B58 Senior Member Joined: 24 Dec 2013 Posts: 2 Location: Manchester, CT Expertise: I love coffee
Posted Mon Jan 6, 2014, 12:08pm Subject: Olympia Cremina - advice on buying used ?
I've been looking for a used Cremina, and saw one locally that hasn't been used in a year (1982 vintage). I will get a chance to power it up & test it, any tips you can offer ? I'm planning on rebuilding any machine I acquire, just want to make sure I don't purchase one that has an unrepairable flaw. I'd rather buy from someone competent (like here or HomeBarista), the person I talked to has no knowledge on this.
z0mbie Senior Member Joined: 26 Sep 2013 Posts: 376 Location: Online Expertise: I live coffee
Posted Mon Jan 6, 2014, 11:11pm Subject: Re: Olympia Cremina - advice on buying used ?
You're in a better position than most, having physical access to the machine. It would be wise to ask for permission in advance so to keep things friendly.
In your situation, I would do the following:
Open the cover. If you don't know how, Google is your friend. Inspect for rust and other signs of leaking.
With a flashlight peek into boiler for any visible signs of corrosion or heavy scaling. If you don't know what this looks like, again, Google or YouTube it.
Do a quick dry run of the features. All o-ring seals should have plenty of compression available when tightening. These include boiler cap, steam knob, group seal. Lever should feel lubed(smooth) and not so tight that it lifts (tilts) the machine on its own. Pilot and switch LEDs should light up.
As for the finish, inside and out, that's up to you. And if there is asbestos on the boiler, well, that's up to you also.
If seller agrees to let you do a thorough test....
Fill it to the top of the sight glass window with room temp water (77F) and time the heating process. The pilot should go out in less than 8 minutes. I verified this step on both my Creminas.
Check for any leaks or hissing sounds. If you hear hissing tighten the boiler cap and steam knob. Group should not drip.
Shut off the machine and test the steam valve. The steam should shut off well before you can no longer turn the knob.
Let out all the steam (use a cup to collect sputter) and then close the steam valve and turn the machine on. The pilot light should go out in 2 minutes.
GENTLY operate the lever and several short flushes the group. The lever should operate smoothly at all times.
Lastly do a long flush while measure the flow temp at the group. It should read between 200 and 205 while the tank is half full.
Posted Tue Jan 7, 2014, 5:52am Subject: Re: Olympia Cremina - advice on buying used ?
I'm surprised no one chimed in with the two main things you have to inspect for wear considering they are nearly impossible to replace - grouphead and powerswitch. If a machine has not proplerly been maintained with lubing on the pins and rollers of the grouphead, you'll have wear showing on the top opening. As for the switch, on that year's model, the switch and light are built in, and sadly replacements are nearly impossible to find. Ensure the switch clicks on and off without spongy-ness. Replacements of these two pieces have not been made in decades and must now come from donor machines, so replacements could be extremely expensive. One last thing I always check that also hints to use is the electrical terminals. If they are not black, like the ones I've pictured, the wiring harness or electrical connectors have been replaced.
What to pay depends on condition, so if you are going to shell out over $1300 you need to really know what you are looking for to avoid overpaying. For reference, there are members on CG and Home Barista that move machines on for bargain prices and prefer not to gouge suspecting buyers. For instance, Sonny (posted above on this thread), bought one of my Creminas for a bargain basement price of $850. All items I mentioned were pristine, with only the outer shell having a few nicks and scratches, which is very normal on the original soft paint. $50 will have that machine looking as good as new. Also included with that machine were an insulated boiler, and two items to bring it up to new model specs - Teflon boiler/grouphead gasket and a Ma-Ter pressurestat, as well as all original parts and seals. Sure, I could have sold it for a ton more, but I bought it for a bargain and felt much better passing it on at that bargain as I didn't need two Creminas. They simply never breakdown, so a spare was just taking up space.
This pic shows the grouphead wear, or in this case, lack of it. The top of the opening should be perfectly flat. Any hump shows increased wear from poor maintenance. i should also point out that the two nuts you see are also originals, whereas refurbs are "smoother and shinier".
Posted Tue Jan 7, 2014, 5:55am Subject: Re: Olympia Cremina - advice on buying used ?
This pic shows the original connections. Notice they are black and rubber, not plastic. The boiler is insulated to with OE's boiler insulation kit (cuts down on time between cycling of the deadband), which cuts down on wear on the heating element as it will not cycle as often.
Posted Tue Jan 7, 2014, 6:51am Subject: Re: Olympia Cremina - advice on buying used ?
If you want a reference for a true pristine all original machine, look at eBay item # 111249106447. I have no idea who the seller is, but this is the finest Cremina I've seen in quite some time. The price is steep, but quality costs money. It's the nicest example I've seen since Bob Craige sold his pristine example in the BST forum here about 4 years or so ago.
farmroast Senior Member Joined: 13 Jul 2006 Posts: 1,449 Location: Amherst MA. Expertise: Professional
Espresso: Strega,Cremina, MCAL... Grinder: Majors, Dienes Vac Pot: Hellem10 Drip: CCD, and more Roaster: 1kg. DreamRoast
Posted Tue Jan 7, 2014, 9:55am Subject: Re: Olympia Cremina - advice on buying used ?
check for little white scale zits on the outside of the boiler(especially lower few inches). Of course unless the asbestos insulation is still on, being an older model, later version came without the insulation. It may not show leaks as the scale can also seal for awhile but once it gets a cleaning leaks will appear. Usually where machines have sat for long periods of time with some water inside or even enough moisture and scale inside to work the process where it finds an impurity in the metal. I've seen this on rarely used beauties as well as beaters. A reason I recommend an occasional opening of the boiler and thorough cleaning.
Check the insulation around the heating element pins for cracks.
Yes, the early switches are a poor design and you then have to cob something in and make a backer plate to do so. Gave up trying to come up with an acceptable fix for a bad one.
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