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Ponte Vecchio Lusso - Seal change HELP?

edited October 2016 in Projects & Rebuilds
Well .. after a long time with trouble fee service from this great little lever machine .. it is finally time for a seal change.

I read Jack from Sorrentina's How to change seals over on the CS forum and it doesn't go as smoothly as youd hope .. not that we weren't given the heads up that it is difficult the first time you do it .. which, blimey .. was no understatement  :head:

I came a gutza at the 2nd hurdle .. trying to get the spring clip off the pin that joins the end of the lever to the piston.

Jack said to use 2 screwdrivers .. It is that tight and I couldn't find where the gap was .. I couldn't even feel it when running the screwdriver head around the circle of it. After trying many times I realized that there was no hope of getting this little sucker off .. and even if I eventually managed it .. there was no way I would put myself through that again the next time the seals need replacing every couple of years.

Ok .. the only way I was going to get the pin out was to file it down. The idea was to then drill a hole in the pin and put a sheetmetal screw in it that had a flat wide head. This would stop the pin from coming out that held the lever in place .. and be easy to get off the next time.

The drills in the $27 new set that I bought didn't want to drill into the pin .. so I figured they were duds (Frost Made in Australia) and got a refund on the set and bought just the one size that I needed. It drilled the hole ok and the screw fitted in nicely.

Great - time to assemble the Coffee machine ... Yay  :thumb:

Ok .. seeing I didn't have the 'Special tool' that Jack has .. I'd been using the F-clamp method .... the large spring in the cylinder shot out quickly when taking the F-clamp off .. but it didn't do any damage.

Now I'm following Jacks instructions to put it back together ... and here's the tricky bit ... well, more than just tricky ... I'd call it 'impossible' without his 'tool' .. but Jack has managed to do it using the F-clamp.

When using the F-clamp .. there isn't much space on the top of the cylinder for the clamp to sit .. and Jack admits that you have to hold it in place to stop it from slipping off the slippery shiny surface.

Here's the knockout blow  :pan

Being such a large spring ... how are you supposed to turn the handle of the F-clamp to compress this mighty strong spring .. as if that isn't near or impossible .. there isn't a stable grip at the top of the clamp. It most likely will slide off even if you miraculously had the strength of a dozen Horses to compress it.  :doh:

Anyway .. the only way I am going to be able to put this together is to contact Jack from Sorrentina and ask him to send me his Special tool that he has lent to people in the past.

I have tried to contact Jack recently .. but have not received a reply. I don't know if he is still running his business .. and he is the only Authority on the Ponte Vecchio Lusso Coffee machines in Australia

The only contact is via his website .. which appears that Jack may not attend to

Does anyone have Jacks phone number .. so that I can call him in SA? Or perhaps - does any PV Lusso owner have the Special tool that I can borrow?

Any help with this would be appreciated. My coffee machine has been out of action for over 3 weeks now .. and yoall know this is an extremely desperate situation.  8)

Edit: With the handle of the F-clamp .. I could drill a large hole in the handle to put a large screwdriver through it to act as a lever to compress the spring ... but even doing that .. there is still the problem of the top of the F-clamp slipping off



  • You are in a pickle mate If you were closer to me I would have helped out May I suggest to send Jack an email as thats the only way I can find to contact him - and ask him to phone you KK
  • Hi KK Yeah ... did that today only not holding my breath on that front. Hope Jack is ok ... seemed a very nice fella. I ended up drilling a hole in the handle of the F-clamp for the screwdriver to go in to get more twisting leverage .. only concluded that the other end wasn't stable enough. You really could use 3 hands in this instance. Even then .. it is a little too dangerous for my liking .. if it slips when the spring is compressed. You do the gung-ho thing when you're young .. but err on the side of caution when mature aged .. same when driving.  :angel: Figured .. ok .. I certainly ain't licked .. so Plan C comes into play. Using a vice instead of the F-clamp .. which would then stabilise the dodgy top end and has the stability and winding strength of the vice. Hmm .. turn the Coffee machine upside down .. can do .. it is solid. Ended up unbolting the cylinder/head from the body of the machine. Much easier to work with. I can get the lever attached and then bolt it back on. I guess it's working out the method the first time and it becomes straight forward the next time. Some things are awkward to get to .. but that is because when they put these machines together .. it is done in an order so that it fits together. To get to things .. you need to disassemble in the reverse order. The positive .. is that I am learning more about my Coffee Machine .. which is handy seeing their aren't any official repairers for these machines in Australia .. especially now that it would appear Jack from Sorrentina appears to not be available. Jack, to his credit has laid down the foundations on the Ponte Vecchio Lusso. Would be handy to have that seal changing tool still available to do the rounds for people with these machines. Can't say at this point .. that I would recommend anyone to have a go at changing the seals themselves, unless they are a HandyMan with a reasonable set of tools out in the garage. If not ... find someone else to do it .. and pay them. To be continued...
  • Mate, this is a drama! Bet you're glad you didn't buy the two-group version eh! I can't be of any help sorry.  I have a fantastic tool-shed but this sounds like you need to make up a jig.  Photos of the offending bits might help the brains trust ptresent a solution!
  • Hi Brett Yeah .. Jack made it sound pretty easy even when using an F-clamp. I've had a stretch at Cabinet making so I'm not a total n00b when it comes to this sort of stuff .. even if I'm a little rusty. Would help if I finally clean out and organise my small shed/workshop over Spring .. when it warms up and stops raining. Makes these jobs a lot easier as I could never work well in a messy shambles. Working on it in my kitchen rather than work shed. Bought a Gaggia Baby off eBay a couple of years ago for $50. The idea was to have a backup machine for when this one is out of action. It is like brand new .. only there is something wrong with it. Didn't get it fixed ... and now is the time I need it.. I knew the day would come.  :head:
  • Here's a link to a video that shows a simple but effective way to compress the spring with the group in situ on the machine :-  Not many people are going the have a threaded bar which he uses, but I think you could just use a thicker piece of wood and another nut.  Drill a clearance hole for the bolt, and inlet the nut into the top of the hole. If you want to perservere with the F clamp method, you could try inserting a piece of rubber or other non-slip material between the clamp and the top of the group.
  • Thanks for that, Deegee The jig (as Brett also suggested) is definitely the way to go .. forget the F-clamp ---> nightmare .. although seeing as I have already taken the Group cylinder off, I will give the vice a go -  and use something non-slip as you suggested. In that video .. it would've been helpful to see how he managed to get the spring clip off the pin holding the lever in place. Bit late for me .. but others would find it useful. Jack used 2 screwdriver heads to pry it off .. they would need to be very narrow, and although spring clips do have a gap .. I could not find where it was. Anyway, back to the task at hand.
  • Oh Man .. this is hilarious .. I must've walked across the path of a black Cat. The Vice method Does the Vice extend out far enough - Yep ... only just .. didn't even have 1mm clearance - that's the good news. Used some masking tape on the slippery top surface, then some cork over that Found a plastic spacer for the other end Turns out you can't put the unit straighr to give it the best grip because there isn't enough clearance from the top of the jaws of the Vice to get the sleeve of the lever over to line up with the hole for the pin to go through. Ok .. looks like it has to go on an angle out and up over the edge of the Vice that reduces what little grip it was going to have. Living right on the edge here Ok .. got it lined up - let's go ..... wind the Vice up .. rod coming through nicely .. try putting lever in place ... nope, needs more winding .. try again .. nope .. a bit more .. getting nervous it will pop out of the Vice .. bit more .. BANG .. out it pops onto the ground into the dirt Cleaned it up and tried again .. Reckon it missed lining up the hole for the pin by about 1.5mm ... lol .. I'll get it next try Round 2 - repeat above - BANG .. missed by 1mm ..... close but no cup of Coffee. I even teased myself this time by trying to fit the pin in .. even though I knew it wouldn't fit .. I was right on the money ..... it didn't Round 3 - let's cut a long story short - BANG .. the rod with the seals shot off about 2 metres. Missed by 1.5mm that time Normally by now I'd go inside and make myself a Coffee, ponder on what might have bean ... only no Coffee machine  :P Flap ... this is going well  :tearhair: Looking like another trip down to the local Cafe tomorrow for my morning Coffee  :coffee2: It's not all bad  >:D
    Maybe if I rotate the cylinder to another position in the Vice ?? Yep .. that would work .. only 1 problem ... the Vice needs to extend out another 3cm Shame it doesn't ... but then that would've made it too easy Hmm ... Plan C .. or have I already bean there? Back to take another look at the Video that Deegee provided
  • If only I knew the actual procedure I could have advised What you need is a harmonic balancer puller It will make your life easier KK
  • Oh Man .. you won't believe the next instalment The Car Jack method - I'm still recovering  :'( Thought I finally had it licked ... put it all back together feeling relieved .. went to pull the lever down and it was locked... oh no .. you're kidding me John Cleese from Monty Python couldn't have written the script better. It's like a Rollercoaster ride with no upside. I really need a Coffee ... but will have to make do with a cup of Tea, a Bex .. and a lay down I think. The journey continues ...... tomorrow  ::) ps. This is no made up story folks .... it's the real deal .. trust me
    Did notice one of the seals had changed its shape .. should have rectified it before putting back together. Taken it out and getting it sorted .. will at least be a lot easier now that I 'think' I know what's going on  :rofl: Fingers crossed n all that Still in the race .. Moony ain't chucking in the towel yet. You'll know when things are at breaking point when I reach into the cupboard for that stale jar of Robert Timms instant coffee that's been there at least 4 years
  • Hmmm? That's interesting - now that the seal is in correctly, the piston rod doesn't sit as high in the cylinder .. which means I now can't get the Car Jack underneath it. Ok .. nothing like a new challenge is there? Might have to go back to the F-clamp to compress the spring enough to get the Jack underneath .. and somehow remove the F-clamp. Nice... I'm sure that will go without a hitch.
    False alarm .. found the problem. Now I recall .. Jack mentioned tucking the edges of the first seal in so that it slips into the cylinder in the correct position. This seal flares out wider than the cylinder width. This explains why the seal ended up inside out .. which wasn't the way I had put it in. now the piston slides up the cylinder more .. and I will be able to get the Car Jack under it. oooh ... I can almost smell the coffee I had a new delivery of 3 different types of Green beans to roast up. The next day the machine went down. It was my fault .. not the Lusso
  • Will you please go to a local auto parts store and get a harmonic balancer puller What you are doing is not safe, and I don't want to be sending a get well card to a hospital Please for me  :tearhair: KK
  • Just ordered one from eBay .. will arrive mid next week. Thanks for that KK As it turned out .. the last seal that had to go into the cylinder needed to be tucked in .. which can't be done unless you have clear access when it enters when the spring is under compression. With the Jack I couldn't see or get to it .. and the seal got twisted and jammed, not allowing it to move up the cylinder when the lever is pulled. I was stuffed The puller setup allows this .. so great news there. Thanks for the help  :thumb: In the meantime I'll stick with the coffee from the local Cafe for another week. It is really nice Coffee  :coffee2:
  • KK, you are a first class fitter!
  • Yeah .. he is ---> heats off  :thumb: There you go folks ... that's why this Coffee forum is good .. smart advice .. avoids doing your head in... which is good  8) I guess those Green beans will have to wait a little longer to start being consumed.
  • You know... many of us have plungers, syphons or moka pots.  They're inexpensive and they while they're not espresso they are wonderful fun and tastes.
  • Oh yeah ... I picked up a small one cup plunger ages ago .. have been using it for Tea. I got it a while ago when Brett suggested it for Coffee - to give it a try. Whilst it does not come close to the espresso, imho ... it is still good enough for the extra Coffee when feeling like one. It would give me a reason to crank up the ol' Spong No4 hand grinder ... hmm .. nice idea  :thumb:
  • The harmonic pulley arrived today .. so got busy to change the seals It certainly made the procedure less difficult Got it all back together and went to put the Group seal in .. it was loose and fell out. Ok .. it may need the machine to heat up to expand it so that it sits in place .... nope I asked the Guy from the Cafe in Italy that Ponte Vecchio themselves recommended to get the seals as they only sell to Retailers He didn't give me his name after I asked for it ... anyway, I emailed that the seals may be different in the Group 1 and Group 2 PV Lussos and could he confirm that the seals in the kit would fit my Group 1 machine.. because Jack from Sorrentina once said that when ordering seals from Ponte Vecchio Lusso for the Group 2 machines he was selling .. they sent him seals that didn't fit .. and he had to reorder the correct ones. This is why I asked. The Guy emailed me a diagram showing the part number .. and told me .. ''The Group 1 and 2 are the same'' Apparently they are not. After waiting all this time .. and going through the process several times .. I fall over on the last hurdle The other strange thing is that for some reason .. the shower screen would not snap into place .. with or without the seal in place. Anyone PV Lusso owner have one of those reject seals lying around in a drawer?  :head:
  • Well the recommended tool worked  :thumb: I will ask some questions now Have you used food grade rubber lube ? Have you placed the seals in hot water to make them supple Some seals only fit one way - Check if the seal has a rounded forward edge on one side Can you measure the difference between the old and new seals as a discrepancy of 0.5 mm may be all that is needed to stop the seals from going in  And with that info you can ask the seller to check the measurements before  they send an alternative set You need Inside Diameter ID & Outside Diameter OD & Thickness of top to bottom KK
  • Hi KK Yeah ... got some food grade lubricant and put the new seal in boiling water to soften it .. but no luck there. The old seal was damaged on one side and the other side looked ok .. so I put that back in with the good side up. Seems to be working ok .. the pour was a bit fast the first time but adjusted the grind and made a nice coffee. It's all a bit odd .. but being able to make a decent cup of coffee again ... I'm happy. It is actually nicer than the coffee I've been getting from the Cafe this last month  :coffee2: And thanks heaps for the help with the Harmonic puller - couldn't have done it without ya  :thumb: Larfin  :rofl:
  • Did you get the measurements Because you will need a set of seals sooner than later KK
  • No .. I haven't taken the measurements of the seal as yet The Cafe Guy in Italy emailed me back to say he had confirmed with the manufacturer that the seals for the Group 1 and 2 are the same .. and that they will be contacting me. I had sent an email to Ponte Vecchio to confirm this as well *The Harmonic balancer worked exactly the same as in the Video that Deegee posted  :thumb: You still have to tuck seals 1 and 3 in to stop them from flaring when first entering the cylinder. I'll be checking the sizes of seals used for other brands available in Australia. Close maybe close enough And yeah ... using an old seal wasn't my first preference  :-[ Edit: Just ordered a different lubricant .. current is synthetic .. new one is silicone. Not sure whether I didn't use enough or it is inferior. The lever is jerky so it is not lubricated properly. I'll have to pull it apart and do it again .. otherwise the new piston seals will wear quickly. At least it is not difficult now with the new tool.
  • Update  :thumb: The food grade Silicone lubricant arrived today. While I was at it .. I took the old damaged seal out to try the new one again, as the old one was a bit loose but stayed in place up in the Group. After making a Coffee .. it glued itself firmly in to place .. so I figured I'd add some extra silicone lube on the new seal to hopefully prevent it from dropping and make a coffee .. expecting it to do the same and fix itself into place .. which it did. Seems like when using the lever, it creates a vacuum and then sucks the seal into position. It would've been handy to have a note in with the seal kit to explain this. When checking the seals and inside surface of the cylinder .. there was still a thin coat of the first lubricant .. which I'm guessing should have been enough for the piston/lever to rise smoothly .. only it was very jerky. After putting a lavish amount of the new silicone lubricant into the cylinder and on the piston seals .. it was still a bit jerky, but not as much. I figure they will break in gradually after more use. The crema was much better and apart from the jerkiness .. everything else seems to be back to normal. The coffee was top shelf. The key was using the Harmonic balancer tool, making sure the top and bottom seals are tucked in .. and taking a look at the video. You need to use a block of wood and drill a large hole in it. Many thanks to KK ... and deegee for the assistance and good advice (and Brett for suggesting a jig .. which was on the money) Oh yeah Baby - you don't realize how good we have it .. until it is taken away  :coffee2: The other good news .. is that next time .. I now know what's going on .. and the process will be a whole lot easier .. which is good
  • Glad all is well again Glad my advice helped you simplify the process with safety, drinking coffee again and kept you alive  Now on to some more advice about lubricants My advice is to search for a lube the manufactures use Failing that, search for these parameters food grade hi temp anti seize for pressure vessel rubber or nitrate I'm fairly sure that's what the manufacturers would specify & use Also not sure how smooth your cylinder is So if you are contemplating another strip down in the near future, you can get a cylinder hone that fits in a drill and you can re-surface the cylinder Honing is used in brake , motor and other cylinders See videos on YouTube if you like KK
  • Update The Group seal fell out of the Group head again today. When flushing out the machine after making a coffee the water was very cloudy with some slick film floating on top. Not a good look. I filled up the boiler again, heated it up and gave it another flush. It was less .. but still cloudy. I checked the inside of the cylinder and felt to see how much of the lubricant was still on the inside surface. There was still a very thin film .. so it appears some of it ended up in my coffee this morning. The cartridge in my bench top water filter has recently been changed .. so the water going in is clean. Seeing the new seal fell out .. I will put the old damaged one back in again and see how that goes. I have let the manufacturer .. Ponte Vecchio know .. but not expecting a solution from them .. so all I can do, is to look around at other brands to see if they use the size I need for my machine. Measurements Cylinder diameter that seal fits around = 42mm Inside diameter of seal = 43.5mm These measurements may not be exact .. but the difference of 1.5mm is clear that the seal is not the correct size for this machine. It should be a snug fit Ponte Vecchio seems to have changed the seals .. as the new one was visibly thinner. When locking the PF onto the group .. it sat straight out at 6 o-clock. With the new one in .. you had to turn it further to around 4 o-clock. Maybe I should start thinking about an upgrade .. buy it locally, and get some after sales service  :lamp: Just made a coffee using the old seal. Hmmm .. still makes a damn nice coffee .. I must say.
  • Regarding you lube issues That's what the Anti Sieze spec is for - the lube does not move As for your seal dilemma - Then I suggest you visit a local business that services the engineering trade They will have just about any seals you need and if not they order them in Apart form size ( take seals in with you ) This  will be your specification The seal type the Lusso uses falls in this class - Dynamic Seal - Reciprocating - high pressure - high temp Also see this materials guide just to learn a few things about seals I had a look at these Lusso images and have based my recomendations on them KK
  • Yep .. that is my Lusso. Funny .. I looked at the pic of the piston seals as to which way they were sitting ..... oops I then went back to Jacks detailed thread over on CS to read the part that said the bottom and top seals V are pointing up and the middle V down I took the V pointing up as the flair (wider part) goes up on the bottom and top seal. Apparently it is the other way around .. might explain why the rod in the piston isn't sliding smoothly. Even Jacks pics are confusing me as to which way they are sitting. Surely I looked at which way they sat after I took the piston out .... surely .. how could I not. Rec'd email back from the Cafe I purchased the seals from. I had included the measurements. Oh .. the original gaskets .. you'll have to contact Ponte Vecchio <---- wtf .. they've changed (not that I hadn't figured that out) The machine is only 3 years old. Love it when they do that. I mean .. why would I be wanting a replacement set of seals for a relatively new machine. It's not like a 3 yo is an antique. Strange they don't ask you. Time to pull it apart again ... fun times  :tearhair: Nah .. stuff it .. I'll do after my morning  :coffee2:
  • Oh mate, this is not fun.  Sure, if you want a project that's fine, but if you want a coffee  :tearhair:
  • Brettmate ... I'm waiting patiently for a happy ending ... we all like a happy ending .. yeah? The last 2 coffees have been pretty weak and ordinary ... and 'ordinary' is giving them too much praise - Rating 4.5/10 (7/10 is just a pass) I'd be too embarrassed to take a photo of it and put it up here. I drank it though .. so it wasn't as bad as the one I made in the Plunger a couple of days ago .. that one got turfed. We need a thumbs down emoticon KK got it right .. the old seal was never going to last .. I was hoping for more than 2 days ... oh well. Back to the Cafe tomorrow morning for a decent Coffee by the looks. The Journey continues...
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