1979 La Pavoni Europiccola Restoration & Upgrades

Equipment doesn't work? Troubleshooting? If you're handy, members can help.

#1: Post by TigerStripes »

I've been on the lookout for a La Pavoni project machine, and last week I got lucky. I picked up a not working 1979 Europiccola on ebay for $60.

The listing didn't give too many details other than "not working / for parts / restoration". It arrived on Saturday, and it's in pretty fantastic condition. The clear coat and brass plating is horrendous - but the metal has very little rust. Not bad for a 42 year old machine.

The first order of business was testing out the heating elements. The power on switch was broken, but the high low switches were good - so I just moved the neutral line prong to the middle prong of the high low switch... still didn't heat up... darn....

Next move was pulling out the thermal fuse - SUCCESS! Turns out the thermal fuse was popped/bad. Both of the heating elements 200 watt and 800 watt - are in perfect working condition.

That was a big relief, because I was surprised to see that my 1979 has a screw on element - according to Francesco's chart, the v2.2 (1978-83) had a bolt on element. The 1979 must have been an intermediate year where they used some old parts. I don't know if the boiler is coarse or fine thread, but I'm hoping it's coarse in case I ever need to buy a bolt on element adapter flange. An unexpected bonus of the 1979 screw on element is that it has an open copper tube running up into the boiler for the thermofuse - perfect place to stick an RTD sensor :D

I pulled a few shots with this configuration and discovered a few leaks - the gaskets all need to be replaced.

Next step is to clean up the machine and try to reveal some of the chrome underneath the peeling away clear coat/brass. I have 0000 fine steel wool, aluminum foil, cafiza, mothers mag, and barkeepers friend. Going to start gentle and see how things look.

I've got parts (and toys/accessories) on order from about 6 different vendors to restore this to full functional glory - and also add some more modern temperature control.

This machine is eventually going to see PID control, pressure gauges, thermometer displays, bong isolator, naked PF, and Strietman baskets.

Stay tuned! :mrgreen:

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#2: Post by grog »

Cool, I saw that machine up on eBay and was hoping it would go to an HBer. Looks like an ideal machine for a rebuild project.
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TigerStripes (original poster)

#3: Post by TigerStripes (original poster) »

Thanks Greg - honestly not sure I'd be up to the task if it weren't for the wealth of information on HB. It's a gold mine of La Pavoni information.

I have a question for anyone with knowledge of heating elements.

This is a two heating element device, intended to use one or the other at any given time for steam or pulling shots. Since I'll be wiring up temperature control with a PID controller, I do not need the high/low power functionality. The high/low switch will instead control whether 1) PID has control or 2) no PID - both heating elements turned.

Is there any reason I should NOT wire the 200w and 800w elements in parallel?

I only see upside from this - I get 1000w of heating power - quicker to operating temp and more steam.

Is there any danger in running both elements at the same time, or something I'm not considering?

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#4: Post by guijan12 »

Nice find and some luck also!
Good luck restoring it. :idea:



#5: Post by Sw1ssdude »

I have an old Olympia Cremina (pre-67, therefore basically a rebranded and rewired Europiccola). On this Cremina, the heating elements are wired in Parallel, more precise, they are operated individually, so you can turn them on simultaneously.

the original Olympia Cremina manual also says to turn on both elements until the steam escapes from the overpressure valve, then turn off the big element.

So i see no issues with wiring them in parallel.

if you use it in a 110v instead of a 230v environment, make sure you use a power cord wire gauge that can handle the 1000w. Remember Ohm's law: P=U x I. Half the voltage equals double the current to get the same power...
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TigerStripes (original poster)

#6: Post by TigerStripes (original poster) »

Nino, thank you - your response is very helpful. It's enough supporting evidence for me to feel comfortable wiring in parallel. I also have a friend who is an electrical engineer and he says he can't think of any reason not to wire in parallel - so I'm going to go for it. I'm rewiring with 16 gauge high temperature wire anyway - so current shouldn't be a problem.

Plenty of work to do before then though.

The current challenge is getting the heating element off, and the boiler separated from the base. All I've done so far is manage to turn the boiler a bit. I purchased CRC food safe penetrating lube - so I'll be spraying that down with a hefty dose for a few days before I come back to trying to get the element removed.

Current state of things:

TigerStripes (original poster)

#7: Post by TigerStripes (original poster) »

Quick update to share my new tamper. Instead of buying a 49mm tamper off the shelf, I bought one from a guy named Alex on Etsy - company is "Alperwood". I saw a review with a wood that I liked and Alex said it was Cocobolo wood. Apparently it is a very hard wood so he doesn't finish it with anything other than very fine sanding. He also will machine the base to whatever you request - I went for 49.8mm to use with strietman baskets.

The crazy part is - for this custom wood turning and base machining he charges $45 shipped. Very happy customer :mrgreen:

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#8: Post by RobAnybody »

TigerStripes wrote:. I don't know if the boiler is coarse or fine thread,
For my own '72 Europiccola restauration (using a '79 screw in element) I checked this with Francesco Ceccarellli, the coarse thread was introduced at the same time as the plastic boiler to base flange.
Fine thread boiler to base flanges are a still sold here https://www.lamacchinadelcaffe.com/en/a ... avoni.html and here https://coffee-sensor.com/product-categ ... ler-rings/
make sure you get the M80 x 1.25 version.
There is quite a big chance that you will need a new boiler flange as on the '79 models you often find the pot-metal versions which become extremely brittle over time.
For removing the heating element varous solutions can be found using the search function. I wouldn't reccommend the chisel/hammer option, for me making my own boiler removal tool worked best.
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TigerStripes (original poster)

#9: Post by TigerStripes (original poster) »

Im having a hell of a time getting this heating element off. Went after it today with food grade penetrating lube, a heat gun, and an oil wrench. I also smacked it with a chisel and hammer a bunch of times. All I succeeded in doing was bending the steel mounting plate.

Any ideas?

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#10: Post by grog »

In my experience, penetrating oil doesn't do much in these situations (I suspect in reality it penetrates very little into the mated threads). If you can locate or make a flange removal tool, that's the best. Otherwise, it's the tap back and forth approach with hammer and chisel/punch. Tap in the direction to loosen, tap a bit in the direction to tighten, repeat many times and eventually you will get it to break free and can unscrew it.
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