Rebuilding an old 2 group Astoria Lever (+ propane) - Page 2

Equipment doesn't work? Troubleshooting? If you're handy, members can help.
Chad C.
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Joined: 13 years ago

#11: Post by Chad C. »

Nicely bought! I use a La Pavoni EP daily, and also have this same machine in stainless trim. I love them both, and I'm slowly developing a gas powered Pavoni.
Keep in mind that your machine is pretty easy to switch over to 110v. It's just the element, auto fill box, and auto fill solenoid that need replacing. 110v is often more convenient.

The 12v Flo-Jet is pretty sweet. That and a propane system allow for a completely free-range machine. I recommend the fitting from Espressoparts.com that screws onto the water inlet of your machine, and has the US thread 3/8" fitting on the other. Then get a 1/4" adapter from any hardware store to screw onto the 3/8 side of the Espressoparts fitting. That'll allow the 1/4" compression fitting that comes with the Flo-Jet model BW3000A12VDC to connect to the machine. The Flo-Jet is initiated when the manual fill valve of the machine is actuated.

Your machine's knobs and exterior design are the same as mine, which is stamped 1994. I love the propane system on mine. It's a very simple & elegant design that works really well. I want thermal stability numbers on my machine, but I'm way too cheap to buy the equipment...

When your life calms down a bit (congrats, btw), take more pics of your progress and keep up with your build thread.

- Chad C.

bm_cricket (original poster)
Posts: 203
Joined: 11 years ago

#12: Post by bm_cricket (original poster) replying to Chad C. »

Great advice!! I'll look into the 110v element. I didn't even realize that these bigger machines could do it but I checked out the Astoria site and they really do! Hopefully the 110v element would work with my machine. Some parts have changed more over the years than others. Have you used a 110v element? How does it do on heating times and energy efficiency? This machine will probably already take 30 minutes to get up to full pressure/temp. I don't really want to make that any longer.

This system already has some fittings that go to SAE fittings. I haven't had time to pull them apart but I see that they are leaky. I suspect that someone hacked the metric to SAE threads together with Teflon or something. I assume I'll need to replace that fitting.... probably with what you suggest.

You've raised a good point about my big picture plan for this machine. I will be converting it to propane but I have a choice from there, do I 1) rebuild the system to pure 230v, 2) rebuild the entire system (all 3 parts! :-) to 110v, or 3) do something with a mixed 12v DC, 110v or 230v AC system? Has anyone done the 110v conversion on a similar machine? Can you chime in on how well (or poorly) it works compared to 230v or propane?
Life is short, enjoy every sip.

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Chert
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#13: Post by Chert »

Bill,

I run my two group CMA on 220 V. The boiler is insulated. It takes a good 1 hour to reach brew temperature of 78C at the group. This can be shortened with flushes. One group I keep wrapped in an insulating sleeve so that I have two temperature profiles at once. The insulated group heats up a bit faster and cools off slower between shots.

The boiler itself on 220 V comes up to 1 bar pressure within 15-20 minutes (I haven't precisely timed it recently but I fired it up around 5:15 this morning and heard the boiling and P-stat click off within about 20 minutes.)

110V would be fine for pulling shots and probably for steaming compared to 220V I think but 220 definitely works well.

Flint
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drgary
Team HB
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#14: Post by drgary »

Bill:

I recently had 240V installed in our home at not much cost, combining two 120V circuits. This was to accommodate a machine at the other end of the size spectrum, a Caravel that now runs at the voltage it likes. It may be easier (and same cost or cheaper if the element works) to keep the machine at its native voltage and change a wall outlet. Not long ago one of our H-B members brought his CMA lever to our house and plugged it into the dryer outlet where it ran very nicely through the day.
Gary
LMWDP#308

What I WOULD do for a good cup of coffee!

bm_cricket (original poster)
Posts: 203
Joined: 11 years ago

#15: Post by bm_cricket (original poster) »

My apartment (rental) only has a 125A circuit. That includes a 50A electric range. I will probably replace the plug on this thing with an electric range/dryer plug for troubleshooting but I don't think it will be a good long-term solution. I'm pretty sure that as a day-to-day machine I'll stick with my La Pavoni. I can justify my "habit" as long as it only costs ~= to buying it from a local shop. I'm pretty sure that pulling 4 shots per day on a 16L 240v commercial machine will cost more in electricity! This really is more for special events than for personal use.

And it's great to know that running as 240v takes SO LONG to heat up. Maybe I'll end up running it on propane AND 240v during heat-up and just propane during operation. So much to learn!
Life is short, enjoy every sip.

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Clint Orchuk
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#16: Post by Clint Orchuk »

You'll need to open the boiler to descale it. A machine that old will have too much scale in it to try to descale it like you would a well maintained machine. If there is a date, it will be on a tag on the front right frame of the machine just in front of the manual fill water tap. It's an '80s Astoria, made before they started using heat exchangers. Don't worry about dating it in regards to parts. They're almost all standard. Never seen one with the copper and brass plating over the stainless. OE and EP both have tons of parts for it.

Replace the pstat and the Gicar. In my experience, they're not worth saving. The Gicar will be baked from the heat, and the pstat is a cheap replacement. $200 for both. Do the solenoid too. They do fail and floods aren't fun.

Converting it to 110V would give you epic warmup times and recovery times to match. Go with the propane and just restore the 220V with new wiring, pstat and Gicar.

Good luck, and feel free to call me any time. Just PM me for my number. Used to talk to Chert all the time about these rigs.

bm_cricket (original poster)
Posts: 203
Joined: 11 years ago

#17: Post by bm_cricket (original poster) replying to Clint Orchuk »

Clint,
Thank you!

I will be doing some major descaling too. It can hear rattling and rumbling inside the boiler when I move it. It's going to be fun opening it. Less fun cleaning it. I'll probably put the whole thing into a water cooler with a boiling hot citric acid bath. What concentration should I use? (measured in cups of citric acid/gallon of hot water).

My machine definitely doesn't have the serial number tag. I see a clean spot on the frame where it belongs.

I'll be leaving it at 220v and replacing the pstat and Gicar. It would be really nice to have it all run on both propane and a high quality power system. 220v is the way to go! Thanks!
Life is short, enjoy every sip.

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Clint Orchuk
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#18: Post by Clint Orchuk »

If you're hearing rattling, you might get lucky with just a bunch of loose scale. My boiler just laughed at the citric acid bath. It had sat for 20 years with water in it and the water fossilized. I needed muriatic acid to get it clean. Nasty, but quick. Cooler works great though, and your cooler will sparkle when you're done.

bm_cricket (original poster)
Posts: 203
Joined: 11 years ago

#19: Post by bm_cricket (original poster) »

I've begun the tear down on my machine and it is down-right nasty! (I'll never have espresso from a second-rate shop ever again!)

The boiler has some scale (I don't know if this is "a lot" or not but it is thick! It's like having a bucket full of rocks. I need a couple of different tools to get it apart. I don't have leverage with what I have to take off the boiler.

I ordered the gaskets/washers/o-rings this week and they will be here next week. I also ordered replacements for the safety parts (pressure release valves and stuff thermal switch I think.. I can't remember).

I am amazed that the inside of the groupheads look pretty much okay. They seem to still have chrome in them! I was expecting a disaster when I saw the springs! I'll soak them in a warm vinegar solution and see if they clean up at all. How should I clean chrome? What's the best way to do it?

The boiler will be a disaster. So far I don't have any damage to the bolts. They are coming out as shiny stainless steel but they are pretty stuck on there. I'll need to get a metric hex set for my ratchet tools. I think that will work a lot better. And I need bigger metric wrenches for some of the tubes. So far I haven't seen anything that looks like it needs to be replaced (except the springs,... maybe... probably). I'll need to do some cosmetic stuff to the aluminum grouphead covers. I'll probably have them sand-blasted and I'll figure out if it's cheaper to have them anodized or power coated...

Thanks for all your help. How here are some fun (or awful) pictures!

Life is short, enjoy every sip.

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Chert
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#20: Post by Chert »

Bill, a spanner is handy to turn off the piston from the shaft which the pot metal upper assembly in a vice. That was one tool I spent more on than I needed to. So don't make my mistake.
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