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Thread: Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where now?

  1. #1
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    Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where now?

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Anyone reading my recent posts would know Ive got slightly itchy feet at the moment. Not sure if the Silvias going to stay or go. My requirements have basically been something smallish, 1 group, to go inside. Probably tanked, but maybe plumbed.

    Anyway Im not normally an impulse buyer by any stretch of the imagination, but I was recently made an offer I couldnt refuse and suddenly find myself, for better or worse, the owner of a two group Faema S.87-E.87 and a Cunill Space (along with about 2kg of beans that smell more like parmesan cheese than coffee! :o). I must say neither of these particularly won me over with their looks but I have to say they look moderately better in the flesh than in the photos I was given pre-purchase. They both need some work of course; the machine just the basics of an overhaul (gaskets, descale and so on), not so sure on the work for the grinder. The machine itself seems to have some kind of E61 groups (perhaps no-stop, whatever they might be), and after a bit of cleaning and a good warm-up made quite a reasonable first shot, crema seemed to have more of a reddish colour to it than the Silvia but could have just been the different lighting (or all that scale in the boiler! *:o No I did flush a lot of water through first!) Plenty of steam power of course.

    The trouble is, I just dont have room for it, at least not in its role as a primary machine. The nebulous idea was to keep it in the shed and use it for when I needed to deal with larger numbers; but if the Silvia may go anyway its likely to be replaced with something that can handle that a bit better. Being a 15A beast so with one element disconnected it runs fine on 10A but does take quite some time to get up to temperature, and while I can wait 15-60 minutes for a coffee on a weekend or in the evening I dont know if that patience will extend to three hours! Doubt Ill use the grinder as I already have a Super Jolly and a Mini but it needs some alignment by the looks as it doesnt seem to grind as fine as it should (maybe needs new burrs - the existing ones feel OK on their own but the SJs are sharper by a mile). I must say a plumbed machine (even if plumbed presently involves a funnel for the inlet and a bottle for the drain) has certainly impressed me so far, as has the build quality of this machine and the ease with which the panels can be removed for cleaning (or painting!) and how easy everything is to get to.

    So what to do? On the one hand I could spend the few dollars it needs to give it a cleanup and restore, get it into a better colour and keep it in the shed for that one in 12 months when I may need its capacity (although long-term storage isnt normally the best for these things). An expensive just-in-case though. Or do the above and try to sell it. Or save the rebuild money and sell it as is (with however much luck that may or may not attract). Or gut it and trade it in as scrap metal. I dont think itll take that long to clean it up but I dont want to go down that path if it may end up in the great recycling centre in the sky.

    Does anyone whos been a victim of one of these sudden attacks have any tips to share?

    Greg


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    Senior Member Koffee_Kosmo's Avatar
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    Re: Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where no

    If all the requirements are met

    Fix it and use it for use in the faculty tea room (RE post: Itís a hard Life)

    Luck has fallen in your lap (2 birds with 1 stone and all that) ;)

    KK

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    Re: Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where no


    Given that it will not fit as your main domestic machine, Id get rid of it.

    In my opinion, the only reason youd get an old commercial machine is if you relish the challenge of restoring it yourself or if you are very cost sensitive and want to get something running without the larger outlay for a top end domestic machine. I also would be vary wary of an old volumetric machine, as there is added complexity and hence a higher potential for failure down the track.

    Cheers,

    Mark.

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    Re: Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where no

    Quote Originally Posted by Sparky link=1223984930/0#2 date=1224032263
    Given that it will not fit as your main domestic machine, Id get rid of it.

    In my opinion, the only reason youd get an old commercial machine is if you relish the challenge of restoring it yourself or if you are very cost sensitive and want to get something running without the larger outlay for a top end domestic machine. I also would be vary wary of an old volumetric machine, as there is added complexity and hence a higher potential for failure down the track.

    Cheers,

    Mark.
    Ill second that.

    Just because a machine is "commercial" does not mean that it is actually any good. Particularly if it is old. You might well find that a prosumer machine outperforms it, as well as being better sized for home. IMHO, the good prosumer machines do a very credible job of going head to head with many commercial HX machines.

    The two main differences between most commercial machines and most prosumer machines are, IMHO, size and a rotary pump. The rotary pump is necessary because you cant keep on refilling and its nice for the machine to be quiet. The size is (thought to be) necessary to provide sufficient groups to keep up with demand, to provide sufficient cup warmer space and to have a large amount of steam in the boiler so that two wands being used almost simultaneously wont exhaust it completely.

    Remember that the target market for most commercial machines is the 90% of cafes that really dont put much effort into coffee. Bad technique and bad coffee will mask most of the finer points of brew temperature and pressure management. That is to say that commercial machines dont necessarily have to be good to sell; they have to be big and, ideally, able to cope with a bit of abuse.

    Prosumer machines, on the other hand are sold to a market that is much more likely to have very high standards and, so, need to perform pretty well, particularly seeing as they compete against much cheaper domestic machines.

    If the machine performs well, why wouldnt you use it for the faculty tea room?

    Cheers,

    Luca

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    Re: Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where no

    Take your point Luca about potential quality issues but its impressed in that regard already so I imagine it would do more so if it was given a thorough descale, new gaskets, showerscreens and so on. Work has more funds available than I could reasonably ask for this even once Ive given it a tidy up.

    Sparky, I was conscious of the volumetrics before I took the plunge and checked coffeeparts and they have all the stuff at (what I consider to be) pretty reasonable prices; in fact they seem to have more for Faema than pretty well anything else, which was reassuring.

    So if I got rid of it, do you reckon itd be better to try to shift it cheap as is or give it a good cleanout and then try to move it for a bit more? Must say Ive never tried selling this sort of thing so not sure what the success rate is likely to be :-/ Otherwise Im sure I could keep things like the pump and motor and sell the rest off for scrap, theres a fair bit of brass and copper in there. But it still seems a bit cruel to scrap a working E61 ... :(

    Greg

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    Re: Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where no

    Nice one Greg, I have the same machine except in the 3 group.
    See http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1185331327/0
    It was going to be a full resto job, but i ended up just doing all the internals and left the outside alone as it was only going to be used as my workshop espresso machine (one of the groups have been blanked off so i didnt have to pay for the bits and pieces). It does make a great espresso BUT it needs to be on for about an hour and twenty minutes before the temperature is stable. As far as the volumetric controls go, i just use the manual start and stop buttons. I belive you can program the touchpads but i could find no instruction on this, and in the end it doesnt bother me.
    One thing that i may revisit is the outside, all the external panels are stainless steel under the horrible paint except the two sides which are cast aluminium, and so all can be polished if you where inclined to do so. I just couldnt be bothered. Now that i have a Giotto at home, i really like polished stainless to i am somewhat inspired to go back and break out the elbow grease.
    I know everyone has opinions on different machines and brands, but when you use freshly roasted coffee and a good grinder, this machine makes an espresso that i would say is on par with my Giotto which was 15 times the price!

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    Re: Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where no

    Thanks James, interesting food for thought, and good to know someone else here has one if I decide to keep it. Nice to hear about the stainless panels (on yours anyway), mines the same beautiful 80s cream all over and originally intended to get it all stripped and powdercoated, but if theres stainless under there I might leave at least the front in stainless... if I keep it that is (lets not get ahead of ourselves here...). Do you want a cheap two group for spare parts? ;D

    I was curious as to whether the control pad could be programmed, the lack of a program button made me think not but I notice some of the newer Faema pads have Stop/Program on them. Either way I would only be looking for manual use. Warmup time is more of an issue for me as Im only running one element! So I think itd definitely have to be a planned event machine as opposed to a kitchen job.


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    Re: Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where no

    I dont think warm up time would increase drastically (if at all) as the hindrance is heating all the metal not the water - water is in direct contact with element and heats up pretty fast. Whereas the big chunk of metal in the group only has the indirect heat of the water to heat it up.

    Then again I could be wrong :)

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    Re: Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where no

    Greg,

    Im just undergoing a restoration having found a machine (nuova simonelli 2 grp) in a similar way to yours. Im enjoying the restoration process but have also wondered what Im going to do with it long term.

    I have the benefit of having a spot to put it downstairs in the kids rumpus room that is just a flight of stairs away from the kitchen. But it is still a big machine that may continue to need love and attention.

    Have also though of the idea of fixing it up then selling it but the market for 2 group machines doesnt seem great! I think that Id be luck to get my money back if I did that. May donate/sell to my church for them to use to make coffees on Sunday and special events but a 3 group might be better for them.

    But currently just enjoying having a project to work on and looking forward to enjoying the benefits of my labour of love when Ive finished.

    Id like to find a good grinder to match with it but that can wait for a little while.

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    Re: Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where no

    Well the upgrade monster morphed today and turned into the rebuild monster! What started off as a drain of the boiler and a removal of the element just to see how much scale is in there ended up with every brass and copper part soaking in a bin of citric acid solution! :o I was mildly impressed with how little scale there actually was sitting in the bottom of the boiler (pic 1), although every pipe I removed had some in the bottom. Some of the orifices in the group were completely blocked!

    A few questions for those whove been down this path before:

    1) All the fittings bar one unscrewed quite easily - the one that didnt, well it moved easily enough but thats cos the copper just tore! :( How does one go about getting a new fitting attached to the boiler? Im guessing it would need to be brazed...

    2) Im cautious about soaking the gauge in descaler but I dont want to have lots of scale sitting in here when the rest is nice and clean. Any ideas on whether it should be done, and if so, how?

    3) Any idea whether this pump (Fluid-o-tech Rotoflow) is able to draw water from a tank or must it be mains-fed?

    I was impressed how clean the electronics area was (pic 2, in the back of the power supply), which includes multi-turn pots which are (as far as I understand the markings) for calibrating how long each shot button runs for. And while citric acid may not be the best thing for cleaning these things, it sure made quick work of pinkifying all the pipes! (pic 5). At $2 a pop, 5x75g containers from the supermarket cleaned it all for $10.

    Now I just need to work out if Im going to keep it... ::)

    Greg


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    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Re: Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where no

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Pullman link=1223984930/0#9 date=1224926315
    2) Im cautious about soaking the gauge in descaler but I dont want to have lots of scale sitting in here when the rest is nice and clean. Any ideas on whether it should be done, and if so, how?
    Hi Greg,

    Grab a 20-30ml syringe and try flushing through the gauge fittings with this... Probably water at first but if you think there may be scale inside the gauge, then you could try a weak solution of citric acid in warm water and then leave sit for 20-30 minutes. Flush liberally with clean water after this and see if anything has been loosened by the acid. If it looks clean, all is good; if particles are observed then keep repeating the acid wash until nothing is observed when flushing out.

    With the Boiler Fitting, I think youve answered your own question there mate.... Have to grab a new fitting and braze/silver-solder this on to the boiler. I think silver-solder is used more than brazing though as the temperature required is not as high and it still provides for a very strong joint.

    Dont know anything about the pump Im sorry but it looks awfully like a re-badged Procon so you might be in luck..

    All the best mate,
    Mal.

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    Re: Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where no

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Pullman link=1223984930/0#9 date=1224926315
    3) Any idea whether this pump (Fluid-o-tech Rotoflow) is able to draw water from a tank or must it be mains-fed?

    Greg
    The Fluid-o-tech Rotodlow is the same as the pump in my La Cimbali...... and assuming it is the same as / or is the genuine original pump.... then it is strictly mains pressure only!

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    Re: Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where no

    Thanks gents. Ive actually run the pump on gravity feed water and its worked OK but here and there its been noisy (maybe air bubbles, or lack of pressure). Ive got a Gino Rossi to put in its place if necessary, which may or may not be tankable so Im not sure if this is going to help me or not.

    Good idea about the syringe Mal, will have a go at that. As I dont have silver solder or a massive chisel soldering iron, I may have to take it somewhere to get this done (a boilermaker, perhaps?). I presume the same deal for cleaning out the pump? Im just cautious about whether rubber seals belong in citric acid...

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    Re: Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where no

    Greg, methinks the boiler issue is serious.

    Anyway, I had the same problem on my restoration and managed to fix it quite cheaply myself, albeit not pretty.

    See http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1174998951/20 which shows my fix and specifies the CIG solder type etc (food grade) along with the butane propane torch I bought from the local hardware to effect the solder.

    But anyway, if you can find a professional to fix it for a reasonable fee, that might be a better bet in the long run (and much less stressful - it was very tricky to get a pressure seal - it took me several goes).

    Regards

    Richard

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    Re: Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where no

    Yep,

    With brazing or silver-soldering, you need to have an adequate flame for the job.... Lots of copper/brass to sink the heat away? Then you need to use a decent flame to get the brazing/silver-soldering material to flow properly; smaller job, smaller flame. The use of a good quality flux is also essential, pretty well mandatory actually, if you want the finished job to not only look good but result in a strong, long lasting joint.

    Its a lot of fun though, quite enjoy doing all this sort of stuff.... Must be my geek side coming out ::)

    Mal.

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    Senior Member Koffee_Kosmo's Avatar
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    Re: Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where no

    Hi Greg

    When I did my Engineering Apprentiship 30+ years ago
    A welding module was mandatory

    Just a small tip that came from my teacher
    The best way to get a complete seal when brazing is to have a small gap of say 1mm between the two objects so the molten braze contacts all connecting surfaces

    KK

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    Re: Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where no

    Quote Originally Posted by Koffee Kosmo link=1223984930/0#15 date=1224985603
    The best way to get a complete seal when brazing is to have a small gap of say 1mm between the two objects so the molten braze contacts all connecting surfaces
    Not required with decent Silver-Solder sticks and good flux though KK. My engineering background is electrical but naturally we had to cover all the basic engineering modules as well and within that there was one specifically aimed at making high quality electrical joints re: copper to copper, copper to brass, brass to brass, copper to aluminium, etc etc... Put this "paper" knowledge to good use over many years within the Electrical Power Distribution industry and could never help myself getting the hands dirty on a regular basis. ::)

    Anyway, to cut a long story short... All such joints when Silver Soldering were carried out by first giving the surfaces to be joined a thorough clean with a fine wire brush or suitable wet & dry, flux applied to both surfaces and then the two (or more) parts were clamped solidly prior to the application of heat. Naturally, the prime objective here was to attain the lowest possible resistance joint whilst ensuring that maximum strength was also attained (significant forces at play when one is talking about 100s of Megawatts being transmitted).

    Over the years with all of my various hobbies where strong (non-weld) joints were required, Ive always fallen back on this method of jointing because you can achieve such a neat, strong joint without having to revert to the necessity of having access to specialist welding/jointing equipment. The same processes are also used in gunsmithing and armouries all over the world too so that says something for the confidence in the quality and strength of Silver-Soldering done well.... 8-)

    Mal.

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    Re: Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where no

    Getting a bit off topic here, but I found make sure the flux and silver solder match temps. When I used one flux with a higher temp solder the joins were not always good - I think because the flux was close to gone before the solder melted. When I use the correct ones together everything works nicely.

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    Re: Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where no

    Thats not OT Damian.... :)

    Good point mate, forgot to mention that one... ;)

    Mal.

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    Senior Member ozscott's Avatar
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    Re: Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where no

    Luca has made this point before about commercial machines. *I take it obviously, but surely with machines such as FAEMA and similar brands that have been around for years, have seriously heavy groups, and are fully adjustable and (it would seem from my limited testing of my machine not only temp stable through the shots and from shot to shot) dont we have to give some credit to the decent commercial machines?

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    Re: Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where no

    Qualifying my post with no hard data, I think youre right OS, and saying otherwise would probably be taking Lucas argument to the opposite extreme of that which he was trying to counter. I think the point he was making is that commercial doesnt automatically mean exceptional quality - but in some cases it unquestionably does.

    FWIW everythings been descaled now and the boiler is getting a new fitting put on it tomorrow. Im just tossing up whether to get the chassis stripped and re-powdercoated, its pretty good but a couple of spots have flaked off. Oh and how to treat the front, side and rear panels. Im thinking stripping back to stainless where it exists and powdercoating / anodizing the rest.

    And then working out what to do with it.

    Greg


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    Re: Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where no

    Could always have the Boiler Nickel/Chrome plated Greg, then replace the side panels with clear Perspex. With all that nice clean copper tubing under the bonnet now, it would look like a million dollars and be a great show piece. Especially, if you judiciously mounted some bright LEDs in there with all the shiny bits..... Who needs neon lights? 8-)

    Mal.

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    Re: Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where no

    Whats wrong with neon?


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    Senior Member ozscott's Avatar
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    Re: Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where no

    Yes I agree Greg - I understand his point, but it was made in a post showing, ostensibly a well respected brand of commercial machine....hence my well intended comments. There may be people reading this thread that take Lucas comments about commercial machines to apply to the clearly high end commercial machines and that would be a shame.

    Cheers

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    Re: Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where no

    Greg - out of interest - where are you getting the brazing done - and how much approximately did it cost?

    I think this would be very useful information for others - particularly given how easily the torn joint problem can arise.

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    Re: Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where no

    Mal: Sounds nice! Not sure how long the copper will stay looking like this though, I imagine in time itll go back to its old dull appearance. Id intended to get some insulation for the boiler (something youve looked into IIRC). The groups need replating as the descaler seemed to do a bit of dechroming at the same time! So it may still end up more functional than fancy.

    If I keep it that is.

    Slowdown: The place Ive got it at at the moment is called The Forgery in Lonsdale, SA. They were the first people I tried and said they could do it so I didnt go any further but Im sure there are others. I just found them doing a yellowpages search for boilermaker and ended up with some related search. As I havent got it back I dont know what sort of job theyre going to do and thus cant recommend them one way or the other. Initially they didnt seem to know much about food safe stuff but said theyd be using the same silver solder process thats used on water pipes so we all agreed it should be OK. They quoted about $50 initially but thats been revised to $75 as it needs a new fitting (the other one probably isnt going to part nicely with the pipe its presently attached to!). Im not sure if thats a good price or not, Im sure I could do it cheaper myself but Im also not sure whether Id be able to do it watertight myself and may cost just as much to buy all the bits Id need (including the behemoth soldering iron / gas torch). Brazing isnt an option as itll just burn through the copper, it has to be soldered.

    Greg

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    Re: Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where no

    Quote Originally Posted by ozscott link=1223984930/20#23 date=1225625839
    Yes I agree Greg - I understand his point, but it was made in a post showing, ostensibly a well respected brand of commercial machine....hence my well intended comments. *There may be people reading this thread that take Lucas comments about commercial machines to apply to the clearly high end commercial machines and that would be a shame.

    Cheers
    Fair comment.

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    Re: Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where no

    Good one! So simple to track down a boilermaker prepared to take on the job eh (now why did I find it so difficult here in WA - maybe they were all caught up with that boom).

    And not too expensive, at least in the context of extreme machine. I look forward to seeing the eventual piccies of the professional repair.

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    Re: Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where no

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Pullman link=1223984930/20#25 date=1225627676
    They quoted about $50 initially but thats been revised to $75 as it needs a new fitting (the other one probably isnt going to part nicely with the pipe its presently attached to!). Im not sure if thats a good price or not
    Sounds pretty good to me Greg; doubt theyre making much profit on the job when you think about the time for cleaning, setting up and then doing the actual job to a decent standard. Like you say, if you had all the necessary tools and hardware, you couldve given it a go yourself but I can assure you that the tools and consumables would cost you more than $75 to buy, and the job hasnt even been started..... :o

    Mal.

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    Re: Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where no

    Thought Id post progress thus far... well actually I hope its finished. Its taken several weeks to get it done but has worked out fairly well I think.

    After many trips to and from the boilermaker with damaged fittings, incorrect threads, brittle copper on the old pipe and so on, the boilers all fixed up. The groups, steam wand, pressurestat cover and portafilters spent most of the month at the chrome-platers while the side panels were powdercoated satin black and the front and rear panels stripped back. Fortunately most of them were already brushed stainless underneath and it was only the lower half of the back panel that was mild steel and also got a treatment of satin black. The badges got gloss black and will have the Faema detail taken back to metal but havent had time to do that yet. Add the usual gaggle of replacement gaskets, showerscreens, seals and so on from coffeeparts, as well as a pressurestat kit, plus a bit of brasso and elbow grease on the copper parts and hopefully its project completed.

    The irony is that I wont have opportunity to test it! I dont have any way of supplying pressurised filtered water to the machine and after all that descaling (three rounds) I dont want to be pumping mineral-loaded water in when the machine will quite likely sit idle for some time. Plus were in the throes of moving house so the shed is soon to become temporary storage! So maybe in six months Ill get back to giving it a try and finishing off the last details.

    Anyway here are the before and after photos if anyones interested.

    Greg





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    Re: Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where no

    Bewdiful Greg!

    I was starting to worry about your little project as its been so long since we heard.

    Glad to hear that all is well.

    Down with beige!

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    Re: Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where no

    I guess its not quite finished. Still need to do something about the left steam wand, which I think is the remnants of a auto-frother mechanism. I did have ball-jointed cool-touch wands on the agenda too but I guess Ill give the existing one a bit more of a go before I ditch it - my solitary attempt before the strip-down produced milk that more resembled fairy floss than microfoam. So who knows, there may yet be a subsequent instalment!

    Oh yes, and the original question of what do I do with it? remains - hopefully a good regular use for it will come up soon or itll be a shiny piece of dust collector!

  33. #33
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    Re: Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where no

    Excellent work Greg [smiley=thumbsup.gif]. Very impressed and all that lovely stainless steel hiding under the paintwork 8-).... A thing of beauty now mate, to match the quality of those GP Tampers ;)

    Mal.

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    Re: Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where no

    Hi Greg, that looks great. I think the cream colour put me off, and I couldnt see what it was going to become!!!

    Could I ask about the rechroming you got done. How much did it cost? did you need to do anything special for food safety?

    Thanks, Damian.

  35. #35
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    Re: Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where no

    Very nice, mate. A great restoration job, imagine covering brushed stainless with beige paint!

    Im sure a little thought could provide a pressurised water supply, depending on how much of a supply is needed. For instance, I push rainwater through my .5 micron carbon filter with a modified garden sprayer.

    Greg

  36. #36
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Posts
    2,165

    Re: Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where no

    Thanks guys, yeah its hard to imagine stainless not being nice to look at but I guess thems fashions. With a bit of thought Im sure Ill be able to rig some kind of test supply up; I could change to a Procon pump or try to modify the Gino Rossi I got from evilbay to fit presuming it can draw from a tank (GR is a ring clamp, the Faema has a flange fitting). Id prefer to have the option of drawing from a tank rather than relying on a pressurised supply (would you have to adjust the pressure on the pump every time you change from tank to pressurised supply?). Maybe I need to go shopping for a filter...

    Damian: the bill from the metal polishers was about $260 but that included stripping of all the metal panels. I think the chroming component was about $200. I probably wouldnt have bothered as the groups are fairly concealed except they were fairly pitted from the descaling, and figured I may as well get a few other bits tidied up at the same time. Not sure about the food grade implications to be honest but they were chrome plated before and lots of things are so I reckon it must be OK. Also the plating only sticks to outside surfaces, it doesnt run into the holes so it shouldnt affect it too much.



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