riviera rebuild: ode to cara

May 18, 2005 – 11:22 am

folks all over the place have noted this, but if a reviera rebuild is what you have in mind, thomas cara ltd. in san francisco is the place to go. christopher, the proprietor, has been said to treat italian lever espresso machines with the attention of a watch-maker.

the man, he is. got on the phone, he asked if my machine was copper or chrome, wondered what color the pilot light was (green or yellow) and blam … he was off and running. no web site for this guy, not even a listed phone number that i could find. only this blog article about one of the most overlooked specialty shops in san fran. it included a phone number!

the dude, it must be said, is quite busy. uninterrupted phone conversations not possible. but i ran the checks he prescribed, ordered my parts list, and will soon be able to drain the distilled vinegar from the water tank (no cafiza here).

he tells me my ebayed piece of machinery currently sells for $1,100. heh. one caveat: you buy one of these things and the heating element goes out, you’re sunk. don’t make them with the same threading any more. fortunately, i’m safe (for now — though i hear that using the direct-plumb feature on this machine is a wise precaution against running the tank dry and cruelly ending your antiquated element’s fragile life). but, marvel of spectacles, here’s a guy who can make heating elements in any size.

unreal. for our next trick, we will mount a taxidermist’s eagle on the riviera dome in place of the gold one, using a charcoal-filtered water bladder for automatic tank fillage!