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Restoring an 1979 HE single group Elektra branded as ITALIA -- PICS ADDED
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phreich
Senior Member


Joined: 30 Jul 2010
Posts: 46
Location: Oregon
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: 1979 Elektra single group...
Grinder: Nuova Simonelli MDX
Vac Pot: Bodum
Drip: Mr. Coffee
Roaster: thinking about setting up a...
Posted Sat Oct 2, 2010, 6:31am
Subject: Restoring an 1979 HE single group Elektra branded as ITALIA -- PICS ADDED
 

Hi,

I've repaired a number of small vibratory pump single boiler machines like Gaggia Coffee (original) and various Krups, but have now gotten into my first "commercial" style machine.  I thought I'd document my adventure into this -- maybe it'll be helpful to others, maybe someone will point out something I've overlooked and need to do, or maybe it'll just be a fun read....

Here comes the saga:

I picked up a 1979 single group all copper exterior HX machine labeled as ITALIA made by "Faema Sales Corporation".  This confused me because it didn't look at all like any Faema machines I could find.  I asked around, and sent pics to some pro's, and found out that Faema Sales Corporation supposedly imported Faema knock-offs and other machines over the years.  They have since changed their name to Fama Corp of America.  It turns out that the machine was built by Elektra, and is a precursor to the current model GL1 (the copper version of the A3).

A couple of testimonials for some of the help I have received:

Before I go any further, I want to acknowledge the advice and help I have received from Devon who runs the commercial espresso machine parts department at Espresso Parts NW (Olympia WA).  He was very patient, answered every question I had, scoured their warehouse looking for specific sized gaskets I needed and found a screw-in type heater element that would fit and work in this old machine.  This was especially impressive since, at the time I was working with him initially, it was a "mystery" machine -- nobody I had talked to was able to figure out who actually made it.   All we knew was what was on the name plate: it only had "Italiano" as the model, and said it was manufactured for "Faema Sales Corporation" -- however the folks at Faema said it wasn't one of theirs!  Eventually one of the pros I sent a picture to said this looked a lot like an Elektra -- which is what it turned out to be, manufactured by Elektra for, and imported by, the company calling themselves "Faema Sales Corporation".  So, kind of "working in the dark", Devon still was able to help me to proceed with the initial work on the restoration.

Once I knew that Elektra actually made the machine I was directed to and I received invaluable help from Stefano, the owner of Espressocare (Eugene, OR) who is a west coast Elektra dealer, parts and repair place and general expert on the machines.  I found out about Stefano later in the process, and I recommend him highly to anyone needing advice on Elektra machines.

UPDATE:  Stefano at EspressoCare further defined that this machine was manufactured until the mid 1980's and was actually the precursor to the "Deliziosa" model which was then replaced by the current 60's series.  It's interesting to note that when Elektra changed to the"Diliziosa" model they decided to hide the water and steam valves and top of the grouphead behind a flat stainless steel cover.  They came to their senses and again showed these off when they started putting out the 60's series machines that replaced the Diliziosa.  I think having the valves and grouphead exposed adds beauty and interest to the machine....

You can see a picture of it's current younger 60's series models here:
Click Here (www.chriscoffee.com)

Here's a unique feature -- it's a mechanical automatic.  Instead of having a flowmeter and computer measuring and controlling the flow, it has a mechanical timer that you set to the number of seconds you want the shot to pump.  Stefano mentioned that this timer setup was patented by Mr. Florindo Frenian, the father of the current owner of the Elektra company.

If anyone else out there has one of these older pre-"Deliziosa" model Elektra's I'd love to talk/correspond with you.  If you have an original manual it'd be great to get a copy (I'm not holding my breath for this one).

History of machine:
The machine had been salvaged by a guy around 1995, from a high-end condo in the DC area that was being remodeled.  He used it until he moved into this Portland Oregon area and then got married and his wife didn't want a full sized machine in the kitchen so it was put in storage for 10 years and gathered a lot of dust.  

What I found wrong with it:
  1.  When I got it the pump was seized. Pulling the pump off the motor, I found it was just stuck a bit (impeller had probably kind of stuck to the brass during storage).  I had run water into it, so i knew it had a bit of lubrication, so I tried to move the impeller shaft manually and it freed right up -- didn't take much force.  The motor tested fine.  Put it back together and the pump worked like a champ.
  2.  I noticed was that it would pop GFI circuits.  Testing showed that the heating element was open, which would explain the GFI issue as the element had burned through and was in contact with the water in the boiler.
  3.  Once the pump was working, it wouldn't stop filling the boiler -- it kept going until water came out of the pressure relief valve on the top of the boiler.  I traced this down to something being wrong with the mechanical auto-fill switch.  Once I tore down the boiler I discovered that, on this model, there was a float attached on a pivot inside the boiler with a magnet pointing to the outside wall of the boiler.  This magnet then caused another magnet attached on a pivot on the outside of the boiler to rock up or down depending on the water level inside the tank.  This worked via a mercury switch attached to the outside pivoting magnet.  The problem turned out to be that scale had built up where the magnet travels on the inside of the boiler, preventing the float from raising, thus preventing the magnet on the outside from opening the mercury switch.
  4.  The machine had never been descaled or backflushed as far as I could see.  There was a lot of scale flakes in the bottom of the boiler, and a rim of lime or calcium around the water line inside the boiler.  The grouphead was filthy, and I discovered that the HE pressure relief valve was clogged with gunk from the drip tray drain.  I took out the drain manifold (it had two inputs -- one from the drip tray and the other from the HE pressure relief valve, and cleaned it out, took apart the pressure relief valve and cleaned all the gunk out of it, and it is now functional again.
  5.  Since I had the boiler out to replace the heating element and found lots of scale, I went ahead and gave it a hot acid bath using a commercial food-grade descaler called Opticlean, made by Optipure.  Here's a link to the product brochure:
    Click Here (www.optipurewater.com)
    I was able to buy this in a 2 lb bulk bag for $21 -- a lot cheaper than I could get it an "activated" commercial descaler from any of the mail-order folks.  I got it from, of all places, a refrigeration supply company who stocked it to descale commercial ice makers.  I was not able to find the MSDS for it, but suspect it is very similar to the  Everpure Scale Kleen product and is probably citric acid based.  (Update: -- I contacted the manufacturer and got an MSDS for it and it is about 95% citric acid with a proprietary chelating additive).  
    .
    I filled a 5 gallon porcelain enameled canning pot (the porcelain is a glass coating so it would not be effected by the acid) I got at a thrift store up with hot water, mixed in the descaler, put the burner on low to keep it hot, and immersed the boiler and all copper tubes for a couple of hours.  The thing came out squeeky clean -- no more scale, and no damage to the boiler, fittings or tubes.  Did a thorough rinse, followed by a wash with dishwashing detergent and more rinsing to make sure nothing was left behind.
    The next few things are enhancements -- not really repairs:
  6.  I noticed that this older machine did not have a vacuum breaker.  This was a problem for me because I did not want to have to deal with the possibility of somebody accidentally opening the steam valve too early and sucking milk into the boiler due to a vacuum being created when the boiler cooled down, or having to open the steam valve to get the pressurestat to work correctly when the boiler was first heating up.
    I solved this by putting in a brass "T" fitting where the boiler pressure relief valve was attached, got a couple of brass street 90's, and put a new vacuum breaker on one street 90 on one end of the "T", and installed the original pressure relief valve on a street 90 on the other end of the "T".  
    NOTE: I discovered that there are two kinds of brass street 90's made -- one that looks like it was machined out of a block of brass and drilled out and then tapped, and the other kind that is cast and then threaded.  The box stores only carried the first kind, and these had an area inside that would trap water where they drilled out the opening.  The cast kind would not do this.  I didn't like the idea of steam condensing and getting stale water accumulating below the vacuum breaker and the pressure relief, so I went to a plumbing supply place and got the cast brass street 90 fittings (3/8" for the pressure relief and 1/4" for the vacuum breaker).
  7.  Since I am planning on using this machine in my kitchen, I didn't like the idea of the large uninsulated 6 liter boiler heating up my kitchen -- it would be a great waster of energy as well.  I found the thread on insulating this machine's younger relative the Elektra A3 here:
    Click Here (www.home-barista.com)
    .
    I looked at the various options mentioned, and got to thinking -- Fiberglass insulation is cheap and can handle the heat, but the problem is keeping it contained.  I found some reflective mylar covered fiberglass heat duct insulation at Home Depot for around $7 for a 5 foot length (much more than I would need) and thought that this would work well.  The fiberglass would be in direct contact with the boiler, and the outer reflective mylar covering would take the heat on the outside of the fiberglass.  I cut a chunk of the fiberglass long enough to wrap the boiler and cover the ends, and got to fitting it to the boiler, cutting out holes for the fittings as I went, and then trimming to fit.  I used foil backed duct tape to hold the outside of the fiberglass together (not in direct contact with the boiler).  Then I did the same with the outer mylar covering.  It took about an hour to do it, and didn't cost much, and has the highest R value of the various options mentioned in the thread above.  I made sure that to cut back the mylar cover to keep it well away from where the heating element comes through so that it could not short out the electrical contacts (I don't think it's conductive -- but just to be safe).  I may go further and find some kind of heat-resistant non-conducting material (maybe a chunk of cpvc?) to cover the exposed heat element connections just to be safe.  I think this will work fine.  One other thing I did is to cut some slits in the bottom of the mylar covering so that if water gets inside due to a leak or the pressure-relief valve opening up, it will drain instead of getting trapped in the fiberglass insulation.
  8.  I did some research on options for getting the luster back in the exposed copper and brass (the whole machine is covered in copper sheeting, and the grouphead, water and steam valves and tubes are brass and copper.)  It all was looking pretty oxidized.  I called around and found a hardware store had a product called "Liberty Polish", which sells for about $10 for a quart.  This hardware store stocks it for a couple of the upscale hotels in town that have lots of brass railings and fixtures.  Here's a link to the product from an online seller of it:
    Click Here (www.rejuvenation.com)
    My only other options were very expensive considering the amount I needed to polish (FLITZ).  (Brasso works, but it is a bit more abrasive than I like).  I found that the Liberty Polish actually worked faster than FLITZ!  Also, since I am planning on lacquer coating it all so I won't have to keep polishing it all the time, I didn't want the wax coating the FLITZ leaves behind.  I got a 4" sander/buffer kit for a drill at the same hardware store for about $6, and it worked marvelously well and quickly took off the years of tarnish.  Doing it all by hand would have been a pain on the large flat panels.  I did the grouphead and steam and water valves and tubes by hand, and used a dremel tool and polishing wheel to get into the crevices and exposed threaded parts.  So far I have done the front panels and the grouphead and valves, but the rest should go pretty quickly.  
    Note that I had to remove the old lacquer before I started polishing -- I did this using acetone and some old terri-cloth rags.  I discuss why I used acetone later in this thread.....
  9.  Enhancing the plumbing to allow for twice-yearly in-place descaling:  I found a 3-way manual 1/8" IPT valve online, and ordered it and will install it in line so that I can simply hook up a hose to a bucket of descaling solution, flip the valve, and have the pump suck the descaling solution into the boiler, grouphead, steam and water valves.  I'll then put water in the bucket to flush out the valve and lines, then switch back to the water supply and run about 2-3 boilers worth of water through the system to flush it out.  This will be much easier than having to disconnect the supply line to do this each time.  
    UPDATE: Some may wonder about flow restriction through 1/8" IPT plumbing -- it is about the same inside dimension as 1/4" OD copper tubing, which is commonly used for pressurized water supply to these machines.  The flow of water is sufficient to prevent the pump from cavitating even when refilling the boiler -- I have verified this, and have had no problems after 2 months of usage.
  10.  Figuring out how to run the plumbing so that it can be "undone" if the machine is ever removed:
    I have been thinking about this and come up with this solution.  The area I am setting up the machine is on a cabinet set up against the outside of a peninsula that has my kitchen sink.  I am wiring an outlet on the cabinet face to hook up the machine, and next to it I will install a "low-voltage" electrical box -- the kind that has no back to it.  Mounted on this will be a blank stainless steel plate that I will drill out and use as a place to install a "bulkhead" fitting for the drain hose and the 3way valve for the water supply/descaler connection.  On the inside of the box I will connect a 3/8" water supply tube to adapters to the 1/8" IPT 3way valve, and on the outside, the same thing -- a couple of 1/8" Male IPT to male 3/8 compression adapters.  I'll put a cap on the descaler input when it's not in use.  What this setup will do is allow for easy disconnection of the machine without having to undo the plumbing below the sink.  It also will allow me to replace the stainless plate that has the fittings mounted in it with a blank plate should I ever move or decommission the machine.
  11.  Another benefit of being able to quickly disconnect the machine is an idea that I got from a local guy I bought a commercial grinder from -- he used his commercial machine at church and non-profit fundraisers -- by setting it up on a cabinet with rollers, and a couple of food-grade jerry cans (one for water and one for drain) and a small rv pump and accumulator and filter to handle the water.  I can do the same with my machine without too much hassle.

I have reassembled the boiler and reinstalled it, and plan to test the machine this coming week.

What's left to do:
  1.  The bottom part of the frame is made out of copper-plated angle-iron.  Unfortunately, the plating is failing, and has pits and rust spots throughout.  Looking at the pictures of the current GL1 model, I noticed that the current Elektra's don't have this -- only the drip-tray area has copper and it looks like it is not plated, but probably a layer of copper sheeting over the angle-iron frame in the front.  I plan to sand and paint the angle-iron, and have a sheet-metal place fab a piece of copper to cover the drip-tray area -- it's a small area so it shouldn't be too expensive.
  2.  Finish polishing the exterior panels of the machine and lacquer coat them.
  3. Plumb the machine (see 10 above).
  4. prime the boiler, test everything and verify no leaks.
  5. verify the boiler temp and set the pressurestat to be correct.
  6. set up a portafilter-based pressure guage and dial-in the 9-bar pressure (yes, I'll set it up on a "T" with a needle valve so that it imitates a shot being done (see threads on this elsewhere)).
  7. Use it!!!!!
    Note, that I may skip steps 1 and 2 above until after I have done the rest because I am getting impatient to get this thing working..... ;-)

I'll show some pics of the inside and outside of the machine after I'm done -- it'll be a thing of coppery beauty!

Any comments or suggestions are more than welcome.

Here's a pic of the machine as it looked when I bought it:

phreich: IMG_04.jpg
(Click for larger image)
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phreich
Senior Member


Joined: 30 Jul 2010
Posts: 46
Location: Oregon
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: 1979 Elektra single group...
Grinder: Nuova Simonelli MDX
Vac Pot: Bodum
Drip: Mr. Coffee
Roaster: thinking about setting up a...
Posted Fri Oct 8, 2010, 11:21am
Subject: Re: Restoring an 1979 HE single group Elektra branded as Faema ITALIA
 

Here's an update for this project as of 10/8/2010:

I got the machine reassembled, installed the electrical outlet and ran the water supply line and drain line, and hooked up the machine today for the first time!

Since the boiler was completely empty, I had to disable the heater -- which I did by holding open the contacts on the pressure-stat.  The boiler filled up and stopped at the right level, and I allowed the heater to come on, and it fired up and 15 minutes later I had 1 bar of pressure in the boiler and the heater shut off.  No fittings leaking, all functions working!  I noticed one very slight leak -- it turns out that the vacuum breaker I installed needs a paper gasket -- which I have ordered and will install when it arrives early next week.  Otherwise, all is functional!  

I pulled my first shot, and it completed a double-shot in 20 seconds!  It didn't taste too good, which is probably due to a bit of old musty stuff in the group head and 3way solenoid, which I did not dissasemble -- I have run a few liters of water through the hot water valve to purge out boiler and supply lines and ran about 20 shots worth of water through the group head.  Hopefully the next one will taste better.

I am looking forward to getting my group head pressure tester set up so I can verify that I am getting 9 bar at the group head.  The water temp in the boiler seems okay -- about 220 degrees.  Lots of steam!

I did a check of the group head water temp by pulling a equalizing shot of about 9 seconds, and then pulling a double-shot's worth of water through the grouphead, and a temperature sensor showed it to be about 198-200 degrees -- perfect!

As this is an older machine, it has a screw-in heating element (looks a lot like a domestic water heater element).  However, the threaded electrical connections that stick out from the element are only about 1/2 inch away from the copper side of the cabinet, and are exposed.  I tried to think of various solutions to seal this up -- maybe buying an 1 1/2" cpvc cap (rated to about 180 degrees continuous), or some other kind of insulating material, when I happened across some commercial rated pipe insulation at Home Depot.  The home-rated stuff is made of polystyrene foam and isn't supposed to go above about 160 degrees, however, the commercial rated stuff is made of rubber and be used at 200 degrees continuous.  This seemed a very easy solution -- I cut off about a 4-inch piece, opened it up lengthwise and placed it over the exposed ends, and it stays in place by itself, is non-conductive, and has a high enough heat rating.

I have not completed the buffing and sealing/coating of the copper exterior -- but all else seems ready-to-go.

I'll add some pics once I get it all done.

Update 10/10/2010:  I discovered that the plug that someone in the past had installed was failing -- in fact it was getting so hot that the plastic was melting.  I replaced the plug with a 20 amp rated plug and replaced the receptacle with a 20 amp rated receptacle.  No more overheating at the plug....

Update2 10/10/2010:  I am concerned about the limited flow of water from the grouphead.  I am suspecting that the check-valve on the supply line feeding the HE from the pump may be partially clogged, or the HE pressure relief valve may be leaking some of the water.  I will know more when I get the portafilter pressure test done.  The flow of water to the boiler from the pump seems fine.  The water within the HE flows just fine to and from the grouphead -- the grouphead heats up quickly and stays hot from the convective heating -- so I don't think the problem is in the plumbing between the HE and the grouphead.  It is possible that there may be a restriction in the 3way solenoid causing the low flow from the grouphead.  I'll start at the check valve and work my way forward....
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ilcaffedio
Senior Member


Joined: 31 Jan 2006
Posts: 463
Location: Atlanta, GA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Astra G.A.
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Vac Pot: Yama
Drip: Chemex
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Fri Oct 8, 2010, 11:31am
Subject: Re: Restoring an 1979 HE single group Elektra branded as Faema ITALIA
 

Great post!  I love restorations.
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phreich
Senior Member


Joined: 30 Jul 2010
Posts: 46
Location: Oregon
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: 1979 Elektra single group...
Grinder: Nuova Simonelli MDX
Vac Pot: Bodum
Drip: Mr. Coffee
Roaster: thinking about setting up a...
Posted Wed Oct 13, 2010, 8:34pm
Subject: Re: Restoring an 1979 HE single group Elektra branded as Faema ITALIA
 

UPDATE: October 13, 2010.
I had a problem with restricted water flow from the group head and posted a question to the forum membership on both coffeegeeks and the home-barista forums.  After a few attempts at isolating the problem, erics on the home-barista forum made a comment about "on the shelf" orafices being drilled to 0.5mm.  That was the clue that got the problem solved.  Whoever had the machine before me simply installed the orafice and didn't drill it to the proper size.  

I took it into a shop who had a set of orifice drills (I don't yet), drilled it out to a numbered drill size 65, which is just slightly under 0.90mm.  I got the conversion from this chart (a very handy chart that shows the inches, mm, and numbered drill sizes):
Click Here (www.keygas.com)

A number 65 drill is .0350 inches, and 0.9mm is .0354 inches so it is 4 thousanths of an inch undersized -- about 0.88mm.  The next size larger drill, number 64 is .0360 inches, or 6 thousandths oversized.  I think 4 thousandths under is close enough.  I figure I'll try the slightly smaller hole first and see how it does.  If I need to order a .9mm drill I will.

I got it reassembled and ran the brew circuit and WHAT A DIFFERENCE!  It is now putting through a good amount of water (I haven't measured it yet).  In the process of working on this the solenoid that diverts water from the pump to the boiler stuck open, causing the boiler to overfill and leak out of the safety check valve on the boiler, so I had to clean it out (some scale had built up in it).  All seems to be working again.  I have the boiler heating up and I'll try a shot later tonight (decaf).

I am working on building a pressure test setup with a spare portafilter, a T, a pressure gauge and a needle valve (to simulate a shot being done).  I hope to have that tested tonight so I can dial-in the brew pressure right to 9 bar -- it may be there already, but I won't know until I test it.

Still haven't finished the polishing and sealing of the exterior copper and brass -- but that's coming soon and the project will be done.

This has been quite a fun learning experience.  I will get some pics out there soon.
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phreich
Senior Member


Joined: 30 Jul 2010
Posts: 46
Location: Oregon
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: 1979 Elektra single group...
Grinder: Nuova Simonelli MDX
Vac Pot: Bodum
Drip: Mr. Coffee
Roaster: thinking about setting up a...
Posted Thu Oct 14, 2010, 10:25pm
Subject: Re: Restoring an 1979 HE single group Elektra branded as Faema ITALIA
 

UPDATE October 14, 2010:

I built my grouphead portafilter pressure tester and discovered I couldn't get more than 7 bar pressure.  I tried the pressure adjustment on the rotary vane pump, but it didn't change.  

Since adjusting the regulation screw on the rotary vane pump didn't modify the pressure, I got to thinking -- maybe the pump is okay, and there's just a problem with the "bypass valve" (which is what this adjustable valve is called) that regulates the output pressure on these pumps.  It was easy to take apart (just remove the single nut, and the adjuster came out, needle nose pliers got the spring and the actual valve out, and a part was missing on the bottom of the valve assembly -- no wonder it didn't do anything.

I have sent an email to the pump manufacturer (Fluid-o-Tech PO201 pump) asking them about their recommendations on whether to rebuild the pump or just repair the regulator.  The pump isn't leaking, and does develop 7 bar pressure with a defective regulator, so maybe it isn't due for a rebuild yet.  Since this machine has never seen commercial service (it was installed in 2 residences previously), this may be the case.  

I hope to hear back from them tomorrow.  Looking at other forum posts on these rotary vane pumps, it looks like the folks at Fluid-o-Tech offer great support and it looks like they are still making the same pump after all these years and probably will have the parts.  

A later improvement to the pump was a better pressure regulator that is not as effected by changes in input line pressure (they call it a "balanced" bypass valve -- the older style is called a "standard" bypass valve), so I am looking into upgrading the pressure regulator if it makes sense to do so.  I'll update this post with the results....  Hopefully this is the final repair to the machine and I can finally set the pressure and temp and "dial-in" great espresso shots!

UPDATE: October 15, 2010:
The next morning I called and talked to Shawn, the tech support guy at Fluid-o-Tech and he sent out a whole new bypass valve assembly -- the upgraded "balanced" type that is less effected by variances in line pressure -- at no charge.  He agreed that since the pump was not leaking and was developing 7 bar pressure without a working bypass valve, it might not need rebuilding -- a new bypass valve might fix it.  I kept my fingers crossed -- their rebuild cost is only about $35 plus shipping, but if I don't need it, that would be great!

I also asked Shawn some general questions regarding their rotary vane pumps and got some interesting information, which I posted on the home-barista forum discussion regarding whether plumbed in machines need external pressure (or not) here:
Click Here (www.home-barista.com)

UDDATE, October 18, 2010:
I got the updated "balanced" bypass valve assembly from Fluid-o-tech today and installed it and -- whoop-dee-do -- it adjusted up to 9 bar+ no problem and was stable at that pressure!  They obviously haven't changed this pump much since 1979 -- the new parts fit just fine.  

I took apart the water dispensing valve (it was leaking around the lever when actuated) and discovered that one of the seals had been put in backwards, and whomever serviced it last loaded it up with an incredible amount of plumbers grease which had turned black and icky.  I cleaned it all out, and have reassembled it.  With what I found, I decided to also R&R the steam wand valve and found it full of icky blackened plumbers grease as well so I cleaned it out too.  I don't really think these need greasing -- but if they do, I'll put a very light coating of silicone plumbers grease in which shouldn't gum up like the other stuff did.

I'm now working on polishing and sealing the exterior, since I think (hope) that I am now done refurbishing the guts of the machine.  I'll post pics of the completed exterior once I'm done polishing and sealing it all.

UPDATE, October 21st, 2010:
Well, putting the cone shaped stem seal in the right way didn't completely solve the hot water leaking out of the lever area when hot water was being dispensed.  I ordered a replacement shaft seal, and the parts to install the factory Gliceur and standoff and its filter and filter spring from Stefano's Espresso Care, and installed them and no more leaks!  I asked Stefano what should be lubricated with silicone plumbers grease on the water and steam valves, and he suggested the following locations (the key is to smear on a very small amount so it doesn't gunk up everything):
  1. The shaft where it goes through the cone shaft seal and spring retainer,
  2. the spring itself,
  3.  the threaded shaft end cap on the sides where it slides into the valve body, and the flat surface where the lever "sphere" rocks on it,
  4.  and on the "sphere" where it rides against the acorn nut that is screwed onto the end of the valve body.

I fired up the machine, and started working on "dialing-in" the shots.  It looks like the boiler pressure gauge reads a bit high, so I had to adjust up the pressure-stat up 4/10ths of a bar to get the right hx temp, and also adjusted up the bypass valve on the pump to get 9bar pressure with water flowing (the grouphead test gauge reads about 10.5 bar with the flow of water completely blocked off, but quickly drops to 9 bar with an appropriate amount of water flowing through the needle valve).

I heard a bit of a steam leak and discovered that the boiler safety valve was leaking a very small amount of steam -- tightening it down further solved the problem.

I then started playing around with the grind settings on my grinder and watching the stream out of the bottomless portafilter until I got the right flow and stream -- wow -- what a difference!  This is my first time working with a bottomless portafilter and it really is fine-tuning my loading and tamping....

I have done a final polish on the front panels of the machine, the steam and water valves and wands and the grouphead, and then lacquered it all with about 4 coats of lacquer.  It's pretty stuff.

I now have to strip, polish and lacquer the side and back panel, the cup warmer tray, and the exposed brass-coated angle-iron frame on the bottom of the machine.  At this point though, the machine is fully functional!

UPDATE, October 23, 2010:
I polished the exposed plated frame parts of the machine last night and sealed them with some coats of lacquer, and quite a bit of the pitting and spots diminished or disappeared entirely.  I also cleaned up the painted aluminum switch and timer plates and the manufacturer's plate on the side and gave them a coat of lacquer to seal them up as well.  The front exposed part of the frame is still pretty pock-marked and will need to be recovered at some point with some copper sheeting, but the sides look okay (not perfect) as is.  Now that it is properly sealed up it shouldn't rust or tarnish further.

I had a friend come over today who has been taste testing and roasting his own beans for some time now to get his opinion of the machine now that it is operating correctly.  He gave it a thumbs-up!

All that's left to do now is to polish the cup holder tray and the side panels and the project is done.  I am currently enjoying having better-than-the-coffee-chain-we-all-know lattes and espresso in my own home.  I smile every-time also knowing I am NOT spending $6 for a latte....

UPDATE: October 29, 2010:

As I have finally completed polishing and sealing the outer panels for this machine and am "officially" done with the restoration.  Woo-hoo!!!!!

Some notes on stripping and polishing the large copper and brass panels and covers on the machine:
I thought about using a paint stripper to clear off the old failing lacquer on the copper panels, but instead remembered that Acetone melts lacquer quickly, and is a lot easier on me and the environment than either paint stripper or lacquer thinner.  This worked well, using cotton terry cloth rags with acetone to "melt" and absorb the old lacquer, and left the copper and brass clean.  Then I used the Liberty Polish I discussed earlier with a small buffing wheel in a cordless drill, and finished with hand polishing the remaining few spots.  There were some places that had been badly stained with something, and I used fine, followed by super-fine steel wool to polish those areas out, followed by a light polishing with Liberty Polish.

It's getting colder and rainy in the Northwest, so I didn't want to work outside or in an unheated garage -- I also wanted to minimize my exposure to fumes, so I got a large piece of cardboard and covered the top of the stove and ran it up the wall behind the stove, and turned on the range hood to suck out the fumes from the acetone and the drying lacquer.  This worked well, keeping the fumes out of the house, protecting the stove and wall from overspray, and kept me comfortable in a relatively dust-free environment (a good thing for spray painting with rattle cans).

One mistake I made when doing the polishing in my kitchen sink was forgetting that stainless steel is harder than copper, and so when I rested the cover on the rim of the sink, it scuffed it up a bit -- this was removed easily using fine and super-fine steel wool, but hopefully someone can learn from my mistake and not have to go through that trouble.

I have added shots of the machine in all its glory, and a shot of a shot (not perfect tamp, so there's a spot not flowing -- but not bad either -- lots of crema).

There are three upgrades I will be making in the future:
  1.  adding a heater overtemp sensor so that my element won't get fried if something goes wrong and the heater gets exposed.
  2.  Add a latching DPST push button switch to the right of the timer so I can pull shots simply by pressing a button instead of using the timer.  I am also thinking of mounting a second switch so that I can open the 3way group solenoid without the pump so I can do pre-infusion.  This would be a momentary switch that would open the 3way solenoid allowing line pressure to pre-infuse the puck as long as the button is pressed.
  3.  Have a copper panel fabricated to cover the pitted copper plating on the frame around the drip tray.  I have polished and sealed it for now so it won't get worse, but it could look better....

I hope this thread has been enjoyable, and may help future restorers through the process of restoring an older machine.

Regards to all who are reading this,

Philip

UPDATE -- after two weeks of use -- November 11, 2010
The machine is working just fine and has produced a lot of great shots.
I have been trying some various beans and have found one in particular I really am enjoying -- the decaf "house blend" at Stumptown Roasters in Portland Oregon.  It has great flavor, and it is a decaf!
I started a thread on the home-barista forum asking about pre-infusion modification methods and suggestions, and found something out that I was beginning to suspect was true for my machine based on my experience with it.  The Elektra group is different enough from E61 groups that it really doesn't need pre-infusion.  The water path is completely vertical, goes through an extra heavy brass diffuser before it gets to the final diffuser screen, and the 3-4 seconds it takes to ramp up to 9-bar pressure due to the 0.9mm gigleur and the water path causes it to pre-infuse the puck automatically before it gets to full pressure.  The engineers at Elektra sure seem to know what they are doing.  Soooo, I won't be adding a second momentary switch for doing pre-infusion -- it's just not needed.

End of Updates -- project is complete! -- pictures follow:
====================================


Here is a link to a photobucket album showing "before" images of this machine (most taken by the guy from whom I bought the machine -- I took the "topless" images and the closeup of the label):
Link to album:   Click Here (s951.photobucket.com)
Link to slideshow: Click Here (s951.photobucket.com)

Okay, as promised and requested by some, here are some "x-rated" (as one guy called it) topless and sideless pics of the machine.....  Note the front copper panels are also removed.  All you are seeing is the frame that the panels attach to and that the internal components and grouphead and steam and water valves and wands are attached to.

I took pics from all angles.  I guess I'll have to put a "reply" up for each pic as it only seems to allow one file to be added per reply.  Where it made sense to, I put comments on the post with the picture.  A few generic comments about the pictures follow:

Note the pics from the top show the 3/8" close nipple and "T" that I inserted where the safety valve was, and put the safety valve on a 3/8" street 90 off of the T, and a new vacuum breaker on a 3/8 x 1/4" street 90 on the other side of the T.  The vacuum breaker is installed vertically, but the safety valve had to go at about a 45 degree angle to fit under the top cover of the machine -- since the safety valve isn't affected by gravity (unlike the vacuum breaker), this works fine.

The silvery looking stuff that is covering the boiler is the mylar covering that covers the fiberglass duct insulation that I put over the boiler -- The mylar doesn't get hot -- just warm.  This mylar cover came with the duct insulation.  I taped the slits and seams with aluminum foil duct tape, which is working fine.  Note that I made sure to keep it well away from the heater element....

I hope these pics are useful to some folks....

phreich: DSCN0495.JPG
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phreich
Senior Member


Joined: 30 Jul 2010
Posts: 46
Location: Oregon
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: 1979 Elektra single group...
Grinder: Nuova Simonelli MDX
Vac Pot: Bodum
Drip: Mr. Coffee
Roaster: thinking about setting up a...
Posted Thu Oct 14, 2010, 10:28pm
Subject: Re: Restoring an 1979 HE single group Elektra branded as Faema ITALIA
 

another view

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phreich
Senior Member


Joined: 30 Jul 2010
Posts: 46
Location: Oregon
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: 1979 Elektra single group...
Grinder: Nuova Simonelli MDX
Vac Pot: Bodum
Drip: Mr. Coffee
Roaster: thinking about setting up a...
Posted Thu Oct 14, 2010, 10:29pm
Subject: Re: Restoring an 1979 HE single group Elektra branded as Faema ITALIA
 

another view2

phreich: DSCN0497.JPG
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phreich
Senior Member


Joined: 30 Jul 2010
Posts: 46
Location: Oregon
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: 1979 Elektra single group...
Grinder: Nuova Simonelli MDX
Vac Pot: Bodum
Drip: Mr. Coffee
Roaster: thinking about setting up a...
Posted Thu Oct 14, 2010, 10:30pm
Subject: Re: Restoring an 1979 HE single group Elektra branded as Faema ITALIA
 

FRONT VIEW

The front view (kind of) shows the indicator light I installed that comes on when the heater element is on.  It is located in the left vertical support (it is a round flat "button" like light).  

I purchased this at Radioshack for about $1.50, and simply attached wires from it to the terminals on the heater element (a parallel connection).  I crimped on fully insulated female spade terminals on the ends that connect to the light, and ring terminals on the ends that go on the studs on the heater element.  You can see the wiring and backside of this light in the side pic I posted that shows the wiring connections to the heater element.

It was an easy mod and help me keep track of how long the machine takes to get to temp, and how often the heater cycles once up to temp.  The insulation really helps reduce the heater cycling....

phreich: DSCN0498.JPG
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phreich
Senior Member


Joined: 30 Jul 2010
Posts: 46
Location: Oregon
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: 1979 Elektra single group...
Grinder: Nuova Simonelli MDX
Vac Pot: Bodum
Drip: Mr. Coffee
Roaster: thinking about setting up a...
Posted Thu Oct 14, 2010, 10:30pm
Subject: Re: Restoring an 1979 HE single group Elektra branded as Faema ITALIA
 

another view4

phreich: DSCN0499.JPG
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phreich
Senior Member


Joined: 30 Jul 2010
Posts: 46
Location: Oregon
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: 1979 Elektra single group...
Grinder: Nuova Simonelli MDX
Vac Pot: Bodum
Drip: Mr. Coffee
Roaster: thinking about setting up a...
Posted Thu Oct 14, 2010, 10:31pm
Subject: Re: Restoring an 1979 HE single group Elektra branded as Faema ITALIA
 

another view5

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