A "Once in a Lifetime" Faema Urania. This '61 one group was pulled out of an Italian Men's club years ago, brought back to the US, and partially restored (lots of re-chroming and bead blasting) but the project was never quite completed. Until now!
The story is that the Italian men's club barista is the only person to have ever made espresso on this machine! Until we did. So the next owner will be just the third set of hands to pull shots on this Urania.
We think this was the last year of the Urania. Faema introduced the President the following year, along with their new sensation, the E-61 group, so 1961 probably marks the beginning of the end of the dominance of levers in the commercial espresso world, and the rise of electric pumps.
After our recent liberation of it, we reassembled the body, rebuilt the spring piston group, double checked and re-cleaned the already bead blasted boiler, converted it to run on a 120 volts, and "modernized" it with a new heating element controlled by a new Sirai pressurestat, a vaccum valve, and new pressure relief valve!
We also rebuilt the hot water and steam wand valves, and installed new seals.
Really no work left undone on this, and without stuff like circuit boards or electronic control boxes, this will probably be more reliable, and run longer without maintenace, than new machines in it's price range..
The only original electric items are the on/off switch (with cleaned contacts) and a few wires!
In fact, since we added the vacuum valve to the set up, you can just turn the switch on, and go grind your beans. No more bleeding off "false pressure" while you patiently wait for the boiler to heat up. Which only takes about 25 minutes, even with a very full boiler, and even less time if you keep the water level where we prefer to run it (a little under "half" on the sight glass.) That seems to be the sweet spot for quick heating and recovery, and strong steaming. (The new element is about 1500 watts, and pulls less than 15 amps.)
This is obviously plumbed in, so you'll need a water line. When it's time to add more water to the boiler (yeah, you'll need to pay attention to the sight glass once in a while) push the "little lever" at the top left to the left.
The rear glass logo panel is a work of art, in beautiful, if not pristine, original condition. We've replaced the broken neon light behind it with a new LED, and patched it into the main switch, so you can run the machine with it on or off.
The clear plexi cup surround shows it's age, which means some warping, and spider fissures, but that "history" just adds character to the overall vibe of this machine, and reminds us of the real age of this beauty.
The frame itself has some original paint, while other parts of it seem to have been blasted. But there is no rust anywhere.
The combination of chrome work, single group, the "small" Faema boiler, and the 120 volt "modernized" electrics, really make this a "one of a kind" machine. Leverheads will be hard pressed to find anything like in the US any time soon.
We're just lucky the chrome was done years ago. Even if we eventually find another Urania to rebuild, it is very unlikely it will end up looking like this one.
The only chrome part on the upper body that wasn't re-chromed or polished is a metal "vent" under the cup tray (see pics.) Kind of interesting to see the wear on the original chrome there compared to the rest of the machine! A cool sliding plate allows you to open or close hole shaped vents to the boiler. (It was common for levers of this era to have a steam powered "cup heater" controlled by a hand valve, so this obviously "feature" flows from that tradition.)
Lifiting up the vent allows inspection of the guts of the machine, and easy access to the boiler temp adjustment screw on the pressurestat.
We left most of the original stickers off the facia panel (removed for the metal work) since the "clean look" came out so striking. (Do you really need to be told where the steam wand is?) So unless a buyer wants us to put them on, our intention is to leave it this way. We the original stickers (some a little tatty) and a set of replicas, which we'll give the new owner.
The original portafilter (gorgeous and re-chromed too!) is pretty amazing, but we're including a new bottomless portafilter with a triple basket. The latter is great for playing with dosing and head room. Both variables that really do effect shot quality on lever machines.
We put a new two hole steam tip on the original fixed steam wand for easier microfoam, but have the more aggressive four hole tip that came with the machines when new. The pair will give you the option of microfoam or "old school" bubbles with your steaming.
We really, really, would like to sell this locally (or at least have it picked up in person) so we won't have to risk shipping it. FedEx freight has also gone up, so it's likely going to be in the 350-450 range to send it by truck.
It has an kind of unusually "boxy" footprint. About 21 1/2 wide AND deep. And about 23 tall with the handle.
To sum up, it's hard to overstate how rare and beautiful this machine is in it's current state, really is. Almost feels "out of place" in our dirty little shop now! Like we're kind of "dating over our head" a little bit! It's only a matter of time before she realizes who we really are and leaves us. So the only question at this point is, will you be next?
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