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Topic: espresso machine down (26 msgs / 496 lines)
1) From: Nelson, Frank
Hello all -
 
I have not introduced myself officially so here is a brief intro with a
problem I hope you can help with.  My name is Frank Nelson I am a
graduate student at Oregon State University in Corvallis, OR, but
currently working at Brown University.  I have been home roasting with
an I-Roast for almost a year now and can not thank all of you enough for
your informative opinions and tips about how all of this works.  Reading
through about a years worth of emails with so much talk about espresso
and wanting a machine for about six years prior, I finally took the
plunge.  I would not go back for anything.  I still do French press at
the lab and enjoy comparing the different tastes between espresso at
home and press pot at work.  One last background piece is an interest in
food - other than coffee, wine, beer and spirits.  A lot of my tasting
techniques and opinions about locality, growing techniques and such
comes from my informal and recent formal training in wine tasting and
growing (not the subject of thesis work, just a hobby) not necessarily a
clear carryover to the world of coffee but a starting point.
 
Now for the problem.  I have recently, a few months ago, acquired an
Expobar lever machine.  Today I was in the process of making a shot of
espresso for my wife, a very important daily ritual all of you are
familiar with who wish to have leverage for that next coffee toy - I
mean tool, when the pump seemed to die.  A few minutes before that I
noticed that some air bubbles were in the hose going from the reservoir
into the pump.  I had the lid off because I wanted to watch the water
level during my espresso making process.  After seeing the air bubbles I
noticed the end of the hose was close to the top of the reservoir.  I
tugged gently on it and there was give from the pump side so I pulled
the excess and pushed the hose deeper into the reservoir.  At this point
I tried to pull the espresso shoot again the pump was running and making
a strange sound but nothing was coming out.  I looked at the hose it was
full of air.  I thought maybe it was disconnected from the pump.  I
carefully took the shell off; man is it beautiful underneath that shell.
The hose appears to be connected.  I did not fiddle with the joint to
test it or anything; I figured I would ask the experts first before
meddling.
 
All right there it is.  I am not proud and deeply disheartened.  Any
information, opinions, or snide remarks are welcome.
 
Thanks,
 
Frank

2) From: Les
Frank,
I have an Expobar too! I bought mine used. Give Wholelattelove a call and g=
o 
to their tech person. Even though I didn't buy mine directly from them, the=
y 
were very helpful when I needed to replace the pressurestat and find the 
world's smallest reset button on my boiler. I didn't put their URL up and I=
 
really don't think Tom minds us having our espresso machines running. I use=
 
way more coffee when pulling shots. Wholelattelove will get up you and 
running again!
 Les
 On 9/1/05, Nelson, Frank  wrote: 
<Snip>

3) From: Robert Avery
Frank, I myself don't know about your particular unit, but you might want to 
try this .. It  sounds like your pump has went dry. By that I mean ... air 
has gotten introduced into the pump enough to stop it from drawing 
additional fluid into the pump. If the line is connected to the pump ... try 
lifting the hose up so you can pour some water into the line so it can be 
filled. Hold the line up so gravity feeds the pump. It's not an easy task 
... but you have to get water back to the pump. Once you do that .... turn 
on the unit briefly to see if it draws the water into the pump. If it does 
... stop the pump refill the line and  then put it back down into the water. 
Then try running the unit. If it fails again after you have water in the 
system and the pump goes dry ... you might have a area where air is getting 
into the pump. No pump likes air ... or I should say no fluid pump likes 
air. Most of them will just sit there and cavitate with air in them ... 
thats my two cents.. give it a whirl ... later, Bob
<Snip>

4) From: Nelson, Frank
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
Thanks to all for your prompt and informative replies.  I followed up on
the advice of Les and Ginny, to call technical support.  They thought it
might be a vapor lock.  Which I have heard of before but don't really
know how it works.  I will try and figure that out later today.  The
support staffs recommendation was to turn the machine off and let it
cool down.  Then turn it back on and when it comes up to pressure, turn
on the steam wand for 45 sec..   After that I should be able to pull a
shot.  Being the kind of guy I am and already attempting Roberts
suggestion of getting water back in the line before leaving home
yesterday - by filling my mouth with water and trying to spit it down
the hose - I left the lab with a 5 cc syringe and a needle for a more
elegant attempt.  First chance I got I fired her up with the case off, I
really liked watching all of the innards and feeling the heat of the
boiler and figuring out where all of the pipes went.  The E61 group head
diagrams on coffeegeek make a whole lot more sense now.  When she came
up to pressure I opened up the wand and as patiently as possible counted
to 45.   Then I flipped the lever to see if all was working watching the
hose to make sure there were no wholes or leaks.  The gods looked
favorably on me, hot water was released through the screen and into the
portafilter with no leaks.   The beast is running again and serving up
shots like a champ, well at least the best shots I can muster with my
rudimentary barista skills.
 
Thanks again for all of your help and suggestions.
 
Frank

5) From: Robert Avery
... Frank, that is what is what I was talking about in the note I sent out. 
Always good to talk to the suppliers though. When you get air into the pump 
.... that spells trouble until you can get it out. Most of the pumps used in 
these machines are not positive displacement pumps. It just implicates a lot 
of issues to allow for fluid bypass, pressure relief valves, etc .... The 
pump relies on the forcing of fluid  threw the pump to get more fluid to 
move in. If the pump gets what they call dead headed, you won't blow a line 
or worse wreck the pump. Some of the fluid ... water, just sits in the pump 
until it starts moving again.  If air gets into the pump it cant get fluid 
to move ...  so guess what .... air lock. I have had this happen several 
time on the Silvia I had. Just forgot to watch the water reservoir. Later, 
Bob
<Snip>

6) From: Peter Zulkowski
Hi Frank,
Just to add a bit to that scenario, I have used one of those super large 
hypodermic needle things, called a baster, to force water through that 
hose into the pump. Also have used an ear syringe ( a new one); anything 
that can provide positive pressure to the inlet hose will help. Also, it 
is great if you could do this with the pump running and the intake under 
water.
Good luck,
PeterZ
Robert Avery wrote:
<Snip>

7) From: Robert Avery
Frank, that is what I have used also ... works pretty good. It is a pain to 
get the water down that hose at times ... I have also used one of those 
plastic turkey baste syringes also. They have a little finer stream of water 
that allows the air to get out of the tube. Later, Bob
<Snip>

8) From: Barry Luterman
First breakdown on my espresso machine. Steam boiler heats up but brew
boiler doesn't. Does that sound like the heating coil or something a bit
cheaper and easier to fix?
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9) From: miKe mcKoffee
That sucks. I'd start troubleshooting by confirming there's power to the
heating element. Don't remember enough about the Brute the go into any
details, sorry.
miKe
<Snip>
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10) From: Barry Luterman
Problems in paradise. That's after paying 440 today to get the power window
fixed on my car. Ira thinks it may be the p-stat but I replaced it a year
ago with a Jaeger. I am hoping there is a reset button someplace.
On Mon, Nov 24, 2008 at 5:51 PM, miKe mcKoffee  wrote:
<Snip>
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11) From: miKe mcKoffee
The brew boiler doesn't run off the pstat, the steam boiler does. The brew
boiler is controlled by digital temp controller on the Brute. Most highly
likely triggering a relay or SSR. There may be a reset, but if yes and
tripped you'll want to determine "why". Unfortunately this is where 'good'
phone tech support comes in. Unfortunately Chris' Coffee doesn't sell the
Brewtus. Good luck with WLL tech support, sincerely. 
Yeah, car troubles suck too. Paid ~$900 last Wednesday for new fuel pump in
my Jeep, went back in the shop Friday with same symptom. Still don't have it
back...
miKe
<Snip>
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12) From: Barry Luterman
Makes sense. Probably not  digital controller since it is delivering heat to
steam boiler and little light comes on indicating it is sending current to
the brew boiler. My guess is a relay or the coil if not a tripped circuit.
But then again what do I know. remember I am the guy that fixes his car with
the car radio.
On Mon, Nov 24, 2008 at 6:30 PM, miKe mcKoffee  wrote:
<Snip>
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13) From: Sandy Andina
This happened once to my Silvia after I'd inadvertently left the  
machine on with the steam wand partly open and then shut it off for  
the night. I panicked till I did some research and found the little  
red reset button after removing the cowling.  Never happened again!
On Nov 24, 2008, at 10:30 PM, miKe mcKoffee wrote:
<Snip>
Sandy Andina
www.myspace.com/sandyandina
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14) From: Barry Luterman
I remember. I think Pecan Jim did the same thing. He went so far as to buy a
new boiler and then found the reset button.
On Mon, Nov 24, 2008 at 6:54 PM, Sandy Andina  wrote:
<Snip>
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15) From: miKe mcKoffee
The digital controller doesn't do a thing control wise the steam boiler,
just the brew boiler. If brew boiler indicator light on then sounds like
digital controller probably ok kicking out "go" signal. So it's now likely
relay/SSR or heating element. Can you use a DMM to check voltage to the
element? That is what I'd do...unfortunatley changing radio stations won't
help:-)
miKe
<Snip>
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16) From: miKe mcKoffee
Silvia very different animal with single boiler and simple deadband
thermostat boiler controls. Brew boiler unaffected by anything steam related
on Brewtus. (except brew boiler HX pre-heat of course.) Which isn't to say
there isn't an over-temp trip on Brewtus brew boiler, don't know. BUT, since
"heater on" indicator light on and digital temp controller active if there
is a trip it's a poor design not killing the front end of the brew boiler
heater feed circuit...
miKe
<Snip>
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17) From: raymanowen
Is a wiring schematic or circuit diagram available, and do you have a VOM or
a DVM? Cheap-O meter will do fine. You're just looking for continuity and
120v, maybe heater resistance. Are there any of the miserable thermal fuses
in the machine?
Cheers, Mabuhay und guter Abend -RayO, aka Opa!
On Mon, Nov 24, 2008 at 9:36 PM, Barry Luterman  wrote:
<Snip>
-- 
"When the theme hits the bass, I dance the Jig!" - -Virgil Fox at the Mighty
Wichita (ex- NYC Paramount) WurliTzer- 1976
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18) From: Ira
At 09:54 PM 11/24/2008, you wrote:
<Snip>
The schematic is available in the Brewtus groups file section in 
Google groups, called "The Brewtus Compendium"
Ira
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19) From: Barry Luterman
Here it is help before I turn on my radiohttp://brewtus.googlegroups.com/web/Brewtus%20Operating%20Manual.pdfOn Mon, Nov 24, 2008 at 8:27 PM, Ira  wrote:
<Snip>
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20) From: Barry Luterman
Don't have a VOM or a DVM. Not even sure what they are. If it's a volt meter
I can buy one tomorrow.
On Mon, Nov 24, 2008 at 8:47 PM, Barry Luterman  wrote:
<Snip>
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21) From: Michael Dhabolt
Barry,
miKe is pretty much right on.  Heater element, SSR, or the controller.
 Are you seeing any indication on the controller ?
If I can help ---- more than happy to ----- email me direct. Or call.
Mike (just plain)
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22) From: Ira
At 10:47 PM 11/24/2008, you wrote:
<Snip>
That's not the one with the schematic, it's in the compendium, likely:http://brewtus.googlegroups.com/web/The%20Brewtus%20Compendium.pdfIra
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23) From: Michael Dhabolt
Barry,
It looks like the relay is part of the controller (PID).
Mike (just plain)
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24) From: Jim Gundlach
Yep,
    And I still have that unused boiler around somewhere.  I gave the  
Silvia to one of the kids but it was stolen.  But that is not the  
dumbest thing I ever did, that was probably back when I got my second  
floppy drive for my Amiga.  I was so happy to run the system in one  
and an application in another that I announced that nobody needs a  
hard drive.
        pecan jim
On Nov 24, 2008, at 11:12 PM, Barry Luterman wrote:
<Snip>
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25) From: Barry Luterman
Well WLL service has really improved. I never even contacted them but sent a
message to the Brewtus users group. In the morning I got this message from
Sarah at WLL.
Hello Barry,
To answer the earlier question you posed (Is there a reset button for
the brew boiler), the answer is yes. There is a high limit thermostat
on top of the brew boiler (and also steam boiler) that can trip and
cause a loss of heat in the boilers. To reset this, you push downwards
on the small (tiny) red plastic plunger with the machine powered off.
Once this is done, the power connection will be restored and heating
will resume.
If you need more help, don't hesitate to call:
Sarah
Tech Department at WholeLatteLove
1-888-411-5282 x3
Found the switch depressed it and the machine started to work but then
overheated again. Sarah was great on the phone trouble shooting the machine.
The problem turned out to be in the LCD display module. Unfortunately, it is
back ordered and wont be in until early December. So I broke out my Moka
pot.
On Tue, Nov 25, 2008 at 2:47 AM, Jim Gundlach wrote:
<Snip>
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26) From: raymanowen
They're volt meters
I've done a ton of trouble shooting with the Simpson 260 analog Volt Ohm
Meter, or the rugged military PSM-6 VOM.
Much cheaper and more rugged?? are the plastic Digital Volt Meters. Harbor
Fright has an adequate model for $10 on sale (not too rugged). A better one
is the larger CEN-TECH for $20 on sale.
Made in a place where the natives speak Chinese, it has worked fine. Looks a
little like my Fluke 87 that got filched before the first calibration cert
expired, same for my 8020b, that was on its second calibration certificate.
The slickie boys ignore the cheap-O's so I'm always able to troubleshoot
now. $500 probably got a couple of hits. I had forgotten, but I probably
won't amend. Maybe they just got stolen this year- who knows? No me.
My Heath V-7A VTVM is just as sensitive, not so portable or rugged. The
20,000v probe works fine with the DVM's. R+R the 1/4" phone plug and
alligator clip with red/ black shrouded banana plugs to fit the meter jacks.
Cheers, guten Morgen -RayO, aka Opa!
On Mon, Nov 24, 2008 at 11:48 PM, Barry Luterman wrote:
<Snip>
-- 
"When the theme hits the bass, I dance the Jig!" - -Virgil Fox at the Mighty
Wichita (ex- NYC Paramount) WurliTzer- 1976
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