Ok, lets have a go at images again:
First one with the Cap removed and the adjustment screw visible, the second one with the Cap on (sorry about the flash!)
Inspired by the many impressive restorations documented here, I've been undergoing my own, having recently acquired a La Cimbali M30 Bistro 2 group machine.
With many thanks to those that have gone before me and shared so much information, I've been able to get almost everything apart, and am in the process of removing a fairly decent amount of scale and grime. As this model is a vibe pump model, it has the plastic water volume measures, with the OPV bleeding back into the chamber - it took me a while to figure out how it worked, and get over my initial impression that it was an ugly tangle, but I've got to admit I've come around to it as a canny design solution.
The reason I'm posting here is to pose a question to the many Cimbali experts about the water inlet / economiser on my boiler. I've been able to get everything else off, but this part is still stuck, and I don't want to force it! In all the schematics, diagrams and photos I've seen so far, there is a valve with two bolts either side of the inlet, attaching this valve so that it has the correct orientation. Mine, however, is does not have those bolts, rather, seems to be threaded itself into the boiler - with attachments for water flow at 12 o'clock and 2 o'clock. I'll try to attach the photos in a subsequent post. My question, however, is if anybody has come across an inlet like this before - and any tips or cautions as to how to remove and clean it? (And then, to get it back on so that it lines up with the other piping?)
In the meantime, I'll try this for photos: photo 1 and photo 2
For any help I am much obliged,
Ok, lets have a go at images again:
First one with the Cap removed and the adjustment screw visible, the second one with the Cap on (sorry about the flash!)
I've worked on similar in the past,I'd be confident enough to tackle the inlet valve.Looks like brass threaded into stainless steel boiler,remove the smaller brass inlets,giving you enough room to fit a decent sized (correct sized) open ender/ (big) spanner or socket (if available).
Anti clockwise rotation,with boiler firmly secured and you should loosen safely,the trick is to ensure any wrench/spanner is correct fitting size.......no slipping allowed!
See how you go,any problems,just post the whole machine to me and I'll sort it out......however,then you may not get it back in a hurry!
Thanks Mick! I've been letting it soak in citric acid for a while - but there seems to be some really hard mineral/scale holding it on. It took a while to get the element out as well...
I've taken the smaller inlets off, and I will persist!
In your experience, is there a washer, gasket or seal in there? I'm kind of amazed that the thread would match up perfectly so that the inlet and hot water out line up as they do.
I'm wondering if perhaps part of the problem could be the liberal use of thread sealer to get it in the right place. I'm also unable to move the adjustment screw yet either. Here's the latest:
Still having fun, at this stage!
Great image of the boiler sitting in the citric acid,great photo!
You could have another go,after the bath,clockwise then counter clockwise..back and forth to break the thread compound grip,then counter clock wise to fully remove your inlet.
Every attempt must ensure a thorough grip with wrench/etc to prevent slippage on your soft brass alloy.
Depending how long you have had it in the bath...should make it easier to break the seal...eventually.
The copper piping is very adjustable to accommodate re fitment ,and always use some bee's wax to aid reconnection of pipework (ferrous or non) ,especially fine threading.
Last edited by mulquemi; 13th May 2015 at 03:08 PM.
I guess you might be able to make out some of the slight marks I've already made on the brass... Great suggestion with the bee's wax! I actually have a beehive, and have been running out of ideas of what to do with the wax - there are only so many candles and furniture polish you can make!
It is free! Finally got it out - boy was it in tight... It took a lot of convincing.
However, it was going perhaps a little too well, as there have been a couple of setbacks. Hopefully nothing patience (and perhaps some advice) won't solve. Good news - all my new seals and bits from coffee parts arrived, which was great. Bad news - the gaskets for the HX and element were out of stock, so I'll just have to wait!
But, in the meantime, I've been putting back together as much as I can, and have found a couple of new obstacles. First, the new pressurestat that I'm putting in has a much shorter thread than the old one, but that should be a simple fix of bending the copper pipe a little to reach - only needs about 1.5 - 2 cm to get there.
Second, I was re-attaching the pressure gauge, and slowly making sure the connection was snug, when I hear a little crack. The fitting on the end of the pipe cracked. BUMMER. I had a closer look, and tried to see what the damage was and even more of the fitting crumbled under my fingers. They really do get quite fragile!
Anyway, I've got the pics below to give an idea - I think I'm game to try and solder on a new fitting - I just don't know what type or where to get one. It is 6mm external diameter copper pipe, and the fitting has a smaller hole in the end, and a rim for a gasket where it joins the gauge. Does anybody have any ideas? I'm wondering if that might be replaced with the 'sleeve' - coffeeparts number 552273-6.
Well done with the strip down so far,copper is amazing material to use and work with!
Your failed end,most probably,was next to go anyway.....looks like you have enough pipe length to work with,for resoldering the coffee parts end,I enjoy the soldering part,nice soft flame with 15% silver solder,just great.
Your finished project will be top standard,with your progress so far.
Please remember the refurbished machine will have been a "labour of love" .
I've seen where owners of similar determined projects,try to reclaim both parts /labour cost with a excessive selling price!
Usually the asking price is way over what is expected!
Unless you intend keeping your rebuilt machine,keep this in mind when selling.
Remember,this was kindly meant!
Last edited by mulquemi; 20th May 2015 at 09:27 PM. Reason: SPELLING
Cheers! This machine is a labour of love - the only thing I'm looking to get back from it is some good coffee for me and my friends! As far as the labour I've put in, I prefer to think of it as therapy - a nice way to unwind and solve mechanical problems
Thanks! That site is really helpful - I learnt a lot!
As a bit of an update about the economiser valve (in case anybody else has a similar one and needs some info) once it came out and got clean, it now screws in an extra half turn, and sits snug against the boiler - upside down. However, with a gasket (or two?) it should line up in the right spot (I borrowed one off the pressure release valve to check). So - all is going well.
In other rebuild news, this model has two vibe pumps rather than a rotary - and one had seized (and the other one I could get moving, but it was also pretty dirty when I took it apart. Lots of elbow grease later - I've cleaned up and rebuilt them - but yet to test - keep you posted!
Good to know all is going well with your machine, I have a LaCimbali as well, commercial unit, mine also came with an odd group handle, if this suits your machine, it's yours for the cost of postage.
Thanks very much for the offer, but just judging by the collars, I'm not sure that it would fit in my machine. I've got the stock standard cimbali handles, with the screw in spouts, that take a 58mm basket, and an extra one that came with the machine, which I might look into getting machined out... This looks really interesting, though - especially the edge on the basket, which seems like it would need a special group seal as it doesn't fold over - or perhaps it works with the tapered cimbali seals!
It's been great seeing how many cimbalis are out there living on! I popped into the little Cimbali/Faema office in North Melbourne, near the vic markets the other day to ask about parts, but the guy wasn't able to help, and said I needed to talk with coffex as they are the Vic distributor. Most surprisingly, he was a bit annoyed that the machines had been built so well, because he wasn't selling enough new ones! What model do you have? Any tricks you've found for getting great coffee out of it?
Another update! My progress has slowed down a bit waiting for parts, but when they arrive, things should start to happen pretty quickly.
First, the pipes have been adjusted to fit the new p/stat and that's all looking good - nice and clean! The old one had seized up. (But, on the other hand, I found out that the safety pressure vent works well...)
The steam wand and screw have been disassembled and cleaned, with new o-rings and gasket ready to go.
After trying to get a new copper sleeve/olive/shoulder/whatever I finally found a lovely guy at ENZED (hope it's ok to name them) who just took it from me, and came back 15 minutes later with the whole thing fixed. Great job too - and although I didn't get the chance to learn to silver solder, he charged me $15 for the parts and time - which is half the cost of getting the silver solder and flux needed for the job. So, a big thanks to Laurence!
Finally, I've taken the chance to do a job that is boring, but hopefully saves me hurting myself later - which is to de-burr a number of the stainless panels - some are quite sharp - not a problem when the machine is all assembled, but I've already given myself one thin little cut cleaning the inside of the panels, so hopefully it won't happen again!
What excellent service from the ENZED guys . Gotta hand it to 'em with their very professional and helpful outlook; not unlike our highly esteemed Site Sponsors when you think about it....
Yep! Very happy with the ENZED guys - not the first place I called, but very pleased with the outcome!
The missing parts I needed arrived on Friday, so this weekend has been fun, putting everything together, and testing. However, the problems still outweigh the solutions at the moment. Really testing my patience!
First, the seals all went on, and I tested if the boiler is watertight and the rebuilt vibe pumps worked - after a few short turns of the spanner, all was good! The pumps were no longer seized, the boiler filled and everything was going well.
So, now to test the heating element. Click - then blackness. The circuit breaker tripped. Bummer.
I couldn't figure out where I had gone wrong. Flicked the breaker back on, and check the wiring for loose, broken, worn or otherwise faulty wiring. Seems fine. Try again... Nope. Tripped again.
So, was the element - which had been working before the tear-down, now blown? I drained the boiler and pulled it out. Perhaps I had gotten a bit of water or citric acid in the wrong end while cleaning it, so I put it in a clean empty oven to dry for two hours. The next day, I popped the element back in, tightened away, and tried again. SUCCESS! The water started to heat.
As the water was heating I checked again for leaks. All good. I tested the vibe pumps again. Uh oh. One was not working - only trace amounts of steam were coming out of the group... It worked when it was cold, what changed? The other one was working fine. I put some more water through and tested the 3 way with a blind basket. Also good. Then I looked around the back, and saw a growing puddle of water. The working pump was leaking - not from either end, but from inside. I guess the amount of corrosion was terminal, and the pressure of the hot water in the hx was pushing back and leaking somewhere. I think this might also be the problem with the other pump - not a leak, but just poor pressure, unable to overcome the pressure in the exchanger. Perhaps...
Before I got to thinking to hard about this, I noticed the pressure meter was reading about 1.5 bar - so I dropped the pump issue and waited for the pstat to click on. 1.6 bar... 1.7 bar... the safety was beginning to hiss... still climbing... So I pulled the power. One problem fixed (grounded element) but two new ones (pstat and pumps).
I double checked all the wiring, all the connections... and tried again. Once again, the pressure built too high. I lowered the screw on the pstat further. Still no good. Finally, I let it cool and thought I better pull of the pstat and check the switch with my multimeter. Once I got the pipe off, I checked it too, by blowing on one end. It was blocked. Aha! A second descale in a pot of boiling citric acid, and a good poke with a pipe cleaner and then finally, I blew out a few nice chucks of mineral deposit. After further soaking and cleaning, back on, and presto! The pstat does work, and I got the machine idling around 0.9 bar. Super! Hot water and steam going well, but coffee? Out the question with these pumps. Listening in, I could also her a bit of a hiss from somewhere around the boiler inlet.
So, new pumps of the way, and plans to pull and better seal some fittings tomorrow. Getting closer - and hope that this is giving a little more info for anybody else doing this - make sure you double check all de-scaled pipes of blockages!
Doing great there Ash....
Loving the running commentary...
Good to know you are getting somewhere,be good to see some more pictures,may I look at your failed pump photos?,most unusual to leak like that.Possibly a o ring let go inside,I've found them so reliable,usually just need a clean and they are off again ,running.
Thanks Mick and Mal - I'm a little surprised about the pumps too, they're such brilliantly simple devices. I've yet to take photos of the leak while running, but below is the pump when I took it apart. The seals and o-rings are pretty shot, and the springs rusty, the pump shuttle corroded and the assembly also pitted with corrosion. Rather than any specific point of failure, I think they might have to be pronounced dead from a thousand cuts... From the boiler number, I think this is a 1989 machine, and I guess after 26 years, perhaps the pumps could be replaced. However, once the new ones come and the old ones are out - happy to post to anybody that is more stubborn than me and wants to get them running again - or salvage parts...
Here's the pump in action - look right? If you look closer, it's not really, the top is actually wet (you can sort of make out the meniscus on the left...)
Also, when I took the pump out, a considerable amount of water came out of the housing...
Having to do something about this, it did pass through my mind to think about switching to a rotary... But I couldn't really justify the price - and trying to figure out how to change the dosing electronics would be nightmare... As it stands, the cost of replacing two pumps is the best option - and I would also think lowers the wattage - but this point is basically moot, given the wattage of the element.
While I understand rotary pumps are more reliable, there is also the question of redundancy - if one vibe pump fails, then you're one group down, but not out of the game!
Although I've made my choice now, if I were to salvage some bits and pieces, rather than have to buy them, I would have to think again...
New pumps in. All seems to be working. Better grind some coffee...
Didn't think to grab my phone for the first shot - here's the second! perhaps a bit fast, but already tasted a clear step up from my old machine...
Things are looking up!
Now to double check for any tiny leaks, give the boiler a little insulation, and get the side panels on...
Lovely looking shot there Ash....
Definitely worth all the hard work, eh...
How far around are you having to rotate the Group Handle to lock it in properly?
Looks from the photo as if you've got it rotated around a fair bit...
Yep, that handle is pretty worn, sitting at about 2 o'clock. I've got one spacer in there, but need to pick up another one... I thought it was OK, but the give in the seal changes a fair bit once it's up to temp!
Another interesting query - yesterday, I let the machine idle on for a while, and after an hour or so of inactivity, one group, when I purged some water through the hx nothing came out for a while, then finally water came through. The other is fine, spitting out water and a bit of steam right away. I think there's something going on, perhaps water is being forced back out somewhere as it gets hotter in the hx, or it might be the group solenoid... I'll take some time to check it all a bit more today. Has anybody seen anything like this before?
Most likely cause is a plugged jet or jet filter. Part numbers 700230 and 700221 on this page: Coffee Parts | La Cimbali Spare Parts - Group Head, Solenoids and Filter Baskets
Java "Cimba!" phile
Toys! I must have new toys!!!
Cheers Javaphile! I'm going to see if the problem persists today, and then I'll check those jets and filters. It's a strange one - from what I could tell yesterday, it doesn't seem to be a blockage, it just seems that the HX isn't full of water. However, not a problem so far today after 30 minutes idle... But I'll keep checking!
On a much more positive note, the first couple of coffees today have been great - but I'm still re-adjusting to commercial steam power - I keep overshooting on temp!
Well, I think I may have figured it out!
After watching the brew solenoid closely to see if there was a very slow leak, nothing happened... So I thought to check the OPV. Using my very makeshift collector to re-direct the return pipe, and what do I find? A very slow drip! So, when it's cool, I'll have a closer look at the OPV, and pop a new seal in - hopefully that fixes it!
Well! It's been an up and down week!
The new seal in the OPV for the left group got the machine all fixed, and working great over the weekend. Pumped out a good number of coffees over the weekend - and the machine was awesome. Didn't break a sweat. Everything worked! The pumps are fixed, I got a few more little shims and the handles are both sitting at 12:30. Very happy camper!
And then today - I turned it on and noticed after a few shots a little puddle on the bench, at the back of the machine. Another leak. Again from the troublesome left group. This time, it seems to be the braided hose running from the pump to the group. I've had a look and put a new seal in, but I think the hose might be toast. Has anybody else had these braided hoses leak out of the crimp? Is there any solution, or do I just have to get a new hose?
Just when I thought I'd nailed it! Hopefully, this is the last piece in the puzzle.
Also - I just wanted to also give a big thanks to everybody that's been following my little project, and especially those that have helped out!
So, after a little winter break to Singapore and India, I'm back with the pesky leaking hose.
Incidentally, the Singapore cafe scene is starting to heat up - with a few 'Melbourne Style' cafes popping up in the trendiest neighbourhoods. Had a flat white and I can't quite put my finger on the taste - the milk was so creamy and thick that the coffee was quite hidden.
Anyway, back in cold, grey Melbourne, I pulled the hose out and looked to see if anybody supplied braided hose with 1/8 bsp female ends, around 53 cm long. Nobody seems to. Another dead end. So, back down to ENZED, and our man down there once again saved the day. Took the old crimp off, kept the end, and put a new, heavier stainless crimp on. Back on the machine to test it out... And it's good. For about 10 minutes. Then, the other hose starts to leak! So, back the next day to have the same operation done. The hoses are about 2cm shorter, but still just long enough, and the machine is going along well. Squeezed out some great lattes this morning. (I guess I better but the panels back on...)
I've also got it running off a bucket with a little membrane pump, which is great, because there wasn't any good place in our house where I could plumb it in without annoyance. Although - I'm not sure if I need to put a check valve in somewhere. I'm running from: bucket > membrane pump > filter > machine.
Will also be sourcing some rainwater from a tank in the Otways to run it off... hopefully nice and soft!
Will post some pics of the finished machine soon!
Ok! Here's a pic of the machine up and running! After a long time looking for a name, it has been christened Gloppo (don't ask why, It just stuck)
The cream panels and group covers were originally grey, but they were a bit drab, so after a long while deciding on a new colour, I picked cream, as it softened the brutal tank like aesthetic (a little). I've already scratched it a bit moving the machine around (stainless hoses are quite abrasive). Sadly, I can't find a good place to put it in the kitchen in our rental, without being a major hazard, so it's next door, in the laundry.
Still trying to get the volumetric probes set right- you can't measure the water that comes out without a loaded PF in place, but I'm getting close.
I've lagged the boiler with Insulbrite, and that and a good tray of cups on top do help keep the idle rate lower.
It's been interesting playing with the dose - the baskets will hold up to 22 grams and I was dosing at 18-20 but have gone down to a finer grind and a 16-17 gram dose and seeing how the machine responds. I know this is really dependent on the roast, but I'm interested to hear what other Cimbali owners have found regarding dose!
Steaming is via a 4 hole tip, and tricky with small amounts - but I'm intent on mastering technique rather than getting a new tip.
Since the finishing touches, I've been inviting lots of friends around on Sunday mornings and putting it through its places - and it's holding up like a champ.
Hopefully I can stretch many more years of service out of it!
A thing of beauty Ash, and a credit to you mate...
That looks awesome, well done! I like the cream, gives it a modern lift while remaining retro.
On my previous machine the tip had 4 holes at an outward angle that were 2mm in diameter. I blocked them and re drilled at 1mm, made steaming so easy. Slower than the original (which was insanely fast) but still plenty quick.