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Thread: VBM domobar Jr after 8 years - and some Questions on upgrades

  1. #1
    Senior Member
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    VBM domobar Jr after 8 years - and some Questions on upgrades

    My service history:

    Year 1-2: no issues
    Year 3: Pressure switch replaced (mater) ($300)
    Year 4: service plus new boiler element (blown) $400
    Year 5: service plus boiler descale ($250)
    Year 6: service plus new vibe pump (ulka) ($380)
    Year 7: solid state relay replaced ($340)
    Year 8: new control unit ($TBC - probably $500ish???)

    (service items include things like valves, gaskets, seals, probes, shower screen, etc. which are done as required)
    Prices include labour which is often at least 50% of the repair/service cost.

    Questions:
    I notice many of my problems might be heat related; melted parts and wiring are common sights. Right now i have a melted control unit.

    1) I've seen photos of the VBM Jr with a heat-wrapped boiler - Is this something I should do?
    2) In later years VBM updated the mater pressure stat to a parker, then a sirai. Is the parker upgrade something I should do? Is it an easy swap?
    3) I've seen differences in control boards. The factory Pro.el.ind control unit has a replacement made by Gicar (though im unsure if this is available in 240v). Is this an upgrade?
    4) Are there any other improvements (including DIY hacks) that can be made to this machine? Better ventilation - better acousitc dampening or water res

    Overall I think it's been a good machine but there are possibly a couple of design flaws that were rectified in later iterations of the design. Mine is the earliest model.

    I am considering an upgrade to a bigger more robust machine (eg vbm super) though not sure if that would save money in the long run - any thoughts/advice??

    Cheers
    Sam

  2. #2
    Rbn
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    I am intrigued. Will be interested in replies. It seems like a lot of repairs and maintenance.

  3. #3
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    Wow, I've been lucky, mine is the same age, I have good water and use a Brita filter, so have not needed a descale. Apart replacing the pressurestat and pump (failures) I've only ever needed general service items.

    How much use/ how long each day is your machine on for? Mine is on for 1 -1 1/2 hours twice a day and depending on weekends I pull 16-20 pours a week.

    Were these items causing problems or 'identified' at service? (over servicing?)

  4. #4
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    (Sorry - forgot to mentuion costs are in $NZ )
    I replaced the brew level control unit myself ($280) and took the opportunity to apply heat-sheild wrap to some of the nearby pipes and the boiler.


    My machine is on a timer and approx 1hr on weekdays making 1-2 coffees, then on weekends its on for 4-5 hours and makes about 4 coffees.

    Each time i took it in for a service was because there was a problem - eg machine wouldn't heat up, or steam was leaking from valve, or machine not turning on.
    We have soft water in the north of NZ (rain-sourced) so nobody I know even uses filters. The boiler descale was more of a precaution and it didnt reveal a signficant amount of scale buildup. There were a number of symptoms that prompted me to get it serviced and descaled at that time - from memory the steam from the want began to have a chemical smell - i think the relay or one of the valves was stuck open and allowed certain things to get too hot, possibly burning some of the coffee or milk residue in the system (I forget the details).

  5. #5
    Senior Member CafeLotta's Avatar
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    What is the stability/reliability of your power supply like? Maybe some protection on your outlet needed?
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  6. #6
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Always a good idea 'CL'...

    Everything in our house is protected and so far (after nearly 20 years at this address), we've had no failures due to electronic issues (touch wood - don't want to tempt fate)...

    Mal.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member CafeLotta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dimal View Post
    Everything in our house is protected and so far (after nearly 20 years at this address), we've had no failures due to electronic issues.
    Same here.

    A few years back we had a massive failure of a pole transformer nearby that had the street lines arcing. The smell of ozone in the air was quite amazing! Luckily we had no damage.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by CafeLotta View Post
    What is the stability/reliability of your power supply like? Maybe some protection on your outlet needed?
    I'm not really sure - haven't had any obvious issues with other appliances in either of my houses. We do get the occassional power cut in Auckland. Are espresso machines particularly sensitive to poor quality power?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dimal
    Everything in our house is protected and so far (after nearly 20 years at this address), we've had no failures due to electronic issues
    How do you protect things? Simple surge/spike protector, or a proper UPS/battery system?


    Do commercial machines have more robust electronic parts? I'm looking at one across the room now (la scala eroica) with no surge protector attached.

  9. #9
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skelly View Post
    How do you protect things? Simple surge/spike protector, or a proper UPS/battery system?
    Yep, all these and more, depending on the equipment being protected.

    Quote Originally Posted by skelly View Post
    Do commercial machines have more robust electronic parts? I'm looking at one across the room now (la scala eroica) with no surge protector attached.
    I guess they would be somewhat more robust than a standard appliance device but still not immune from a range of electrical "issues" that may be present (from the local grid) from time to time and of course, weather related phenomena. If one lives close by to an industrial area or large plant, additional protection would be an excellent idea.
    Some of the electronics (black boxes) I've repaired would not stand up to industrial quality scrutiny and quite a few (even current models) use pretty outdated designs given what is available today. Always best to play it safe with any electronics in the home...

    Mal.

  10. #10
    Senior Member CafeLotta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skelly View Post
    Are espresso machines particularly sensitive to poor quality power?
    No more so than any other "appliance" I'd say. With the list of electrical/electronic items that have been replaced as well as your comment about "melted" parts & wiring, some form of power supply protection might be warranted.

    Maybe contact a different service centre for their opinion? A new service person might provide fresh insights?

    Others here may be able to comment as to whether heat could cause the damage you describe. Its possible heat caused some initial damage leading to an electrical short & cascading failures over time.

    Quote Originally Posted by skelly View Post
    How do you protect things? Simple surge/spike protector, or a proper UPS/battery system?
    Surge/spike protection is probably a good start. Do some research. As far as I recall, response time to a surge or spike is important. No use paying for protection that doesn't do the job.
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  11. #11
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CafeLotta View Post
    Surge/spike protection is probably a good start. Do some research. As far as I recall, response time to a surge or spike is important. No use paying for protection that doesn't do the job.
    No need to get involved with the technicalities too much, canvas a couple of specialist suppliers, describe what you're wanting to protect and stick with well known manufacturers such as Belkin, for example...

    Mal.

  12. #12
    Senior Member CafeLotta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skelly View Post
    How do you protect things? Simple surge/spike protector, or a proper UPS/battery system?
    This may be of interest with some background information re: Surge Protection.

    https://www.abtechnologies.com.au/un...ge-protection/

    One option is Belkin, as previously mentioned. Check that rating is suitable for intended use - eg. 1600 watt element in Vibiemme Junior should probably use at least 10Amp rated surge protector.

    http://www.belkin.com/au/Products/Po...9C03671F8A158/

    Another alternative is https://www.thortechnologies.com.au/?v=6cc98ba2045f

    Weighing up cost of protection v repair is a personal decision obviously!

    PS - I noticed there has been no mention of the type of usage the machine has had? How many coffees a day? Is it left powered on all day?
    Last edited by CafeLotta; 3 Weeks Ago at 07:36 PM.
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