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Refurbishing a friends 1995 La Pavoni Professional (Brass / Copper Combo)
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AntWilliams90
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AntWilliams90
Joined: 4 Feb 2013
Posts: 61
Location: Warwickshire, UK
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic
Grinder: Mahlkonig Vario Home
Roaster: Dieckmann Rostmeister
Posted Mon Jul 22, 2013, 7:53am
Subject: Refurbishing a friends 1995 La Pavoni Professional (Brass / Copper Combo)
 

Hi all!

I've been a bit quiet on here for a while - not a lot happening coffee-wise in my world right now! Or at least, that's what I would have been saying up until last Wednesday! A colleague brought her parents old La Pavoni into the office, to see if I could get it going again.

This is how it looked when it arrived...

I took it apart as much as I could (I failed, despite my best efforts, to remove the steam valve, the sight glass or the gauge)
Gave it a good clean, inside and out, and found that the rubber gasket around the shower screen was dried, cracked and useless. Ordered replacement gasket, and a new filter basket (the original was MIA)

This is how it looked after the TLC treatment. It's amazing what a bit of elbow grease can accomplish! ;)

So this morning the two parts arrived. Lots of fun trying to get the rubber gasket in properly - ended up locking in the portafilter to get the shower screen and gasket in properly!

This is the first coffee it has made in ~10 years. The coffee wasn't great - but then again the beans weren't finely ground, and I could only use a teaspoon to tamp with (talk about an under-equipped office!)

Now - any advice for me?

I am stuck on a couple of things;
  • The steam wand leaks at the back (a little bit when valve closed, and a lot when valve open!)
  • Should I be adding anything to protect this? Lacquer? Polish? Product?
  • The filter basket is very loose in the portafilter - is this normal? My gaggia has a little spring clip to hold the basket, but there is no sign of this on the inside of the portafilter

 
As soon as you sit down to a cup of hot coffee, your boss will ask you to do something which will last until the coffee is cold.
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DanoM
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Joined: 20 Mar 2013
Posts: 394
Location: Los Angeles
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Bezzera Strega, '84 La...
Grinder: Compak K10, Kludge grinder,...
Posted Mon Jul 22, 2013, 10:59am
Subject: Re: Refurbishing a friends 1995 La Pavoni Professional (Brass / Copper Combo)
 

AntWilliams90 Said:

So this morning the two parts arrived. Lots of fun trying to get the rubber gasket in properly - ended up locking in the portafilter to get the shower screen and gasket in properly!
I am stuck on a couple of things;
The steam wand leaks at the back (a little bit when valve closed, and a lot when valve open!)
The filter basket is very loose in the portafilter - is this normal? My gaggia has a little spring clip to hold the basket, but there is no sign of this on the inside of the portafilter

Posted July 22, 2013 link

Locking in the portafilter is about the easiest way to get the portafilter gasket and shower head in place.

Back of the steam wand, near the knob, leaks because of the seals that need changed in there.  Also slightly tightening the fitting nearest the steam knob will sometimes stop this leak, but you don't want to tighten that too much or the knob won't turn.

La Pavoni didn't put spring clips on most of their portafilter handles for these machines.  If you purchase a matching Richard Penney bottomless portafilter I think those can be had with a recess for spring clips.  Most people learn different ways to deal with this; like having 2 baskets so you can swap out to a cool one and let the hot one cool while continuing to make espresso.

I recently did a rebuild of my "new" 1984 La Pavoni Professional (chrome), and filled the whole thing to the top with hot water and citric acid solution.  Place the La Pavoni in a non-aluminum baking tray and with the boiler cap off turn the heating element on.  Bring it to the point of bubbles, not boiling, and turn it off.  Cap it.  Open up the steam valve to let some solution in there.  Loosen up the steam wand valve keeper nut, near the knob.  You should get some solution out both of these points.
Also I loosened up the sight glass nuts slightly, top & bottom, to allow for seepage of solution through the mineral build up there.  Wrapping a paper towel around these points will keep it moist longer.
I cycled the heater from time to time to get things hot and pressurized.  Open the steam valve for a bit to get more solution through.
NEVER walk away from your machine when it's heating with a full boiler.  It doesn't take long to heat back up, and you want to keep an eye on things.
You will likely see green/blue coming out of the steam wand too.

My descaling took a week with daily changes of solution when it stopped reacting.  I had serious scale!

This will likely loosen up all the rest of the mineral buildup, so you'll need a full set of seals if you don't have that already.
(Don't remove the heating element or you'll need to get seals for that and likely a liquid gasket sealer for the PSTAT connection too.)

One side effect to heating up with a full boiler is water can sometimes get into the pressure gauge.  On my machine that caused some steaming in the gauge window, but after a week or two of daily use that went away completely.
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AntWilliams90
Senior Member
AntWilliams90
Joined: 4 Feb 2013
Posts: 61
Location: Warwickshire, UK
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic
Grinder: Mahlkonig Vario Home
Roaster: Dieckmann Rostmeister
Posted Tue Jul 23, 2013, 3:50am
Subject: Re: Refurbishing a friends 1995 La Pavoni Professional (Brass / Copper Combo)
 

Thanks for the reply!

I wanted to thoroughly clean, and replace the seals on, the steam valve at the back, but I just could not slide the part out. I undid the nut that holds the valve in place, and having seen photos of it I assumed the rod would slide out then, but it just would not budge! I used a flat head screwdriver to try and lever it out but was worried about the potential for damage to the nut and/or my hand! Any tips (other than perhaps to try and work a bit of lubricant in!)

I had heard differing opinions on whether or not to let citric acid solution run through the group head and/or steam wand - apparently it does a bit of damage?! Not sure what though. All I did to descale was to make a jug of hot citric acid solution and pour that into the assembled machine, allowing the element, tank and tube for the group head to soak for an hour. It took 90% of the crap away. I don't see any signs of scale outside of those three areas!

I'll be honest - I had decided myself that this was one piece of kit I wasn't going to take my eye off whilst turned on! There's a fine line between 'pretty pressurised espresso machine' and 'bomb'.

 
As soon as you sit down to a cup of hot coffee, your boss will ask you to do something which will last until the coffee is cold.
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DanoM
Senior Member


Joined: 20 Mar 2013
Posts: 394
Location: Los Angeles
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Bezzera Strega, '84 La...
Grinder: Compak K10, Kludge grinder,...
Posted Tue Jul 23, 2013, 9:16am
Subject: Re: Refurbishing a friends 1995 La Pavoni Professional (Brass / Copper Combo)
 

AntWilliams90 Said:

I wanted to thoroughly clean, and replace the seals on, the steam valve at the back, but I just could not slide the part out. I undid the nut that holds the valve in place, and having seen photos of it I assumed the rod would slide out then, but it just would not budge! I used a flat head screwdriver to try and lever it out but was worried about the potential for damage to the nut and/or my hand! Any tips (other than perhaps to try and work a bit of lubricant in!)

I had heard differing opinions on whether or not to let citric acid solution run through the group head and/or steam wand - apparently it does a bit of damage?! Not sure what though. All I did to descale was to make a jug of hot citric acid solution and pour that into the assembled machine, allowing the element, tank and tube for the group head to soak for an hour. It took 90% of the crap away. I don't see any signs of scale outside of those three areas!

I'll be honest - I had decided myself that this was one piece of kit I wasn't going to take my eye off whilst turned on! There's a fine line between 'pretty pressurised espresso machine' and 'bomb'.

Posted July 23, 2013 link

My bet is that there is scale build up in the steam wand valve area.  Getting some citric acid in there will help in dissolving or at least loosening the scale.  If you loosen the retention nut you should be able to unscrew the steam wand, but it takes many turns.  Perhaps you didn't unscrew the steam wand valve after loosening the retention nut?  It's not a simple slide out assembly; you have to unscrew it from the valve body first.

ATTN: My machine in chrome plated, and I've not descaled the Brass/Copper machine.
I read the same remarks about citric acid deplating chrome and the like.  It may well cause some issues, but I haven't yet seen that problem on my machine - doesn't mean I'm not creating an issue.  I even had a portafilter with substantial wearing of the chrome and I saw no lifting of the plating around those areas after days of sitting in citric acid baths including simmering heat.  (Followed by a week long alum bath to dissolve the steel handle bolt out of the portafilter that didn't damage anything on the portafilter either.)

I didn't think my steam wand would have much scale in it, but I got alot of green from that wand when descaling mine.  It had years of scale built up though - looked like a coral reef was forming.

Once you get used to the machine you'll be able to take your eyes off of it, but until then it's good to pay close attention.  Until I had a proper descale of the pstat, by removing it from the machine to descale separately, the machine would sometimes stick in the on position and exceed 1.5 BAR before I turned it off manually.  Now that things are working properly I don't have that issue anymore.
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