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  • VBM - quality not quite there

    Let me preface this by saying that I am very happy with the quality of the shots, the frothing ability and the overall ease of use of my VBM Domobar Super. But ... there are still some little quirks that I would not expect from a machine that costs ~$2500:

    1. Vibration on the cup tray - Ive seen someone on here use the wooden clothes peg fix to alleviate this.
    2. Sharp edges on the cup tray scratches the insides of the machine when removing.
    3. Brew pressure screw is mis-alligned with the gap in the case making it difficult to adjust the brew pressure with a screwdriver.
    4. The handle in the drip tray leaks through the handle fasteners. The fix for this is to add a washer.

  • #2
    Re: VBM - quality not quite there

    These "issues" are well known VBM quirks and have been discussed elsewhere,

    The VBM represents brilliant value for money at the price and the difficulties are easily overcome. In comparison, a GS3 is almost perfect and is also $6.5k...I reckon you have done ok. What can it put in the cup?

    Like most other machines, VBM are hand made and subject to small variations. I consider these variations to be optional extras which are not charged for. In addition, about 2 minutes of your time will overcome the majority of these issues.

    Keep in mind that your supplier should have adjusted the OPV using a portafilter pressure gauge for you and as such, you shouldnt need to be inside the machine anyway as you probably dont have the equipment required to accurately gauge the effect of any adjustments :-?

    Most espresso machine importers will be reluctant to provide warranty on machines which are user modified/damaged.

    Chris

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: VBM - quality not quite there


      All I have to say about this subject is that a seller of a product should do a pre delivery check

      If a problem is common or known to both maker and seller it should be repaired before delivery or handover to the buyer
      This repair should be then charged under warranty to the manufacturer and classified as a manufacturing defect especially sharp panels and leaking drip tray handles
      As for the leaking drip tray handle

      Would I be wrong to say that the reason the factory wont put 2 washers in the handle is because
      1) It is too hard
      2) It costs a prohibitive amount and costs would blow out

      I hear you say none of the above
      hmmm well I am at a loss about this one

      I should send an invoice to VBM because I hand made some leather washers and sent them to a fellow coffee snob to fix his leaking VBM handle

      The question and concerns about build quality that CS Member Garbage has posted is a valid one and known faults should have been addressed before he got the machine
      Remember sharp panels don’t discriminate who they cut owner or repairman

      KK



      Comment


      • #4
        Re: VBM - quality not quite there

        KK, are you familiar with the VBM?

        The ones I have at the roastery DO have spring washers, and although I wouldnt expect these to be watertight, others have mentioned that they have resolved the issue by tightening the nuts. The VBMs drip tray is quite deep and large. If waste water ever gets to the level of the screws, then its already overdue for an empty and clean IMHO.

        As for the sharp panels I agree the finish could always be better. I also have to say that unless you were to run your hand lengthways along an edge, Ill be damned if I know how you would manage to cut yourself. Then again, people manage to do exactly this with a sheet of paper.

        As for access to the OVP, while its not aligned, if you know what youre doing, its actually very simple to make any adjustments. I find it more than a bit surprising when people have spent so much on a coffee machine, and then want to take a screw driver to it at the first chance they get. Kind of like spending an equivalent amount on a car, then deciding to modify and service it myself when Im not a mechanic.

        Im sure I can find fault with any machine. I know that Chris and I continuously encourage people to visit, and compare any equipment side-by-side so that they can make their own assessment. As well as the positives, I also know that we purposely point out everything that might be considered to be a negative, so that a customer can make an informed choice.

        Oh, and if youre ever thinking of buying a GS3, remove the drip tray and check out the framework - its far from perfect.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: VBM - quality not quite there

          My drip tray did not exhibit any leaking. There is no reason to ever remove the two bolts holding the drip tray handle, so an easy fix would be to use a dab of sealant in the hole, or between the two panels before assembly (RTV?). While on the subject of the drip tray, when it is empty, the vibrations from the pump cause it to walk out of the machine a short distance when running. I need to add some friction to the base where the tray sits.

          The sharp panels are (were?) a hit and miss thing. Some users have reported no such problems, but mine was like an old computer case. I had to hone the edges of the drip tray as well as the inner divider panel. I was replacing the OPV spring and was wondering what all the red markings were on the inner panel when I realized they were coming from me.. I used a diamond stone and rounded over all the edges— something that should have been addressed at the factory. These were not just a little sharp, but had the micro-serrations that go through flesh like a razor blade.

          I also complained about the water that would run down the face of the machine and get under the drip tray. That has been addressed with a re-formed front panel with an angular flare of the bottom of the face to redirect the water.

          I finally addessed the case vibration problems with the addition of velcro as I described and illustrated here:
          http://www.home-barista.com/forums/taming-vbms-vibrations-t8132.html
          I finally find the source of about 85% of the noise the machine makes and this simple solution did the trick.

          The location of the OPV is a minor problem but one that should have been done differently. The adjustment should have been accessible under the drip tray, the same as the pressurestat access. Alternatively, there should have been a separate access opening instead of sharing the one for the reservoir level switch.

          And as far as taking a screwdriver to the machine first thing, mine came with the out-of-spec OPV spring causing the pressure to be all over the place. I had to change it. just recently I had to readjust it again as it changed. it had held for about a year, then one day dropped about .4 BAR. I readjusted it and now it is fine again.

          Not long after I got my machine I also had a water line pop off under pump pressure because the tie wrap holding it was not tight enough.

          A slot cut in the side of the case to allow viewing of the reservoir with maybe an LED lamp under the reservoir so that the user could see the water level without having to remove the cup warming tray would be very nice. It would be a lot more pleasant than being in the middle of a pull an having the machine shut down.

          BUT.... the other side of this is... with quality beans, a quality grinder, and a barrista who has some skills, knowledge, and experience, this thing is capable of producing amazing espresso, pull after pull, day after day. The difference in the quality of espresso and the consistency of same when compared to a PIDd Silvia is to be experienced to be believed. Using my home roast and blend, I recently went seven consecutive weeks, at least two doubles a day, without a bad pull, and it was that mysterious change in OPV setting that ended that string.

          The things that count (pressurestat, boiler, brewhead, pump, etc.) and top tier in this machine. It is easy to work on and there is a tn of room around the internal components which allow better air circulation and makes it easier for cleaning chores around the boiler, watching for leaks, etc. quite easy. This also helps extend the life of electronic components. The brewhead is probably the best E-61 available— it should be because VBM holds the patent. The use of socket head screws on the mushroom access cover as well as on the cam cover make access to the brewhead components very simple.

          So, sure, I wish they would have paid a bit more attention to some of the design and manufacturing details, but this is one tough machine, made to last, and it makes GREAT espresso, and as far as I can see, will continue to do so for a long, long time in my house.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: VBM - quality not quite there

            Originally posted by cuppacoffee link=1225344730/0#3 date=1225373491
            Oh, and if youre ever thinking of buying a GS3, remove the drip tray and check out the framework - its far from perfect.
            Yeah Ive seen some shockers with this in regards to the drip tray corners of the frame. Although it wouldnt stop me from accepting one should it be donated to me for testing pruposes

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: VBM - quality not quite there

              Like Chris said, there is no perfect machine. Any purchase you make is going to be a compromise with factors such as performance/build quality/price being the most common that people talk about. A GS3 is great value for money if you have plenty of spare cash and a Presso is great value for money if you are a struggling student.

              Remember a few years ago when the Rancillio Silvia was so hyped on internet forum sites that there were 4 month plus waiting lists for one. Not that long ago (before manufacturing issues) the ECM Giotto had massive back-orders because of, once again, internet forum hype. As Luca has been saying a lot lately many users have opinions that are created by other opinions and have never even seen the machines they type about. I guess that is one of the downfalls of accessible information. Wasnt the quote something like "the internet has so far proven that a million monkeys with a million typewriters can recreate the works of Shakespeare"  

              At the end of the day there are many options for machines in a large variety of price/quality brackets. Some represent better value than others, but all are only one part of the equation required to make great coffee at home.  

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: VBM - quality not quite there

                Id be thoroughly accepting if these design oversights were present on a $500 Gaggia or Nemox, but for a machine that costs 5 times that amount, my expectations are much higher. Kind of like a Toyota vs Lexus quality/engineering comparison.

                Chris, youre 100% right that the necessary pre-delivery checks werent done in the case of my machine as the brew pressure was set at the factory default. I had even asked the retailer to ensure the brew pressure setting was correct, and he assured me that itll be set correctly from the factory, which it wasnt.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: VBM - quality not quite there

                  I will assume that your use of the word hype follows the following definition:

                  1 : put on , deceive
                  2 : to promote or publicize extravagantly

                  Remember a few years ago when the Rancillio Silvia was so hyped on internet forum sites that there were 4 month plus waiting lists for one.
                  hyped? it has a proven track record of being well built, dependable, and capable of making excellent espresso. Wheres the hype?

                  Not that long ago (before manufacturing issues) the ECM Giotto had massive back-orders because of, once again, internet forum hype.
                  back in those days, when it was still an Italian company making the machine in Italy, it was an excellent machine. Again, wheres the hype?

                  As Luca has been saying a lot lately many users have opinions that are created by other opinions and have never even seen the machines they type about. I guess that is one of the downfalls of accessible information. Wasnt the quote something like "the internet has so far proven that a million monkeys with a million typewriters can recreate the works of Shakespeare"  
                  Many buyers have to form opinions based on the opinions of others because few have the opportunity to even touch let alone use most machines before purchase. I would have had to take a 3 hour round-trip drive to see anything above a Krups. A downfall of accessible information is only created by people unintelligent enough to take the time to read numerous views and see the truth as it applies to their own situation.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: VBM - quality not quite there

                    The main reason I have made it a point to claim a warranty service charge to the manufacturer is that sometimes only the hip pocket can make them review a production line change in procedure.

                    The VBM is a good machine it makes coffee very well (I have no dispute)

                    The big picture view of this is always the coffee making process

                    But it’s the small things that make it a “great machine not just a good one”

                    The complaints made by owners are not really that hard and probably cost neutral to fix on the production line

                    This is a true story
                    One example to a similar quirk to the VBM rattle is from a colleague

                    A new car was purchased and loved for all of the good things
                    However a persistent rattle in the dash that could not be found or fixed turned him off the new car

                    6 months new he sold/traded that car in and got another make

                    So what is the moral to all of this?
                    "Small things are more important that most people realize"

                    KK

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: VBM - quality not quite there

                      Yes KK,

                      One might suggest similar things about any machine though.

                      If you take your machine and try to set the OPV to 9 bar you:
                      [*]Need to be a 3 handed dwarf rubber man to remove it[*]Need to accept that there will be profanity and most likely blood as well[*]Need to break the locktite seal on the OPV which sets the pressure to more like 12 bar[*]Employ more profanity and the small bloke to get it back again (more blood :)[*]Get rewarded with the 9 bar scream when all is back together and working as it should...

                      All in all, probably a good 30 min to do a job which takes a minute in a VBM...

                      Does mean that the Galatea is no good :-? Absolutely not....Its a great machine and works really well as you well know. Its louder than most of the others too...Could something be done about it? Probably...Does it really matter? Nup...

                      EVERY machine is a box of compromise. One sharp edge is not the end of the world...

                      Chris

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: VBM - quality not quite there

                        I don’t believe that adjusting the OPV does anything except force the user to adjust grind size and tamp pressure to compensate for the difference

                        However I have read on another forum that the Bezzera Galatea OPV is not made to adjust that’s why it is sealed with locktite and that it has a service life of over 10 years
                        But I will check this out to be sure this info is correct?

                        KK

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: VBM - quality not quite there

                          Originally posted by Koffee Kosmo link=1225344730/0#12 date=1225458017
                          I don’t believe that adjusting the OPV does anything except force the user to adjust grind size and tamp pressure to compensate for the difference
                          Too high a Brew Pressure has a huge impact on the quality of the coffee in the cup KK. With all else being close to the money, it will tend to over-extract the coffee regardless of how well you believe you are controlling the shot with adjustments to grind and tamping force. This results in bitter coffee which has an almost burnt edge to it and a lessening of the volume of crema.

                          If your Bezz hasnt been checked for correct Brew Pressure yet, I would ask the guys at Barazi to put it on the bench and set it up with a Pressure PF. You will definitely notice the change in shot quality afterwards; they will be much sweeter, more body and more crema. Highly recommended KK....

                          Cheers,
                          Mal.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: VBM - quality not quite there

                            Originally posted by Koffee Kosmo link=1225344730/0#12 date=1225458017
                            I don’t believe that adjusting the OPV does anything except force the user to adjust grind size and tamp pressure to compensate for the difference....
                            What about if the brew pressure is too low? This would force the user to adjust their grind to a more coarse setting to compensate, leading to under-extraction.

                            Try this: With your machine working at about 9BAR, and the grinder set properly, set the OPV to 11 BAR and pull a shot with the same grind and see what happens. I theorize that the flow rate will be increased, with a proportionately increased chance of channeling. So you will need a finer grind and thus take the chance of over-extraction.

                            if nothing else, it is easier on the pump if it doesnt have to work any harder than necessary.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: VBM - quality not quite there

                              Originally posted by Koffee Kosmo link=1225344730/0#11 date=1225458017
                              I don’t believe that adjusting the OPV does anything except force the user to adjust grind size and tamp pressure to compensate for the difference

                              However I have read on another forum that the Bezzera Galatea OPV is not made to adjust that’s why it is sealed with locktite and that it has a service life of over 10 years
                              But I will check this out to be sure this info is correct?

                              KK
                              Hi KK,

                              I reckon thats a cop out....An OPV is essentially a spring and they should all be adjustable.

                              Prior to having the opv return to the tank, Galatea OPF relief water ended up in the drip tray- up to 150ml per shot. These days it is (correctly) routed back into the tank. There is no reason whatsoever to ship these machines with the OPV set closer to 12 bar and in fact, I reckon its pretty pig-headed to dictate to the market against all the research, wisdom and experience that has proven that circa 9 bar is optimum.

                              To lock it down with locktite is laughable- so regardless, it gets set correctly on every machine I see- unless the client requests for it not to be. Springs can be more gently or heavily compressed. Theyre still springs!

                              The writing is on the wall IMHO to get it right and to remove the head from the sand.

                              I really like the machine and set correctly, its terrific. I dont like it at all at 12 bar and every time I open one up to do this job, it really irritates me that the OPV is so poorly located in contrast to the wisdom of a myriad of other manufacturers. Even Rancilio saw the light with Silvia. The proof is in the cup.

                              Its time for a change

                              Chris

                              Comment

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