Refurbishing an Enrico of Italy Espresso Machine

Adventures in O-rings

Robert McKeon Aloe
Jun 15 · 7 min read

A few years ago, I bought an Enrico of Italy from an old guy on a boat. I should have been swayed by the flies in his boat or the missing filter basket, but I wasn’t. There was a great difficulty in finding a filter basket, but I didn’t clean up the machine with a thorough teardown until now.

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Before COVID, this machine was in my group’s lab. I kept a lever machine at my desk, one at my lab, and another one in another building I frequented. I typically used this machine once a week, so a little bit of leaking was okay. It only leaked when it warmed up.

However, once COVID happened, I brought it home. After a year, I decided to fire it up again, and water pour everywhere. The seals were done, and I finally decided to order a seal kit and get to work.

This was the fourth machine I’ve torn down, but I was most afraid because it is a rare machine. Parts are hard to come by. Filter baskets are obnoxious at 63mm in width, and there are no tampers available.

Tear Down

First, take out the shower screen and O-ring.

Drop it in some white vinegar and forget for two days.

Get some C-clamps, and be afraid. You’re not really clamping to a flat surface, so they could slip at any time. Oh yeah, you have to take off the steam wand.

Knock out that pin, and drop the spring slowly. Be disgusted with yourself that you’ve drank at least 20 shots with this thing.

Let the disgust settle in as you take off the grouphead.

Cleaning

After a soak in white vinegar and some scrubing, I couldn’t get all of the residue out of the screen, so I tried some glue. I wouldn’t recommend it.

I soaked the spring and grouphead for two days in mostly white vinegar, and that does wonders.

Then I cleaned off the piston and removed the O-rings. Finally, I applied new ones even though that process proved difficult.

The seal kit came with some fine sand paper, and I used that to clean the piston and inside the grouphead.

Before, After

I replaced the tiny O-ring for the inlet pipe.

Re-Assemble

Finally I was ready to put the spring back it.

Play the tune that signifies this was very challenging. The first challenge was to push the piston in with the O-rings inside. On other machines, I didn’t have to worry about applying tension to the spring.

Then the C-clamps I used didn’t have enough space, so I had to do it in two phases.

Then the hole on the top of the piston was twisted. I got it right on the fourth try of doing this, and it is no wonder I didn’t break an O-ring.

Finally, it was ready.

Testing Qualifications

First, before I put the showerhead back on, I filled up the tank and checked for other leaks. I also pushed some water through.

Then I put the showerhead back on with the O-ring.

Let’s pull a shot!

Whoops! I forgot that right before COVID, I discovered the machine wasn’t level by 4 degrees. So I have to add wood underneath.

The seal kit cost relatively little, and I’m glad I got the machine back into working order. It has its share of limitations, but I like how weird the machine is. Any machine that is difficult to use usually means you have to learn something new if you want to pull good shots from it.

Age of Awareness

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Robert McKeon Aloe

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I’m in love with my Wife, my Kids, Espresso, Data Science, tomatoes, cooking, engineering, talking, family, Paris, and Italy, not necessarily in that order.

Age of Awareness

Stories providing creative, innovative, and sustainable changes to the ways we learn | Tune in at aoapodcast.com | Connecting 500k+ monthly readers with 1,200+ authors