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Topic: La Pavoni Advice (16 msgs / 298 lines)
1) From: Bill Van Huis
I have the chance to buy a used La Pavoni home espresso machine for a pretty
good price.  I have two hesitations. First, this would be my first espresso
machine, and I have no idea if this would be a good choice for me.  Second,
it is an older machine (probably 15 to 20 years), and the seller tells me he
gets a little bit of spray when he pulls the lever.  He's had it on the
shelf for years and says he doesn't know if there is a seal problem or if he
just wasn't pulling it right. Does this sound like a major problem?  Do
people like this machine?  Thanks in advance!
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2) From: Michael Dhabolt
Bill,
There is a conflagration of lever machine folk on Home-Barista. This link:http://www.home-barista.com/forums/lever-espresso-machines-f33.htmlshould get you to the appropriate forum.
Mike (just plain)
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3) From: Dennis Ryan
It definitely needs new gaskets. not a big deal, I get new gaskets  
every couple of years anyways. A Pavoni is a really simple machine:  
tank, heater, lever, gaskets, and some simple electronics, like a  
pressure switch. My recommendation is to call Thomas Cara Ltd, in SF,  
who I call whenever there is a minor annoyance with my machine (which  
I fully expect to have for many years to come)
-D
On Mar 25, 2008, at 7:58 PM, Bill Van Huis wrote:
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4) From: Bob Hazen
I think you'd be better off starting with a semi-auto pump machine.  My
first espresso machine was a Pavoni back around 1980.  Beautiful piece of
work, but I had a heck of a time making it work.  Seems like it should be
simple.  In the hands of a seasoned barista, it probably is.  I got soooo
tired of blowing coffee grounds all over the kitchen and burning myself, I
sold it and bought a Gaggia Coffee.  The Gaggia is way more consistent in my
hands, and much easier to use.  The Pavoni is also a pain to keep full of
water.  You have to de-pressurize it, remove the cap, fill it with water and
let it warm up all over again.  Add to that, it doesn't hold much water to
begin with.  You wouldn't have these problems with a pump machine.
Just my 20m$
Bob

5) From: Sheila Quinn
Does this apply to only this particular machine, or are all lever 
machines like this?
Thanks,
Sheila
Bob Hazen wrote:
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6) From: Dennis Ryan
My "Professional" will make 4 or so cups (including flushing between  
cups, milk, etc) I think the capacity of this model is 32 oz, but I'd  
have to check on that. It's never been a problem for me, as I don't  
plan on leaving it on all day playing barista. When I want some, I  
turn it on, then I turn it off afterwards.  Also This was my first  
machine. I can't say if this model is for everyone. I felt driven to  
learn how to use it, and so I did.
On Mar 25, 2008, at 10:22 PM, Sheila Quinn wrote:
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7) From: Bob Hazen
I can't say from experience, but I think it's typical of lever machines.
Somebody will probably know of an exception, though...  Certainly, I found
it to be the case with the Pavoni.
Bob

8) From: Les
I was going to stay out of this, but I can't.  The Pavoni is about the
hardest lever machine to learn how to use properly.  Yes great shots can be
had, but to start with one on the road to lever love, it is a steep learning
curve.  I have pulled shots on them and I wouldn't mind owning one now.
However, I just love my Cremina.  I also like the Gaggia Achille a lot.  A
good spring loaded lever is a nice way to learn a lever too.  Lever machines
in my opinion should be looked at as their own class of espresso machines.
If you are getting the Pavoni only because of the price, my recommendation
is to save your money, and a lot of frustration.  If you are saying you are
commiting yourself to learning how to pull shots with a lever, go for it.
Les
On Tue, Mar 25, 2008 at 8:53 PM, Bob Hazen  wrote:
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9) From: Alchemist John
I agree with basically every thing Les is saying here.
I don't like the "spray" at all.  All depends where it is.  The older 
LP are a PITA to change the seals on if that is even the reason.  The 
first I had also sprayed and it was the joint from the boiler to the 
head - totally useless.
Unless you are getting it for a steal, and then with foreknowledge 
that LP can be rather fussy, I would just turn away.
How much are they asking?
At 21:39 3/25/2008, you wrote:
<Snip>
John Nanci
AlChemist at large
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10) From: Paul Helbert
"There are 10 types of people in the world: Those who understand binary, and
those who don't... " I wish that were my quote.
If you are an appliance operator and want things to just work, then I'd be
glad to discuss with you, off list, the possibility of buying the machine. I
am a tinkerer, do-it-yourself type who might enjoy rebuilding and learning
to operate it as a challenge. --
Paul Helbert
Support bacteria. They're the only culture some people have.
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11) From: Rich
Paul, you sound like the proper person to own an old, leaky lever 
machine.  You should have a kitchen that can be hosed down and squeegeed 
to a drain post upland depressurization event though.  Adding a positive 
displacement hand operated boiler feed pump will allow on line makeup 
alleviating the need to cool and depressurize the machine to allow any 
decent volume production.
Paul Helbert wrote:
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12) From: Bill Van Huis
*Unless you are getting it for a steal, and then with foreknowledge
that LP can be rather fussy, I would just turn away.
How much are they asking?*
The seller is local and asking $150.
To everyone, I appreciate all the great advice.  My instinct at this point
is to look elsewhere for a semi-auto to mess around with.
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13) From: Rich
Well, if it were me, for the $150.00 and I could eyeball it before 
parting with the grant + franklin it would come home with me.
Bill Van Huis wrote:
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14) From: Kris Bhatti
I bought one of these machines http://tinyurl.com/37dwkk)at the thrift store for $15 last month.  For that price, there was no question in my mind about whether it was a good idea or not.  I've wanted a lever machine since I first saw one.  However, I'm not sure how well I would have done if this were my intro to making espresso AND I didn't have an experienced person to show me how to use it.  
I've been making espresso at home for about 5 years with entry level semi-auto machines.  I've had my Gaggia Coffee Deluxe for 3 1/2 years and it's a nice little machine for serving a couple of people several times a day.  The Europiccola that I bought is 30 some years old and it looks like new .  I haven't changed out any of the seals or gaskets yet and there is no leakage.  I have a new set of gaskets on the shelf, but decided not to open up the machine until I start to see a problem.  Mostly I've been using the machine 2 or 3 times a day for steaming milk while I make the espresso on the Gaggia.  I wasn't all that happy with the espresso I got out of La Pavoni until just a few days ago.  I decided to have another look at the Lever Machine forums on Home Barista again and discovered the Fellini pull technique.  Wow!  What a difference!  I love this machine, but I would not recommend it if:
- you will be making drinks for more than 1 or 2 people at a time
- you are afraid of getting burned by a really hot chunk of beautful shiny metal
- get nervous when you hear chugging and see steam shooting out like a locomotive getting ready to leave the station
- you are easily frustrated and impatient
I took Dennis' advice and talked to Christopher at Thomas Cara Ltd. and he was very helpful.  I also spent a lot of time looking at web info on this machine.  Maybe a bit too much time...  I realized that I was looking at the equivalent of lever-porn as I scrolled through the galleries of lever machines.  
Kris Bhatti
Tustin, CA
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15) From: Les
Bill,
Too much in my opinion.  It sounds like you are looking at a full gasket kit
and a total radical cleaning to get it up to par.  I would maybe jump on it
for half that price.  By the time you get that $150.00 investment up and
running you will have another $100 plus invested.  Two hundred and fifty is
a nice start to saving for a much better lever if you are going for a lever
and you are close to half way to getting a good starter espresso machine if
that is your goal.  You can get a Gaggia Coffee De Lux for about $350.00. I
found a refurbished Gaggia Coffee for $223.00 on the web.  So you can get a
3 way valve Gaggia with a 58mm Portafliter for less that you will have in
the Pavoni that is a hard machine to learn espresso on.
Les
On Wed, Mar 26, 2008 at 8:46 AM, Bill Van Huis  wrote:
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16) From: Michael Mccandless
I have a Saeco, Gaggia & a La Pavoni.
I have the best luck with the La Pavoni - something about the feel of the
pressure (control?) while pulling a shot.
Mine is an 8 oz model.
Still looking for a 16 oz model.
I consider rebuild a given for a used machine.
I think $150 is a bargain for anyone wanting one of these.
My 2 cents.
McSparky
On Wed, Mar 26, 2008 at 8:46 AM, Bill Van Huis  wrote:
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