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Thread: Descaling a LSM 85-16M-2...what will i need?

  1. #1
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    Descaling a LSM 85-16M-2...what will i need?

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi guys, im getting ready to descale the boiler on my LSM (yes thats right, ive put it off for months now) and im just not sure what exactly to order from Coffee Parts, and i dont want to start...realise i needed an extra part...and then have to wait for it to be posted out with my machine in pieces in the meantime.


    So basically...once i remove the boiler, and unscrew the endplate and element etc....what gaskets/parts/thingies am i going to need to replace, and what will go back in again once im done?


    Also...what is the difference between the "Black" boiler gaskets and the "teflon" ones on the Coffeeparts website? Do i need both? or do you get one or the other?



    Any other tips?



    thanks in advance guys.

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    Re: Descaling a LSM 85-16M-2...what will i need?

    Zakal1,

    What Id suggest is you ring Pedro at CoffeeParts.... hes an unbelievable source of knowledge on these machines and he will know exactly what you need... (and will explain the options re gaskets etc)

    Basically if it is a gasket, washer, O ring or any non metal bit - replace it!! I even replaced the bolts around the group assembly, just to be sure. The price for these "consumables" is relatively cheap - so do the job right the first time and then you can forget it for years.... Penny pinch and you can bet your bottom dollar something will fail before long.... and then back to pulling it apart again.... so unless you are a masochist..

    Good luck!

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    Re: Descaling a LSM 85-16M-2...what will i need?

    Oh yeah, i forgot to mention, i posted this thread mainly because i tried to ring Pedro but it was too late and i think hed gone home. hehe.


    I was hoping to get my order in tonight so i can get things moving (wish i lived in sydney so could do a pickup).


    As for the bolts in the group assembly etc, i think ill just be focusing on the boiler at this stage as ive done previous work on the groups and they seem to be running okay, although im getting a few steam-arm washers and gaskets because i have only rebuilt one side and the other side is a little crappy.

    I was also thinking about getting a different steam tip for one steam arm, because the 5-hole one thats standard seems a bit..hmm...powerful if your not steaming half a litre of milk, plus a few months on, my foaming ability still sucks so im looking for something to blame. But i can pretty much change that over anytime, so i might still leave that for now.

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    Re: Descaling a LSM 85-16M-2...what will i need?

    Hi, can anyone point me in the right direction regarding this? Im having trouble contacting CoffeeParts and im desperate to get the parts ASAP while i have some free time so i can get it done...and if theres any problems...get more parts before the weekend.


    Thanks guys.

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    Re: Descaling a LSM 85-16M-2...what will i need?


    Definitely replace all the gaskets. One tip for installing new gaskets (fiber ones) is to also use a gasket silicone to ensure a good seal. You can get high temp silicone gasket compounds that are suitable for potable water.

    For descaling, citric acid is good enough. The hotter you make it the better it works. I usually mix it with boiling water and let it do its trick. I believe homebrew shops sell citric acid or acid blends that can be used for descaling. Im not sure if coffeeparts stock a descaling solution.

    For steaming, Ive been very happy with the Bezzera 4 hole tip for small quantities of milk. They also have a 3 hole tip which works well but is slower. Coffeeparts sells a 2 hole tip that is supposed to be quite slow. Id try to master the faster tip though. Its great to be able to do fast milk.

    Cheers,

    Mark.

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    Re: Descaling a LSM 85-16M-2...what will i need?

    Hi, cheers for that.

    What ratio of citric acid to water do you use?

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    Re: Descaling a LSM 85-16M-2...what will i need?

    Zakal1....

    The usual for in machine (just pouring in the reservoir) cleaning is 10grams / litre..... but that will take forever if the scale is thick.....

    I basically just pour it into the boiling water..... and stir..... when the reaction slows down..... pour in more!!

    Not very precise, but you will be watching what is happening. The local La Cimbali agents use dilute hydrochloric acid to clean the inside of the boiler, pipes etc. - does a really great job too - and thats heaps stronger (and more dangerous) than citric acid.

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    Re: Descaling a LSM 85-16M-2...what will i need?

    yeah, well i spoke to the La San Marco agent in Melbourne and they were saying they used to use something similar, but dont anymore because its too potent and you cant properly do it on-site.

    Said they use a citric based product called ScaleClean or something now so they can wash the waste water down the drain, and because its citrus based, its less dangerous if somethings left behind.

    They also told me that they usually just run the solution through the machine without removing the boiler, but told me to remove the safety valve and the hotwater line so i can shine a torch through one, and look through the other to see just how much scale is there first.

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    Re: Descaling a LSM 85-16M-2...what will i need?

    Im about to descale my La Pavoni boiler. After taking out the overpressure safety valve and a few other lines, I can see the scale. Its not too bad, but its worth doing properly. Its a huge 14l boiler, so will require a large vat of acid.

    I was considering doing it in situ, but have decided against it. You really want all the descaling acid out of the boiler before you operate it. If the boiler is made out of copper, descaling will expose fresh copper, which will smell quite harsh. You dont want to steam milk with any residual acid in the boiler as it will prevent the surface passivating and keep the harsh smell. After descaling and removing all the acid the hot boiler will passivate the exposed copper, turning it black. That will take the smell away and not affect the taste.

    In short I reckon its better to pull out the boiler and dump in in a huge vat of descaling acid. Then rinse all the acid out, put it back together and turn it on, let it heat up and run it long enough, with regular flushes, to get the exposed metal smell out of the system. Then youre ready to go.

    If you do decide to do it in situ, beware (reiterating JavaBs warning here) that descaling can possibly generate small particles that can potentially block up the expansion valve in the brew path. If this happens, when you heat up the machine, the expanding water will have no where to go and could potentially rupture the heat exchangers themselves.

    Cheers,

    Mark.


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    Re: Descaling a LSM 85-16M-2...what will i need?

    Yeah im worried about those small particles as well (and its the reason i decided to remove the boiler in the first place) but im finding it difficult to get a hold of the gaskets anyway, and i removed the safety valve and the hotwater pipe and can now see (a little) inside teh boiler.

    It doesnt look too bad at all, most of the surfaces are quite smooth (and blackish like you said). The element looks similar to the sides of the boiler. Its not mirror-polish smooth, but it doesnt look caked in scale either.

    I have descaled a small domestic machine before and that was actually caked in scale...additionally ive also seen Kettles with worse scale buildup than this.

    As a result, i think ill give it a go in place, though i think i might do it twice, and the first time just fill it with already boiling water (kettle) and citric acid, and then just drain it after a bit thru the boiler drain tap at the base.

    That way it wont really be under any pressure, and if particles break off, they will only blockup the drain pipe (which i will notice hopefully).

    Then if all goes well i might do it again, but this time run the machine as you said while descaling.

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    Re: Descaling a LSM 85-16M-2...what will i need?

    Yep Sparky....

    Your method is FAR safer and more effective...

    The advice I passed on re not doing it in situ actually came from one of the La Cimbali service agents here in Perth.... They do HEAPS of full machine restorations (not only La Cimbali).... and I have spent quite some time talking to them (and they have lots of hard to get spares.... like body bits - which CoffeeParts cant supply.)

    The chap that does most of the work - and his results are magnificent - told me to NEVER- NEVER EVER descale a commercial machine without disassembly...

    And Id certainly follow that advice.

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    Re: Descaling a LSM 85-16M-2...what will i need?

    Quote Originally Posted by Zakal1 link=1171347666/0#9 date=1171436270
    That way it wont really be under any pressure, and if particles break off, they will only blockup the drain pipe (which i will notice hopefully).

    Then if all goes well i might do it again, but this time run the machine as you said while descaling.
    Zakal1,

    Unfortunately its not the bits which break off whilst you are descaling - its the bits you cant see (with limited visual access) which are disturbed but dont dissolve and come loose sometime after re assembly.... (likely locations are around the boiler fittings - plumbing, water level sensor, heater element opening etc where there are little ridges etc where scale can build up more)

    The chap I mentioned above told me to do a complete visual inspection of the whole inside before reassembly - and that can only be done with the end off the boiler.

    The dark shiny surface Sparky spoke of (desirable after descaling) can also hide a big problem prior to descaling.... Scale is porous (Calcium Carbonate) and will absorb minerals from the water (often iron) or even milk which has been sucked back into the boiler..... So often scale is a very dark shiny colour..... (There are some photos of Javaphiles restoration on CoffeeSnobs where you can see both the colour and the thickness of the scale he had to almost chisel off).....

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    Re: Descaling a LSM 85-16M-2...what will i need?

    Its not the main boiler thats the potential problem. Its the heat exchanger circuit, which doesnt have a drain pipe.

    I think the best call would be to either not descale at all, or do a complete pull down and descale/rinse and then reassemble.

    Im going to take my boiler to a coffee tech to descale, as its a little too large for me to do easily. I dont expect itll cost too much and then the whole machine will be starting from as-new condition (hydraulically).

    Actually my problem is even more difficult as my jumbo boiler has no endplate. So the biggest inspection port will be where the element screws in. Ill need to get the element removed using an impact wrench, to avoid damaging the boiler itself. Hence the coffee tech and their large swag of tools...

    Cheers,

    Mark.

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    Re: Descaling a LSM 85-16M-2...what will i need?

    Quote Originally Posted by JavaB link=1171347666/0#11 date=1171437183
    Quote Originally Posted by Zakal1 link=1171347666/0#9 date=1171436270
    That way it wont really be under any pressure, and if particles break off, they will only blockup the drain pipe (which i will notice hopefully).

    Then if all goes well i might do it again, but this time run the machine as you said while descaling.
    Zakal1,

    Unfortunately its not the bits which break off whilst you are descaling - its the bits you cant see (with limited visual access) which are disturbed but dont dissolve and come loose sometime after re assembly.... (likely locations are around the boiler fittings - plumbing, water level sensor, heater element opening etc where there are little ridges etc where scale can build up more)

    The chap I mentioned above told me to do a complete visual inspection of the whole inside before reassembly - and that can only be done with the end off the boiler.

    The dark shiny surface Sparky spoke of (desirable after descaling) can also hide a big problem prior to descaling.... Scale is porous (Calcium Carbonate) and will absorb minerals from the water (often iron) or even milk which has been sucked back into the boiler..... So often scale is a very dark shiny colour..... (There are some photos of Javaphiles restoration on CoffeeSnobs where you can see both the colour and the thickness of the scale he had to almost chisel off).....

    Hmm from what you say of Javaphiles restoration, it seems like that scale can get pretty hard (hence it not scraping off when i scraped it with a skewer before). The LSM guy told me to be very gentle with the inside of the boiler as its just brass and especially careful around the endplate.

    When screwing the hot-water outlet back onto the top of the boiler (my sight hole) just before i can see why...certainly has a different feel to the tempered steel of an engine block hehe.

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    Re: Descaling a LSM 85-16M-2...what will i need?

    Yep,

    The scale can be very hard -rock hard - by the way the chiselling was just a figure of speech ;).... he actually used lots of acid.....

    Be gentle with the brass and all will be well.

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    Re: Descaling a LSM 85-16M-2...what will i need?

    Heres the pic of my boiler that JavaB was referring too: http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1103091005/1#1

    And yes, I used acid. Lots and lots of acid! Inside of the HX it was even worse.


    Java "Acid is your friend!" phile

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    Re: Descaling a LSM 85-16M-2...what will i need?


    That boiler looks like it was run on filtered water. My BZ35 was way worse than that before I cleaned it up. Luckily it only had a 2l boiler.

    My La Pav boiler looks pretty similar to that (thin sheets of black scale) and that was run with a filter.

    Keeping the steam boiler clear of scale is pretty difficult business, as the only loss is via steam, which leaves the minerals behind. Eventually even filtered water will deposit its minerals, unless you regularly flush and refill the boiler. I used to routinely use the hot water tap on my BZ35 to pre-heat my cups and at the same time replenish the steam boiler to help prevent scale build-up.

    Scale is one of the worst aspects of boiler machines IMO.

    Cheers,

    Mark.

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    Re: Descaling a LSM 85-16M-2...what will i need?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sparky link=1171347666/15#16 date=1171455114
    Keeping the steam boiler clear of scale is pretty difficult business, as the only loss is via steam, which leaves the minerals behind. Eventually even filtered water will deposit its minerals, unless you regularly flush and refill the boiler. I used to routinely use the hot water tap on my BZ35 to pre-heat my cups and at the same time replenish the steam boiler to help prevent scale build-up.

    Scale is one of the worst aspects of boiler machines IMO.

    Cheers,

    Mark.
    Yep, thats the problem alright.... the only stuff that leaves via the steam wand is pure water.... everything else stays behind.

    Because my La Cimbal is in the kitchen Ive encouraged everyone to use the hot water whenever they can...... even filling small saucepans - after all Ive got 17 litres of the stuff..... and I like to turn it over fairly often to at least minimise the build up (even with a water softener and doing what Im doing - it wont eliminate the build up)......

    The previous owner from new ( a cafe here in Perth) must also have "turned over" the water in the boiler quite a bit because the inside was "relatively" clean after many years of hard labour!

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    Re: Descaling a LSM 85-16M-2...what will i need?

    A 17 l boiler for a 2 gr machine.... Now thats a tank. Makes my 14 l boiler seem puny :-[ ;D

    Im planning to start things off with filtered water for the initial fill, then go to RO water to keep scale in check. A mate of mine runs RO water exclusively and his shots taste pretty darn good to me, although I dont doubt that a few minerals can improve the taste of an espresso.

    Cheers,

    Mark.

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    Re: Descaling a LSM 85-16M-2...what will i need?

    Mark,

    Do you have a probe type or a float type water level sensor? The La Cimbali uses a float and a reed switch (with electronics :().... and so might your mates machine.

    But if yours has a probe it relies on the mineral content to conduct. RO water = no minerals = no conduction...

    You will end up with a boiler as large as mine.... (unless your overpressure valve lets the water out..... (makes one hell of a mess though!) :(

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    Re: Descaling a LSM 85-16M-2...what will i need?

    Yeah i do the same. As its in the kitchen, everyone uses it for hot water. Mostly because i banned them using the kettle cos of power concerns, but anyway, it will keep the water cycling thru quite nicely. And unlike the path through the heat exchangers and out thru the groups...or through the steam wand, the hot water spout is pretty much just a big metal straw that sucks water up thru it, through a fairly large pipe, then out an large outlet, so it should the last thing to clog up with scale...so if its used as a bit of a flushing mechanism, it should be good.

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    Re: Descaling a LSM 85-16M-2...what will i need?

    Quote Originally Posted by JavaB link=1171347666/15#19 date=1171459395
    Mark,

    Do you have a probe type or a float type water level sensor? The La Cimbali uses a float and a reed switch (with electronics :().... and so might your mates machine.

    But if yours has a probe it relies on the mineral content to conduct. RO water = no minerals = no conduction...

    You will end up with a boiler as large as mine.... (unless your overpressure valve lets the water out..... (makes one hell of a mess though!) :(
    By initially filling with filtered water, you provide the ions for the probe. After that the RO water just replenishes the water lost to steam and the ions remain in the boiler. A filter water top up every month or so should keep the ion concentration up to account for hot water tap use. My mate has a BZ35, which has two probes, one for the autofill and the other a low level cutout. Both function properly with RO water due to the residual ions. He doesnt use his hot water very much though. You dont need too many ions to make these probes work.

    Cheers,

    Mark.

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    Re: Descaling a LSM 85-16M-2...what will i need?

    If you use the semi-auto mode, does that still require the probe on the auto-fill to function. i.e. can you use pure RO water if you use the Semi-Auto switches?

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    Re: Descaling a LSM 85-16M-2...what will i need?

    Semi-auto usually refers to the operation of the brew switch. Some machines do have a manual boiler fill switch and rely on the sight glass. If you have a manual fill switch and a sight glass, then you can use RO water or whatever liquid you feel like (except maybe beer *:D), you just have to keep an eye on the boiler level yourself (which may be dangerous for overnight operation).

    As I said, RO water is ok as long as you have some ions in the boiler. So maybe once a month use some filtered water, or maybe a RO/filtered water mix to keep scale at bay.

    Cheers,

    Mark.

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    Re: Descaling a LSM 85-16M-2...what will i need?

    Quote Originally Posted by Zakal1 link=1171347666/15#22 date=1171506492
    If you use the semi-auto mode, does that still require the probe on the auto-fill to function. i.e. can you use pure RO water if you use the Semi-Auto switches?
    Nope semi auto mode still uses the auto fill function..... its only semi auto on the water dosing side....

    You could always disconnect the autofill circuit and use the manual fill lever (on the La Cimbali, not sure if you have one) or a switch to activate the autofill solenoid only when desired.....

    But if you (or anyone else using it) forgets..... and the water gets too low.... bye bye heaters :( or if they dont switch off in time - water everywhere from the relief valve :(

    And the heat transfer through the HX (and the recovery time) is dependant on water level in the boiler (percentage of the HX in water compared to steam) - vary the water level too much and you will throw out your brew characteristics - mine autofills about every 800ml- 1 L of textured milk

    Not sure its something Id want to do.

    And just to put the whole thing into prospective...

    These machines are used in a commercial environment producing hundreds of coffees per day - just about all milk based..... So the amount of water (and minerals) introduced into the boiler is tens of times higher than a typical home use..... therefore the deposit level would be the same ratio less on our machines.... and most commercial machines are rarely descaled..... I might check mine again in about..... say.... 10 years!

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    Re: Descaling a LSM 85-16M-2...what will i need?

    Nah mine doesnt auto-fill when in full Semi-Auto mode.

    It has two kinds of "semi-auto". Firstly theres just the manual set dosing via the electronic buttons on the touchpad which as well as the pre-set doses just allows a "start/stop" kind of operation.

    But then theres also a secondary set of switches that when you switch from Auto to Manual, it disables the touchpad AND the autofil and just has a big green switch for each group.

    According to the manual, this circuit seems to be completely seperate from the main electronics (touchpad) of the machine as its intended for use in case of electrical failure.



    But i take your point about the commerical nature of the machine, and quite frankly i couldnt be bothered using it without auto-fill and monitoring the waterlevel personally all day to prevent running it dry. If you add up all the time you waste doing that, its much quicker to strip it down and rebuild it every 5 years even (probably still too often) than it is ti run pure water through it and watch it like a hawk.

    Then if you damage the element running it dry...that would probably have paid for a professional descaling anyway.



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