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Restoration of a Faema Lambro

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This will be one of two concurrent topic threads I'll be doing to account for the two machines that arrived today.

After two weeks in Portuguese customs I finally received my Faema Lambro. It was a bargain find and am very excited to learn new skills from it. It is in need of some work cosmetically and functionally. I think this will be the first machine I fully restore to like new condition due to the poor exterior condition. All the bits and bobs are present except for the parts mentioned below. They are packed in the little box resting on the drip tray.







The Lambro is currently missing the plexi top and Lambro logo, but I have replicas in shipment. The Faema badge is present but badly warped. I'll see if I can smooth it flat again before looking for a spare.



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A few more initial state pics. It's pretty original and besides the two missing exterior bits everything else is present. The boiler and pipes are in a pretty nasty shape as is the body frame. Rust and oxidation everywhere. Because of this I will keep the Lambro in the garage to use the propane torch since my parents will not allow me to use it in the lever dungeon basement.

You can see the feet look pretty fused to the frame as well. I am pleased to see a Mercury p-stat with the original ceramic insulation beads. I will try to clean those up and reuse them. It also can be gas powered. The stainless steel panelling actually looks really good and I think I can just clean them up. I am really tempted to rechrome the lower group so we'll see what happens. Due to the low initial cost basis of this machine I can budget funds for this purpose or other needed repairs.








The exterior panels will definitely need a refresh. It also appears bent in the wavy brass area and the logo appears partially melted! The portafilter handle appears to be not original and the lever was painted black?? The chrome strip of metal that holds the plexi is still present though. I am now on my 4th Faema wobbler weight as well :D







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Day 1 is at an end and I used it to probe the condition of the boiler and see how much (ie painful) the fittings will fight me. To sum: I will be using a lot of propane 😄

The boiler nuts mostly unscrewed so far but I am already prepping to get some hacksaw blades as I am not expecting the bolts to come out.  Iam already predicting the feet are going to be extremelly painful I to removed; the threads look fused! I'll take my time with chemical treatments for those once everything else is off. The group will be tended to soon as well.







The Mercury p-stat will need some love and attention (though I could say this for most of the machine). I might just dunk the whole thing in Evaporust before attempting to remove anything. I intend to use it if possible.

The heating element is from 1987, and it had a teflon gasket! Pretty impressive if it lasted that long and was never serviced in between.


The adhesive sticker only has a number (24197) and voltage (220V). The manometer has a date of 19 December 1953, which seems a tad old for the machine.


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The frame is mostly stripped at this point, just the steel panels, gas burner, and aluminum feet are still attached. Time to break out chemical rust dissolvers for those feet. I'll drill the rivets out then punch the remainder which keep the panels on the frame. 




The boiler has two stubborn pipes remaining even after multiple propane cycles. To ensure I do not accidentaly shear off or damage the t-fitting connecting these pipes to the boiler I intend to dunk the boiler with those pipes still attached in my citric acid bath. I am going out to get a hacksaw blade for the boiler lid. I will just cut through them as the bolts are very fused to the rings.



The group mostly came apart, but the flow restrictor and shutoff valve are still attached. I'll work on those in the coming week. The group M8 bolts attaching it to the frame are rusted and will need some coaxing to come out. Everything else came off without issue (mostly). It was a strange mix of bolts, nuts, or pipes needing very little force to unscrew/loosen while other fittings are rock solid and will not budge. I actually did not need to go out and buy a tool this time and had everything I needed to wrangle the machine apart!


The pipe attached to the lower sight glass fitting connects to the gas regulator.


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Wonderful stuff, I wonder where the machine spent most of its working life? Quite a time lag between the date of manometer manufacture, to installing it on the machine. But I guess this isn’t uncommon! The piston gaskets are in a similar condition to what I found when I dropped the brew group assembly on my Cremina!

Thanks for posting, following with interest.


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I kept on going today. The boiler bolts are beginning to be sawed so I can take off the lid. I stopped to see if I could take out any of them with the vise, which will be done later. The two pipes are still on, and I will continue with those after the acid bath as I notice I start to see the solder fitting joint on the boiler move/bend very slightly when I whack the fittings. I am hoping whatever is keeping the pipes stuck can be partially dissolved.

The valves came apart easily while the water inlet and water level need more work, once again presumably due to the hard water. The glass was broken already but the glass retainer nuts are quite stuck still. Nothing too noteworthy to say besides this; I just need more work to take off the remaining fittings and bits. Note the water inlet and one way valve are combined on the Lambro rather than the President's being separate.




The panels all came off. They are connected by M4 threaded rods with M7 nuts. They will be cleaned up or replaced as necessary. The badge is quite bent/melted as you can see in two of the photos. The side panels will get a new powdercoat, the color remains to be determined.




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Posted (edited)

The two replica pieces came in today from Switzerland! I am pretty happy with them. I cannot tell what the logo is made of, I believe a plastic or acrylic yet it feels pretty weighty like metal. It looks great as does the plexi.




The pipes and bits taken went through a first round of cleaning. They had some serious build up of grime and deposits. There is a rust coloured layer on many of the bits even after an acid bath and cleaning with ultrasonic cleaner. The chrome bits look pretty tired, and it is thin on the surface/flakey.






The group also is pretty tired. The bolts on the back are stuck on and will need to be replaced. The control valve rod is actually stuck inside right now and is being worked on concurrently. 






There are some pretty stuck fittings that do not have easy approaches to applying the needed leverage due to their stubby size, similar to when I was working on the Mercurio. Specically the inlet valve and water level fittings are what I am struggling with. Suggestions like a padded vise clamp would not work well as the pieces will slip out. More heat and soaking will thus be applied first. I am getting some soft metal copper vise pads after rather than rubber or plastic. The boiler bolts are being cut but it is a little slow, so no pics right now. The two last pipes are still on as well.

Edited by IamOiman
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Your perseverance is exemplary. This one looks more difficult than some of the previous ones but I am certain the result will be worth it.

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Nothing succeeds as planned.


ACS Vesuvius, Nuova Simonelli Apia I 1 gr, San Remo 1 gr., Bezzera BZ35e, Fracino Heavenly, Saeco Via Veneto Combi de Luxe, Mythos Plus Nuova Simonelli, Anfim Super Lusso, Cunill Space, Gene Cafe

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8 hours ago, John Yossarian said:

Your perseverance is exemplary. This one looks more difficult than some of the previous ones but I am certain the result will be worth it.

Exactly why I got it in the first place. I hope to learn some techniques. (the low price point of €400 was also a contributing factor 😎)

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The frame is stripped besides the four feet and gas burner. I decided to try out the ATF (Acetone, Transmission Fluid) mix against the stuck feet. The bolt is exposed from the bottom so I flipped the frame and currently have all four feet soaking in this solution. It is pretty pungent and it melted the tip of my plastic spoon after 30 minutes in the cup I mixed it in. The backsplash and lower panels have quite a few scratches visible in certain angles but I hope to clean them up. I am talking with my grandfather right now on his chrome contacts to see what I could expect to rechrome about 20-25 pieces and fittings. He is an old car guy and has quite a network of people over his 50 years of collecting.






I had some copper vise jaw attachments come in, and I can clamp pretty firmly now without fear of marring any fittings. I got one of the two water fittings off but the second one is stuck fast. Although I will admit using some wood clamps will not provide the most leverage. I also tested an M4 bolt on the panel and inadvertantly sheared it off. I like to show my mistakes as well as my successes and it's pretty obvious here more chemical and heat will be needed if I want to take all 12 remaining bolts. It will be interesting to see if I can get the square shaped fitting off on the water levels but they have so little metal to grab onto it can be hard if it is stuck.



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1 hour ago, IamOiman said:

 I am talking with my grandfather right now on his chrome contacts to see what I could expect to rechrome about 20-25 pieces and fittings. He is an old car guy and has quite a network of people over his 50 years of collecting.

I hope it's cheaper over the pond Ryan to have stuff re-chromed.....i had 5 (bumper, headlight casings and the big badge) car-parts re-chromed just before Rona and it cost me over £1000 😵

That liquid that melted your spoon sounds fierce :classic_smile:

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1 hour ago, Rincewind said:

I hope it's cheaper over the pond Ryan to have stuff re-chromed.....i had 5 (bumper, headlight casings and the big badge) car-parts re-chromed just before Rona and it cost me over £1000 😵

That liquid that melted your spoon sounds fierce :classic_smile:

It's probably similarly priced. I was quoted about 430 quid for the backsplash and drip tray for my Mercurio.

ATF seems pretty strong, it was recommended as a 50/50 solution for the 'I wasn't asking' removal of stuck fittings outside of heat (which I will also be using). Those feet will fight me the entire time I gaurantee it

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Posted (edited)

Today was propane torch day. I got out many of the stuck bolts after trial and error. I began with the panels, one of the fourteen M4 (?) bolts was snapped earlier but all but one of the remaining thirteen came out with heat. They will be replaced with new ones. 

I next worked on the lower group. I heated it up for ~45 seconds on each bolt, and they bolt yielded to my vise grips. The boiler was next, and to my confusion the element studs basically crumbed on the inside, and it appears that a (now crumbled) hex nut secured each bolt with no threaded brass! It might explain why all the pipes and the boiler inside have a rust color from the slowly rusting metal derived from these studs. I definitely like lots of iron in my espresso  😬

I will purchase a new boiler lid just in case this one does not turn out well, which will cost me a tad over $200 USD. I will probably find a use for it on another project if it is not needed for the Lambro. 




I decided to try out that Faema tool Ascaso made, part F. 266. I got it from a German website and while it cannot compress the piston it can at least secure it so I can loosen it more easily (it cannot compress since the top of the C clamp rests on the piston rod). I decided to get it since I keep telling myself I will not needed it after the most recent project but keep ending up with more projects.

Edited by IamOiman
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Posted (edited)

The Lambro has been putting up a good fight against me, but every fitting I loosen, every bolt I take out is resulting in an incremental ticks hinting to a victory in my favor. The pipes and fittings went through a second acid bath, and I finally heaved apart the remaining stuck inlet valve and water level fitting with ample propane torch, acid bath, and wacking with a dead hammer strike with a few choice words belted by me to cast a hex on the pieces.

I cannot understate how useful the copper jaws for my vise have been, and it is appearing to be one of my best acqusitions in my tool department. I can apply the needed force to fittings without damaging them and the copper will take the brunt if not all of the wear.



The highlight of my day was taking off the water level fitting, so much gunk and teflon tape desperately trying to prevent my efforts, all for nil. You can see the heat patina on the fittings from my torch  😂 . It was incredibly satisfying to overcome this blockage.



The boiler bolts are still being cut. I sourced a replacement lid with new aluminum rings for €150 + shipping, really happy with that. #CoffeeMafia. The gasket on the boiler is super hardened and fighting my hacksaw, so it is slower paced than the President. I will need to grind off one bolt that I cannot take out that is near the thermosyphon pipe. It also looks like a crazy solder job was attempted on this boiler.

Edited by IamOiman
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I highly recommend that @Rincewind

It was rainy and nasty today so I was confined in the basement for this next step. I got the piston unscrewed from the upper group with the aid of a rigid 45-52mm c-spanner and 12" crescent wrench. I heated up the piston threads prior as well, added a few zip ties while cocking the lever with the aid of a second helper to take pressure off the threads, and then wacked the bottom face of the piston with a mallet to help unlock the threads. It required a forceful tug to begin unscrewing the threads but I managed to do it without damaging the upper group housing. I was also more willing to be forceful since this part is still sold if I accidentally cracked the housing.

Once the piston is off I took off the zip ties on my old spring tensioner (that will hopefully be replaced by the new Ascaso tool I just bought when it arrives) and worked on the lever fork. The bearing separator once again became useful. The horizontal face can be tightened on two sides to begin the initial separation of the bearing without damaging surfaces, then act as a bearing puller with the perpendicular bolt using a wrench or socket. This is a must have tool!






The fork is very worn, and take a look at the piston; it is not made of brass on the lower assembly! I find it funny how teflon tape can be found even on the piston. I can source a new piston for €49 and a new fork for €29, and for that pricing + shipping I will simply replace these two parts. I have a spare piston rod on hand as well if I need a new one of those as well.


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The feet have been focused in the past few days. I intend to turn them on a lathe since they were scratched up, so I elected to use a pipe wrench. I will make sure the marks left are taken out and they did not deep marks. To take off the feet it involved a week soak in ATF solution, above and below (the frame was flipped for the latter) then a 45-60 second heatup time by the propane torch. The back feet came off first, and the right front foot also came off (in fact it was the easiest/least stuck and came out with the M12 fine thread stud still in the foot. Those studs will be replaced).

The last foot decided to make a last stand. It is so stuck I actually started bending the frame, and I had to bend it back after! Unfortunately it has some deep gouges as well. I am disappointed but I will not give up, and it's a lesson for the future. It was my mistake for not stopping earlier when using the pipe wrench but I will make it presentable. It will need to soak more but I am happy I got the other 3 off. Worst case is I can order some new turned feet but I want to use the original ones if possible.







The group flow valve rod finally got knocked out; I do not know why it was stuck in the first place!

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