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Thread: E61 Rocket pumping non-stop but not heating

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    E61 Rocket pumping non-stop but not heating

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    To recap from the related thread I tagged onto, when unit is switched on the pump keeps running but no rise in gauge pressure or heating of boiler. There is no power to the element when checked with multimeter.
    I have just opened up the head and everything is very clean with minimal corrosion and no scale.

    Talk Coffee suggested "thermal switch, element or most likely a dead control board".

    I'll be able to check the thermal switch next time I'm in my workshop. Is there any need to check the solenoid still or can that be ruled out? It had 230v across so has power but not sure about correctly functioning.

    I will attach a photo of the control box. I read somewhere that some models require a modification or replacement. Is it possible to tell from this photo whether or not this should be replaced too?

    Thanks for the help.

    [IMG][/IMG]

    [IMG][/IMG]

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    Nasty, nasty. I hope your wife paid about nothing for it as this is one serious roughie.

    It must be one of the very earliest ever built as they haven't used an RL30 for a good 10 years. To upgrade to a current board requires loom modification or replacement.

    There is clear evidence of leaks and it's probably time the machine was restored or sent to the big scrap factory in the sky. It's pretty clear there are multiple issues which would need to be resolved here and will require $$$.

    I'd be looking for money back. There is no way this was recently serviced by any tech who should still have a job. One for Mr Caveat Emptor.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Talk_Coffee View Post
    Nasty, nasty. I hope your wife paid about nothing for it as this is one serious roughie.

    It must be one of the very earliest ever built as they haven't used an RL30 for a good 10 years. To upgrade to a current board requires loom modification or replacement.

    There is clear evidence of leaks and it's probably time the machine was restored or sent to the big scrap factory in the sky. It's pretty clear there are multiple issues which would need to be resolved here and will require $$$.

    I'd be looking for money back. There is no way this was recently serviced by any tech who should still have a job. One for Mr Caveat Emptor.
    That's not a very encouraging analysis :-(
    Though not clear in the photo, most of the water staining on the base panel came from the nylon pipe that exits the pump where it joins onto the 'T' joint. It was this point where I disconnected and confirmed pump operation and rejoined it without further leaking.
    Although seals are in need of replacement in the group at least there is almost no scale and very little corrosion so it has at least been looked after to an extent. I'm not sure if the innards of the tank and heat exchange etc have been looked after as well yet though.

    I took apart the control box and inspected it and there are no cold joints or burnt out components noticeable. Noidle22 suggested a faulty signal transistor(s) so I may replace those in the hope of an easy fix. To help troubleshoot though I would appreciate feedback on the current function of this unit:

    Power on --> within a second a click can be heard from a relay in the control box followed by a 4 second delay until the pump starts operating. No power supplied from control box to element circuit however.

    Water pumps and cycles through reservoir.

    If the group arm is pulled up water comes out of the shower.

    Solenoid has power and when isolated has an impedance of 2.5k ohm.

    Element has resistance of 44 ohms.

    Thermal switch and pressure switch are both closed.

    Pump doesn't stop until unit switched off at mains or power switch!

    Perhaps this information helps deduce the source of the problem further?
    Last edited by Johnnz; 15th May 2015 at 09:30 PM. Reason: further clarification: pump doesn't stop

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    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Johnnz View Post
    That's not a very encouraging analysis :-(
    Though not clear in the photo, most of the water staining on the base panel came from the nylon pipe that exits the pump where it joins onto the 'T' joint. It was this point where I disconnected and confirmed pump operation and rejoined it without further leaking.
    Although seals are in need of replacement in the group at least there is almost no scale and very little corrosion so it has at least been looked after to an extent. I'm not sure if the innards of the tank and heat exchange etc have been looked after as well yet though.

    I took apart the control box and inspected it and there are no cold joints or burnt out components noticeable. Noidle22 suggested a faulty signal transistor(s) so I may replace those in the hope of an easy fix. To help troubleshoot though I would appreciate feedback on the current function of this unit:

    Power on --> within a second a click can be heard from a relay in the control box followed by a 4 second delay until the pump starts operating. No power supplied from control box to element circuit however.

    Water pumps and cycles through reservoir.

    If the group arm is pulled up water comes out of the shower.

    Solenoid has power and when isolated has an impedance of 2.5k ohm.

    Element has resistance of 44 ohms.

    Thermal switch and pressure switch are both closed.

    Perhaps this information helps deduce the source of the problem further?
    Are you based in NZ somewhere John? Who did this supposed repair.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeroyC View Post
    Are you based in NZ somewhere John? Who did this supposed repair.
    Hi Leroy, yes I am in Queenstown. The machine was bought off Trademe from Christchurch. When the seller said "recently serviced" I think they just meant electrically safety-tested My wife bought it on a bit of a whim without really digging into its service history...
    Anyway, as I said, it appears reasonable condition for it's age though does require new seals - if it will be economical to repair...

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    Another thing to check, unplug your autofill probe and earth it. Does the pump stop? If so, the autofill could be faulty.
    The boiler fill solenoid should activate if the control board thinks the boiler needs water, see if you can hear it click or measure the voltage at the coil when the pump is running and see if there is 240V present. You mentioned that the solenoid has power, was that the boiler fill solenoid?
    You seem to know your way around a multimeter and most of the machine but be careful when measuring 240V components.

    I do seem to remember now that on my fiend's Giotto, everything powered up when the machine was switched on, the pump and element. Slightly different case to yours but the fault may still be the same.

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    This link to HB seems as though it may have some relevant info. There is reference to the RL30 control box as the new unit replacing old. There is also some suggestions on some alternative fixes that may be interesting. The link also contains a pdf link to a Giotto manual including electrical schematic of the control board connections etc.

    http://www.home-barista.com/espresso...ad-t17616.html

    As Noidle22 suggests, it is worth investigating the boiler level fill probe and solenoid. If the machine thinks it has no water (i.e pump keeps running trying to fill boiler) then it may also inhibit power to element so that it is protected from burn out? That you have measured 44ohms resistance across the element suggests it is ok.
    Good luck.
    Last edited by Mouldy; 15th May 2015 at 11:20 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Johnnz View Post
    Hi Leroy, yes I am in Queenstown. The machine was bought off Trademe from Christchurch. When the seller said "recently serviced" I think they just meant electrically safety-tested My wife bought it on a bit of a whim without really digging into its service history...
    Anyway, as I said, it appears reasonable condition for it's age though does require new seals - if it will be economical to repair...
    Hi John, it shouldn't be hard to track at least it's most recent service. There are only two places in Christchurch that can do full repairs and servicing - Gary Lee Electrical and Espresso Tools (the service side is called Coffee Tech I think). Gary Lee tag everything so if they did it you'll see a sticker or tag. I would imagine Espresso Tools do too so if there's no tag then it probably wasn't either of them. The most likely alternative for a Rocket would be C4 as they do basic servicing, but a couple of the other roasters do as well like Switch and possibly Hummingbird.
    Even if there's no tag or sticker you could try calling the service centres to see what they can tell you. They should be able to find records for your machine using the serial number if they actually worked on it.
    There's been a few Rockets on Trade Me lately. Most go for a bit of a premium. Hope yours was a reasonable deal and you can get it going. Good luck.

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    Quote Originally Posted by noidle22 View Post
    Another thing to check, unplug your autofill probe and earth it. Does the pump stop? If so, the autofill could be faulty.
    The boiler fill solenoid should activate if the control board thinks the boiler needs water, see if you can hear it click or measure the voltage at the coil when the pump is running and see if there is 240V present. You mentioned that the solenoid has power, was that the boiler fill solenoid?
    You seem to know your way around a multimeter and most of the machine but be careful when measuring 240V components.

    I do seem to remember now that on my fiend's Giotto, everything powered up when the machine was switched on, the pump and element. Slightly different case to yours but the fault may still be the same.

    Hi again,
    Right! So, removing and earthing the autofill probe causes the pump to stop and element to power up after a few seconds delay.
    I have now taken out the probe and had a look inside the tank with a torch and it looks reasonably clean. A little corrosion but no flaking at all. So now I have to nut out why the sensor isn't working inside the tank and if indeed the pump is able to push water in there or not...

    I am more confident now that the control box is functioning properly (unless the earth signal is too weak for it to detect through the water), now I am begining to suspect a faulty solenoid...

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    Right, probe out power on, pump runs but no water entering boiler. Must be the solenoid. It has power so must have an internal fault.

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    Just tipped all the water out of the boiler through the probe fitting. So much sand came out too! I wonder if during transit some sand fell down into the solenoid to block it or the pipe attaching it to the boiler...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Johnnz View Post
    Hi again,
    Right! So, removing and earthing the autofill probe causes the pump to stop and element to power up after a few seconds delay.
    I have now taken out the probe and had a look inside the tank with a torch and it looks reasonably clean. A little corrosion but no flaking at all. So now I have to nut out why the sensor isn't working inside the tank and if indeed the pump is able to push water in there or not...

    I am more confident now that the control box is functioning properly (unless the earth signal is too weak for it to detect through the water), now I am begining to suspect a faulty solenoid...
    Sounds like you're making progress.

    Have you checked and cleaned the level sensor connection points and terminals?


    What was the approximate boiler fill level when you looked in the tank? Sounds like the boiler fill solenoid valve if the pump was running constantly yet the boiler wasn't overfilled. Your success in earthing the fill level probe seems to suggest that the boiler is actually too low on water (so it's telling the pump to fill the boiler), but if the fill solenoid isn't working correctly then it can't do so.
    Is there a line down stream of the boiler fill solenoid that you can disconnect to verify function of the valve?

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    Took the solenoid off. The brass plumbed section looks clean. When tested with power on there is no sound of a click or anything. Still not sure if electrical fault or mechanical in brass fitting but leaning toward mechanical as there is 2500 ohm resistance in coil.

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    Senior Member artman's Avatar
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    Is it the type of solenoid you can take apart and see if the plunger is stuck?

    Cheers

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mouldy View Post
    Sounds like you're making progress.

    Have you checked and cleaned the level sensor connection points and terminals?


    What was the approximate boiler fill level when you looked in the tank? Sounds like the boiler fill solenoid valve if the pump was running constantly yet the boiler wasn't overfilled. Your success in earthing the fill level probe seems to suggest that the boiler is actually too low on water (so it's telling the pump to fill the boiler), but if the fill solenoid isn't working correctly then it can't do so.
    Is there a line down stream of the boiler fill solenoid that you can disconnect to verify function of the valve?
    The water level was just below the bottom of the probe.
    By removing the autofill sensor I could see directly through to the boiler fill fitting at the bottom. No water came through however when pump was on.

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    Quote Originally Posted by artman View Post
    Is it the type of solenoid you can take apart and see if the plunger is stuck?

    Cheers

    The plunger appears to be sealed into the brass fitting so I can't check.

    I'm also uncertain whether water pressure is required to push the plunger out of the way if there is no power on the solenoid. I can't breath through it with it apart now (but can't do that with a regular one way valve either).

    Should there have been a click sound when I powered up the solenoid (with brass fitting attached)? I'm not sure if there is a spring or something to push the plunger into its resting position or not.

    OK, I tried a test: I inserted the magnetized end of my hook/pick-set shaft loosely into the solenoid body (with brass plumbing part removed). Appying power it moved. Therefore the electromagnet of solenoid is at least functioning. Curiously however, this test had the effect of demagnetizing my magnet!

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    Here's a couple photos, first showing the sandy scale that came out of the boiler and the second showing the solenoid.





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    Sounds like the solenoid plunger is stuck. Good photos btw.

    You're going to want to try and get it going as a new solenoid costs around $100. I am concerned about the sand in the boiler, looks like they've not been using filtered water and have somehow got sediment, sand or whatever it is, into the water tank. How it got through the pump I'm not sure.
    Trying to get sediment out of a solenoid of that style is going to be hard. You can try soaking it in descaler or citric acid dilution just in case it's a chunk of scale that's seized it.

    Because of this sand/sediment, it would probably be a good idea to diassemble the OPV to see if it has any damage or blockages. Once you have it going, see how it goes extracting coffee because the pump might have suffered a bit. They're generally very reliable but if it's sucked in sand, who knows.

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    Senior Member artman's Avatar
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    The sand is very strange indeed. You really need to clean/flush the entire system if this sand is everywhere, as it will no doubt cause future problems.

    Not sure how to take this solenoid apart? The ones I have seen you can unscrew the shaft from the body. Maybe the silver part on the top of the shaft unscrews?

    Cheers


    Cheers

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    Quote Originally Posted by noidle22 View Post
    Sounds like the solenoid plunger is stuck. Good photos btw.

    You're going to want to try and get it going as a new solenoid costs around $100.
    Wow, the markup on these must be absurd. New valve assembly (including new solenoid coil) from an EU supplier direct is 17 Euro (~AUD25).

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    I just checked a site sponsor and found that price. They're probably cheaper elsewhere.

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    Thanks for the heads up on how pricey that part may be. I'll try to soak it overnight and see if that does the job otherwise tomorrow I'll call the local espresso machine service shop tomorrow to see if they are able to sell or order just the valve assembly as well as a few gaskets and seals that are worn out in the group.

    It is quite surprising just how tiny the outlet hole is inside the valve, however nothing appeared blocked or coated in any kind of scale which in contrast to the amount of sand that came out of the boiler is curious. I imagine the sand is actually scale that has been broken up by the constant boiling/agitation. I will take off a few other outlet pipes to check for blockages tomorrow too, but everything on the inlet side appears clean.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Johnnz View Post
    Thanks for the heads up on how pricey that part may be. I'll try to soak it overnight and see if that does the job otherwise tomorrow I'll call the local espresso machine service shop tomorrow to see if they are able to sell or order just the valve assembly as well as a few gaskets and seals that are worn out in the group.

    It is quite surprising just how tiny the outlet hole is inside the valve, however nothing appeared blocked or coated in any kind of scale which in contrast to the amount of sand that came out of the boiler is curious. I imagine the sand is actually scale that has been broken up by the constant boiling/agitation. I will take off a few other outlet pipes to check for blockages tomorrow too, but everything on the inlet side appears clean.
    It's not sand. Well, not really anyway. This machine of yours came from Christchurch and that 'sand' looks exactly like what came out of my Gaggia Classic when I pulled it apart after using normal Christchurch tap water in it for years. I've got a photo I think, I'll see if I can find it. The lighter coloured sediment is definitely lime scale. The rest of it is probably silt. Yep, the same stuff that spewed out of the ground during the quakes. It's so fine that it gets through most filtration systems. I reckon it will have stuffed your solenoid, like it did my 3-way. It'll look fine and you'll wonder what the hell is going on, but it quite possibly is gone so if you can get one for a fair price then grab it. And yes, as others have pointed out you'll need to give the whole machine a good descale with a decent descaler like Dezcal. You're making some good progress. Good luck.

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    So I discovered that the valve is serviceable. The steel part is threaded not press fitted so I took it apart and found that corrosion is the likely culprit causing the plunger to seize. I had to whack the assembly down on to my bench to knock the plunger out so it was quite well stuck.

    What is the best way to clean this? Perhaps I'll try to polish it up with my rotary dremel tool. I don't know how long it will last if I reinstall it as presumably there was originally some coating to prevent corrosion on the plunger. At least it should work again for a while so I will have time to order a replacement in future.

    Some photos:<br><br>

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    One more question, should I use thread lock (loctite or other) when reinstalling parts such as this? What is the recommended variety?

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    Chipped off most of the scale on plunger (wasn't actually any corrosion on the plunger - just brown scale) and the polished it up with the buffing wheel on my bench grinder. I'll have to go out to get some citric acid to clean away scale on inside of brass cavity as can't really get at it with any brush or pipe cleaner effectively.

    Edit: Just used white vinegar which I already had which did the trick. The reason citric acid is usually recommended is because it has less odor, correct?

    Last edited by Johnnz; 18th May 2015 at 12:36 PM.

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    Solenoid reassembled and operates perfectly. A loud "click" sounds when connected to power. Now to reassemble and clean out that boiler!
    Dimal likes this.

  28. #28
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    E61 Rocket pumping non-stop but not heating

    Nice work. Yep, I cleaned my parts with the bench grinder brush at work and my budget dremel for the finishing touches.
    Last edited by LeroyC; 18th May 2015 at 02:11 PM.

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    All working again now. Made some very nice coffee's this morning. Thank you especially to noidle22 and mouldy that suggested investigating correct function of auto-fill sensor. Prior to that I had it all packed up and ready to take in to the shop. As it turned out I was able to repair it without spending any money at all
    DaveD likes this.

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    Excellent news John.
    And also great to see the regular updates on what I'm sure was a very interesting topic to a lot of us.

    Thanks for sharing the results!

    Brett.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Johnnz View Post
    All working again now. Made some very nice coffee's this morning. Thank you especially to noidle22 and mouldy that suggested investigating correct function of auto-fill sensor. Prior to that I had it all packed up and ready to take in to the shop. As it turned out I was able to repair it without spending any money at all
    Excellent work! A great example of a little perseverance and investigative effort on your part yielding results. Especially considering some initial comments about taking it to the scrapyard.

  32. #32
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    So you fixed the problem and you gave it a good manual clean in the process. Success all round I'd say. Well done.



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