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Thread: La Cimbali Junior Type R restoration

  1. #1
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    Question La Cimbali Junior Type R restoration

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hello CoffeeSnobs!

    A long time reader in the dark. Over the past couple years I've grown to love working with coffee, grinders and machines and im finally here with real questions. I have done basic restores of vintage single boilers: first an 80s German-version Saeco Aroma, then i found I 1970s KRUPS/Gaggia Baby in beautiful white for $5. Both are almost like new now! But both I did with no help, which definitely wasn't the best route... I learned A LOT though, and had to learn how people solved this more dramatic problems (like how easily brass tubes break, and what to do after that...)

    But now I have bigger fish to fry and I really need some help to make sure I dont wreck my prize. I found this La Cimbali Type R on craigslist, and ended up scooping it for the bargain price of $150. She listed the steam as not working, but so far... so good. The machine works! But not without its problems.



    I've already started cleaning what I can get to without a full disassembly... should have snapped one right at the start! Trust me, there was way more black, green and red. Nothing a brass brush/dezcal couldnt handle so far though. Made me excited when I got the brew head all sparkly and back on!



    The potential is definitely there!




    I have found really helpful threads scattered around the net (such as : https://coffeesnobs.com.au/brewing-e...unior-r-2.html ) but I still need some help. This model is heavily under-documented and predates the S/1, mid to late 90s i believe. Very simple manual function, the full modern machine is there sans extra electronics. A vibe pump and a reservoir make it a little different than what most Cimbalis people are dealing with though, and make it perfect for me to work on. I've seen most of this stuff in simpler machines.

    1) Leaking 3-way solenoid. Very little info on the solenoid to correctly identify it... At brew pressure, the solenoid leaks at a few points around the coil and around the securing night before the drain pipe. The top nut is glued on with rust and spins the internal column when cranked, making it feel impossible to remove. The solenoid body can be manipulated to get to the hex screws homding it to the group head. Since I cant open it so far, I ordered a whole new valve guide and body to replace. My question i suppose is how likely is it that a valve guide "breaks"? Should I just work hard to get that top nut off and replace the coil? I am resisting spraying a chemical rust release as I dont want that nead anything Ill intake, but I guess I would give it a full clean once its off... For now the complete replacement is on the way and can be returned if I don't need it.

    LEAKS ARE WHERE THE SCALE BUILDUP IS! Some on backside, and also leaks from top nut.




    2) Many brass screw joints are locked together by calcium and scale, particularly those directly attached to the boiler. While I would love to do a full restore, I'd rather have a working machine. I'm afraid of the condition of the brass under these monstrous crystal growths (especially due to the color of rust coming through) and am hesitant to descale them with the fear that they will be hard to fully seal again. Am I crazy? Should I just descale and tape?





    Otherwise, there is just rust and dirt... not too bad for the age! A few things to replace here and there, but not points of contention. They will happen over time. Someone at some point cared for this thing on its journey. I have a lot of plans for cosmetics, but as my first time working inside a big machine like this, I really appreciate the help.
    Last edited by Bachonga; 9th July 2019 at 07:15 AM.

  2. #2
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    I have this machine, but it is badged as a Faema e98 compact. Same electrical setup with the two rotary switches on the front base.
    The only part to have failed on my machine has been the brew solenoid. If it was me, on your machine I would remove and replace the entire solenoid, then maybe descale the original and hang onto it as a spare. Given the amount of scale at the joints of your pipework Im guessing that solenoid is probably gummed up inside. You mentioned you bought this on Craigslist, Im guessing you are in the US? Is your machine running on 110V?
    Given my machine is running on 240V my setup is possibly different to yours. For what its worth my brew solenoid was a Sirai brand [Sirai Type ZA32A, V220-240 Hz 50] but I replaced it with a Parker. I feel maybe the Parker sticks a little more than the Sirai but it doesn't really effect the functionality and it reminds me to keep up with the back flushing.
    As for the pipe joins with the scale and rust, those joins should be just copper and brass components, I'm not sure where the rust would be coming from. Looking at the photos Id say a full rebuild really needs to be undertaken. All the leaking joins need to be cleaned and re seated or they will continue to leak and cause problems down the track.
    Good luck with the project. Once it is up and running the machine is a very dependable one and capable of making great coffee.

  3. #3
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    Great. This sounds strikingly similar, especially since the solenoid is the only broken part. It is 120v though.
    Here's the (newly buffed) front panel showing Type R.





    Thank you for your experience Aaron! Portafilter to check pressure and brew solenoid en route, and I will definitely scour for "e98 compact."

    And for the threads, that's what I found weird as well. But I started to clean off the crystals and it doesnt seem tooo bad. I have loosened all the top-side fittings except the hot water tap, which is proving to require a lot of force. My plan is to apply some dezcal daily and give them a twist; if it doesn't work, keep applying dezcal daily until I can get it to budge.

  4. #4
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    Heat is a great persuader, Hit it with a gas torch (carefully) heat the fitting then carefully apply some force with a correctly sized spanner. It might take a few goes but the cycle of hot and cold helps to fracture the scale.

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    Thats a great suggestion and will give it a try as soon as I get better access to the insides! I havent heard that tip before.

    Aaron, do you know what parker solenoid you chose? Obviously yours is 220-240v, but the wattage is what I was more concerned with. I made sure to buy a conical valve to fit the fitted brass tube connection, but couldnt tell at all if it was 9w or 24w. Went with 9. Also could not tell if the OEM solenoid was a "lucifer". By the looks it was an Italian company that is neither parker or lucifer, but I can find 0 information on the one I have.

  6. #6
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    Because info is so split up across websites on this specific machine, I will post any links im using. The one below has some great info and awesome clean-up pictures. I had planned to paint my frame white as well!

    https://www.home-barista.com/espress...lp-t31532.html

  7. #7
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    Aaron, I just gave a go at the torch on the fitting. Didnt budge this time but I'll keep hitting it a few times a day when I have spare minutes. Any advice to an approx heat? I got it to just about where I couldnt touch it, was scared to go much above that. Don't know where all the o-rings are yet...

  8. #8
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    Hotter than that, Heat until it smokes but don't let it get much beyond a very dull red hot.
    pipe joins are generally metal to metal, with no gasket.
    Try giving it a few sharp taps when its hot to break up the scale.
    Last edited by Aaron; 10th July 2019 at 12:40 PM.

  9. #9
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    For the solenoid, take a look at the coffee parts diagrams for Faema and La Cimbali:
    they give model numbers for Parker and Lucifer solenoids - 240 and 110V
    Attached Images Attached Images
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  10. #10
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    A much larger collection of diagrams and listing of parts for specific machines can be found here.


    Java "More data!" phile
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aaron View Post
    For the solenoid, take a look at the coffee parts diagrams for Faema and La Cimbali:
    they give model numbers for Parker and Lucifer solenoids - 240 and 110V
    Unfortunately this model predates those diagrams I believe. The brand on the solenoid is SCEM, as seen above.
    According to the diagrams I did get a proper replacement though, and I guess I'll find out if the old valve fits the Parker soon enough!

    I really appreciate the help with the diagnostics and can't wait to post the progress. And I'll get around to posting my older machines soon!

  12. #12
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    FYI only the very first pic you linked to shows up. Now that you have picture posting permissions it would be a good thing to upload them directly to here.


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  13. #13
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    What a shame I can't edit the post. Is there a 24 hour limit here? Also, the photo-uploader on site kept flipping and rotating... Let's see if this new site works.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bachonga View Post
    Hello CoffeeSnobs!

    A long time reader in the dark. Over the past couple years I've grown to love working with coffee, grinders and machines and im finally here with real questions. I have done basic restores of vintage single boilers: first an 80s German-version Saeco Aroma, then i found I 1970s KRUPS/Gaggia Baby in beautiful white for $5. Both are almost like new now! But both I did with no help, which definitely wasn't the best route... I learned A LOT though, and had to learn how people solved this more dramatic problems (like how easily brass tubes break, and what to do after that...)

    But now I have bigger fish to fry and I really need some help to make sure I dont wreck my prize. I found this La Cimbali Type R on craigslist, and ended up scooping it for the bargain price of $150. She listed the steam as not working, but so far... so good. The machine works! But not without its problems.



    I've already started cleaning what I can get to without a full disassembly... should have snapped one right at the start! Trust me, there was way more black, green and red. Nothing a brass brush/dezcal couldnt handle so far though. Made me excited when I got the brew head all sparkly and back on!



    Cleaned the side of the boiler. The potential is definitely there!





    I have found really helpful threads scattered around the net (such as : https://coffeesnobs.com.au/brewing-e...unior-r-2.html ) but I still need some help. This model is heavily under-documented and predates the S/1, mid to late 90s i believe. Very simple manual function, the full modern machine is there sans extra electronics. A vibe pump and a reservoir make it a little different than what most Cimbalis people are dealing with though, and make it perfect for me to work on. I've seen most of this stuff in simpler machines.

    1) Leaking 3-way solenoid. Very little info on the solenoid to correctly identify it... At brew pressure, the solenoid leaks at a few points around the coil and around the securing night before the drain pipe. The top nut is glued on with rust and spins the internal column when cranked, making it feel impossible to remove. The solenoid body can be manipulated to get to the hex screws homding it to the group head. Since I cant open it so far, I ordered a whole new valve guide and body to replace. My question i suppose is how likely is it that a valve guide "breaks"? Should I just work hard to get that top nut off and replace the coil? I am resisting spraying a chemical rust release as I dont want that nead anything Ill intake, but I guess I would give it a full clean once its off... For now the complete replacement is on the way and can be returned if I don't need it.

    LEAKS ARE WHERE THE SCALE BUILDUP IS! Some on backside, and also leaks from top nut.





    2) Many brass screw joints are locked together by calcium and scale, particularly those directly attached to the boiler. While I would love to do a full restore, I'd rather have a working machine. I'm afraid of the condition of the brass under these monstrous crystal growths (especially due to the color of rust coming through) and am hesitant to descale them with the fear that they will be hard to fully seal again. Am I crazy? Should I just descale and tape?





    Otherwise, there is just rust and dirt... not too bad for the age! A few things to replace here and there, but not points of contention. They will happen over time. Someone at some point cared for this thing on its journey. I have a lot of plans for cosmetics, but as my first time working inside a big machine like this, I really appreciate the help.
    Last edited by Bachonga; 11th July 2019 at 07:32 AM.

  14. #14
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    Faceplate with Model


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    Looks like the pictures are working for me! I will continue.

    So today I replaced the brew solenoid; Parker ZB09 110-120v 9w is a fit. Looks like the old valve guide would fit this Parker coil, but I'm just gonna stick with a new valve as well.




    Unforunately, a shipping mistake made it so I cannot use a PF gauge yet. I am pretty positive the pressure is 10bar+. It's pushing out coffee, but the flow looks high and the coffee is definitely more of a strong coffee than espresso. Some crema but not what we are looking for. I'll have to wait a couple days to find out.

    As a result I am already preparing to adjust the OPV. However, whoever did the work last used teflon to tape the adjustment screw in... its proving very hard to turn, and is actually turning the entire OPV at the adjoining T-connector rather than moving the adjustment screw. I looked through the diagrams, but none so far show the OPV itself... I assume this is because many of the new models are rotary pumps rather than vibe.




    My question is whether this entire OPV piece just unscrews from the T? It budged a bit when I tried to adjust the screw, but then became very hard to turn. Since there is no diagram, I do not know if it is supposed to come apart. You can tell I'm trying to be very careful... In my past machines, breaks were a total pain and sucked money out of upgrades.

    If it can come apart, I'll do that before gripping the OPV to try to turn the adjustment screw loose. Otherwise I'll start to look at more sensitive options.

    (P.S. Cleaned a little brass to get an idea of how good everything will look... day by day.... !)




    Thanks a lot you guys. I am really happy I signed up! Java, I have read many of your posts! You're a good man, with a great brain. A pleasure to finally be talking.
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  16. #16
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    Good to see you figured out a way to get pictures up Bachonga. However we really do strongly encourage people to upload directly to here as one of the hard learned lessons over time is that picture hosting sites regularly change their addressing structure and as a result all the previous links break and the pictures on sites that had linked to them disappear with no warning.

    In case you haven't seen them there's a couple of threads about posting pictures on here you may find helpful:
    https://coffeesnobs.com.au/off-topic...-sideways.html
    https://coffeesnobs.com.au/off-topic...e-posting.html


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  17. #17
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    Got the next small load of parts and will be posting some update pictures once the OPV is redialed.

    Speaking of OPV (expansion valve), I found this thread: https://www.home-barista.com/espress...ng-t31644.html


    With this picture:
    18159_photo.jpg

    I had to look through a lot of rebuilds to find my exact one. Seems like they switched to a different one pretty quick. As soon as I saw the threads, I gave a push and screwed mine right off.

    Anyway, I took mine apart and it might be missing something... that metal bit inbetween the spring and the the valve screw (far right).

    It seemed to be working before... and doesn't look critical except for spacing. If anyone knows if it has a real function it would be much appreciated.
    Gonna give it a good clean and get it back on tomorrow to see how its working.

    EDIT - Not planning to if everything is working, but a possible replacement that may open up the ability to add a brew pressure gauge: http://www.cafeparts.com/10-Bar-Expa.../Product/12612
    Interesting that it says rated for only 10bar max though.
    Last edited by Bachonga; 17th July 2019 at 04:09 AM.

  18. #18
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    wondering how this restoration is coming along?

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aaron View Post
    wondering how this restoration is coming along?
    Amazing! Thanks for asking Aaron! I wish I had more time to post pictures along the way, but I'm almost done! Through the existing threads and the help I got here, I had everything I needed. I am SO happy it was a La Cimbali as they have proven what others have said... so simple, so straightforward. Perfect first machine if you want to get inside.

    However, there is 1 last piece I can't figure out: the cartrige removal from the group body.

    20190801_225604.jpg

    I see the diagrams (cafe parts, junior m21 group), how the cartridge holder seperates first to allow the cartridge off. But mine is glued together by time, and im wondering if anyone had any tips or specific instructions, even if only on how to get a perfectly clean cartridge holder off. Should it just slide right off, or should a twist be involved?

    I have a strong feeling lime is holding it tightly together but at least this might be able to be ignored for a while at the worst case.

    Everything else is spotless! Im applying paint to the frame this weekend and should be done with the rebuild sometime next week.
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  20. #20
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    Another question I have unconfirmed is where I can add a brew pressure gauge. Originally I was thinking to swap the OPV to one with an additional port, but the price is too high for such a minimal addition (about $150 usd for just the OPV). Ill only do it if my OPV isnt preforming and meeds to be replaced anyway (and maybe not even then... hard to beat $40 to plug n play).

    I have seen some people add a T-fitting after the pump. This is my plan, as everything is the original brass tubes except for the stainless steel braid from the pump to the first brass T. I was wondering, does anyone know if there are any problems to getting a correct brew pressure reading through this placement?

    Thanks again coffeesnobs
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  21. #21
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    However, there is 1 last piece I can't figure out: the cartrige removal from the group body.

    20190801_225604.jpg

    I see the diagrams (cafe parts, junior m21 group), how the cartridge holder seperates first to allow the cartridge off. But mine is glued together by time, and im wondering if anyone had any tips or specific instructions, even if only on how to get a perfectly clean cartridge holder off. Should it just slide right off, or should a twist be involved?

    I have a strong feeling lime is holding it tightly together but at least this might be able to be ignored for a while at the worst case.

    Everything else is spotless! Im applying paint to the frame this weekend and should be done with the rebuild sometime next week.
    20190802_161655.jpg

    Got it!

    You see, why I didnt post much was exactly this reason: most of the problems solved themselves with a little daily action and time (and correctly sized spanners!).

    Stuck joints I wrapped in paper towels soaled with citric acid/dezcal, re-wetting whenever I remembered. Never needed heat, although I was happy to know I could resort to it. Some of these hadnt been unscrewed in 20 years, no doubt (after cleaning, i found the heat elemented dated 1994). But simple solutions worked even for these spots.

    One by one things have worked out as long as I didn't force it. For the past 2 days I have been soaking the group head, switching between a bottle prescribed crockpot of Cafiza and a room temp 8ish% citric acid bath. Each day I gave a tug to the cartridge, and today, after waiting and basically saying what will be will be, it popped off.

    20ish years of Coffee Oil residue in a 4liter bath of Cafiza:
    20190802_160936.jpg

    Just a message to all you out there getting started... I know the engines are revving to do things now and have it done by x day, but be persistant rather than forceful. I'm glad I gave up on an internal timeline and have let things flow.

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    Hellooo coffeesnobs. Almost done! Paint is drying this weekend and pictures should be up next week. Caaaan't wait, the paint drying is a real excercise... everything else is ready.

    I had 2 questions if anyone can help. Nothing critical, but I cant find solid answers.

    1) Brew pressure gauge. Can I hook it up to a t-fitting right after the pump and get an accurate bar reading? Are there any disadvantages or reading differences than somewhere closer to the brewhead? So far I think itll be perfect, but I won't know for sure till its all set up.

    2) Stainless steel cartridge (heat exchanger). As seen in the picture above, mine has some pitting and now has a copper layer on portions and over the pits after the citric bath. Ive seen some people's go full copper. I understand this to be purely asthetic. (Correct?) Yet these same people buy a new cartridge and sometimes cartridge holder. Is there any good reason? I am totally happy keeping this one, but am also willing to spend $60 if will actually improve the brew, my health, or make the machine maintenance easier.

    Thanks again to all you!

  23. #23
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    Okay, I'm still waiting for a few screws and bolts from china, and 1 seal that should arrive tomorrow. But for now, I leave you with this!

    20190819_122831.jpg
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  24. #24
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    Looking good!


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  25. #25
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    Great work. I have never tried to instal a brew gauge so im sorry I can't help you on that. I have read posts where people say that being too close to the pump can cause the needle to flicker rather than give a solid reading. I have also read this can be lessened by adding a coil of copper pipe between the T and the gauge to help even out the reading

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    Helllllo coffeesnobs!

    I finished a few weeks ago, but I've been terribly busy. In the meantime I got a Fiorenzato T-80, which was a major upgrade from my Rocky. Still trying to genius a way to make it reliably stepless, but luckily the steps are tight.

    I really put a lot of work into this in my spare time, and I am beyond satisfied with my work!! This is way better than I thought I could do on my first attempt, and I welcome anything I've missed or questions as to how I did what. I want to share info and learn what I did wrong (or what I can do better), even if I love the result.

    20190816_185932.jpg

    20190819_153545.jpg

    20190819_164843.jpg

    20190820_102840.jpg

    20191008_162409.jpg


    This baby has been in use at least 3x a day for the last 3 weeks and I can tell anyone that this is an easy car to drive. The steam wand is a bit out of control, but upon swapping on a single tip from my a friend's Expobar. It's much slower on the heat, and I can tell that a two hole tip will do WONDERS.

    My only problem so far is getting the water distribution on the screen to even out. I've tried tightening and untightening, but on my pucks I can always see 4-6 fairly distinct points of entry. Not EVERYTIME, sometimes the puck comes out perfect... so I know I can use more practice. But if anyone has suggestions, I am very open to trying anything.

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    To sum up the procedures I did:

    1)Full machine disassembly, cleaning and reassembly.

    2) Replaced vintage ulka pump with 110v Ulka EX4 (I was told ex4 has reduced noise, and builds pressure more slowly. side benefit noted by some may be a degree of pre-infusion as pressure builds. wish it was easy to swap the ex5 in and see the difference... maybe on a very free day)

    3) Added "Pulsor for QM67"

    I'm not exactly sure where I stumbled on this bit... some amazing and experimenting genius no doubt. Basically this cheap part attaches to the pump in Andreja machines to reduce the noise of the pump. It seems like it just creates a plastic wall to absorb the vibration before it reaches the steel braid, allowing for less shaking everywhere. Gotta say, between this and the EX4, my machine has become incredibly quiet. Almost silent if I properly cushion the water reservoir and keep things from touching inside. I will try to take a video for comparison to my other pump machines. As a reference, previously it was unsure what was worse, the machine or the grinder. Maybe the grinder by a bit. Now it is extremely clearly the grinder. It's sounds like a jet engine next to the Cimbali.

    4) Added brew pressure gauge at t-fitting just after the Pulsor/pump.

    5) Painted the frame (wire brushed, sanded, primed, 2-3 coats color, clear coat, sand + buff)

    6) Bought replacement U-nuts and housing screws, using stainless steel whenever possible.


    To do:

    1) Find a double scale manometer that can fit to replace OEM cimbali gauge (which only reads boiler).

    2) Run OPV outlet (unheated water) back to the reservoir

    3) New steam tip (1 or 2 hole), or possibly replace entire steam arm with La Spaziale 235mm.
    3a) Dial in boiler pressure with new steam tip/wand
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    I found a video of the noise I took to show a friend!

    It's not easy to tell but hear by how much, but I think the difference even in the video is night and day. Note that I used a blind filter here.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRkVTpPPOTw
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  29. #29
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    Very nice. Are you doing a cooling flush before pulling your shot? If not the overheated water can cause the puck disturbances you're describing. Cimbalis are well known for over heated groupheads after more than even just a few minutes of sitting. Before locking in the portafilter run some water through the grouphead until the water stops dancing, turn the water off, then lock the portafilter in and immediately pull the shot.


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    This is something I have been trying to learn. I followed the cooling flush method laid out in a review on homebarista.

    If it sits for a long time (usually the case), I run at least 150-200ml till i can audibly hear a change in the water movement and it stops pulsing as it comes out of the portafilter. In other words I wait until it tails somewhat like espresso. Then I cycle a couple shot size flushes as I prepare the portafilter.

    I will try to do a proper flush right before the shot. Thanks for the advice.



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