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How to tell if gaskets need replacing on Elektra Micro Casa a Leva
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elyaz
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Joined: 26 Feb 2011
Posts: 13
Location: San Francisco
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sun Jun 16, 2013, 3:18pm
Subject: How to tell if gaskets need replacing on Elektra Micro Casa a Leva
 

Hi,

I have a 2 year old Elektra Micro Casa a Leva. I use it 1-2x per day.

I recently cleaned out the grouphead for the first time – pulled out the piston, cleaned the dispersion screen, wiped the black residue off the piston assembly and lubed it up. I ordered some gaskets from Stefano, but now I'm not sure if I really need to replace them yet. Things seem to work fine. They look a bit worn on the very edges, but the outsides are perfectly smooth and look like new. Seems like they'd form a good seal.

  1. What are the tell tale signs for if a gasket needs to be replaced? What would it look like? Where would I have leaking?

  2. Also – and I don't think this is related, but not sure – after reassembling, I seem to get some friction when I pull shots (while the spring is expanding / espresso is coming out). This feels to me like metal on metal. If I give a bit of a gentle pull of the handle toward me while the spring is expanding, then everything is perfectly smooth. If I don't, then at the very beginning of the shot and at the very end, it seems to catch and stutter a bit. Any ideas for what to do here? I've tried lubing the metal shaft while holding the handle down, since it seems to me like that shaft is scratching on the grouphead casing.

Thanks!

elyaz: photo1a.jpeg
(Click for larger image)
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johnboddie
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Joined: 28 Nov 2008
Posts: 195
Location: Virginia
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: MCAL, Brasilia Mini Classic,...
Grinder: Rossi RR45a,Rocky,...
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Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Mon Jun 17, 2013, 1:34pm
Subject: Re: How to tell if gaskets need replacing on Elektra Micro Casa a Leva
 

From the photo, it looks like the gaskets were not properly re-seated when you reassembled the piston and grouphead. That might also account for your "Metal on metal" sensation.

When  you get your new gaskets from Stefano, replace the ones you have (a plastic bicycle tire tool works wonderfully in this process) making sure that the top and bottom of the individual gaskets are properly positioned. Use some Dow 111 as your lubricant and you should have no further problems.

JB
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elyaz
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Joined: 26 Feb 2011
Posts: 13
Location: San Francisco
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Mon Jun 17, 2013, 1:39pm
Subject: Re: How to tell if gaskets need replacing on Elektra Micro Casa a Leva
 

Thanks John. What makes you say they don't look properly re-seated?
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johnboddie
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Joined: 28 Nov 2008
Posts: 195
Location: Virginia
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: MCAL, Brasilia Mini Classic,...
Grinder: Rossi RR45a,Rocky,...
Drip: Cuisinart (non-grinding)
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Tue Jun 18, 2013, 8:14am
Subject: Re: How to tell if gaskets need replacing on Elektra Micro Casa a Leva
 

The lower gasket (adjoining the spring) appears to be on an angle with the right side (in the photo) outside the flange.
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elyaz
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Joined: 26 Feb 2011
Posts: 13
Location: San Francisco
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Tue Jun 18, 2013, 8:44am
Subject: Re: How to tell if gaskets need replacing on Elektra Micro Casa a Leva
 

I see, thank you.

If I could just re-seat the current gasket properly, how can I tell if the gasket actually needs to be replaced?
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johnboddie
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Joined: 28 Nov 2008
Posts: 195
Location: Virginia
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: MCAL, Brasilia Mini Classic,...
Grinder: Rossi RR45a,Rocky,...
Drip: Cuisinart (non-grinding)
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Tue Jun 18, 2013, 10:50am
Subject: Re: How to tell if gaskets need replacing on Elektra Micro Casa a Leva
 

You have ordered new gaskets. Install them and you'll have one less thing to worry about. I replaced my MCAL gaskets about six weeks ago, and can tell you with sincerity that it's not that difficult to do. Heat the new gaskets in hot water (not boiling) for a few minutes to make them more malleable.
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elyaz
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Joined: 26 Feb 2011
Posts: 13
Location: San Francisco
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Tue Jun 18, 2013, 11:42am
Subject: Re: How to tell if gaskets need replacing on Elektra Micro Casa a Leva
 

I'll install them. I still wonder for next time whether there's a way to check if they need to be replaced or if I should just do it every 2 years "whether they need it or not" :-)
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elyaz
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Joined: 26 Feb 2011
Posts: 13
Location: San Francisco
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Thu Aug 8, 2013, 12:24am
Subject: Re: How to tell if gaskets need replacing on Elektra Micro Casa a Leva
 

Well, I replaced the gaskets. Doesn't seem to have hurt anything, but I still get a lot of metal-on-metal action. It's actually the "pin" at the very top, since if I lube that up then it mostly takes care of it. But it seems to need at least weekly lubrication to avoid friction.

I've been using the Haynes grease I bought from Stefano's Espresso Care. I might try Dow Corning 111, which I've never used before, to see if it's any different.
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johnmc
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Joined: 10 Jan 2008
Posts: 12
Location: Australia
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Fri Aug 9, 2013, 3:56pm
Subject: Re: How to tell if gaskets need replacing on Elektra Micro Casa a Leva
 

You have the bottom seal ( furthest from the spring ) upside down. The lip on the seal that sticks out must be pointing down towards the coffee puck.

John
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elyaz
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Joined: 26 Feb 2011
Posts: 13
Location: San Francisco
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Fri Aug 9, 2013, 9:58pm
Subject: Re: How to tell if gaskets need replacing on Elektra Micro Casa a Leva
 

Thanks John. But how does one tell? I looked at it super carefully before putting it on, and couldn't tell any difference at all between top and bottom. Looked totally symmetrical to me.
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