Rebuilding an old 2 group Astoria Lever (+ propane)

Equipment doesn't work? Troubleshooting? If you're handy, members can help.
bm_cricket
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Joined: 10 years ago

#1: Post by bm_cricket »

Hi all. I just got a new (old) Astoria 2 group lever machine. It is my first complete rebuild on a machine. I've done minor repairs on my La Pavoni and this is a whole extra level of difficulty. It doesn't have propane but I can tell that it has all the mount holes for it. I will buy a kit for it. The machine is beautiful but judging from rattling sounds inside the boiler, numerous crusty fittings, and two really stiff/crunchy levers I've got my work cut out for me doing a whole rebuild. I also plan to follow what Clint did here: Rebuilding 1988 Astoria 2 Group Lever

So, I have a few questions:
-How old is this machine? (It looks pretty new)
-What is the worst thing that I should expect to deal with/replace on this machine?
-What have you learned from rebuilding a lever machine that I should take from you? What are your tips?
-What is the best chemical I should use for cleaning everything. I have citric acid from my beer brewing that I can use but maybe that isn't best.

And if anybody wants to know about me. I'm getting married on Sunday so I'm not going to touch this thing for at least a few weeks. The end goal for this machine is to bring it to private events and to bring it to Burning Man each year. Thus the propane. Propane is easy, 220V is a lot harder to control access to.

Thanks all!
Life is short, enjoy every sip.

bm_cricket (original poster)
Posts: 203
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#2: Post by bm_cricket (original poster) »

The outside...

Life is short, enjoy every sip.

bm_cricket (original poster)
Posts: 203
Joined: 10 years ago

#3: Post by bm_cricket (original poster) »

The inside...

Life is short, enjoy every sip.

bm_cricket (original poster)
Posts: 203
Joined: 10 years ago

#4: Post by bm_cricket (original poster) »

Items that I know I need to buy are:
Two portafilters
one grouphead screen
Every gasket/washer/seal for the whole machine....

But the part I'm not sure about is exactly what "version" of this machine I have. There have been so many over the years. Looking around I think this is early 80s... but I don't know yet.
Life is short, enjoy every sip.

angman
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#5: Post by angman »

Wow that looks like a lot of work. Good luck and congratulations.

BTW mind telling us where you picked that gem up from and perhaps how much? It's nice to get an idea of how much to pay when we come across "gems" like this

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drgary
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#6: Post by drgary »

bm_cricket wrote:My newest obsession as of yesterday is this 2 group Astoria lever machine. It looks like an early 80s model but I haven't had time to really get into it yet. The price was right. Now I plan to give it a thorough cleaning and rebuilding. It looks too pretty to let sit alone and unloved.<image><image>

BTW, if anyone has suggestions on the rebuild I am open to them! There are several great threads on similar machines. I just love extra input before I start ripping into it.
And getting married too. Nice!

Bill:

Congratulations on your find! This community can help you a lot. When I took on my Conti Prestina lots of knowledgeable people stepped forward and taught me as I worked my way through it. Just take lots of pictures as you've started to do, ask questions about whatever you don't know. I documented many of the kinds of things you'll be facing in the linked thread and you'll find much more if you search this site.

For model and vintage have you found a serial tag? Often heating elements will have a date stamp too. What you're showing doesn't look too bad. There are some fittings that leaked scale. Polishing the steel can be a challenge. The copper and brass on the case look pretty good and should be easier to shine. The boiler bolts look like high grade steel. I don't see many badly rusted bolts. You'll be getting many screws and bolts and will do a teardown and rebuild of things like the steam and water taps. The PSTAT appears to be a Sirai and if it doesn't respond to descaling these are easily and inexpensively replaced although I'm guessing you'll run the propane to get it up to pressure and won't need a PSTAT. It'll be interesting to see how you rework things to run this on propane.
Gary
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What I WOULD do for a good cup of coffee!

bm_cricket (original poster)
Posts: 203
Joined: 10 years ago

#7: Post by bm_cricket (original poster) »

angman wrote:Wow that looks like a lot of work. Good luck and congratulations.

BTW mind telling us where you picked that gem up from and perhaps how much? It's nice to get an idea of how much to pay when we come across "gems" like this
I hope that it won't be all that much work because from the looks of it, it's been pretty well loved and not too abused. The sellers were actually all big coffee people and I think they knew what they had; they wanted to see their beauty go to a loving home.


drgary wrote:And getting married too. Nice!

Bill:

Congratulations on your find! This community can help you a lot. When I took on my Conti Prestina lots of knowledgeable people stepped forward and taught me as I worked my way through it. Just take lots of pictures as you've started to do, ask questions about whatever you don't know. I documented many of the kinds of things you'll be facing in the linked thread and you'll find much more if you search this site.

For model and vintage have you found a serial tag? Often heating elements will have a date stamp too. What you're showing doesn't look too bad. There are some fittings that leaked scale. Polishing the steel can be a challenge. The copper and brass on the case look pretty good and should be easier to shine. The boiler bolts look like high grade steel. I don't see many badly rusted bolts. You'll be getting many screws and bolts and will do a teardown and rebuild of things like the steam and water taps. The PSTAT appears to be a Sirai and if it doesn't respond to descaling these are easily and inexpensively replaced although I'm guessing you'll run the propane to get it up to pressure and won't need a PSTAT. It'll be interesting to see how you rework things to run this on propane.

Thanks for the link to your rebuild! It looks very very detailed!! Somehow I didn't come across it during my searches for lever rebuilds. I did find many rebuilds on the Astoria relatives. (other rebranded machines that look just like Astoria)

As for my machine.... No serial tags yet. I only picked it up on Wednesday and sadly, in addition to my parents visiting right now for the wedding this weekend I've got a 60+ hour per week work schedule.... I promised my wife-to-be that other than sending these pictures to the internet gods to help me get started I would hold off on the machine until after the wedding! That doesn't stop me from dreaming about it! So, from what I can find online the design of the body looks similar to other early 80s Astoria machines but I've never seen a picture of one with my colors. I probably have more than $100 worth of copper in this machine! I consider it a good purchase.

Once I pop open the fittings (and the boiler) I look forward to finding out how much scale is actually inside and if the fittings still have good unions. Orphan Espresso has some great videos which I've been watching and learning from.

As for the PSTAT, I will replace it if I need to. As I understand correctly, the Genuine Astoria propane kit can coexist perfectly fine with the 220v heating element. I plan to start out with the plan of restoring the machine to full factory specs (once I figure out what those are) and if that is expensive or complicated then maybe I'll change the designs a bit....


I did notice some pinhole leaks in the boiler on the welded seam (the long one and the end-cap) which I'll photograph later. As a side note, I plan to pop this open before descaling anything because if there is any scale buildup inside I want to see it in it's full glory. I would love to see what minerals were depositing inside the boiler and it's easier to do that with intact crystals,.. did I mention that I'm a geologist by trade? Can you think of any reason I wouldn't want to pop the big bolted end-cap from the machine prior to descaling it?

PS, Lots and lots of pictures. It's like having a child. Hopefully it sneezes less than my La Pavoni!
Life is short, enjoy every sip.

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Chert
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#8: Post by Chert »

2 group - autofill - two steam wands - water tap. Sounds great! I have two scruffy portafilters with baskets if you want them, just PM me.

My restore went away from gas and portability, but that sounds like a great option.
LMWDP #198

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drgary
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#9: Post by drgary »

No reason not to open the boiler during your teardown. You'll be taking it all apart and immersing it in an acid bath anyway. I recently used Loctite 290 to seal the pinholes in the boiler on my Cremina and it worked. Good to know you're local.

Using Loctite 290 to seal small cracks and pin holes in boilers
Gary
LMWDP#308

What I WOULD do for a good cup of coffee!

bm_cricket (original poster)
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#10: Post by bm_cricket (original poster) »

Tags and serials are probably not going to happen.... I will keep looking for something on the element but all it says is v240 w2100 (from the parts I can see without taking it apart).

And I found the spot where I assume the tag should be (bottom right of the frame?) I guess I need to do it the trial and error way to find the parts....
Life is short, enjoy every sip.