Restoration of an Olympia Cremina - Page 2

Equipment doesn't work? Troubleshooting? If you're handy, members can help.
User avatar
srobinson (original poster)
Supporter ♡

#11: Post by srobinson (original poster) »

Well the next step in the rebuild gets into some of the boring parts. That is cleaning up the stainless steel. On the Olympia the primary steel parts are the top, the boiler recess, the front face, the drip tray and the drip tray screen.

All of these parts were showing their age and I was close to sending them out for refinishing, but I wanted to see if I could keep the cost of this rebuild realistic. So instead of the easy way out, I buffed.

The miracle product that I used in this exercise was Wenol, which is an outstanding German metal polish that comes in two flavors. Red for general polish and then Blue for a high gloss finish.

Image

I still have a couple passes to go on the pieces, but they are starting to show real promise from where they started from. The top and tray look almost brand new and the only frustration I am having is trying to get the swirl marks out the front plate. This is always very difficult to do since if you use a more aggressive compound you risk scratching it more or you just live with them. Light is a little harsh in this pic, but you will get the idea on how they now look.

Image

Case was dropped off at the powder coater today, so in a week we will be saying goodbye to the 70s harvest brown and hello to gloss black. Now if I can just find a decent chrome plater for the grouphead. Looks like all the local shops will only do commercial work or have been shut down by the EPA....more calls to make.
Steve Robinson

LMWDP #001

Baratza: skilled in the art of grinding
Sponsored by Baratza
User avatar
Jepy

#12: Post by Jepy »

srobinson wrote:Jepy, here you go. It simply clips on the end of the grouphead. This is unlike the way it works on a Pavoni or Elektra where it is held in place with the head gasket. You can see the dispersion screen has the spring edges on the lip.
Thanks for the detail. How often, and how difficult is it to remove this screen for cleaning?

User avatar
srobinson (original poster)
Supporter ♡

#13: Post by srobinson (original poster) »

Well that remains to be seen since I don't have this machine working yet. The proper way to remove it is to unbolt the grouphead and press down on the piston to pop it out....this is the suggested method on the Pavoni. It looks like Olympia took the clip-on route to allow for more frequent cleaning. The downside is that you risk bending the lip if inward pressure is applied to pry it off. I will have to play around a bit once I have the machine further along to see what an optimal approach may be. One of the downsides of dealing with a machine of such limited quantities is that there are very few people to ask on how they do it.
Steve Robinson

LMWDP #001

User avatar
Jepy

#14: Post by Jepy »

Thanks again Steve.

User avatar
srobinson (original poster)
Supporter ♡

#15: Post by srobinson (original poster) »

Since I am traveling today, I thought I would get a restoration post in with no pictures. I had an interesting day spending it on the phone trying to find a chrome shop that would take my shiny bits and make them shinier. I have to take a step back and just ask what the world is coming to when it is easier to get a Harley chromed over an espresso machine?

My first try of the day was to try Surtronics, which is know as one of the best metal plating firms in the US. The nice thing about them is that they are only a couple miles from the house and I had envisioned a quick drop off and pickup with the size of their operations. I was quickly put in my place when I was told that they only did commercial traffic and did not accept walk-in business. Even the offer of free advertising and mention on HB could not sway them over, but they did give me a lead to Chrome Right in Fayetteville, NC.

Calling Chrome Right, we find that their specialty is motorcycle parts. When I mentioned that I wanted to have coffee machine parts plated their first question is whether it was going to be for use or display...huh? It turns out that they primarily do decorative chroming and due to insurance liability cannot chrome any products that will come in contact with food. They stated that they continuously turned away business from Ft. Bragg, where soldiers are requesting spent shells be turned into shot glasses.... (Please add your own mental image here).

At this point I realized that I would be relegated to shipping my parts out of state. At this point I was getting desperate just to find someone to take the project and I had a great call with Steve from Metro Plating in Kensington, Maryland. He was happy to take a look at what I needed and suggested a nickel plate for food contact and added the fact that they were very experienced in this area.

So the parts were packed up and they began their two week transformation to the north. So at this point, I have my powder coat work underway and hopefully a good connection on my bright ware which will start bringing this project together. Now on to cleaning the boiler.....
Steve Robinson

LMWDP #001

User avatar
srobinson (original poster)
Supporter ♡

#16: Post by srobinson (original poster) »

When you open up a vintage machine you dread opening up the boiler. The black gunk at the boiler cap gives you a hint, but it is not until you pull the heating element off that you fully see what you are up against. This is HB and not Fear Factor, so I will spare everyone from the unpleasant pictures of what I started with....but without a doubt a firm cleaning was in order.

I started with a traditional cleaning which got the surface gunk to a manageable point. At this point I started what I thought was an aggressive scrubbing with scotch bright pads and straight dishwashing detergent. One can barely fit their hand down the throat of the boiler and the bottom rim has a very sharp edge to it. Let's just say that I have found out the threshold of flesh when scrubbing in a very tight cylinder with caustic soap and the risk of trying to withdraw your hand rapidly. Dan can verify that I was sporting a few of my daughter's Hello Kitty Band-aids the next day.

After this step, I was still not happy with the condition of the boiler. It still had a hard petrified scale inside and I was questioning whether I would need to sand-blast it. As with all rebuilding issues, follow the advice of my good friends who tackle much more than I ever will who say "when you can't make progress on a problem, simply walk away...cool off and then come back".

This is what I did and my next angle of attack was to try this weapon:

Image

That is a 5 inch brass wire brush on an 18" drill bit extender attached to my portable drill. Now we are talking....this thing did the trick. It was a tight fit but once I got the RPMs spinning, the black abyss of my boiler quickly turned into this.

Image

Now when all this was done, I did find that was going to have to go back and revise my comment where I stated that the boiler of this Olympia was made out of stainless steel like the new Cremina 2002s. While bright silver on the outside, mine is marine brass...and now a shiny marine brass at that.

Millertime.
Steve Robinson

LMWDP #001

IronBarista

#17: Post by IronBarista »

Beautiful job so far. I like the PVC thing, very innovative. So far, this is one of my favorite threads. I look forward to more postings.

BPlus: turning your coffee spirit
Sponsored by BPlus
Paul L

#18: Post by Paul L »

Hi everybody, this is my 'hello' thread so forgive me if it looks like hijacking.

As a relatively newbie (3 months with a Gaggia Cubika, Macap 4 and fresh although not home roasted beans) I was delighted to find a lever thread on HB. I have quickly started following it as I am growing out of the Cubika quickly and find myself drawn to levers rather than the usual E61 suspects that many (no doubt deservedly) choose.

Anyhow, I just wanted to say Steve how enjoyable the thread is. I don't know that I will ever move to a Cremina but who knows. You received a bit of negative comment earlier in the thread about it being technical and not taste oriented but actually it's what makes this tick for me. A real look behind the shiny front that is not usually seen.

If I parallel with the world of audio for a second there are literally hundreds of shiny audio cases and a bewildering menu of prices and claims about superiority for one reason or another. Some sound good but an awful lot fall well short of less-shiny and popular brand names (at different prices). Once you really get behind the shop fronts (and panel fronts) you start to separate the marketing and fashions from the engineering and understand the dna that you personally appreciate. So, in espresso terms I've spent the past 4 or 5 months reading hundreds of reviews on espresso machines both pro and consumer reviews as I am sure we all do when we take those first steps. For me Steve, your thread is one of very few where a consumer such as myself can appreciate a machine from the ground up rather than brand, badge, edification of a particular grouphead or all sorts of technical comment that to me only goes to show how complex (and potentially troublesome) a particular machine is.

I look forward to following progress of this with interest and have no doubt that you'll get to the raison d'etre in good time. I suspect I'm going to lean towards an Elektra Micro Casa btw, I'm seeing a La Pavoni in action this weekend for the first time but the engineering differences between the two is sinking in - picked up in this HB forum area of course, a nice differentiator as far as I can see from other forums out there.
Coffeetime (UK) Greens Club
http://coffeetime.wikidot.com/

User avatar
srobinson (original poster)
Supporter ♡

#19: Post by srobinson (original poster) »

Paul, thanks for the kind words. I really do appreciate it. It is very hard to hold a candle to Team HB, so I try to contribute where I can...and that is mainly tearing things apart and trying to figure out how and why they work the way they do. There is just something about these silly little machines that jazz me up as well.

I have really gotten positive responses on this thread, and I would not take Chuck's comments as negative, he just wants to get to the good stuff about how well this thing makes coffee. He and I have been talking a lot on the backchannel on lever shots and I am dying to try some of his home roast on this baby. He has offered to send me some Yemeni for its inaugural shot.

Well it looks like you have the lever itch as well. Keep us in the loop on your purchase progress and when I can send out your LMWDP number and add you to the masses.....
Steve Robinson

LMWDP #001

User avatar
srobinson (original poster)
Supporter ♡

#20: Post by srobinson (original poster) »

Just a few more things to take care of before pieces start to come back and I start putting the Olympia back together. As you can see from the posts, every step has had some interesting twists and turns.

One of the next things that I wanted to tackle was to see if I could restore the original handles on the machine. They were covered in grunge and even after cleaning, the bakelite was heavily pitted, all the gloss was gone and both the boiler and the steam cap had some serious wear marks on them.

Image

So as I pondered whether to save these or order up a new set, I read back through this thread and saw that I had mentioned several television shows that had influenced me doing this build and I saw that one was missing. How could I have forgotten to tie in one of my favorite guilty pleasures, MTV's Pimp My Ride.

So as I contemplated the sad state of my handles, I asked myself...What would Xibit, its host, do? Would he order up a plain old set of black plastic at overvalued euro rates?...hell no...he would put the equivalent of 22" spinners on this baby.

So with this thought in my head, I called upon the gods...the God of Thunder and Forge, that is, Thor....more specifically, Les Albjerg, the artist behind Thor Tampers. http://www.thortamper.com

Les does outstanding work as can be seen in some of the other threads in this forum and he really tempted me with this recent set that he had just finished for an Olympia owner:

Image

This set is in New Guinea ebony which got us talking about whether I could go with pure black ebony to keep with the original theme of the Cremina. Les' advice was not to go this route since the black ebony is quite brittle and would not stand up to the constant heat of the machine.

The Japanese have a great word that mortals use when dealing with true artisans and it is a phrase that I have used many times at great sushi bars and that is Okamase which roughly translated means: to leave yourself to the hands of the master....So I did that with Les.

I feel that his suggestion will push this build completely over the top. We will be going with Desert Ironwood handles with an inlay of Amboyna Burl.

In staying with the rarity of this machine, the wood will match perfectly. From Les' site:
Desert Ironwood is one of the hardest woods. It is so heavy it sinks. It is found only in the Sonora Desert in S. California, Arizona and Northern Mexico. It is no longer being cut as live trees and you need a permit to harvest the dead trees that are found in the desert. Legal Desert Ironwood is harvested by permit in all three areas. I have a working relationship with one of the permits holders in Mexico.
So yet another piece of this build is in the capable hands of a master craftsman. Now if I can just get that video pulled together to be a candidate for Pimp My Ride and get MTV to permanently install the Cremina in my old Porsche with a couple plasma TVs, then I will really be stylin'....
Steve Robinson

LMWDP #001