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La Pavoni questions....again!

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  • La Pavoni questions....again!

    Hi CS'ers,
    I recently scored a Gran Romantica on evil bay. To put it nicely, we are not friends yet. The unit leaks at the gasket between the boiler and group handle if I use too much pressure when pulling the shot. Does this mean my grind is too fine or my tamp is too hard? Or does it simply mean the machine needs a service? The joint immediately seals up on release of the handle so I think the gasket is fine.

    I have read all of Pavoniboy's posts and feel that I am doing everything correctly but I'm just not there yet.

    Also, what size tamper do I need to buy? I'm still using the plastic one that came with the unit. I would normally get out the verniers but it seems the baskets are slightly tapered.

    Thanks in advance.Click image for larger version

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  • #2
    I have a Europiccola and a Pavoni Pro. When I first got the Pro and was learning how to grind/dose/tamp to suit, it would leak a little, but only when I was close to choking it, and had to really lean hard on the lever. Once I got the right combination of g/d/t I didn't have any further leakage. However, If yours is leaking with only moderate pressure on the lever, you may need a new "O" ring seal. It's quite easy to replace.

    Hopefully, if you get your grind, dose and tamp right you probably won't need to fix anything. Remember that they must be considered as a set, not just individually. A higher dose will have the same effect as a slightly finer grind, or a heavier tamp. As always - change one thing at a time while you are testing.

    Pavoni baskets were nominally 49mm up to 1999, and 51 mm since 2000. Mine are both the more recent 51mm models and the baskets taper slightly from about 52mm at the top to about 51 mm nearer the bottom before the radius starts. There is about 0.2 mm difference between my two double baskets, so they are not all exactly the same.

    The plastic tamper that came with one of my machines is only 50mm and is too small. An alloy tamper that came with the other one is 50.7 mm and is better, but the best one is 51.4 mm and is a neat fit about half way down the basket, but with good clearance at the top.

    The best tamper size for you will depend on the exact size of your basket(s), but one that is a snug fit about half basket depth should be about right.
    Last edited by deegee; 12 January 2015, 11:38 AM.


    • #3
      Thanks deegee,

      It only leaks when I'm putting heaps of pressure on the handle (the machine generally lifts up at the back) so I guess g/d/t is all out of whack and I'm choking it. I'll hit my local coffee shop today (Cosmorex) with basket in hand for new beans and tamper and have another go at it tonight. Thanks again for your assistance.
      Last edited by CoopsOz; 12 January 2015, 02:32 PM. Reason: Spelling


      • #4
        sound a lot like the o ring needs replacing,
        undo 2 bolts holding group head on (machine off unplugged, cold and empty)

        remove group carefully - there is a feed pipe in the boiler which is bent to face down its solid but can scratch crome etc if not careful

        remove old o ring and clean faces of and dirt, replace o ring and bolt back on

        good idea to use food grade grease on o rings to make them last longer and essential on moving parts ie piston available from bunnings in plumbing section

        if you are doing this and happy with a bit of diy then a service kit will get you all you need to be up and running for another year of coffee goodness and is straightforward just spanners and screwdrivers and circlip pliers.

        the only really fiddly gasket is the one on the base / element joint - if its not leaking best leave alone

        loads of info on the web

        oh make sure you have a coffee first - then there is no need to rush :-)


        • #5
          Originally posted by CoopsOz View Post
          Thanks deegee, It only leaks when I'm putting heaps of pressure on the handle (the machine generally lifts up at the back) so I guess g/d/t is all out of whack and I'm chocking it. I'll hit my local coffee shop today (Cosmorex) with basket in hand for new beans and tamper and have another go at it tonight.
          OK - If it only happens with heavy pressure that's not so bad. And you may only be over-dosing a little or grinding a tad too fine. It doesn't take much to tip the balance here, so you may only need to back off a little bit.

          Yes, you do need to grind fairly fine for these machines, and the best shots do seem to come when you have put a bit of effort into the lever - but too much emphasis can be put on this. You should not need a tame gorilla to do the tamp or pull the shot.

          The popular method of overfilling the basket, settling well, leveling, then tamping, results in a dose about 15 grams in my baskets, which is a bit more than I prefer. I like to stick with about 14 grams. I can usually get pretty close to this by loosely filling the basket, settling gently, and leveling.
          I usually stay with this dose, a firm tamp and adjust the grind to get the right pull.
          Tamp pressure is probably the least important factor here.
          If you get the grind right for the dose you choose, then a firm tamp should be all you need.


          • #6
            What is ur grinder? These machines are pretty finicky. I have a pro and it didnt like my cheap breville so i got a mazzer mini for it. I am well overdue for a replacement seal in the same area as you(rebuilt everything else in the head but that seal lol) but i rarely have to exert excessive force on it so it only spits a little bit of steam (if you spit water then you are probably overfilling). my current dose with an espresso blend is roughly 90% of the basket and brushing off any peaks that form. I find that if i fill the whole basket and brush off the excess that its tiresome to pull and black spots appear in the crema(a sign that pressures too high but sometimes its yummy that way). Have fun!


            • #7
              La Pavoni questions....again!

              t0fu, I've been using both a Rancillio MD40 and a Kyocera hand held.....both of which seem to produce the same results. I have been having a bit of success of late based on deegee's advice above. I think my main issue was that I wasn't using enough coffee and I was tamping way too hard. I know what you are saying ref the black spots in the crema, I might back off the dose a little this morning and see how I go. Do you weigh your dose? I'd be interested to see if you are under the 14 grams as suggested by deegee.

              Edit-14.1 gram dose ground on the Kyocera and it was perfect! I think I might be getting somewhere. [emoji1]
              Last edited by CoopsOz; 17 January 2015, 08:39 AM.