The Virtual Coffee Machine

Europiccola, La Pavoni

So, this video is the conclusion of my recent project, well really a sub project. As part of the rebuild of my old La Pavoni Europiccola I thought while I have it all in bits I might as well 3D model all the bits, seemed like a good idea at the time, maybe a bit of a time waster, but it did serve two fairly key roles, 1) remind me how it all goes back together and 2) generate a bit more familiarity with the ever changing jugganaut that is PTC Creo (thats 3D modelling software).

I bought this old machine secondhand several years ago for a 400 bucks, there are many things I could say about this machine but besides making awesome coffee and being very portable, its best feature of all is; in a world of rampant consumerism and throwaway mentality its a little beacon of hope, there is pretty well nothing on this machine that cannot be repaired or replaced to bring it back to the original performance and function as the day it was unpacked.

This particular Europiccola is a 1998 model, which was probably the worst era for La Pavoni, it was the era they brought in a plastic piston and plastic boiler ring, they did learn and soon reverted back to tried and trusted items 🙂 thankfully my one already had the plastic piston replaced with a brass one, it did however have the plastic boiler ring, which for me, did not give me any problems ie no swivelling boilers etc. My machine also now has a few little after market mods now, a pressure gauge (thanks and now the brass bolier ring in place of the old plastic one. I will also try out one of those steam wand tips, the ones with a single hole rather than 3.

So back to the project, the main part being the rebuild and the reason for it was the gasket between the boiler and base had all but disappeared and not surprisingly some rust was developing at this point, also there was some minor surface rust on the inner surface of the base. Additionally the scale build-up was getting a bit hectic, even with fairly regular de-scales, the buildup on the lower side of the sight glass fitting and the pressure switch intake was growing. So several weeks back it all came apart and got cleaned and then slowly parts migrated from a box in the kitchen to my desk for a date with my vernier calipers and ruler from which were borne 3D parts in a virtual world – now note these parts and the models are good enough manufacturing, so in case La Pavoni ever stop making spares (or I am the only one left on the planet), which I highly doubt it, I can always knock up every part (with varying degrees of difficulty i suspect 🙂 ) I can also 3D print the entire assembly – this will happen soon I hope, thinking scaled down version for the kids 😉

So go on, check it on out, its even got colour and movement 🙂 check out how it even represents the correct mechanism of the lever handle, roller pins and piston. When you see the section view and the mechanism in operation you can see how the lever handle concept works – this is sooo much easier than trying to explain it. As a educational bend, remember the old days in the chemistry lab.. no not the bits where you tried to burn magnesium strips (yes that was cool) but the bits about ideal gas laws and those famous dudes Jacques Charles, Gay-Lussac and Avogadro (yeah hes the dude with the moles who gave me no end of pain in high school) look familar ? PV / T = C anyways before your eyes glaze over just remember as the pressure goes up, the temperature also goes up, and vice-versa simple huh. So as the boiler heats things up and then the pressure goes up, then you lift the piston up and then the steam/water enters the piston chamber where its then forced thru the coffee grinds under more pressure and yep you guess it 🙂 higher temperature 🙂

So there ya have it, forgive my crappy video skills, its the first screen grab video I have done, all in one take 'cause I got no idea how to edit videos.

and of course a little plug for my local La Pavoni Distributor, who not only supplies awesome machines (and parts) also has awesome coffee Euroespresso (Caffe' EuroBlend).

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