VFA-Expres "Elite" 2gp. refurbishment

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skydragondave

#1: Post by skydragondave »

Hi all,
Just thought I'd share my refurbishment project which is in its final stages. I purchased this machine, along with a Simonelli MDXA grinder, and all related chattels for a very low price. I've been refurbishing it alongside a Simonelli MAC single group, and a Faema Due D92/A-1 single group as well as setting up my business and workshop, so progress has been slow; but it's due to be completed and off to its first assignment as a loaner/rental in just a few days. Here it is.

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Here's what it looked like when I first saw it at the seller's cafe.

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Action shots to follow...
LMWDP #433

skydragondave

#2: Post by skydragondave »

Getting it up on the bench for evaluation.

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Scale and milk contamination in the boiler.

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General foulness and grime from 12 years of neglect.

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Descaling the boiler in-situ to preserve the nickel plating. This was done many, many times to remove the milk contamination and scaling.

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Hemp twine and copious amounts of teflon tape was replaced with selective copper washers of various thicknesses and two wraps of premium teflon tape to ensure a clean look, proper indexing of the fitting and a leak-free connection. Nickel plating was also polished. I love this photo

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Sinister-looking corrosion on the heating element, once carefully removed, revealed a pinhole. Still tested good? Don't care. Into the bin it goes.

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New parts are here. Element, pressurestat, dual mano, pump, and all seals and gaskets; with new knobs and steam valves, antiscald grips and LM-style antivac.

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LMWDP #433

skydragondave

#3: Post by skydragondave »

E61 Groups descaled, resealed with new three-way valve cartridges and polished. The ugly stainless covers will not be covering these beauties up again.

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Frame stripped, blasted and polished, etched, and coated with POR-15, stainless front panel buffed to restore #4 Sanitary brushed finish and mounted:

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All copper pipes were dipped, brushed-out and deburred before remounting. Starting to come together here:

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Perhaps the most startling discovery for me beyond the machine's problems was that the lower valance covers were brushed stainless, painted in that horrible metallic charcoal paint. Why would you want to hide that? No matter, it's in its full glory now.

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So having gotten the upper rear valance panel back from the powdercoater and being very impressed with the job they were able to do for $20, needless to say I will be using them on all my machines from now on. It's now a matter of final assembly, fine-tuning, and getting it off to the client for its first job. A shame VFA is out of business, this wasn't too bad a machine.
LMWDP #433

skydragondave

#4: Post by skydragondave »

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Unit is up and running!

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Wiring in place and tidied-up.

Just a few kinks to iron out. Porosity in the lower sight glass elbow which I will try to correct with silver solder. Pinhole in the boiler at the upper LH HX weld which I will try to correct with same. Volumetrics ironed out thanks to Paul Pratt. I'd like to reverse the switch positions so the first on position is pump only, and the second On position activates both pump and element. And it's done!
Thanks to everyone for your kind and helpful advice. It's always welcome. Cheers
LMWDP #433

User avatar
Burner0000

#5: Post by Burner0000 »

+1!!!

I refurbished the same machine last year :) I like the black on it. Look's great. I was also able to find a VFA grinder to go with it.
Roast it, Grind it, Brew it!.. Enjoy it!..

skydragondave

#6: Post by skydragondave »

Thanks Chris,
I'm really happy with the results, all issues have now been addressed. Turns out the sight glass elbow was still available from my supplier for about $12, so I replaced it. It's been cycling for two solid days and nights, with occasional cooling flushes and backflushes, and hasn't leaked a drop, so it's time to buff-out the remaining panels and assemble everything. I'm refurbishing a Simonelli Appia alongside it, with a Faema Due single group and a two-group gas lever machine patiently waiting in the corner.
Cheers
LMWDP #433

skydragondave

#7: Post by skydragondave »

This one's a wrap. (literally)
Doser keypad bezels, decals, packaging, installation and setup are all that's left. I'd like to thank this forum, my fantastic parts suppliers, and most of all my client who not only bought this machine, but inspired me to get into the business in the first place. http://www.homegrownhamilton.com

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LMWDP #433

Mark08859

#8: Post by Mark08859 »

Wonderful restoration. Excellent idea not to re-cover the groupheads!

skydragondave

#9: Post by skydragondave »

Thank you very much!

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It's being installed this Sunday. The machine had two little decals on the inside of the cup rails that said "Caution Hot Surface" which I readhered to the upper valance panels just above the groupheads. As much as I respect the principle behind the covers, I couldn't bring myself to cover up the groups again.
Cheers
LMWDP #433

alterview

#10: Post by alterview »

Dave! Your work is impressive, to say the least. Keep up with restore posts and pics; an inspiration to the rest of us lowly amateurs.

My thread is soon to come on my new (to me) 74' LSM leva. Two weeks in and so much fun.

Cheers,
rj