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Topic: Alpenrost Questions part two (11 msgs / 389 lines)
1) From: Jeremy Jones
O.K.--part two alp questions, I appreciate everyones
ideas from part 1 also, thank you.  My alpenrost
roasts 225g of Indian Peaberry to Full City on a "10"
setting on Thursday just fine.  Come Friday I can
barely get past 1st crack at "15" and none of my other
beans will roast sufficiently either unless I decrease
my weight down to 175 grams or less.  All of the
variables I can think of (ambient temperature, outlet
voltage, etc.) are consistent.  So, did it break?  It
still heats up and roast, but at between 13-15 minutes
my roasts stall and the smoke decreases and thats
it--no second crack, which it never had a problem with
before.  Then again I have only had this roaster for
about a month and have put about 12lbs. through it. 
Is it just "breaking in"?  I noticed that my Cafe
Rosto roasts slowed down quite a bit after about the
20th batch and actually tasted alot better but this
not even getting close to second crack thing has to
go.
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2) From: javafool
Jeremy,
Make sure the doors in the end of the ALP that open for cooling still close
completely during roasting. There may be some chaff or roast build-up that
is not allowing the doors to completely close. This will allow the roast
chamber to cool during roasting.
Good luck,
TerryF

3) From: Dan Bollinger
Quite right, especially if you occasionally do darker roasts, like for espresso.
I found just the right tool for scraping gunk from behind the door lip and
around the door edges. Those freeby paint can openers you get when buying a can
of paint from the hardware store, the kind with a bottle opener on the other
end. The little hook makes for an almost perfect Alp cleaning tool. I filed a
bevel on the outside edge of the hook to improve performance.
<Snip>http://www.sweetmarias.com/maillistinfo.html

4) From: Rick W
Jeremy,
I've been using my Alp coming up on 4yrs and roughly 210lbs of beans.
I'd be calling SwissMar based upon what you are experiencing.  The Alp
doesn't have to "break-in", so it sounds like yours is broke.  The
amount of smoke should increase the further you go with the roast,
particularly as you reach 2nd Crack.  If all variables are ok (power,
ambient temp, etc), you should not be seeing a drop-off in your roasts
as described.  You'll certainly see some differences from roast to roast
based upon different bean varieties, changes in ambient temp, qty of
beans, etc, but nothing as dramatic as what you're describing.
You may want to check those flapper doors on your Alp while it's
roasting.  They should be "fully" closed when you press start and not
open until either you press Cool, or when the unit times out via the
pad-setting and automatically initiates the Cool cycle.  If those doors
are partially open during the roast, it would affect your results.
If you have to send yours back for repair, have SwissMar tweak the
heater calibration so that it will reach 1st Crack (on average) around
11-12 minutes.  That's the way my Alp is set and it works beautifully
with plenty of remaining time to roast as dark as I want.  I usually
press Cool at 15-16 minutes depending upon whether I'm going for Full
City+ or Vienna.  Also, an Alp that is not reaching 2nd C until
somewhere near the maximum roast time (20:05 or setting 15) is set too
cool and needs to be recalibrated.
As you gain roasting experience, you'll learn to just forget the
settings and roast manually.  Hope this helps,
Rick Waits
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5) From: Gak
Jeremy,
One other possibility no one has mentioned is the thermal overload.  The alp
has two thermal sensors right next to one another.  The first cuts out the
heater if the machine temp gets too high.  It resets when the machine cools
off.
The second is a thermal fuse that kills the machine if it gets above the
setpoint.  Once this one goes, it's back to the shop (or time to get out the
tools, depending on you) to fix.
I've had problems in the past with the first sensor (the cutoff) popping
during a roast.  Fortunately, I had a temperature probe measuring bean mass
temp and saw the temp stall, then begin to descend in the middle of the
roast.  If I hadn't been measuring temp, I never would have known what
happened.
My solution was to keep the machine clean to try to keep the heat in the
roasting chamber, and make sure the chaff is cleaned out so you get good
airflow to keep the sensors cool.
When my thermal fuse went (after warrantee, of course) I had to go and
replace it.  That's when I discovered it's location.  As you look at the Alp
from the front (where you can read the panel) it's kind of under the back
side of the drum.  It's basically beneath the curved portion of the roast
chamber on the back side.
I mention this location because I found a whole bunch of chaff there when I
opened things up.  It's possible that your thermal cutoff is clogged up or
defective and is cutting out the heat after you reach 1st crack.
I usually had the problem on consecutive roasts, though.  I never had a
problem on the first roast of the day.
Hope this helps....
-Garrik
Jeremy wrote:
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6) From: Gak
Jeremy,
One other possibility no one has mentioned is the thermal overload.  The alp
has two thermal sensors right next to one another.  The first cuts out the
heater if the machine temp gets too high.  It resets when the machine cools
off.
The second is a thermal fuse that kills the machine if it gets above the
setpoint.  Once this one goes, it's back to the shop (or time to get out the
tools, depending on you) to fix.
I've had problems in the past with the first sensor (the cutoff) popping
during a roast.  Fortunately, I had a temperature probe measuring bean mass
temp and saw the temp stall, then begin to descend in the middle of the
roast.  If I hadn't been measuring temp, I never would have known what
happened.
My solution was to keep the machine clean to try to keep the heat in the
roasting chamber, and make sure the chaff is cleaned out so you get good
airflow to keep the sensors cool.
When my thermal fuse went (after warrantee, of course) I had to go and
replace it.  That's when I discovered it's location.  As you look at the Alp
from the front (where you can read the panel) it's kind of under the back
side of the drum.  It's basically beneath the curved portion of the roast
chamber on the back side.
I mention this location because I found a whole bunch of chaff there when I
opened things up.  It's possible that your thermal cutoff is clogged up or
defective and is cutting out the heat after you reach 1st crack.
I usually had the problem on consecutive roasts, though.  I never had a
problem on the first roast of the day.
Hope this helps....
-Garrik
Jeremy wrote:
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7) From: Dave Huddle
The doors on my Alp don't always close properly after cleaning, so now
I close them manually, and then use a long skewer - poked through from
the outside (through the fan) to push them closed.  Sometimes, I have
to push the upper door from the inside, while skewer-poking the lower
door to get both of them to seal correctly.  Otherwise, the upper door
is closed, but the bottom door isn't shut completely.
Door closing failure caused me to mess up a roast or two, before I came
up with the skewer idea.
Dave
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espresso.
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can
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8) From: Dan Bollinger
I used the skewers, too!  Sometimes to open the doors from the inside when they
don't open at 'Cool.'   Let's face it. The door idea is a poor one.
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a
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close
<Snip>http://www.sweetmarias.com/maillistinfo.html<Snip>

9) From: Rick W
Dave,
If you're comfortable taking your Alp apart, there's a couple of places
that can affect correct operation of the doors.  With the upper shroud
removed, you can access the door actuator assy which is housed behind a
small chrome plated cover.  There's a plastic gear assy that
opens/closes the doors that should be checked for lubrication, chaff,
and proper condition.  Could be that the solenoid that drives the gear
has become weak.  
The other area is the metal rods that pass through the doors and the Alp
chassis.  The holes that allow those rods to pass through the chassis
can become gunked-up and prevent the rods from smoothly turning in the
holes.  I've made it a habit of cleaning/lubricating these areas once a
year and have thus far avoided any door failures (knock on bean).
Rick Waits
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10) From: Dave Huddle
Rick,
OK - where do I start taking the Alp apart?   I suspect gunk/chaff
accumulation is the problem.   I've done around 155 roasts in the Alp.
I always use my shop vac on it after each roast - usually use the vac
in blower mode too.
Dave
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11) From: Rick W
Dave,
Dave and other Alpers,
You asked for it "Toyota"...here's a write-up that I'd prepared a while
back:
AlpenRost Cleaning & Disassembly notes:
About once a year, the Alp should be taken apart for a thorough
cleaning.  This is because chaff and other debris will build up inside
the non-user accessible areas and eventually bring on failure of some
sort.  Here's a basic list of what to do:
1.  Power unplugged, lay the Alp on it's side (door hinged side) and
remove 10 screws that are accessible from the bottom.  There are two
hidden screws that are covered by rubber feet/plugs at the very front of
the unit (bottom side).  Remove these two plugs and then remover the two
screws.  Note, two of the screws are sheet metal type and different from
the rest.  Take note of where they go so you can reinstall them in the
right location when reassembling the bottom.  There are also 2 black
screws at the very rear under the lower fan shroud.  Also remove these
two screws.   If you have all screws removed, you should have: 
- 6 silver colored self tapping sheet metal screws (11/16" long)
- 2 two black screws  (7/16" long)
- 2 brass colored machine screws (1 10/16" long)
 
2.  After these 10 screws have been removed, turn the unit upright and
the whole upper plastic shell will lift up.  Do not try to completely
remove the upper shell until you have disconnected the connector that
feeds from the control panel on the upper shell.  That connector simply
pulls straight up and then you can lift off the shell and lay it aside.
There is a piece of black plastic that's part of the lower fan shroud
that fits into the upper shell at the rear.  Take note that it slides
into the shell and must be installed before replacing the shell on the
Alp.
3.  Using compressed air, blow out all the chaff and debris that may
have collected on top of the control circuit card that lies directly
under the fan.  Inspect the fan blades for debris that has collected on
the blades and clean if necessary.
4.  There is a metal shell that covers the gears that operate the
flapper doors on the operator side of the Alp.  That metal shell snaps
on when in place, so pull it toward you (working it or maybe using
something to help lightly pry) and it will slide out toward you.  Now
you can see the plastic gears that operate the rods that open and close
the flapper doors.  Clean any debris from the gears and lightly
relubricate them with some light grease.  I used clear automotive
dielectric lube that's designed for lubricating spark plug wire boots.
Also inspect the flapper doors and the flanges these doors touch when
closed.   There is usually a sticky hard tar-like substance in those
areas and on the doors that should be cleaned to allow proper door
movement.  Next, work the doors open and closed by hand to verify that
everything is moving smoothly.  You'll feel a slight amount of
resistance from the gears as they engage, but it should be fairly easy
to move the doors.  If all is good, put the metal cover back over the
gears.  If you don't get this cover on correctly, it will impede the
gear movement and the doors will not open when required.  Start by
fitting the metal cover from the bottom first and then snap it in place
at the top.  If the cover is properly in place, it can be slightly
wiggled.  You can also look at it from the rear side and see if it has
fully snapped into place.  This is very important to check.
5.  Put a single drop of machine oil down into the area where the main
drive gear turns that drives the drum.  I also do the same for the 3
free spinning rollers.
6.  Inspect the Alp for any other debris and clean as necessary.
7.  The control panel can be removed for cleaning too.  It attached via
two small screws to the inside of the upper plastic shell.  Be very
careful when handling this part as it has some electronics and you don't
want to damage anything via static electricity.  Clean any debris and
check the 4 switches to see that they click when depressed.  When
reassembling the control panel, do not over tighten the two small
screws.  Just snug them down to the point that they stop.
8.  Replace the upper plastic shell, I start from the back first.  Make
sure the black plastic lower fan shroud is slid into the upper shell
before placing the shell back on the Alp.  Working from the back, drop
the shell in place and align as needed until it drops back into place.
If you find yourself having to force it, you do not have it properly
aligned.
9.  Replace all 10 screws and tighten (just snug don't over tighten).
10. Plug in the Alp and verify it operates correctly using the (bean
less) dry-run test.
Hope this helps other Alpen-users,
Rick Waits
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Alp
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chassis
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