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Thread: Considering Used Two-Group...Am I Nuts?

  1. #1
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    Considering Used Two-Group...Am I Nuts?

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    I found a working 1990s Nuovo Simonelli MAC Digit S (2 group) for sale, and I'm considering buying as a home machine for practice, and possibly as a starter machine for a business. Based on discussion with the seller, assumption is I will have to do extensive cleaning, replace some gaskets, and all should be good.

    Questions:

    1) Is this a laughable set of assumptions?
    2) Is this a good machine? It appears to be very manual, which I like.
    3) Is repair within the capabilities of someone decently handy, but inexperienced with espresso machines?

    I would really appreciate some input, even nasty comments about my intelligence. Cheers!

  2. #2
    Senior Member Dragunov21's Avatar
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    What are you thinking of paying for it?

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    $200US, probably an equal amount to pack and ship, so approximately $400US out of pocket. Reviewing pictures further and having spoken with a Nuova Simonelli tech, I am not sure about 1990s dating. It seems to be even older, and I cannot find any pictures online that match up. I'm waiting on more pictures from the seller.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Dragunov21's Avatar
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    > New to coffee machines
    > Commercial (ie likely seen heavy use)
    > Old as the hills
    > Sight unseen
    > Possibly hellish to get parts for

    If you can afford to pay $400 for a potential paperweight, go for it, but you can probably find much lower risk machines locallly for the same or less money.

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    Thanks for the feedback. The machines I'm seeing listed for sale have been a couple of thousand dollars. It's nice that they're fully refurbished and ready to go, but I want a value that I can put a bit of elbow grease into. A $200 machine sounded terrific given the few options I've found so far.

    Is it common to find a good used machine that just needs some TLC to be productive again for less than $1000?

  6. #6
    Senior Member Dragunov21's Avatar
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    I grabbed a Behmor volumetric 2gr for 500, but I got the chance to inspect it (and the seller) first. It was still a gamble, but it's money I could afford to lose if it turned out to be a total lemon.

    It's a matter of patience and luck (and a little experience helps).

    If you're a bare newbie and the business isn't something you need to get started anytime soon, I'd get to grips with a domestic machine first.

    If the business is something time-critical, then you can't afford to be faffing about with junkers in the hope that the first one you buymight be serviceable.

    It's a bit like asking if you can get a car for <$1000 to learn to drive and maybe for a delivery business. The answer's yes, but realistically that doesn't give you enough to do what it is that you want to do unless luck is heavily on your side.
    sundog1973 likes this.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Barry O'Speedwagon's Avatar
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    A Behmor volumetric? How does that work

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    I think he meant Boema (auto complete strikes again?).

  9. #9
    Senior Member Dragunov21's Avatar
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    Erm, whups.

    Yeah, Boema. (Organic autocorrect?)

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    Hi. We bought an old la pavoni 2 group. it suffered some really heavy and and bad handling during transit which caused some damage but mostly superficial.

    It was supposed to be working but most likely lime scale loosened and caused a blockage and there was a probelm with one of the solenoids which tripped the rcd. so when it arrived it wasn't looking good.

    there were a couple of times where we thought 'what have we done' and got to a point where we thought should we just cut our losses but we kicked on and it all turned out ok and reasonably inexpensive. it has been used daily and is still going strong. It has been a enjoyable project but only if you are up for the ride

    It's great if it all goes well but you have to be prepared if it doesn't.

    we paid about 500 for the machine 80 bucks frieght 60 bucks for a quick once over by techs to check the damage and a few other bits and pieces so all in all not a bad deal but I think we got lucky and had enough shared skills to fix problems oursleves or get friends to have a look. It was worth the risk for us in the end but didn't always look that way.

    Fortune favours the brave but fools rush in where angels fear to tread.
    sundog1973 likes this.

  11. #11
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    Thanks, all. Your sage advice has cooled me off on purchasing the particular machine I was considering. I am going to wait a bit and take a few passes at different machines in my price range, and wait for the right fixer-upper to come along. Truthfully, I am looking for something that is fairly far gone so I can practice my resurrection skills in metalwork, electrical, and plumbing. I don't have a lot of money, but I do have time, a bit of bravery (bravado?), and a particular set of skills. I appreciate the feedback! Cheers.

  12. #12
    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    If you're going the commercial machine route I highly recommend avoiding the automatic and super-automatic's. The more automated a machine is the more complex and more numerous the electronics it contains. Even among the semi-automatics I would avoid any with electronics and be looking for machines that are electromechanical instead.

    In espresso machines the electromechanical ones have a lower failure rate than their electronic brethren. They're also easier to troubleshoot and repair. Another advantage that the electromechanical machines have is that parts are more easily replaced with non-proprietary/generic parts. Electronic components on the other hand tend to be very proprietary and their price reflects that.

    I have a 2 group commercial machine that is at least 20 years old with over half of that time having been spent in commercial operation before I acquired it and turned it into my home machine. When I bought it just under 9 years ago I did a complete tear-down then cleaned and descaled everything and reassembled it with all new gaskets. Since then it has run 24/7 for 6-8 months of every year on the bench here. With the exception of regular maintenance items (group gaskets, inline filters, gaskets for the hot water and steam valves, and o-ring for the vacuum release valve) the only part I've had to replace was the contactor that shunts the power to the boiler heating elements. The machine manufacturer wanted $200 for the part. I was able to source an overstock one from eBay for $5.


    Java "Here's to another 20 years of great cuppa's!" phile
    Dragunov21 likes this.
    Toys! I must have new toys!!!

  13. #13
    Senior Member skydragondave's Avatar
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    Hi Sundog,
    The MAC Digit S is a popular Simonelli machine with most non cosmetic parts easily available from several sources. I completely refurbished a single group machine several months ago and had no problem acquiring all the parts I needed. $400USD total for this machine is perfectly reasonable if it's in working condition. A complete refurbishment is a complex undertaking for a novice, but with patience and diligent research you should be able to do a reasonable job of it.
    The Digit S has manual dosing with no volumetrics, so the only electronic device is the autofill circuit, and the autofill box is still available aftermarket for a couple hundred bucks.
    I prefer newer machines, but I would say this would be a good machine to get into the hobby with as if you fail to refurbish it, it wont be too much of a loss to the community but is a recognizable brand and is not yet obsolete. Good Luck

  14. #14
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    Hmm.

    Just thinking. From the US. What voltage will it be set up for? And will you require a 15A (or more) circuit? I would echo all Javaphile's comments, with these added reservations.

    You could quite likely pick up a local unit that won't cost you much more, once freight is counted.

    Good luck.

    shaun

  15. #15
    Senior Member Dragunov21's Avatar
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    Oh, yeah, that'd be worth checking...

    Might be a 240V if you're lucky (unless they're in the habit of running 35A circuits for coffee machines over there).

    You'll need to swap the element if it's 110V, which would mean you could likely choose a 2400W (10A) or 3600W (15A) element, but the solenoids et al would likely be 110V-only too, so unless it's a native-240V machine, don't go near it.

  16. #16
    Senior Member skydragondave's Avatar
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    Hi,
    No two-group machines over here run 110V because the current required to provide a decent recovery time would be far too high. You may run into issues with the autofill box due to the lower frequency of 50Hz, but a replacement box for manual dosing will not be very expensive. Cheers



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