Rebuilding the Oly twins... a saga

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#1: Post by mogogear »

Ok, the saga of the "sisters" begins. These two machines were found on flea-bay and were described as most likely not a complete working machine between the two of them. I said to myself - "This will make for good winter work :>)" -They look pretty good They look pretty complete............................ Even though if you know your year models you'll noticethat the boiler on the left goes with the face plate on the right, foreshadowing on what I found and ......didn't find.

One is a 1982 and the other is a 1985. Here they are after the autopsy

The older copper boiler had a small leak near where the group bolts on , so a trip to the brazing shop was needed after asking for some advice here on the forum( thanks to those who chimed in!)

And the groups must have undergone some really brutal pulls for the last 20 years. I have never seen such wear!! The slot that the bushing travels in is almost 2mm bigger in the center than when new-ish. Also the lever on one almost looks as if it had been intentionally "slotted" I am not sure what the story is.

The Good news is that when asked, the talented fellow I found for the boiler job did do some artistic torch work on the side, so he was up for my next "theoretical request". Could he fill in the worn slots with marine grade brass to get them back to as close to new as possible? Yes was his answer - for about $30 each!!!!!!!! Yahooo- I think - not done yet..

He jumped at the creative challenge- The aftermath of which has me out looking for someone to re-chrome the groups afterwards. So look for a before and after shot in the future.

As an aside, I scoured the Olympia website for what was available from them. I had posted a want list here and I really didn't think there was much out there in the way of spare parts.
Between the two machines I had missing:
-A PF handle-
-A top body piece that accepts the round boiler neck-dish ( thingy!~)
-The switch plate escutcheon(1982) power switch and status light
-Sight glass and metal seal retainer washers ( new seals though!!)
-One group bolt
-A boiler neck nut ( I actually wasn't missing one, someone had screwed it down all the way with no body pieces in place. So it came off the threads and was jingling loose on the neck. The previous owners looked as if they had been trying to get it off for quite a while. It was beat up badly, and I couldn't get it re-started either. I had to use a Dremel tool to cut an angled slot so I could expand it and finally get it off!!

So.............. I ordered from Olympia a new lever fork, element, lever bushings, seals, site glass, top body panel, site glass washers and a new boiler neck nut ( say that fast!!) They don't sell or stock group heads for the older model and no switches or escutcheons either, dag nabbit!

Return with me now to the repair list-

Needing attention was:
A blown element( also thank you to those that helped me diagnose that bugger!!)
2 wobbled out groups ( good cylinders and good pistons all with new seals!!)
A "slotted" worn out lever fork
A leaky boiler ( with badly deteriorated asbestos coating- I actually had a neighbor who is in the abatement world and he disposed of the refuse!!)
Some scratched and nicked up boiler surrounds ( body) .

Here they are after removing badges and straightening the torqued bodies.

In addition to my good fortune finding resources, I stumbled upon a powder coat shop near my home that is run by a great guy. I can get my choice of 55 very cool colors!! And get both body pieces done for $50 total- SCORE!!

As a parting shot- Please note the delicate knurled aluminum PF handle that adorned one of the PF's!! It took about 30 minutes, penetrating oil, a cheater bar and a small prayer not to twist the end off the PF to get that "electrolysis-welded" beast to let go !!

Now if the RECHROME Gods will smile on me...... More as we progress.......
greg moore

LMWDP #067


#2: Post by gaggia1948 »

hi mo

congratulations - i saw the auction and also were reading the text of the offer. he said most probably none of the two machines could be saved. so good luck for you that you have the knowledge on those machines.
it is always like this, if you know much you will have the chance to recognize much earlier the value than those who have flat knowledge only. recently i bought a massive iron sculpture based on a marble base, 60 cm high and 50 kg heave on a fleemarket because i knew that i saw the shape already before. after checking in detail a found out there was a signature on the marble base which i recognized. it was the signature of a wellknown sculptor of austria and i know a couple of his works and his signature. i bought the sculpture for about 80 usd. after i checked the value and it is about 3000 usd. one week later i bought from the same seller another sculpture from that artist, a smaller one but very nice. this cost me 50 usd. thousends of people passed and saw it but nobody bought it, because nobody knew what it was.


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#3: Post by espressme »

Hi Greg,
That is wonderful news! I'm happy that you found them!
Richard / espressme

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#4: Post by Trajic »

You know, when I saw the auction for those I remember thinking that the seller probably just wasn't mechanically inclined and that I could probably get a good one together in a few hours from the two. Guess I was wrong.

I'm away from home right now, but I assume my La Pavoni twins are waiting for me. I'll post some pics when I get back.



#5: Post by happytamper »


What a find. I saw the pair on ebay as well, but alas, I have to take a break from espresso machine purchases for a bit. After the Urania rebuild i needed a break, coffee break :lol: .
But I do hope to one day be in the Olympia club. Good luck with your repairs.

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mogogear (original poster)

#6: Post by mogogear (original poster) »

The next report and pictures in a few days will be of the groups after they visit the offices of Oregon Plating. These little details should help any of the members that have never had this procedure done, know what to expect.

First they need to be stripped of their existing chrome .This process is one mean chemical bath! So I removed the pistons and all seals and circlips( The seals were in great shape -with new clips). I then visit a plumbing store for expandable synthetic rubber plugs to insert into the open ends of the empty cylinders to keep the solution from etching the inside of the cylinders. I will first insert a small plu / cork / stopper into the shaft opening from the inside before I close it up with the bigger plug. Lastly I will have a small rubber plug "screwed " in to the opening the pick up tube screws into ( the tube from the boiler) These should have all the important surfaces guarded from the caustic effects of the stripping and unwanted build up on the same surfaces during the plating. Then they go swimming!!

This must all be done before I go visit my Brazing guru that will melt brass into the wallowed out slots for the lever pins and bushings. (The plating people said the stripping process is too harsh on new brass wleds and would pit them badly.) Thinew brass will restore the nice 10.5mm wide slot. Once he does his magic, I return the group heads back to Oregon Plating for the Chrome job. First they will plate with Nickel, then Chrome. I am having the one good fork and both of the PF bodies re-plated as well. Just a FYI on budget requirements ( in local Portland pricing) The Brass reworking is $35 per group, the plating is --ouch- $65 for the stipping and plating( I am hoping to get a deal and the fork and PF should not cost me more than an extra $10. I want the chrome on these machines to really be restored when I am done.

Once again this is all to circumvent the fact that the older Cremina groups are not available( I will confirm if the new ones could be used if the levers were converted tothe new style pins and nuts . The new empty groups are about $135 ea. no piston etc. So I will have about $115 in each group. A lot to re-new them, but they are the heart of the Cremina and this will take them in to the next 25 years of their lives.

BTW - I am curious to see how long it takes Olympia Xpress to contact me from the web site parts order I placed. I will also post the time table from that so everyone can have a fair expectation on how fast they are moving on these things.

nite- We cautiously await to see if we awake to ice and freezing rain............................... brrrrrrrrr
greg moore

LMWDP #067

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mogogear (original poster)

#7: Post by mogogear (original poster) »

I lied, one last picture of the group heads and friends - The official "BEFORE" shot
-Next one will be a Naked group shot
-Then re-brassed
-Then shiney again!

greg moore

LMWDP #067

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mogogear (original poster)

#8: Post by mogogear (original poster) »

As of 5:55am local Portland time- I just received email from Olympia -confirming my order- :o requesting I re-email them my credit card info - or fax- I was Also was told they are backordered on the lever fork till Jan 07 :cry: They are to be back in stock sometime in January :D

NEW NOTE: FYI- Just in case no one ever orders from overseas- there are taxes added to orders like there are in Canada. This is common through out the EU.
39 Swiss Francs for shipping+13.60 Swiss Francs for VAT assessed to my order. All in all the lower prices on Olympia's site off set the shipping costs for sure ( for parts not currently carried by 1st Line) You'll have to choose when to order from 1st Line or from the factory direct. This is not to undercut either one. There are times when one choice is preferable to the other.

More soon on some small parts not available from the factory... that I am looking for.........little tidbits....... lost in closets.... somewhere....?
greg moore

LMWDP #067

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mogogear (original poster)

#9: Post by mogogear (original poster) »

On a recent Seattle trip , I got the chance to drop by Home Espresso Repair and see if they had a small but important piece I can't find.. the escutcheon( you know - I love that word!) for mounting the power switch and indicator lamp behind the opening in the front brushed s/s body plate.

I took the panel in question with me to the store. I explained to a worker Bee at the store when I dropped by a 9am ( too early for Will to be there!) what I needed, I also had a doppio of their house roast. Will called me back later that day and listened to my plight. I then heard him in the background rumbling and clanking through a box of parts.... holding my breath.....he returns to the phone and says-"Yep- got one for you" --Hooray!
Now - I queried that it would really be great if he had a power switch....... :cry:..... Nope- but he tells be he uses a La Pavoni power switch ( for new models) as a replacement with only a little modification the the front panel opening needed.

This seemingly insignificant piece is small , but represents huge victory in my mind. I don't have to try to procure from a "generous" HB member the escutcheon in question ( by mail) then to give to a fabricator to duplicate and send it back home to said generous temporary donor.

Will ( owner of H.E.R.)is going to be shipping me the escutcheon and switch when his re-supply of switches comes in next week. He will ship it all and send me the bill! I can repay then-- How courteous is that in 2006--? You know you just keep meeting great, helpful people on this site as well as service agencies, parts stores and manufacturers.

More parts should make their way to my shop soon and then the grouphead rebuilding will proceed- I needed the Holidays for what they are intended for. I look forward to letting you all follow this and welcome any input or questions.

Thanks again to all named and un-named people and companies who help each and everyone of us coax these old espresso-fountains back into service! It is kind of like watching another re-run of "Flight of the phoenix" They may be just "model aeroplanes" to the guys with the big honkin' commercial machines, but the collection of machines in this fun little category command respect.
greg moore

LMWDP #067


#10: Post by Paul »

great news Mo. Looking forward to more reports and pics.

LMWDP #084