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riviera rebuild -- advice (also: should i polish?)
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > riviera rebuild...  
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e61brewski
Senior Member
e61brewski
Joined: 7 Dec 2004
Posts: 131
Location: greenville, sc
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: isomac tea, riviera lever
Grinder: mazzer major, isomac gran...
Vac Pot: dirt devil lx
Drip: wouldn't dare
Roaster: i-roast
Posted Tue May 17, 2005, 7:31am
Subject: riviera rebuild -- advice (also: should i polish?)
 

i've taken on an old riviera lever machine as a refurbish project. after some initial scares (a CRACK in the copper boiler wall?! boiler switch not working, etc.) it seems to be in decent shape. er, if you don't count the pond scum i found underneath the golden eagle or the water coming out of the grouphead that appears to be the results of a squid boil gone bad. (see post below for such deliciousness)

i've read many of the riviera posts on this forum, and have already made a beeline to thomas cara ltd. in san fran for the requisite advice and parts. they're great guys.

but i'm wondering about any chronic problems or refurbishment issues that a riviera might be prone to. are there parts, switches, etc. i should just replace (or buy three of) just because it's bound to happen, especially on an old machine? are there parts of this machine that you can't find any more that i should check before sinking any more dough into it? are there pitfalls? are there cool mods i should consider? (a friend has offered to lathe a super-strong wooden portafilter handle out of cedar of lebanon. woohoo.)

and should i polish this thing up or leave it a gnarly antique copper? (this  is a raging debate in my espresso circles).

mine's an 800 watt copper and brass machine, with a direct-plumb option and labels and what-not in the original italian. more detailed refurb updates are being posted at the blog below. advice, personal experiences, questions welcome. this is a new thang for me, and i'm looking for all the community i can get.

e61brewski: riviera-mug.jpg
(Click for larger image)

 
the blog: http://ben.szobody.com
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e61brewski
Senior Member
e61brewski
Joined: 7 Dec 2004
Posts: 131
Location: greenville, sc
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: isomac tea, riviera lever
Grinder: mazzer major, isomac gran...
Vac Pot: dirt devil lx
Drip: wouldn't dare
Roaster: i-roast
Posted Tue May 17, 2005, 7:42am
Subject: Re: riviera rebuild -- advice (also: should i polish?)
 

here's an example of some of the heartwarming sights i found in my new project. more delectable pics and video at the blog.

e61brewski: slime.jpg
(Click for larger image)

 
the blog: http://ben.szobody.com
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estill
Senior Member


Joined: 12 May 2005
Posts: 11
Location: Washingon
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Tue May 17, 2005, 8:26am
Subject: Re: riviera rebuild -- advice (also: should i polish?)
 

I can't speak about rebuilding this machine, sorry I'm still very new at this.

If you are going to polish it check out Hollywood Metal Polish.  It's marketed towards car detailers, but works great for just about any metal.  It will polish the copper bottom on my pots and pans without too much scrubbing.
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MRN1
Senior Member
MRN1
Joined: 7 Jun 2004
Posts: 61
Location: USA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: NS Oscar, Pasquini Livietta
Grinder: Anfim, SolisMP
Posted Tue May 17, 2005, 5:29pm
Subject: Re: riviera rebuild -- advice (also: should i polish?)
 

You've already figured out that Chris @Cara is crucial in this project. Anything he says trumps anything else you will hear.

The element is the crucial link - the machine is scrap metal without a working one. They are supposedly no longer made in specs that fit this machine.

Cara has all the seals you'll need. Try to listen when he tells you about the "tape thing" - it works perfectly.

I wouldn't bother polishing the outside unless you really dislike the discoloration pattern it currently has. You'll take off a bit of the copper layer (or more with scrubbing) with each cleaning and it'll just tarnish again real quick. You could make it "your tarnish" if you'd like, but the copper layer is pretty thin.

The direct water connection is pretty cool - I've hooked mine up mostly as an easy safeguard to keep the boiler full and protect the element.

I would like a stronger spring in my group. If you find a source (Cara??) I'd sure like to hear.

Good luck - its a fun project and not very difficult.

M.
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FauxLatteArtist
Senior Member
FauxLatteArtist
Joined: 17 May 2005
Posts: 8
Location: Greenville, SC
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Isomac Tea, Expobar O/C
Grinder: Mazzer Mini, Ranchilio...
Drip: What is that?
Roaster: HotTop
Posted Tue May 17, 2005, 8:15pm
Subject: Re: riviera rebuild -- advice (also: should i polish?)
 

Polish it!  You have to now that you did a partial.
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e61brewski
Senior Member
e61brewski
Joined: 7 Dec 2004
Posts: 131
Location: greenville, sc
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: isomac tea, riviera lever
Grinder: mazzer major, isomac gran...
Vac Pot: dirt devil lx
Drip: wouldn't dare
Roaster: i-roast
Posted Tue May 17, 2005, 10:30pm
Subject: Re: riviera rebuild -- advice (also: should i polish?)
 

You've already figured out that Chris @Cara is crucial in this project. Anything he says trumps anything else you will hear.

hear, hear. chris in san fran is incredibly amenable and willing to take time to "get to know" your machine over the phone and offer free advice. i was indeed concerned about the element issue (in some online-only research before buying the thing, i had thought i could get any part -- but apparently this is the key exception). if using the direct-plumb option helps protect the element, i'll definitely look into that. chris said something about direct-plumb-related parts not being available any longer either, but surely i could find a way to use it.

i may make some fun mods, once it's operable. in addition to the wooden portafilter handle, cara tells me the tamper with this machine is also wooden -- yet it will need to be filed down, since the old groups are smaller than the new groups. with this work requisite, i figure why not lathe a cool wooden tamper too?

i also decided the $75 for a drip tray cover (no kidding) was a bit much. i'll let you know if i find a classy alternative. so far, the parts needed are a new knob and gasket on the steam wand, a new tank cap, a portafilter and basket, and a new grouphead gasket. not bad, all things conisdered.

i think i'll polish the outside once the leaks are fixed. the water dribbling down the boiler has definitely left some crusty water residue, so i'd like to get rid of it. after that, i'll probably let her tarnish evenly. if you want, i'll try to post some pics.

 
the blog: http://ben.szobody.com
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Paul_Pratt
Senior Member
Paul_Pratt
Joined: 2 Sep 2002
Posts: 303
Location: Hong Kong
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Marzocco SMAL + GS
Grinder: Vulcano
Drip: Pourover cone works best for...
Roaster: Probat
Posted Wed May 18, 2005, 3:42am
Subject: Re: riviera rebuild -- advice (also: should i polish?)
 

I think once you polish it, it will tarnish quickly anyway. Polishing this isn`t the same as repaiting a vintage watch dial - in that case you are actually destroying the original dial with a brand new one.  In this case you are just cleaning it and you have not altered the machine in any way and it will go back to being weathered soon.

As I have posted here before, I can get heating elements made in any shape. Just ask.

I would get it working and then see how you feel after you are pulling shots. I think it looks great as it is.

Paul
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e61brewski
Senior Member
e61brewski
Joined: 7 Dec 2004
Posts: 131
Location: greenville, sc
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: isomac tea, riviera lever
Grinder: mazzer major, isomac gran...
Vac Pot: dirt devil lx
Drip: wouldn't dare
Roaster: i-roast
Posted Fri May 20, 2005, 1:16am
Subject: Re: riviera rebuild -- advice (also: should i polish?)
 

follow up: what does a lever pull tupically look like without a portafilter? as i'm cleaning this thing, i've pulled the lever a few times and have been surprised at the way the water came out.

i was expecting some kind of slow pre-infusion stage, then a high-pressure flow when the lever pull reached a certain point. but from what i can tell, the water seems to jet out in spurts at various stages in the lever pull. (no, there's no obstruction in the tubing -- i checked). also, if i pull the lever all the way down and let it all the way up, there is substantially more water in my cup than  either a single or double shot. given the relatively small size of the portafilter and basket, this doesn't seem right.

what gives?

is there a water flow pattern i should be looking for, or is the riviera lever pull pretty much a quick gush of water? and why does it dispense so much water during a complete pull of the lever even though its basket is so small?

 
the blog: http://ben.szobody.com
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FauxLatteArtist
Senior Member
FauxLatteArtist
Joined: 17 May 2005
Posts: 8
Location: Greenville, SC
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Isomac Tea, Expobar O/C
Grinder: Mazzer Mini, Ranchilio...
Drip: What is that?
Roaster: HotTop
Posted Fri May 20, 2005, 7:25am
Subject: Re: riviera rebuild -- advice (also: should i polish?)
 

Why not wait for the portafilter.
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MRN1
Senior Member
MRN1
Joined: 7 Jun 2004
Posts: 61
Location: USA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: NS Oscar, Pasquini Livietta
Grinder: Anfim, SolisMP
Posted Fri May 20, 2005, 3:38pm
Subject: Re: riviera rebuild -- advice (also: should i polish?)
 

Its only boiler pressure in the boiler pushes water up to the tube into the group. When the lever is up (piston down) the water in the tube pushes into a closed chamber which is just between two seals on the piston. If you get water now, the seals need replacing.

When the lever is down (Piston up) the water in the tube pushes into the space between the bottom of the piston and the top of the coffee. Without the portafiler you should get a howling spray of water and steam that is pushed up the tube and into the group by the pressure in the boiler and only stops when you run out of water and pressure. I can fill a cup with boiling water in several seconds this way, or drain the boiler (and damage element) in a minute.

Dosing with this system depends on having a proper PF and coffee puck in place.

Hope this helps.

M.
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