A Baby Lusso Needs Restoration - Page 10

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

I'm not in much pain about this. Here's another comparison. Many of you know I was fortunate to come into possession of a Lady Duchessa. This is a very rare, very vintage manual lever machine of high build quality. It has a spring but a relatively weak one. With that spring alone it is difficult to get any crema. But when brewing a traditional Italian dark roast the shots are incomparably mellow. I wonder about the Baby Lusso. Is it optimized for traditional dark roast in a small shot?

I added a booster spring to the Lady Duchessa so its shots now resemble what you get from a stock Elektra Microcasa a Leva, still soft but capable of producing crema. I may remove the spring. It turns out with that machine you can assist the lever to get a shot with more crema. And yes, modern definitions of espresso include crema. But is that the totality of Italian tradition? No.

So, I'm figuring out the capabilities of a Baby Lusso. It can produce a shot, so far, with the stock gaskets, without crema, maybe with Elektra gaskets, with something more like what many of us have come to love in machines like the Caravel or Cremina or La Pavoni, etc. The story is unfolding. It's a beautiful machine. It has robust steam. What shots can it make?
Gary
LMWDP#308

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yakster
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#92: Post by yakster »

I've considered the possibility of adding a spring to the La Peppina to try and increase the body of the shot and the crema, but I fear that I'll lose the clarity that I get so I've decided to shelve the idea. It is also possible to assist the La Peppina lever to get a thicker shot. I'm also thankful I have a Gaggia Factory at home to give me a thicker, chewier shot when desired.

I guess the question is how much of what you're finding with the Baby Lusso is the character of the machine and how much of it may be design limitations or flaws.
-Chris

LMWDP # 272

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drgary
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#93: Post by drgary »

yakster wrote:I guess the question is how much of what you're finding with the Baby Lusso is the character of the machine and how much of it may be design limitations or flaws.
I am thinking this machine would be much more capable with stiffer piston gaskets and the potential for the stock gaskets to blow out is a flaw that may be overlooked for some reason. If I had a lathe I would get some brass stock and turn a new piston for this thing so it could hold two Elektra W gaskets without PTFE tape shims.
Gary
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What I WOULD do for a good cup of coffee!

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drgary
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#94: Post by drgary »

Baby in Diapers

After yesterday's kitchen flood I chose to do this morning's experiments with the Baby in diapers.



I reinstalled my Elektra gaskets in the same orientation but with a bit more PTFE tape underneath and making sure to primp out the leading edges to prevent leaks. To assist this I wrapped PTFE tape under the leading edges after pulling it into a cord instead of a thread. I also used a less viscuous silicone grease on the gaskets and cylinder. This morning's result was a partial success, telling me the issue with this machine really is the gaskets. I was able to pull two ristretti that very much resembled the one shot I had out of Cher's Caravel. There wasn't any crema but they were rich and tasty. The first was dosed at 15 gm and the second at 17 gm. When I pushed the lever a bit on the second shot the gasket leaked again, which tells me more shimming is needed and perhaps a brand new Elektra W gasket, which is on the way.

Doug's advice was right on. This machine wants a W gasket at the bottom. The upper gasket can be a V with the V facing downward. The large inlet hole is aligned between the gaskets. Yesterday's flood out the weep hole was because the upper gasket was not sufficiently shimmed so the flare could catch the upward water pressure. Today I had no such issue at all.

The throw on this lever is indeed short, and this tells me it's designed for a traditional, Italian smaller shot, which is fine with me. I was tending in that direction anyway as I like my caffeine in many smaller doses. Today's experiment tells me I'm going to be able to get this machine working. It's a question of whether I'll be able to get shots with crema. I think I'll also experiment with the stock gaskets and see what a low pressure shot tastes like. I may shim those gaskets to add some resistance.

An additional fix undertaken the other day was to deal with uneven wear in the lever fork. A replacement fork is available for $75, but this fix seemed to work out fine. Here's how it looked in its worn condition.



I took out the dip with some files with this result and a smoother pull.

Gary
LMWDP#308

What I WOULD do for a good cup of coffee!

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drgary
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#95: Post by drgary »

Milking a Baby

Seems strange, right? But that's how you use this thing. You do multiple, small pumps to get the brew ratio you want and the temperature of the group is stable for this. This machine is built for smaller shots and singles, Italian style, but can produce larger ones, Pavoni style, with its deeper basket and several pumps of the lever. The feel is very different than a La Pavoni or Cremina because of the short pulls, but it seems it is designed this way so those pumps are the way you choose whether to pull a ristretto, normale or lungo.

Oh, and of course what this means is I got the Baby working, thanks to some encouragement by LVX. I boiled the stock gaskets for 20 minutes and wrapped 7 turns of PTFE tape where the gaskets seat on the piston. Then I installed them. This slightly expands them and it's a bit of a chore to wedge them into the piston with a flat-bladed screwdriver. But I can now apply pressure and the gaskets don't give way. I'm now experimenting with dose and grind to maximize crema. The Baby is great for steaming, as Rob already noted earlier.
Gary
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What I WOULD do for a good cup of coffee!

IMAWriter (original poster)
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#96: Post by IMAWriter (original poster) »

Alright!!!
Rob
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drgary
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#97: Post by drgary »

Still I have been having trouble pulling shots with enough pressure. I wrote to Zacconi and they responded that the problem may be with the portafilter gasket, not the piston gaskets. This makes sense because it would spray grounds into the cup that would not leak through the shower screen even with a failed gasket. My portafilter gasket is an o-ring. The one in their drawing is a flat gasket. He would provide it with a spacer.
Gary
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What I WOULD do for a good cup of coffee!

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IMAWriter (original poster)
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#98: Post by IMAWriter (original poster) »

Gary, as we discussed back a while ago, I mentioned there was something odd about that group gasket.
I've never seen one like that, and IMO it was a horrible fit. The new one I included to you was nom better than the one which came with Baby. Hopefully wha you're having sent to you will fill the bill!! :D
Rob
LMWDP #187
www.robertjason.com

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drgary
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#99: Post by drgary »

When I look at the OE website they have that gasket and it's flat, not an o-ring. I may stop by Cara's shop on Saturday and pick one up there and am checking if he has it in stock.
Gary
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What I WOULD do for a good cup of coffee!

IMAWriter (original poster)
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#100: Post by IMAWriter (original poster) » replying to drgary »

Good Show!
Rob
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www.robertjason.com