1954 Victoria Arduino Supervat Restoration

Equipment doesn't work? Troubleshooting? If you're handy, members can help.
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#1: Post by Paul_Pratt »

Something quite rare and beautiful, a VA Supervat 2 group lever. I have almost cleaned out my 2 and 3 group machines but when I saw this for sale it was a no brainer, such a wonderful shape even if it is rather large. It is actually enormous.

What you can probably sees straight away is that this machine has obviously sat in someone's garden for a decade or so at least. Complete with the usual rodent nests, bees nests etc....Surprisingly mostly complete given that it has been abandoned for some time.

The inside is a total basket case, the frame has rotted away in many places so there will be a lot of fabrication work to do, the boiler looks quite dodgy as well and will need some work.

Here's the boiler, doesn't look too bad from this angle, but I am 99% sure the brazed joints on the group neck are broken. In this photo there should be a horizontal piece of the frame in view, but it has totally rusted away - the remnants are wedged down the frame a bit lower down.

The lower frame is not in that bad shape, but the upright section is totally gone. The bodywork on the machine is very well made and complex, but the frame and the boiler is very agricultural.

To get an idea of the sheer size of this machine, here it is next to my Marte, the Marte is imposing as well, but looks like a toy next to the Supervat.

I have not yet been able to date the machine, they made them in the 50's and 60's. Hopefully the pressure gauge or elements will yield a date or two. The condition is pretty bad, I'm a little worried about the boiler, next week I may have more time and it will tell me just how bad the condition is.

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#2: Post by Chert »

I am very happy to witness another Pratt restoration!
LMWDP #198


#3: Post by Sansibar99 »

Rather a resurrection...

I'm really looking forward to see this continueing!
LMWDP #422

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#4: Post by zeb »

Thank you for sharing Paul ;)

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#5: Post by doubleOsoul »

Thank you, Paul, for seeing the beauty within and rescuing it. It was the right thing to do.

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#6: Post by rotchitos »

(almost :lol: ) beautiful and good luck for the restoration.
I look for persons to translate into English one or + pages of my site... :-)


#7: Post by IMAWriter »

Good luck, Paul.
It never ceases to amaze me that folks will rescue wrought iron gates and such, then leave a machine such as this to wither and die.
Best of luck with this one.
LMWDP #187

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#8: Post by FotonDrv »

That will be a very nice project! Congratulations on the find!
That Light at the End of the Tunnel is actually a train

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Paul_Pratt (original poster)

#9: Post by Paul_Pratt (original poster) »

These days I only buy machines that are destined for the scrap heap. The first reason is the obvious challenge of finding and/or fabricating spares and learning a new skill, secondly the prices of half-decent machines these days are sky high so it is just not worth it.

I spent a few hours on friday tearing the machine down and now have a better idea of the condition.

First the pleasant news, the groups seem to be ok, just very dirty. What I was not expecting to see was a Gaggia style piston that slides up and down through the gasket stack. The piston is not the same size as Gaggia. Now something else that was interesting, is you can see a rod that sticks up at the front of the group, when the lever snaps down at the compressed position it pushes on that rod and opens the water to the group - a bit like the TOF groups used on La San Marcos.

Because this machine is so huge and heavy I had to get my chain hoist out, here you can see the heating element flange and the lifting straps I used.

My main focus was the get the groups off so I could see the damage to the frame, the first things to come off were all the steam taps, sight glass fittings etc...these were really difficult and undoubtedly been there since the machine was built. The trick was lots of heat, with extra heat for good measure. I was so close to getting the sight glass out unbroken but alas it was not to be. Luckily it seems to be a standard 12mm tube.

Once all the bits came off I chucked them in a hot bath of Urnex for an hour or so and I ended up with this, a box of junk :D

Once all the taps and fittings were off the front, the only thing holding the main front panel in place were the groups. The group nuts and bolts were just rusty nubs that all sheered off as soon as the spanner even looked at them. Anyway the groups came off with a lot of extra heat and persuasion and I was finally able to get the main panel off.

I was left with this, viewer discretion is advised...

It doesn't get much better inside the boiler either..

Absolutely every orifice was blocked with scale, these are the group dipper tubes.

The heating element..

Before I cut the boiler out from the frame I made sure that I took as many measurements as I could so I can have any hope of rebuilding the machine. The position of the boiler in the frame is critical, if I get that wrong then nothing will line up and the main outer body panel will not go back on. With my datum points measured and re-measured it was time to separate the boiler and the frame and here was the result.

So not much to work with but better than nothing. The boiler and most other bits are now having an acid bath and the groups will be soaking in urnex for a few days.

Apart from cleaning, my next big jobs will be dealing with the rusted and corroded studs on the group flanges and the boiler end plate and then I'll sandblast the frame and start looking for suitable metal to use for the missing parts of the frame.

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#10: Post by zeb »

Nothing interesting to say Paul, but I just wanted to say that I was here, I saw what you did, and wow ;)