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  • Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where now?

    Anyone reading my recent posts would know Ive got slightly itchy feet at the moment. Not sure if the Silvias going to stay or go. My requirements have basically been something smallish, 1 group, to go inside. Probably tanked, but maybe plumbed.

    Anyway Im not normally an impulse buyer by any stretch of the imagination, but I was recently made an offer I couldnt refuse and suddenly find myself, for better or worse, the owner of a two group Faema S.87-E.87 and a Cunill Space (along with about 2kg of beans that smell more like parmesan cheese than coffee! ). I must say neither of these particularly won me over with their looks but I have to say they look moderately better in the flesh than in the photos I was given pre-purchase. They both need some work of course; the machine just the basics of an overhaul (gaskets, descale and so on), not so sure on the work for the grinder. The machine itself seems to have some kind of E61 groups (perhaps no-stop, whatever they might be), and after a bit of cleaning and a good warm-up made quite a reasonable first shot, crema seemed to have more of a reddish colour to it than the Silvia but could have just been the different lighting (or all that scale in the boiler!   No I did flush a lot of water through first!) Plenty of steam power of course.

    The trouble is, I just dont have room for it, at least not in its role as a primary machine. The nebulous idea was to keep it in the shed and use it for when I needed to deal with larger numbers; but if the Silvia may go anyway its likely to be replaced with something that can handle that a bit better. Being a 15A beast so with one element disconnected it runs fine on 10A but does take quite some time to get up to temperature, and while I can wait 15-60 minutes for a coffee on a weekend or in the evening I dont know if that patience will extend to three hours! Doubt Ill use the grinder as I already have a Super Jolly and a Mini but it needs some alignment by the looks as it doesnt seem to grind as fine as it should (maybe needs new burrs - the existing ones feel OK on their own but the SJs are sharper by a mile). I must say a plumbed machine (even if plumbed presently involves a funnel for the inlet and a bottle for the drain) has certainly impressed me so far, as has the build quality of this machine and the ease with which the panels can be removed for cleaning (or painting!) and how easy everything is to get to.

    So what to do? On the one hand I could spend the few dollars it needs to give it a cleanup and restore, get it into a better colour and keep it in the shed for that one in 12 months when I may need its capacity (although long-term storage isnt normally the best for these things). An expensive just-in-case though. Or do the above and try to sell it. Or save the rebuild money and sell it as is (with however much luck that may or may not attract). Or gut it and trade it in as scrap metal. I dont think itll take that long to clean it up but I dont want to go down that path if it may end up in the great recycling centre in the sky.

    Does anyone whos been a victim of one of these sudden attacks have any tips to share?

    Greg


  • #2
    Re: Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where no

    If all the requirements are met

    Fix it and use it for use in the faculty tea room (RE post: It’s a hard Life)

    Luck has fallen in your lap (2 birds with 1 stone and all that)

    KK

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where no


      Given that it will not fit as your main domestic machine, Id get rid of it.

      In my opinion, the only reason youd get an old commercial machine is if you relish the challenge of restoring it yourself or if you are very cost sensitive and want to get something running without the larger outlay for a top end domestic machine. I also would be vary wary of an old volumetric machine, as there is added complexity and hence a higher potential for failure down the track.

      Cheers,

      Mark.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where no

        Originally posted by Sparky link=1223984930/0#2 date=1224032263
        Given that it will not fit as your main domestic machine, Id get rid of it.

        In my opinion, the only reason youd get an old commercial machine is if you relish the challenge of restoring it yourself or if you are very cost sensitive and want to get something running without the larger outlay for a top end domestic machine. I also would be vary wary of an old volumetric machine, as there is added complexity and hence a higher potential for failure down the track.

        Cheers,

        Mark.
        Ill second that.

        Just because a machine is "commercial" does not mean that it is actually any good. Particularly if it is old. You might well find that a prosumer machine outperforms it, as well as being better sized for home. IMHO, the good prosumer machines do a very credible job of going head to head with many commercial HX machines.

        The two main differences between most commercial machines and most prosumer machines are, IMHO, size and a rotary pump. The rotary pump is necessary because you cant keep on refilling and its nice for the machine to be quiet. The size is (thought to be) necessary to provide sufficient groups to keep up with demand, to provide sufficient cup warmer space and to have a large amount of steam in the boiler so that two wands being used almost simultaneously wont exhaust it completely.

        Remember that the target market for most commercial machines is the 90% of cafes that really dont put much effort into coffee. Bad technique and bad coffee will mask most of the finer points of brew temperature and pressure management. That is to say that commercial machines dont necessarily have to be good to sell; they have to be big and, ideally, able to cope with a bit of abuse.

        Prosumer machines, on the other hand are sold to a market that is much more likely to have very high standards and, so, need to perform pretty well, particularly seeing as they compete against much cheaper domestic machines.

        If the machine performs well, why wouldnt you use it for the faculty tea room?

        Cheers,

        Luca

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where no

          Take your point Luca about potential quality issues but its impressed in that regard already so I imagine it would do more so if it was given a thorough descale, new gaskets, showerscreens and so on. Work has more funds available than I could reasonably ask for this even once Ive given it a tidy up.

          Sparky, I was conscious of the volumetrics before I took the plunge and checked coffeeparts and they have all the stuff at (what I consider to be) pretty reasonable prices; in fact they seem to have more for Faema than pretty well anything else, which was reassuring.

          So if I got rid of it, do you reckon itd be better to try to shift it cheap as is or give it a good cleanout and then try to move it for a bit more? Must say Ive never tried selling this sort of thing so not sure what the success rate is likely to be :-/ Otherwise Im sure I could keep things like the pump and motor and sell the rest off for scrap, theres a fair bit of brass and copper in there. But it still seems a bit cruel to scrap a working E61 ...

          Greg

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where no

            Nice one Greg, I have the same machine except in the 3 group.
            See http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1185331327/0
            It was going to be a full resto job, but i ended up just doing all the internals and left the outside alone as it was only going to be used as my workshop espresso machine (one of the groups have been blanked off so i didnt have to pay for the bits and pieces). It does make a great espresso BUT it needs to be on for about an hour and twenty minutes before the temperature is stable. As far as the volumetric controls go, i just use the manual start and stop buttons. I belive you can program the touchpads but i could find no instruction on this, and in the end it doesnt bother me.
            One thing that i may revisit is the outside, all the external panels are stainless steel under the horrible paint except the two sides which are cast aluminium, and so all can be polished if you where inclined to do so. I just couldnt be bothered. Now that i have a Giotto at home, i really like polished stainless to i am somewhat inspired to go back and break out the elbow grease.
            I know everyone has opinions on different machines and brands, but when you use freshly roasted coffee and a good grinder, this machine makes an espresso that i would say is on par with my Giotto which was 15 times the price!

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where no

              Thanks James, interesting food for thought, and good to know someone else here has one if I decide to keep it. Nice to hear about the stainless panels (on yours anyway), mines the same beautiful 80s cream all over and originally intended to get it all stripped and powdercoated, but if theres stainless under there I might leave at least the front in stainless... if I keep it that is (lets not get ahead of ourselves here...). Do you want a cheap two group for spare parts? ;D

              I was curious as to whether the control pad could be programmed, the lack of a program button made me think not but I notice some of the newer Faema pads have Stop/Program on them. Either way I would only be looking for manual use. Warmup time is more of an issue for me as Im only running one element! So I think itd definitely have to be a planned event machine as opposed to a kitchen job.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where no

                I dont think warm up time would increase drastically (if at all) as the hindrance is heating all the metal not the water - water is in direct contact with element and heats up pretty fast. Whereas the big chunk of metal in the group only has the indirect heat of the water to heat it up.

                Then again I could be wrong

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where no

                  Greg,

                  Im just undergoing a restoration having found a machine (nuova simonelli 2 grp) in a similar way to yours. Im enjoying the restoration process but have also wondered what Im going to do with it long term.

                  I have the benefit of having a spot to put it downstairs in the kids rumpus room that is just a flight of stairs away from the kitchen. But it is still a big machine that may continue to need love and attention.

                  Have also though of the idea of fixing it up then selling it but the market for 2 group machines doesnt seem great! I think that Id be luck to get my money back if I did that. May donate/sell to my church for them to use to make coffees on Sunday and special events but a 3 group might be better for them.

                  But currently just enjoying having a project to work on and looking forward to enjoying the benefits of my labour of love when Ive finished.

                  Id like to find a good grinder to match with it but that can wait for a little while.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where no

                    Well the upgrade monster morphed today and turned into the rebuild monster! What started off as a drain of the boiler and a removal of the element just to see how much scale is in there ended up with every brass and copper part soaking in a bin of citric acid solution! I was mildly impressed with how little scale there actually was sitting in the bottom of the boiler (pic 1), although every pipe I removed had some in the bottom. Some of the orifices in the group were completely blocked!

                    A few questions for those whove been down this path before:

                    1) All the fittings bar one unscrewed quite easily - the one that didnt, well it moved easily enough but thats cos the copper just tore! How does one go about getting a new fitting attached to the boiler? Im guessing it would need to be brazed...

                    2) Im cautious about soaking the gauge in descaler but I dont want to have lots of scale sitting in here when the rest is nice and clean. Any ideas on whether it should be done, and if so, how?

                    3) Any idea whether this pump (Fluid-o-tech Rotoflow) is able to draw water from a tank or must it be mains-fed?

                    I was impressed how clean the electronics area was (pic 2, in the back of the power supply), which includes multi-turn pots which are (as far as I understand the markings) for calibrating how long each shot button runs for. And while citric acid may not be the best thing for cleaning these things, it sure made quick work of pinkifying all the pipes! (pic 5). At $2 a pop, 5x75g containers from the supermarket cleaned it all for $10.

                    Now I just need to work out if Im going to keep it... :

                    Greg

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where no

                      Originally posted by Greg Pullman link=1223984930/0#9 date=1224926315
                      2) Im cautious about soaking the gauge in descaler but I dont want to have lots of scale sitting in here when the rest is nice and clean. Any ideas on whether it should be done, and if so, how?
                      Hi Greg,

                      Grab a 20-30ml syringe and try flushing through the gauge fittings with this... Probably water at first but if you think there may be scale inside the gauge, then you could try a weak solution of citric acid in warm water and then leave sit for 20-30 minutes. Flush liberally with clean water after this and see if anything has been loosened by the acid. If it looks clean, all is good; if particles are observed then keep repeating the acid wash until nothing is observed when flushing out.

                      With the Boiler Fitting, I think youve answered your own question there mate.... Have to grab a new fitting and braze/silver-solder this on to the boiler. I think silver-solder is used more than brazing though as the temperature required is not as high and it still provides for a very strong joint.

                      Dont know anything about the pump Im sorry but it looks awfully like a re-badged Procon so you might be in luck..

                      All the best mate,
                      Mal.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where no

                        Originally posted by Greg Pullman link=1223984930/0#9 date=1224926315
                        3) Any idea whether this pump (Fluid-o-tech Rotoflow) is able to draw water from a tank or must it be mains-fed?

                        Greg
                        The Fluid-o-tech Rotodlow is the same as the pump in my La Cimbali...... and assuming it is the same as / or is the genuine original pump.... then it is strictly mains pressure only!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where no

                          Thanks gents. Ive actually run the pump on gravity feed water and its worked OK but here and there its been noisy (maybe air bubbles, or lack of pressure). Ive got a Gino Rossi to put in its place if necessary, which may or may not be tankable so Im not sure if this is going to help me or not.

                          Good idea about the syringe Mal, will have a go at that. As I dont have silver solder or a massive chisel soldering iron, I may have to take it somewhere to get this done (a boilermaker, perhaps?). I presume the same deal for cleaning out the pump? Im just cautious about whether rubber seals belong in citric acid...

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where no

                            Greg, methinks the boiler issue is serious.

                            Anyway, I had the same problem on my restoration and managed to fix it quite cheaply myself, albeit not pretty.

                            See http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1174998951/20 which shows my fix and specifies the CIG solder type etc (food grade) along with the butane propane torch I bought from the local hardware to effect the solder.

                            But anyway, if you can find a professional to fix it for a reasonable fee, that might be a better bet in the long run (and much less stressful - it was very tricky to get a pressure seal - it took me several goes).

                            Regards

                            Richard

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Random attack of the upgrade monster. Where no

                              Yep,

                              With brazing or silver-soldering, you need to have an adequate flame for the job.... Lots of copper/brass to sink the heat away? Then you need to use a decent flame to get the brazing/silver-soldering material to flow properly; smaller job, smaller flame. The use of a good quality flux is also essential, pretty well mandatory actually, if you want the finished job to not only look good but result in a strong, long lasting joint.

                              Its a lot of fun though, quite enjoy doing all this sort of stuff.... Must be my geek side coming out :

                              Mal.

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