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Topic: Gene roaster problems (16 msgs / 492 lines)
1) From: Donald Varona
I've had my Gene Cafe roaster for about a year and a half now.  Lately the
roaster has had problems ramping up the temps; it can get to about 420F or
so and it starts falling back.  It falls back for 10 or so seconds, and then
it starts ramping up again.  It can't seem to get to 480F on its own.  I
tried cleaning the air intake screen with no permanent effect.  If I remove
the chaff collector, then the extra airflow allows the temps to ramp up, but
the chaff collector isn't dirty (although it shows some medium smoke buildup
inside) and it was meant to be run with the collector on.  Besides, if it
was the chaff collector or air intake then the temps shouldn't ramp up at
all.
I suspected undervoltage so I purchased a variac and a Kill-a-Watt.  The KaW
says my voltage is somewhat high, between 123-126V.  During peak electrical
usage (hot weather) it gets even higher, around 128V.  I moved to a new
condo recently, so I don't know if my voltage was high in the old place or
not.  I did some research on the net and found that some Gene roasters have
problems with voltage over 115V-- odd to me, since US standard is 120VAC.
Obviously my unit is out of warranty, but I'm not concerned about that.  The
distributor's website http://www.freshbeansinc.com)seems to have no e-mail
or online access; it looks like I'll have to make a phone call during
business hours at work to deal with it.  But I was hoping to leverage the
Wisdom of the List in a few questions for anyone who's seen this problem
personally:
   - Is the unit permanently damaged?  If I treat it real special, will it
   get better?  I can use the variac to keep the voltage low, but then the temp
   ramp is slow and the voltage tends to jump around a lot.  I haven't found a
   completely acceptable voltage yet.  If I let it drop to 112 or 110 then it's
   not much better than the heater cutout I'm experiencing now.
   - Do the replacement heaters work better with higher voltages, or will I
   have to watch voltage forever?
   - Is it unwise for me to replace the heater myself?  I'd rather not ship
   the machine cross-country, incurring double shipping fees and labor to fix
   it.  I'm not mechanically or electronically incompetent, but let's say I
   have a day job that is not related to electromechanical work.
   - How does the distributor respond to this type of problem?  Is it
   something they're seeing a lot of and are cooperative about, or is this just
   a random fluke?
Thanks for your forthcoming insightful responses :-D
--dv
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2) From: Bob
Don,
Drop a note to Tim Skaling ~ he has been very quick in returning 
my silly questions.
Bob
----------------------------------------------------
Fresh Beans, Inc. (http://www.freshbeansinc.com) - U.S 
Warranty Repairs
Tim Skaling
Phone: 435-940-1616
Fax: 435-940-1964
Email: skales
alternate #s: 435-940-1616, (888) 757-2326
Fresh Beans Inc.
6436 Business Park Loop Unit G
Park City, Utah 84098
Ship to address:
Fresh Beans Inc.
PO Box 982410
Park City, Utah 84098

3) From: Donald Varona
I tried the skales address already, and got a bounce-back.  I tried
calling over the weekend to leave a message, but the mailbox was full.
--dv
On Sun, Jun 15, 2008 at 3:17 PM, Bob  wrote:
<Snip>
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4) From: MIKE GERVAIS
You will reach him via phone during business hours.  Very friendly guy
and eager to help.
I suspect he was inundated with email messages.
On Sun, Jun 15, 2008 at 1:25 PM, Donald Varona  wrote:
<Snip>
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5) From: Thomas Santillan
I had the same exact problem and I too suspected a faulty unit. After doing
some inspection of the unit, I noticed some melted/warped plastic at the
exhaust, where you place the chaff collector. So, I took apart the chaff
collector (which I too thought looked fairly clean as I cleaned it according
to the directions) and it turned out, that was the problem.
See, the chaff collector has 2 screens. There's the 'fine' mesh screen that
you see on the outside of the chaff collector,  but inside there is a coarse
screen. Sandwiched between these two screens was a bit of disgusting looking
sludge which is a buildup of oils and chaff. After taking it apart and
scrubbing the entire chaff collector and screens (I used the Urnex Tabs and
very hot water) I rinsed it off thoroughly, let it all dry out and put it
back together. Now it's working again.
Every now and then (maybe once a month?) the problem comes back up, but
cleaning the intake/exhaust seems to clear it up again.
Hope this helps,
-Thomas
On 6/15/08, Donald Varona  wrote:
<Snip>
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6) From: s.kight
I had to soak my chaff collector to get rid of the oils.  I find that even =
though it looks" clean", it will not flow properly after 30-40 roasts and w=
ill do as you describe.  Probably the chaff sticking to the screen rather t=
han blowing around due to the sticky oil.  Same thing as if I put in a very=
 chaffy bean.
Scot
Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone with SprintSpeed

7) From: Eddie Dove
Donald,
While giving the Gene Cafe a thorough cleaning is always a good idea
(including the intake screen underneath and the chaff collector), the
symptoms are indicative of a failing heater box / thermostat, which
can be had as a right-side assembly.  I have gotten one of these from
Tim Skaling before and it was rather simple to replace; I would even
be willing to walk you through it over the phone.
Tim gets deluged with email.  I have always found that the best way to
get in touch with him is on Monday morning by phone, before the
frenetic pace of his week sets in.  Tim is a great guy and if you are
really nice to him, I am sure he will help you out.  He has always
come through for me!
I remember Tim indicating that a voltage of 120 was okay, but the
voltage does seem to become a problem when it gets upwards of 123-124
volts.http://coffeegeek.com/forums/coffee/homeroast/360433#360433I hope this is helpful and let me know if I can be of help.
Respectfully,
Eddie
-- 
Docendo Discimus
Home Coffee Roasting Blog and Referencehttp://southcoastcoffeeroaster.blogspot.com/On Sun, Jun 15, 2008 at 2:08 PM, Donald Varona  wrote:
<Snip>
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8) From: raymanowen
"I've had my Gene Cafe roaster for about a year and a half now."
So, the infant mortality covered by the equipment warranty, has passed. Did
the machine ever perform satisfactorily?
When did it start marching to its own beat?
High voltage gives more heat capacity in electric resistance heaters.
Thermostats and PID controllers can only regulate oversize heat sources. If
the heater is undersized, it can never generate enough thermal energy to
achieve an operating temperature, and thermostats and PID's can't push the
temperature up.
The roaster has a tag on it with the rated operating voltage, current and
power. More air flow past a heater will have the effect of cooling the
heater and lowering the air temperature. Restrict the air flow, the heater
gets hotter and the air temperature rises. But everybody already knows that.
Again, what has changed since it was doing an acceptable roast, and when did
it last function OK? The GAS factor has risen off the lower stop.
Cheers, Mabuhay, iechyd da -RayO, aka Opa!
Got Grinder?
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9) From: MIKE GERVAIS
A very useful post for this new GC owner.   Thank you
On Sun, Jun 15, 2008 at 2:07 PM, Thomas Santillan
 wrote:
<Snip>
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10) From: Donald Varona
I tried to leave a message today.  Both the toll-free and direct numbers
seem to connect to the same phone (an apparently mobile one, since I get the
"please wait while we find the subscriber..." message).  However, his
mailbox is still full and the e-mail bounces.  Any other ideas, anyone?
On Sun, Jun 15, 2008 at 3:43 PM, MIKE GERVAIS  wrote:
<Snip>
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11) From: Donald Varona
<Snip>
Yes, I have had no problems with the unit before this.  I've roasted only
about 40 lbs or so in the 17 months, I did without for a while after I moved
to the new place.
When did it start marching to its own beat?
<Snip>
Only about a month ago.
The roaster has a tag on it with the rated operating voltage, current and
<Snip>
Says 120V, 60Hz, 1300W.  126 is apparently enough overvoltage to cause a
problem.  I read somewhere that some original non-US (240V) units had
overvoltage issues because they were designed for 230V instead.  If the US
units are made with a voltage doubler, they could use the same heater and I
could have the same problem with voltages over 115V.  Unfortunately, I
haven't been able to ask Mr. Skaling about that yet :-)
Again, what has changed since it was doing an acceptable roast, and when did
<Snip>
The new location, and the (surprisingly) high voltage.  I can't say whether
the voltage is higher than it was before, I didn't measure it until recently
at my new location.
The GAS factor has risen off the lower stop.
?  I'm not sure what you mean by this.  A joke I'm missing?
--dv
On Mon, Jun 16, 2008 at 2:23 AM,  wrote:
<>
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12) From: MIKE GERVAIS
Vacation?
He answered right away when I called 3 weeks ago.
On Mon, Jun 16, 2008 at 7:32 PM, Donald Varona  wrote:
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13) From: Donald Varona
I'm going to really clean the chaff collector tonight and see if I see
anything unusual anyway.
--dv
On Sun, Jun 15, 2008 at 5:33 PM, Eddie Dove <
southcoastcoffeeroaster> wrote:
<Snip>
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14) From: Steven Sobel
Donald,
If I can add my two cents to this thread ...
I too was having a problem with my Gene Roaster.  I took apart the chaff
collector, and cleaned it completely.  I also thouroughly cleaned out the
vent leading to the chaff collector.    A shop vacuum applied to the vent
did a good job of cleaning this port.  This did resolve the problem for me.
I have noticed that if the air flow is blocked at all, whether it is from
too much bean or chaff, the temperature readings will be very erratic.
However, I have noticed that the beans will still roast properly.  I just
have to be more observent.
Steve
On 6/17/08, Donald Varona  wrote:
<Snip>
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15) From: raymanowen
At the 120V, 1300W rating, it has a resistance of 11.1 ohms and draws 10.8a.
The thermostat was designed to regulate the temperature from 1300 watts,
120v.
More electric power (126v) gives more heat power, 1433watts, and higher
ultimate temperatures. That should represent an easy job for the thermostat
to regulate down. Low power and deficient temperatures cannot be regulated
up.
A transformer could be used as a voltage doubler so that a 230 volt heater
could be operated  on 115v. The current draw would be doubled, for the same
power.
Or you could fold the 230v heater in half and power it with 115v. It would
draw 2X the current and use not one single additional part, add no weight or
cost.
"My GAS Factor has incremented" is a vernacular military term indicating a
higher degree of concern...
Cheers, Mabuhay -RayO, aka Opa!
On Mon, Jun 16, 2008 at 7:47 PM, Donald Varona 
wrote:
<Snip>
<Snip>
<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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16) From: Donald Varona
On Sun, Jun 22, 2008 at 3:18 AM, Donald Varona 
wrote:
<Snip>
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