Post By latte1978
Sunbeam EM 6910 - leaking around group handle - collar obviously
Hi all - what a great forum with such great info available I am new to coffee drinking (only about 5 yrs) and even newer to actual espresso brewing appreciation. Now that I am aware of what makes a great coffee great I am somewhat ruined though!
Being new to brewing my own espresso, I bought a $40 second hand EM6910 with all the bits and pieces that come with it approx 14 months ago. Noticing that it leaked around the group handle when I used the single floor basket, or just came out a sour 'gusher' if the grind was too coarse, I just switched to the double floor basket which makes a bit of a crema and the espresso is drinkable. I love lattes and husband has his coffee milky with sugar so it has been workable for the money paid.
I've since learned a bit about coffee and now understand that the grind is almost everything with espresso (if your machine's working probably, which mine probably isn't). So I recently got some pre-ground Illy coffee, ground for espresso and tried it with the single floor basket and although there were a few drips around the handle with little pressure (as measured on the gauge) for the first couple of seconds, it then got going and some crema came out with coffee - the pressure snapped to just over the target zone then, and the coffee was slightly bitter but you could tell that it was properly extracted - better than the dual floor basket. I have ordered a conical burr grinder and I'll meddle with the grind to see if I can get it ever so slightly coarser and perhaps get a better result?
So the few drops around the group handle when the grind is ok, together with the fact that the handle goes to approx 4.30 instead of 6 makes me think the collar is probably gone - the seal is nice and new feeling.
Main question I have: is it worth my while getting the collar replaced (will cost approx $100)? Machine is old - not sure how old but at least 5 years.
Also any other advice about grind etc and getting a better cup is much appreciated!
Greetings, and welcome to this great site.
Re your collar, probably/hopefully not. Probably a new one not needed, but how can I say that without looking.
Well, my machine has probably pulled over 10,000 shots, the collar is worn but it does not, and my machine is 10 years old according to the date stamp.
You will find a 3 digit number on the back of the machine stamped on the "sticker" behind the water tank door.
The number goes like this
487, means made 48th week 2007.
Hopefully you have a nice early one, as some say they are better than the newer ones.
Have you had the shower screens out and checked the seal, how old is the seal, does it have any nicks or cuts in it where the shower screens fit in to it.
Feel the collar, does it have any sharpish ridges that feel like they have been made by the Portafilter handle engaging.
The metal rolls over creating an edge, mine is like that.
You can buy or make gaskets that fit under the group head seal.
These add a bit of pressure to the seal between the P/F and seal.
I have just fitted one of these gaskets to my sons 6910, which was leaking due to a small nick in the group head seal.
Now it is not leaking, he will leave the gasket in when he gets a new seal, as the P/F was going too far to the right, and it did if from new.
And you simply must get a grinder so you can play with single walled baskets.
Once you get the grind fineness, and tamp sorted you will never go back to dual walled baskets.
I have dumped the dual walled baskets for my real low end EM4800c that I have in my campervan.
Paired with an EM440, modified with washers to make it grind finer.
And using a Krups single walled basket, not the best, but way better than dual walled baskets.
Ask away, and check out the various threads.
Journeyman has a great thread called My New Machine on his EM6910.
And, for the record, most of what I know about making a good flat white came from tuition from the good guys on here.
And, you have already learnt the most important lesson, the grind(dose/tamp) is everything.
Too fine and you will choke the machine, once the leak is sorted, and it does not taste too good either.
However, I tend to grind a bit too fine, the machine chokes, then I back off a bit, probably not ideal, but there you go.
The gauge is only a guide, and gauges between machines vary, I have two 6910s, and same grind same tamp, same basket and the gauges go to different places.
Hopefully the experts will come along and give a few more pointers.
Too coarse, and it is not nice, just a gusher as well, but you know that!
Thanks Robin! Will check production date - where did you get that other seal? I wonder how I can get one? I normally live in Brisbane but will be in China till June...
Originally Posted by latte1978
Collar - mostly not needed - yours looks OK, which is not to say 100% whether it is borked or not.
Spacer - just make one - cut a circle out of thin card (paper playing cards are ideal) the same shape as the seal and place it "above the seal" (orientation when the machine is the correct way up). All it does is take a bit of extra play out of the group. 90% of leaks stop, and the handle moves closer to 6 o'clock again. Too thick and the handle will not fit at all...
I suspect your main "issue needing attention" is old coffee grounds trapped between the two showerscreens. Undo that phillips head #2 screw in your photo and clean the showerscreens until they don't look brown anymore. That will sort out all most every pressure mismatch. Then clean and inspect the seal and prepare a spacer.
When you replace those bits, I highly recommend you return the machine to its factory defaults - just in case some "guru wannabee barista" has stuffed around with some setting somewhere. I have seen the odd machine where the setting are miles out. The manual is on this site somewhere.
"Resetting the Factory Settings
To revert back to the original factory settings;
1. Insert the power cord into a 230-240V AC
power outlet and switch the power ‘ON’.
Important: Although the espresso machine
is on at the power outlet ensure that the
actual espresso machine power is ‘OFF’.
Therefore no lights will be illuminated on
the espresso machine control panel.
2. Press and hold down the ‘MANUAL’ button.
While still holding down the manual button
briefly press the ‘POWER’ button and then
release the ‘MANUAL’ button.
3. When you hear the 4 beeps and the power
light flash the espresso machine will have
returned to the original factory settings and
the next time the single or double espresso
functions are used the espresso pours will
be 30 and 60mls."
Then start with your new grinder (hopefully EM480/500 or higher, Breville Smartgrinder or higher).
Hope this helps
Originally Posted by latte1978
As some say, an oldie but a goodie.
As Tampit said, collar looks OK, sure better than mine, and the one on my son's machine which both have ridges, but don't leak.
A good clean in there, maybe a new seal, keep the old one, a gasket. Never thought of a playing card.
The ones I bought are 0.8mm thick.
When I cleaned a machine I bought for my daughter the group head was filthy, covered in a thick "glue", oils from the coffee.
I took out the shower screens and seal, it was stuck in there, think it had been there since new in 2007.
The shower screens were filthy!
To get the group head clean I soaked it in "Brakeclean" that softened it up nicely and then used a scotch brite to clean it off.
Came up heaps better, but not prisitine.
Learning, clean the head often, using the built in cleaning cycle with the backflush disk.
With the machine heated up, turn it off with the off button on the machine.
Hold down the 1cup and 2cup button, briefly press the on button and release the one and two cup buttons.
Be sure to put a catch container under the portafilter!
And so you know I am a novice, I managed to choke my EM5600 this morning!
Basket too full, tamped too hard!
Thanks for the detailed advice TampIt and Robin - Have a week's break in a week so will take it apart then - kind of hoping now that the collar is ok - I have a replacement seal I bought over with me so might compare that with the fitted one and possibly replace it
Will post some pics when I take it apart
Thanks again - such a fantastic forum!
Hi again all - I took the shower screens and seal off in frustration today as I am having to grind my coffee 3 times to get it fine enough even with a strong tamp.....mostly the grinder - shown in picture being cheap and awful I think (for the record the Hello Kitty mug belongs to my daughter!), but I wanted to ask about the 'innards' of the machine I see.....
The shiny chrome looking bit with that extends in parts beyond the machine (ie it is built uneven) - is that the collar? Or is the collar the round big circular thing on the inside? I mean the larger circular piece of metal that looks quite grimy? If the collar is the shiny thing - I think it looks ok? ie doesn't need replacing - there are grooves in it but they don't look or feel like 'worn out' type damage.
I cleaned the shower screens and they had what looked like about 10 years of baked in coffee oil in them! I wanted to ask about the other pieces of metal you can see in the machine....the black circular piece of metal that has ridges radiating out from the nut in the centre, and the piece of metal in a larger circle around that (the collar?). These bits also have what seems to be baked in coffee oil and debris - it makes the metal itself look like it has pits etc in it but when I gently scrape it with the screwdriver the 'gunge' comes off so I think it may be coffee oil and debris? Should I clean all of this off? Any solvent suggested (is this the bit you suggested brakeclean for Robin)? Or just good old elbow grease?
Also the seal - I have cut a circle from card to match the wider side of the seal to place 'above' the seal when the machine is upright - does it look ok? The old seal felt find if a bit stiff so I will replace it just in case.
Files are here: - last one is of the seal I made. Also note the position of the handle - waaay past 6pm - but have not put it back together yet with new seal....so will see...
Hi all - dying to put my machine back together - should I put my cardboard gasket spacer in do you think?? Hope it is ok!
In your first pic, yes that looks like the one I had before I cleaned it up, elbow grease is helped by the brakeclean. I put the brake clean in the groove where the seal goes.
Check that your paper gasket fits in there, I see it in your last pic. Looks fine, how thick is it. The ones I was talking about are 0.8mm. I have made my own as well, out of automotive gasket material,but I think any kind of paper/cardboard gasket will be fine.
I have even used a plastic icecream lid!
The experts said it would melt. But it didn't. Get back soon the computer is needed!
Thanks Robin - sorry I can't do it right now so you can leave the computer thanks so much
Will post again with results - fingers crossed - if it doesn't work I will go try doubling up the seal - it is only less than 0.5 mm I think. Or buying one off ebay when we get back to Bris
Thanks again all - so much more info here than from Sunbeam!~
Also does the collar look worn out? I didn't think so but I can't tell...
Yes, give it a try. Worst case you pull it out again.
Will do tonight Any comment on the state of the collar from the pics?
The collar has wear but may be ok, what are the lugs on your group head like? The combination of wear on the two surfaces may be where your problem is coming from.
Have you seen this
Also, do a google search on 6910 collar, you will get pictures of the wear on both the collar and the group head, may help with your fault finding.
Sorry not sure what lugs on the group head look like?? Yep saw the collar replacement guide - hoping I can squeeze a few more years out of this without having to do that - would probably buy fully automatic machine before I did that! Compared to some pics of damaged collars - I don't think mine is that bad just yet
He is talking about the lugs on the Portafilter, (P/F.)
your collar looks heaps better than the one on my machine, it is not new, but I doubt that will matter, doubling up the gasket you made should do the trick.
Hooray! no more leaks
Ah ok thaks Robin So I finally put the machine back together - instead of just the one thin shim/spacer, I added a much thicker one made from cardboard from a biscuit box (like a cereal box). Had to trim them down twice to get them to fit but they fit in the end. Then fitted the new seal - probably did the trick as well and screwed in the shower screens.
I've just made 2 cups of decaf using illy pre-ground(for espresso) beans. The first shot was with a hard tamp and I nearly choked the machine - came out slower than usual and the pressure gauge went beyond the target zone but not into the red. Was a little bitter but a great extraction compared to my other shots. The second cup I tamped a lot lighter, and still the pressure gauge went beyond the target zone, but the shot wasn't as bitter. And no leaks! AND the group handle now stops at 6 o'clock - never done that since I've had it! Oh, and the puck was all wet, but there wasn't much coffee stuck to the screen - is that good?
Looking at other pics of group heads, I'm pretty happy with mine, given it's age and probable lack of care. Collar is worn but could be worse - on the whole I am counting my lucky stars that I stumbled onto this machine Maybe that is what people mean when they say the earlier models are better (Robin?) Moreso happy with all the help and advice everyone has given me Like I said, better than Sunbeam. I wonder how many professional repairers check this site for info?
So now I need to get a good grinder - but I think I will just make do with pre-ground beans from suppliers whose grinders are good enough until I am back home in June - then I'll look into getting one.
I guess I will take it all apart again in a few months? Maybe cut and fit some new shims?
Thanks again all - I am so pleased!
Even using a SB 480 / 500 grinder (about $A200) you can get the kind of extraction you want IF the beans are fresh and good quality.
Originally Posted by latte1978
Your existing grinder probably needs pallbearers more than shims, your call.
Originally Posted by latte1978
Knowing where you are / where you are going (city / country, not full address) may help - there are CS'r's all over the planet that could have spare gear you can try - I know I do.
Ah yes sorry I mean take apart the EM6910 and clean and replace the shims - not the grinder which I am sure needs pallbearers! Currently in China and live in Bris - I think I'll invest in a SB or Breville reasonable grinder when I get home in June
Is a wet puck bad news?
Not necessarily. How does it taste.
Sometimes I have a "dry" puck, sometimes not.
Did you find or make a spacer, I see site sponsor "coffee parts" has them, under $1.00 each, in 0.5, and 0.8mm thicknesses.
Mine is ID 58, OD 73, 0.8 thick.
Theres are slightly different but will still be fine.
I made the spacer - it's actually 2 different ones - one from a manilla folder that is slightly thinner than most manilla folders - the second is cut from a box that held biscuits - so similar in thickness to a cereal box.
Have been getting some great results - can't wait to try with real fresh coffee beans and a better grinder!
Just thought I'd point out that the EM6910 is generally selling for under $400 now - what a bargain! Also means I would not bother replacing anything on it worth more that $50 or so - just not worth it when you can get a whole new machine for that price Still cranking out great lattes