation heats only form steam in the space above the piston. Very little heat is transferred in either by direct conduction, one can find by not bleeding them.

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redbone

#7: Post by redbone »

The older gentleman agreed to my price so all I had to do was promise a nice lunch out in a small town and my wife was on board. I bit the bullet and decided to take a 1.5 hr drive.
Here it is. Only fault is slight chip on right of base. Came complete with PF, 2 baskets, frothing pitcher, plastic tamper, booklet and six espresso cups.
Image

Looked inside boiler and notice some mild "greening" in spots and decided to do a citric acid and hot water fill.

I'm aware of the overheating issues on the second gen LP levers. Reading up on best mods for temperature stability. Open to successful mod ideas.
Between order and chaos there is espresso.
Semper discens.


Rob
LMWDP #549

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rpavlis

#8: Post by rpavlis »

I would get an infrared thermometer. They formerly cost a lot of money, but now they cost about $US15. You can point this at the base of the group to determine the appropriate time to pull the shot. The normal coating on these is very IR emissive, so you do not have to attach anything to it, just point the laser of the pointer to the top of the flare.

Be sure to bleed the group, after the pressure relief valve starts to release steam, move the handle up to near the position where water would be released, move it for an instant to let a little water escape, then slowly lower the handle. I move it up and down two or three times without releasing any water to be sure. These machines will be difficult to control without bleeding in my experience.

Lately I always draw water into the group from a ramekin after each shot. I use the ramekin about half filled with water. I put it against the bottom of the group and raise the handle about a third of the way. I wait for five to ten seconds and lower the handle again. I turn off the high wattage element and remove the ramekin and watch the temperature of the base with the IR thermometer. When it gets to about 88 to 90 degrees I pull the shot. I normally put the cup and loaded portafilter on the right side of the machine. Then I raise the handle just enough to emit a bit of steam and water, lower it just enough to stop, and very quickly put the portafilter in place and lock it. Then I pull the lever until a few drops of espresso emerge, raise it all the way and finish the shot. (You do not have to use the steam wand to bleed the two switch models like you do the one.)

I find 14 grams is about the right shot size. Depending on your taste and the roast level of the coffee, you might want to change the temperature. The top of the group will always be hot, because it is filled with live steam. It is the bottom that you need to watch.

Also check your water supplier's analysis to be sure the water is not laced with chloride. In the presence of high concentrations of chloride copper and copper alloys can corrode very badly. You do not want to use water that is acidic, and you do not want to use water that produces massive scale. I live in an area with erratic composition. I do not like "alien" ions in espresso, so I normally use distilled water that is spiked with between 50 and 100 mg per litre of potassium bicarbonate. (Potassium bicarbonate is used by brewers a lot to neutralise beer and wine.) With dark roast straight distilled water seems okay, because the dark roast removes a lot of the carboxylic acids in the coffee by decarboxylation and evaporation. When the municipal water here is at its worse it is so hard that one needs to descale pots used for cooking vegetables!!!!

You might want to check the threaded rod used to attach the handle to the portafilter. The stock ones tend to corrode. I replaced mine with brass ones I made from bar stock, but stainless steel is fine. You can buy M12 or M10 stainless nuts and decapitate them rather than buy a whole metre of threaded rod. (Late second generation portafilters are M12, earlier M10.) You might also check the M6 bolts used to attach the group to the boiler, some are too short. I initially replaced mine with stainless, but more recently obtained brass bolts and cut them to the length that went clear to the bottom of the bore, I believe that was 17mm? The rods that hold the group handle can be replaced with 6mm brass rod threaded on both sides, or one can find other way to make it easier to remove the handle for cleaning. Be sure to lubricate the external group handle parts with regular grease, not "silicone". Be sure only to use silicone on the piston seals, however, Dow 111 or equivalent. Other lubricants will likely cause the seals to swell and be seriously irreversibly damaged.

Mine has gotten more and more brass on it over the years. I look at it and envision a machine with still more brass.

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drgary
Team HB

#9: Post by drgary »

Congratulations on a beautiful score. Very nice!
Gary
LMWDP#308

What I WOULD do for a good cup of coffee!

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redbone

#10: Post by redbone »

Thanks Robert R for the indepth usage explanation. I have an I.R. thermometer but found them useless on chrome due to laser bounce. Will try on this unit. It's a 1985 with no PStat. Steam tip seems to ne a little worn or flaked.

Thanks Gary.
Between order and chaos there is espresso.
Semper discens.


Rob
LMWDP #549