Date of the machine: 50s
Origin of the machine: Italy
Country of purchase: Italy
Type: Spring lever
Serial No: 5216
Power: 750w + 250w
Closed boiler
Tamper diameter: 51 mm
One double filter basket 

Translated by Gary Seeman

I always think I have discovered the "ultimate" machine. One day without warning I am again with THE new "ultimate" machine. I am tempted to know what will be next, but then the real beauty of what I have found hits me. More than a beauty, a real Duchess and not just any version, a Duchessa Duchessina!
I knew from having found it on the net that I am one of a lucky few. There are no more than four or five. This Duchessa brand, which will eventually take the name La Ducale, has been the subject of much envy. Is it the rarity, quality workmanship, aesthetics, choice of name that makes it so coveted? Duchessa or Ducale are names that appear like stars in the eyes of many people,
 including me.
A big thank you to my friend, Lucio del Piccolo, without whom this machine would not be mine today!

Here are the photos I received. This Duchessina was in the Puglia region of Italy.

It is hard for me to see flaws in those early moments.
I am too preoccupied with the joy of discovery, even if I see things that should make me concerned, like electrical components that are more than old.
This is when I hope that the heating elements are not damaged. Because finding that these days ....
I see that the Plexiglas top is missing, the drip grate, and also the top cowling of the group.
The steam wand and hot water tap are also missing.
Well, it does not diminish my enthusiasm not too much in the end.

Having had some problems with my manometers recently, I hope it will be operational.
 I would be sad to change it, like losing the hood ornament on a Rolls.

Then one must wait for shipment, which can be treacherous.
After several days of anguish, the carton finally arrives.
This machine is very heavy, and it just traveled nearly 2000 km. 

Phew! No visible damage, at least it seems that way.

The portafilter and its basket have not been forgotten. The massive lid recalls that this will be the place to fill with water.
And the heating elements rare at the bottom of the boiler, one over the other.
The boiler at first glance seems to have lots of limescale.

And the first surprises appear …

Missing shower screen. Hum, hum, I fear the worst with the electrical components. The sightglass is broken.

Here it is proudly posed next to the Zenith Express. The Duchessina was intended for small shops and cafes with low volume traffic.
It will be a great alternative to the Zenith with which I can ensure daily heating of 6 liters and with the La Pavoni, which,
even if it is the "Professional” model is problematic when there are several coffee lovers at home.
It is a pity that this format has not been exploited more as is done with the Sama Club, for example.
It really is the perfect link between the small home lever machine and the massive machine for coffee bars.

I use a bit of sponge on the chromed front

to realize it is not too bad, so dismantling proceeds.

With the rear panel removed I can now explore the innards of the machine, which reveals a true surprise.
Indeed I have seen a few pictures of the inside of a Duchessina and the pressure switch that controlled its unique heating configuration.
But here I find something puzzling. It is equipped with two heating elements for minimum and maximum like the early La Pavonis.
But why does it have this switch and two heating coils?

The wiring is really in a pitiful state.
Behind the boiler is a very big pierced fitting, a "banjo" type of bolt for a motorcycle and three branches passing through a diffuser to drain, manometer, steam and water level. The group is removed.

There limestone everywhere.

The holes are plugged. The pipes too. The coated resistors look like a
frosted dessert.

The boiler eventually leaves its frame.

The frame appears to be zamac and is broken in two places. I think I'm going to have trouble with the heating elements.

I continue with the group, which seems not in better shape.

The barrel of the group speaks for itself, the piston / piston rod and retaining ring are only a bit more than dust and rust.
The spring is mostly rusted away …

As I said, though without commentary, ah … boo hoo!

A highlight of the electrics is the enormous pressure switch.

I call it a day and put all the small parts aside before the onslaught of 000 steel wool to return it to its original beauty.

To be continued ...