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Thread: Help please - used lever machine

  1. #1
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    Help please - used lever machine

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Folks, I posted this in the vintage lever section. Probably a bit hidden. Hope it is ok to post it here.

    We currently live in Cyprus. Back to Australia in a few months. I am well set up and my Rocket Evo V2, it is really all I need. But I have always wanted a lever machine. I have this chance to buy a Gaggia 2 Lever, Spanish made, serviced with new seals and by all accounts very nice with little use, gas and electric. Cost would be 1300 Euro or around A$2000. Questions if you could help please:
    1. Is A$2000 ok for a used lever of this kind?
    2. Could I run it off a tank, rather than mains pressure, and if yes then how?
    3. This one has always been on electric, do they run ok on gas?
    4. Any questions I should have?
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  2. #2
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    1. A$2000 is okay for the condition(quite a bargain if it suits your need). Of course provided it is as presented/conveyed - no surprises. Do the piston seals seal properly? They look a bit odd to me but I've no experience with that speciic model.
    2. Yes you can, with Flojet running off a 5 gallon bottle. But plumb in is recommended for this type of machine. You will want to keep this on 24/7 - the boiler is too much to run on-demand.
    3. If it's not designed to run off gas originally, probably not without some heavy modding. Regulation and safety is another issue if you decide to run on gas.
    4. How are you bringing it back? Will there be additional import tax? Spare parts available? You really will need to plumb this in and run 24/7 if possible. 2 group for home is honestly a bit overkill (IMO of course).

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by samuellaw178 View Post
    2 group for home is honestly a bit overkill (IMO of course).
    Probably not if the OP regularly entertains, having two groups operating would make for a more seamless supply of the golden nectar...

    Mal.
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  4. #4
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    Personally it looks a bit expensive to me, its hardly a particularly collectible model - not old enough to be in that range and not new enough to be without some expensive problems!
    Depends how much you love it and how much of a project you want.

    (spent a couple of weeks in Cyprus recently, loved it!)
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by ArnhemR View Post
    Personally it looks a bit expensive to me, its hardly a particularly collectible model - not old enough to be in that range and not new enough to be without some expensive problems!
    Different strokes for different folks I guess. Gaggia levers are not that abundant, especially in that condition. We can hardly find any 2 group levers for under $2500 here. Plus Gaggia is a pretty old name in the espresso world - guess who made the first home espresso machine?

    This particular lever in question is of the better(IMO) variant with piston seal gaskets (easier maintenance), rather than the one with stacked gaskets (nightmare to replace and harder to source). If it's a single group I'd be jumping all over it. The cheapest single group levers like Strega or Londinium are $3-4k+ new. Even a used old Cremina sells close to $1500-1700. If the OP has a need for dual group, I think it's a fair price if not a bargain (but he has to factor in any additional cost).

    Not sure if Ebay is where the OP is looking, but this unit is being listed for Eur 999.

    I'm probably biased, but I believe most levers can make better shots than any machine around $2k-3k mark (and that E61s are overrated). But yeah, the downside is the two groups will be *slightly* more energy-hungry.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by samuellaw178 View Post
    Different strokes for different folks I guess. Gaggia levers are not that abundant, especially in that condition. We can hardly find any 2 group levers for under $2500 here. Plus Gaggia is a pretty old name in the espresso world - guess who made the first home espresso machine?

    This particular lever in question is of the better(IMO) variant with piston seal gaskets (easier maintenance), rather than the one with stacked gaskets (nightmare to replace and harder to source). If it's a single group I'd be jumping all over it. The cheapest single group levers like Strega or Londinium are $3-4k+ new. Even a used old Cremina sells close to $1500-1700. If the OP has a need for dual group, I think it's a fair price if not a bargain (but he has to factor in any additional cost).

    Not sure if Ebay is where the OP is looking, but this unit is being listed for Eur 999.

    I'm probably biased, but I believe most levers can make better shots than any machine around $2k-3k mark (and that E61s are overrated). But yeah, the downside is the two groups will be *slightly* more energy-hungry.
    I would tend to disagree with this being the better variant of the gaggia lever. If you really want a gaggia then source one with the original Italian group rather than this simplier and cheaper Spanish group model. There are now various alternatives to the original gaggia seal stacks and lots of information on Home Barista.

    By the way there is a similar machine on sale on Aussie ebay with a buy it now price of 3.2K. It has been available for quite a while.

  7. #7
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    Hi Michael!

    You may be right from a collector's point of view as any original would be more desirable. Plus you have first hand experience with Gaggia levers so I would defer to you! I was thinking more from practical point of view since OP plans to use it. Coffeeparts has the stacks in stock, and it cost $160 for the entire stacks (for one group). But maybe we don't need to replace the entire stack for maintenance, I'm not sure as I have no direct experience. The cup seal system is more commonly seen and thus my reasoning OP may have a better chance of sourcing them from alternative compatible machines (in the future).

    Btw, I would pick up the Faema Zodiaco rather than this Gaggia GX (from the same seller) if I were the OP It needs a bit more work on cosmetic but makes more sense for home use and Faema seems to fetch a higher price among the old levers (Lambro, President etc).

  8. #8
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    Problem solved. I will post pictures sometime. Thanks for your valuable suggestions!

  9. #9
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    All things considered this is...pure magic!

    Well, well...look at this! if there is interest then I will be pleased to write about events leading up to this third pull today.
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  10. #10
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    Oh, please do!! Nice!

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    Why would I do such a thing?

    First, thanks for the comments. CS is always good to get some unexpected perspectives. It helped me make up my mind. True, this one is not really old and not new. Some machines have more mystique than others, not always for the right reasons. And really, a machine that was designed to perform in cafes for decades, what can go wrong? There are comments on various threads that spare parts are an issue. I found a Spanish company that seems to have thousands of parts for many of the desirable vintage machines. I thought of a few spare parts, such as a set of seals and element. And I will get some more bits before taking this baby back home. Samuellaw178, here is the first installment.

    Why??? Need has nothing to do with it. At least once a year I travel back from Australia with CS green beans, roast them and there is great coffee in the house. Probably better coffee than most on this island, at least that is what everyone says. Lever machines have always intrigues me, maybe it is the hydraulic simplicity of the concept. Who knows? Does not matter, really.

    Idle one day and having enough of the daily news in this region I looked at a few lever machines on that auction site we love to hate, and emailed one seller in Spain. Then the one I looked at was no longer there. I actually do not like that auction site. It costs the seller a great deal, and fosters a confrontational situation in which everything is costed to the last cent and nothing is valued. That is my take, and I prefer a more relaxed and generous way of life.

    In the end we agreed on a price, and I did a bank transfer. Silly you may say, and where is the security? My take is that you can peg most people, and trust is a nice and noble thing that wants to be practiced. Sometimes it does not work out but I cannot remember the last time it did not. So he sent it, and here are the unpacking photos. This guy is a pleasure to deal with, very nice and super careful in packing. Check out the way it was protected!

    It is a plumbed machine but I wanted it mobile. Flojet kits are readily available and so was a stand on castors from that Swedish store. A hardware store had the bits to connect everything. Those photos will come next.

    There really is something to the way a shot comes out of this lever group. I am not sure what exactly, maybe it is that the water column is pushed through the grind without anything between that affects the flow? But there are more questions…
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  12. #12
    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Why would you do such a thing? Because one *always needs new toys!!!


    Java "Post away!" phile
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  13. #13
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    That is indeed very well packed! The seller sure know his things. Looking forward to the next installment, and shoot away with any questions.

    I've been a lever fan for a long time too. Even if the taste has nothing to do with it, the silent and tactile experience of operating a lever has won me over!

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by samuellaw178 View Post
    I've been a lever fan for a long time too. Even if the taste has nothing to do with it, the silent and tactile experience of operating a lever has won me over!
    Me too !!. and even though my MCaL spring lever probably pulls more consistent shots, I still find myself firing up the Gaggia G106 Factory from time to time. There's something about that feedback you get through the hand on the lever, and when I get it right, the shot seems just as good.

  15. #15
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    Some bling and how it came together

    This Gaggia is so well made. The internal frame is fully welded from square tube. I guess this is before everything was fitted with pressed metal. The boxed shipment weighed 69kg, on the bench it is 58kg complete with empty tank.

    I have been communicating with the seller, who is fantastic. He does not speak English so uses a translating bot. It works but makes for interesting sentences. Both ways I assume. As I am going along I am adding to my list of spares/consumables that I want to take home.

    The Flojet works nice and quiet, and I could not resist the red bucket. What confuses me is that the double sieve holds only as much as the single sieve on my E61. And the single sieve is even less. That means the double here is around 14g and the single around 7g. I always thought the single/double is 14/21g. That at least is how my E61 sieves are. Any ideas?
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  16. #16
    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    The old standard, especially in Europe, is 7g per shot. This is still true in Italy where the official definition of a shot of espresso per the Italian Espresso National Institute is one made using 7g of coffee.Here is a fuller definition per them:

    What are the most important technical parameters to make a Certified Italian Espresso?

    The essential requirement is starting from a qualified blend that is processed by means of a qualified grinder-dispenser and a qualified machine at the hands of a qualified operator, and complying to a few important parameters:

    What is the ideal cup for Italian Espresso?

    It is a white china cup, free of any inside decoration, elliptical in shape, with a capacity of 50-100 millilitres. This is the only cup whereby it is possible to fully appreciate the look of an excellent froth, the precious smell and the warm and smooth taste of espresso.

    Necessary portion of ground coffee: 7 g ± 0,5
    Exit temperature of water from the unit: 88°C ± 2°C
    Temperature of the drink in the cup: 67°C ± 3°C
    Entry water pressure: 9 bar ± 1
    Percolation time: 25 seconds ± 5 seconds
    Viscosity at 45°C: > 1,5 mPa s
    Total fat: > 2 mg/ml
    Caffeine: < 100 mg/cup
    Millilitres in the cup (including froth): 25 ml ± 2,5


    Java "http://www.espressoitaliano.org/file...inei_hq_en.pdf" phile
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  17. #17
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    The great dosing confusion.

    I experimented and weighed. All ground coffee is CS Peru Ceja de Selva roasted for 22min and 10 seconds into second crack, ground in a Compak K3 touch grinder. Not sure if this really affects packing density. The photo shows my portafilters with baskets.

    The single (top left) takes 14 gram and the double (top right) takes 21gram, both from my Giotto Rocket.

    The bottomless portafilter in the centre with handle to the left is my favourite. What a pity it does not fit in the Gaggia group. It came with a basket that takes 28gram. I have never used that basket and have no idea what I could do with such a shot. Any suggestion?

    The red handle portafilters came with the Gaggia. The bottom one is a ‘double’ and is well filled at just under 15 gram. The one with the handle to top right is well filled at 8gram.

    As to the Gaggia lever machine performing: this was my 4th serve with the lever machine and:
    ➢ Right now I think that the shot is just ‘sweeter’. Not in terms of sugar but it is….just a bit nicer. Or am I just excited?
    ➢ I love the way the shot comes out, rich and thick and evenly
    ➢ I love the fact that it is a volume predetermined by the piston
    ➢ It looks so wonderful, that silent lever slowly rising
    ➢ This baby has sooo much steam! I almost have to re-learn stretching milk. I use the 600ml jug with only 150ml milk at a time.

    Back to dosing:
    I asked some friends around. Great crema, two did not notice at all that they shared the Gaggia double, and could not say that it was weaker than what they had from me previously. This is not a scientific sample. So what should I think of this issue of what is the right dose for an espresso? What do I get when I order one in Melbourne. I have never thought about this but find it intriguing.

    The upshot is that I no longer am sure what is a single/double. Thinking back my sense is that a few months ago in Italy I did have 7g espresso. Here I definitely made 14g singles. What I had in Melbourne a few months ago is a mystery. What do CS folk think?
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  18. #18
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    Single has always been 7g and double 14g (plus minus). But the line has blurred in the recent especially when most establishment are pulling updosed double at 18g-20g range as the standard drink (more so in the US). Depending on the preference, these style of shots can be very in-your-face type of shot, but makes a very intense/flavor bomb experience. But I guess that's what makes specialty coffee so 'special'. Using a 'conventional' 14-16g dose, the shot will appear sweeter as you noted, but also smoother (more the type I enjoy). I reckon I can pick up flavor better that way, but both can be enjoyable.

    In the end, I wouldn't sweat so much on the single/double convention.

    Also, I normally pull the cup when the flow blonds. I don't get everything into my cup to utilize the 'volumetric' feature.

  19. #19
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    Tomorrow I want to remove the bottom of one of the portafilter handles with a lathe, and then have it re-chromed. I assume this handle is brass. Has anyone done this...any watch points/recommendations?

  20. #20
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    Turned and chromed

    How nice this worked out!
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