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Thread: La San Marco 85 Sprint E

  1. #1
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    La San Marco 85 Sprint E

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    G’day everyone,

    Long time reader but have started to get serious so thought I’d sign up and make a post.

    I’ve been lucky enough to pick up a La San Marco 85 Sprint E and a Mazzer Super Jolly plus some bits and pieces from a restaurant shutting down.

    Long story short is the coffee machine has a few issues with the electronic buttons which work the groups. The left side has two buttons (single shot and manual pour) which work properly and the other three cause the water to flow for a second before cutting out. The right group panel gives no response from any button. I only tested it for 5 minutes in the shop before I uninstalled it and took it home and now I’m waiting on a 20A circuit to be wired in so I can plug it in.

    Anyway, does anyone have any experience with these problems and solutions to them? I have found the electronic control panels online but they’re not cheap and I don’t want to buy them if it isn’t the problem. After taking the panels off the machine there is no obvious damage to the cabling to these or the circuit boards themselves.

    Also, since I’ve torn the machine down and begun cleaning it, does anyone have suggestions/tricks on what to do to clean it up to its true potential? It’s been fairly neglected but is still not too bad. I’ll post some photos of it.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
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    This was just for fun to see how my setup could look when it's all installed.


    Here are a few pictures of it torn down so far:






    Last edited by BLA90F; 22nd February 2020 at 03:08 PM. Reason: Working out how to link pictures again

  3. #3
    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    The first thing I'd do would be to swap the panels between the two sides and see what they do.


    Java "Easy first test" phile
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    Yeah good idea! I will have to wait until I've got the 20A circuit wired in to do more testing...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Javaphile View Post
    The first thing I'd do would be to swap the panels between the two sides and see what they do.


    Java "Easy first test" phile
    It may not actually be possible to do that - the plugs on the left sides of the 2 boards look different and may not be interchangeable, plus the boards themselves look different and have different part numbers on them, so maybe the right one is not the correct part, hence it not working.
    The other possibility is that the right side one had failed, was replaced with a new part that is different but interchangeable with the old one, and hasn't had any doses programmed. Often daisy-chained touchpad setups like that have DIP switches on each pad to tell the board which group it is, but those don't, so the different part numbers may mean there is actually a difference in design between them to indicate to the board which group it is, so they are not interchangeable with each other.

    If I remember correctly, the left touchpad is the master, and you access the programming mode by turning the machine off, holding down the stop button (right button) on the left touchpad while turning the machine back on.
    The stop button lights flash on both groups to indicate program mode. You set each dose by pressing the button you want to program on the left pad, then pressing the stop button when the dose is correct. After that you have to press the stop button on the other pad to copy the dose, then the stop button on the left pad to complete the dose transfer. Then repeat that for each dose button.
    La San Marcos appear to be one of those makes where the programming is quite different from the 'generic' programming method on most machines, so the buttons not working may be for the same reason as Marzocco GB5/FB80s. On these models if you program a very short shot so the flowmeter doesn't register any flow (or the flowmeter has failed) the control board interprets that as you wanting the button to flow nothing when pressed, so deactivates it completely, so it doesn't appear to work at all.

    So it may not be the touchpads - it may need reprogramming, or it may even be a faulty flowmeter.

    Which may mean a whole lot of fun troubleshooting!

  6. #6
    Senior Member level3ninja's Avatar
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    I run a 2 group non sprint 85E at church. My first thought was the volumetric programming as MorganGT mentioned. I don't know what the difference between the sprint and non sprint is but if I can be of any more help let me know.

  7. #7
    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Yeah, it doesn't look to be possible to do that Morgan. Unfortunately when I wrote my previous post the pictures had not been posted yet. When I hit post the OP had only posted the very first pic. If you look at the editing timeline of their post you can see all the other pics were added later...after I'd made my post. Only after you made your post and I returned to this thread to read the new post did I see the new pics. So yeah, on the additional information not such an easy/possible first test after all! :\


    Java "On to the re-programming!" phile
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    Thanks heaps for the responses everyone! Very helpful and very interesting to read about the programming! I will get a wriggle on with my new 20A circuit so I can plug it in and start troubleshooting! In the meantime I'll clean the machine up as good as I can.
    Dimal likes this.

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    Senior Member level3ninja's Avatar
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    If you're going to get a 20A outlet put in for it, it's worth getting the round pin version instead of the flat pin. Flat pin is ok for 15A out less but (at least in a commercial environment) will fail in a melted fashion reliably every 6 months. The round pin versions can actually handle the 20A they're rated for.
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    Quote Originally Posted by level3ninja View Post
    If you're going to get a 20A outlet put in for it, it's worth getting the round pin version instead of the flat pin. Flat pin is ok for 15A out less but (at least in a commercial environment) will fail in a melted fashion reliably every 6 months. The round pin versions can actually handle the 20A they're rated for.
    Really? I've literally NEVER seen a regular 20 amp (or 25/32 amp) flat pin plug melt and fail in the 10+ years I have been installing/repairing commercial machines. However, I have seen a few switches in those outlets fail, usually because the switch itself is not rated the same as the outlet (possible because the switches are a separate part, so a lower rated switch can be fitted to a higher rated outlet plate).

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    I've heard both sides of that coin. Some like you have no trouble with them, I've only ever replaced melted ones with round pins. Maybe I only see the problem ones!
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    So I've got the machine installed on a 20A circuit and plumbed into the water supply. I downloaded the manual and ran the programming sequence to program the automatic dosing buttons as mentioned above and the whole left group works now! There is still no response from the buttons on the right group, even after following the instructions to transfer the programs from the left group. Everything else works well.

    I cleaned everything with some Cafetto Espresso Clean including doing a back flush of the working group and then ran ~4L of citric acid solution through by undoing the water hose and drawing the solution from a bucket then running all water outlets and letting it sit for a while before running again.

    I'm happy with the machine but still am trying to get used to it and I'm definitely no barista...I still think I can make better coffees with my Sunbeam EM6910 espresso machine and Sunbeam 0480 grinder haha. The milk frother is a lot more powerful on the La San Marco (as expected) so frothing single servings of milk is a challenge for me and I'm not used to the Mazzer Super Jolly yet.

    If anyone with experience with these machines (level3ninja?) has any tips and tricks on how to make the most out them I'd greatly appreciate it. Also, any tips on other things I may need to do to clean it internally and if anyone has any ideas in regards to the second group button panel. The circuit board itself looked good and all connections were fine.

  13. #13
    Senior Member level3ninja's Avatar
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    In order to save programming to the right buttons you need to do it while you're programming the left buttons. Hold the star button on the left keypad down while turning machine on. Start and stop your desired button at your desired volume. At this point the left star button light (possibly both) should still be flashing, press it once, then press the right hand star button once, then press the left star button again. Nothing should be flashing anymore. If you just press the left star button twice it only saves it to the left keypad. I've never programmed the right group to be different to the left so I can't remember exactly but I think if you start and stop the volume programming from a right button it should save it there. I'm running a training course on Saturday I'll try and remember to take a video if that would help.

    As for the steam, my advise is but another steam tip. I can use it to steam a 600ml jug that's well under half full, I have been known to attempt a 300ml jug and get it everywhere. I stay other people on a 1L jug. The holes are huge and it'll take at least months of practice to get repeatable microfoam. For home use a tip with smaller holes would be much better because you could steam less than 300ml of milk at a time. Don't get me wrong it's great to do a 2L jug for multiple drinks during a rush but for home it'd be like trying to open a letter with a machete.

    The baskets are rated at 19g I think. They're only ~53mm diameter from memory, so you end up with a narrower but taller puck of coffee. I find it lends itself well to heavy mouth feel type shots and not so much the "high ratio lots of distinct flavours" type shots. That part might be me though.
    Last edited by level3ninja; 4 Weeks Ago at 02:24 PM.

  14. #14
    Senior Member noidle22's Avatar
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    I went out to a freshly installed San Marco 85E a few weeks ago where the right group wasn't responding, it was only 2 weeks old. The wiring between the two groups was just loose where it plugs into the socket on the right control pad. Just double check yours to make sure it's secure.

    Quote Originally Posted by BLA90F View Post
    If anyone with experience with these machines (level3ninja?) has any tips and tricks on how to make the most out them
    They will require a cooling flush of a few seconds before you brew your shot if the machine has sat idle for any length of time. If you don't run the flush, it will burn the coffee.
    By running the group with no portafilter in place, you will see the water hissing and spluttering. Let it run until it stops hissing, give it 20 seconds or so then brew your shot. This should get it in the right range of temperature.

    You also need to be very mindful of grounds distribution and tamping in the portafilter basket. The machine delivers 9 bar to the coffee puck as soon as you switch the group head on, this differs from the EM6910 which has pre-wetting and a slow ramp up in pressure by the nature of a vibration pump.
    The rotary pump in the San Marco is not forgiving. Any defects on your distribution or tamping will show up as channeling and cause a poor extraction. A naked portafilter is useful in this case to see the extraction process and if there is channeling occuring.

  15. #15
    Senior Member level3ninja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noidle22 View Post
    They will require a cooling flush of a few seconds before you brew your shot if the machine has sat idle for any length of time. If you don't run the flush, it will burn the coffee.
    By running the group with no portafilter in place, you will see the water hissing and spluttering. Let it run until it stops hissing, give it 20 seconds or so then brew your shot. This should get it in the right range of temperature.

    You also need to be very mindful of grounds distribution and tamping in the portafilter basket. The machine delivers 9 bar to the coffee puck as soon as you switch the group head on, this differs from the EM6910 which has pre-wetting and a slow ramp up in pressure by the nature of a vibration pump.
    The rotary pump in the San Marco is not forgiving. Any defects on your distribution or tamping will show up as channeling and cause a poor extraction. A naked portafilter is useful in this case to see the extraction process and if there is channeling occuring.
    Knew I forgot something! Both of these are very important. I have converted the single spouted portafilter that came with ours to naked. Great training aid and fits larger mugs. I can convert yours if you pay postage both ways.

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    Thanks again for all the good information! Your analogy of the letter and the machete is so true haha and I will look into a smaller tip as I normally froth one coffee's worth of milk at a time. I will have a fiddle with the programming and the wiring again although when I pulled it all apart for cleaning it seemed secure.
    The info for the cooling flush and tamping/naked basket is good to know! My tamper seems decent and has a convex base (not sure if this means it is good or not?) and I have a spare portafilter so I may convert it to naked to see how my tamping is. I assume you just cut the bottom out with a dremel or something similar...
    Thanks again guys!

  17. #17
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    Just had another quick go at programming the right side following your instructions and then the instructions in the manual. Still can't get a response from it. One thing I noticed is even though the machine obviously goes into programming mode, there are no "flashing" LEDs as described by you and the instruction manual. The LEDs light up when the buttons are pushed and the programming function works as I can change the amount of water delivered for each button and enter/exit the programming mode, but no lights flash. Interesting...

  18. #18
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    I cut the bottom of the portafilter out with a holesaw, then use a 60grit flapwheel from Bunnings to remove any remaining horizontal portion of the bottom of the portafilter. Then a 120grit flapwheel to finish it better. Then some 2000grit sandpaper to take the sharp edge off the bottom. An album I posted a little while ago of the full process: https://imgur.com/a/4J99M

    That's interesting. I'll try and get a video on Saturday.
    BLA90F likes this.

  19. #19
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    I did get the video, but have kept forgetting to upload it, my apologies.
    This first video starts after I've held down the * on the left group while turning the main switch on to enter programming mode. I then use the left group to program a ~5s shot, ending it by pressing the left *. I then press the right group * to transfer the same shot to the right group, and then press the left group * again to save and exit programming mode. I then run the shot on both groups to show it has saved across both groups.



    This second video also starts after I've entered programming mode. I then program a shot to the right group only.

    Dimal and BLA90F like this.

  20. #20
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    Thank you for that! There is definitely something not right with my machine then because if I follow the exact same procedure as you, I can program the left side but there is still no response from the right group panel. I will have to look into replacing the circuit board I guess...



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