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FAEMA E98 S1 - Friend or Foe?

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  • FAEMA E98 S1 - Friend or Foe?

    Hi guys,


    Earlier this week, I ran the gauntlet of the Sydney traffic, to take a look at a Faema E98 espresso machine in Brookvale. It was the poverty pack version - with the vibration pump, manual boiler fill, and no volumetric controls. Apparently it had had limited use in a home, before being stored for 10 years, and was in quite good condition. The guys in the workshop were kind enough to pull the covers off to allow me to have a squiz, and fired it up to check all functions worked correctly. To all outward appearances, the machine looked new, and came with the original ancillaries, manuals and delivery documents. I was reasonably satisfied, and parted with my cold hard cash for an old-school HX machine that was built like a little brick outhouse, and looked like it would be at home in an '80s time warp.

    Prior to the purchase, I read what I could find on these machines, looked at the parts diagrams, operating manuals, and pictures of the guts of the machine. I searched various forums, reading horror stories of abused machines full of scale, with split heat exchangers and corroded frames etc. A review, (of the La-Cimbali Junior rotary pump volumetric version), waxed lyrical about its construction and performance, while other users noted that as a commercial machine, it's best when run continuously and run hard, and is not ideal when used intermittently at home. One user noted that it could be a challenging and unforgiving machine, requiring a practiced technique and attention to detail to extract the best from it. Most noted it needed an almost religious flushing routine after long idle periods.

    So, what do I have, a user-friendly coffee companion, or a hot-blooded hissing nemesis? I note that there are members of the forum who currently have, or have had these machines, and I would be thankful of your opinion of these machines, and your insight into their operation and tweaking. All comments, good or bad, will be gratefully received.

    Cheers, Steve

  • #2
    Originally posted by Stavros View Post
    Hi guys,


    Earlier this week, I ran the gauntlet of the Sydney traffic, to take a look at a Faema E98 espresso machine in Brookvale. It was the poverty pack version - with the vibration pump, manual boiler fill, and no volumetric controls. Apparently it had had limited use in a home, before being stored for 10 years, and was in quite good condition. The guys in the workshop were kind enough to pull the covers off to allow me to have a squiz, and fired it up to check all functions worked correctly. To all outward appearances, the machine looked new, and came with the original ancillaries, manuals and delivery documents. I was reasonably satisfied, and parted with my cold hard cash for an old-school HX machine that was built like a little brick outhouse, and looked like it would be at home in an '80s time warp.

    Prior to the purchase, I read what I could find on these machines, looked at the parts diagrams, operating manuals, and pictures of the guts of the machine. I searched various forums, reading horror stories of abused machines full of scale, with split heat exchangers and corroded frames etc. A review, (of the La-Cimbali Junior rotary pump volumetric version), waxed lyrical about its construction and performance, while other users noted that as a commercial machine, it's best when run continuously and run hard, and is not ideal when used intermittently at home. One user noted that it could be a challenging and unforgiving machine, requiring a practiced technique and attention to detail to extract the best from it. Most noted it needed an almost religious flushing routine after long idle periods.

    So, what do I have, a user-friendly coffee companion, or a hot-blooded hissing nemesis? I note that there are members of the forum who currently have, or have had these machines, and I would be thankful of your opinion of these machines, and your insight into their operation and tweaking. All comments, good or bad, will be gratefully received.

    Cheers, Steve
    I just got one of these recently and just got the portafilter for it today. So after my 1 afternoon of use, I am loving it...but it was brand new when I got it (old unused model). I need to learn how to control the steam though...it is insanely powerful!

    Comment


    • #3
      I got a top of the line A1 from the scrapyard a few weeks back, outwardly it looked great, internally not so good. Boiler half full of scale flakes and the pump was shot. Every small orifice was blocked with scale too. As it's a rotary pump machine and uses a particular Faema motor/pump setup, new pumps are way overpriced in Australia so I've got one on the way from Italy for a third of the cost. I've also ordered some different flow restrictors for the group head to play around with shot performances.

      They do run hot as they don't use a heat exchanger and rely on cold water running to the group to regulate temperature, otherwise they idle at boiler temperature (120C or so). There's no real way to regulate this temperature down without heavily affecting steam power due to this design.
      I'm hoping that changing the flow rate of cold water to the group by using a different restrictor may yield some better stability.

      They don't take long to overheat either. Sometimes 20-30 seconds is enough for the group water to be spitting. Group head plumbing on certain models means a much reduced flushing requirement but others need a long flush.

      If you have the patience to use it domestically it can work for you and it'll likely never break down. The quality of components used throughout is very high. All boiler valves are sealed with teflon gaskets (rather than single use copper washers of teflon tape in other machines) and the fit and finish of everything, particularly from a service standpoint, is excellent.

      Comment


      • #4
        I had the A1 as my first serious machine. Loved it and still miss it. Built like a tank.

        I just programmed three of the 4 volumetric buttons for cooling flushes, short, medium and long. It became routine to just press one of the buttons depending on idle time while prepping the dose, lock on and press the 4 th button for my programmed volume, which was always dead on.

        Apart from needing to refill the tank more often and emptying the diy drip tray underneath (the drip tray is plumbed only on the A1) it wasn’t really an issue. And the shots it produced were great.

        You’ll love it.

        Cheers

        Comment


        • #5
          Morning guys,

          I know it's standard practice to post a picture of your 'new' machine, typically on the kitchen bench, surrounded by the espresso accoutrements, but the E98 only made it as far as the workshop, as I wanted to pull it apart and have a fiddle.

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          Cheers, Steve

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          • #6
            In fantastic condition as you said above...
            Pretty sure you will love it.

            Mal.

            Comment


            • #7
              Stavros these pictures are WAYYYY better!

              Comment


              • #8
                Afternoon Guys,

                Pulled the heating element out of the boiler this morning. Given the reported limited use of the machine, I was expecting a bit of hard white scale here and there, but instead there was a buildup of a relatively soft green deposits around the entrance. The majority of it could be rubbed off with your finger. Having never fiddled with a copper boiler before, is this green colour a normal occurrence?

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                I could also see the nickel-plated heat exchanger through the opening, and there was also a bit of the gunk around the top where it mates with the boiler, so I will pull that out tomorrow, and give everything a clean with a hot citric acid solution.

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                Cheers, Steve

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                • #9
                  It's just verdigris Steve...

                  Would probably wash off with a strong water jet. Overall though, this machine is in fantastic nick.

                  Mal.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Probably not true verdigris (= "Greek green" in French, old name for copper acetate) as that is fairly water soluble (but stable in oil, hence it use). IMO it's most likely to be a corrosion product like copper chloride, possibly mixed with other things. You can tell them apart reasonably easily by their reaction / solution behaviours if you are interested.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Ah, I was thinking that it was most likely Copper Carbonate but of course, a previous owner may washed out the boiler using vinegar or similar and left some residue behind...

                      Mal.

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                      • #12
                        Yeah carbonate is another likely culprit, depending on whether the water used was alkaline. Carbonate is easy to identify, drop some citric on it and it will fizz.

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                        • #13
                          Hi Guys,

                          The deposits may well be what you suspected, as the citric acid mix dissolved them readily. At your suggestion, I dropped a chunk into the solution, and could see it bubble away quite happily.

                          While the group head was off, I took the opportunity to machine two new ports into the horizontal passage which directs the brew water to the to the distributer/shower screen.

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                          The first port was at the end of the casting, (where there was an existing M6 thread and plug), which was counterbored and threaded to accept a gland bolt and Teflon olive, for a digital temperature gauge.

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                          The Testo temperature gauge has a 125mm long probe, which is sufficient to reach down the existing passage with the sensing end located in the path of the brew water, right before it takes a downward turn into the top of the shower screen. I'm hoping that it will allow me to better manage the temperature of the group head. (I'm also hoping that the 9 bar pressure will not blow the probe clean out of the fitting, across the room, and into the far wall.

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                          The second port was on the top of the casting, (where there was an unused cast boss), and was threaded to accept a banjo bolt and fitting for a new dual steam/pump pressure gauge.

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                          The only downside of what I'm doing is that the new capillary tubes are cluttering up the otherwise roomy layout of the machine. Now there are spaces where my fat fingers won't easily fit!

                          While I'm here, I would also like to give a big thank you to the guys at Jetblack. I rang them the other day chasing a new dual pressure gauge and associated capillary tubing, and the guy in the parts section was very knowledgeable and helpful, measuring gauge body and bezel diameters, and getting it into the overnight post, which was great.

                          Cheers, Steve
                          Last edited by Stavros; 10 December 2019, 03:18 PM.

                          Comment


                          • saeco_user
                            saeco_user commented
                            Editing a comment
                            Can you please post the part number of the duel reading pressure gauge. Am looking at doing something similar. Thanks

                        • #14
                          Originally posted by Stavros View Post
                          I'm also hoping that the 9 bar pressure will not blow the probe clean out of the fitting, across the room, and into the far wall.


                          It's around 2mm diameter? 1 MPa = 1 N / mm2, so 0.9 MPa on a 2mm diameter shaft is 2.8 N, barely enough to lift the thermometer. Nothing is going to blow anywhere.

                          It's worth remembering that espresso pressure is only about double standard mains pressure.

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                          • #15
                            Hi Guys,

                            Thanks Lyrebird - now I won't flinch everytime I pull a shot. (Not as bad my Mum's pressure-cooker, which distributed 2 litres of vegetable soup over the ceiling some years ago! She still has a nervous twitch every time it comes up to pressure. )

                            Anyway, I got everything connected up today and had a play. I had a leak on the new banjo bolt, annealed the coppers washers, tighten it up again, and all good now. My non-contract infrared temperature gauge is a cheap and dodgy item without any emissivity correction, so I painted two satin black patches on the boiler end plate and group head casting to assist with temperature measurement. Using a blind filter, the OPV was reduced from 11 to 9 bar. And based on what I had read on the forum, the pressurestat was set to 0.9 to 1.1 bar. The boiler idled around 120 degrees, and after half an hour the group head casting was around 87 degrees. The new digital temperate gauge was showing about 85 degrees, so all in all, I think it is OK.

                            To get a feel for it, I did a few flushes and pretend shots without the portafilter fitted. When I thought I had the hang of it, I ran a few shots with about 16g of coffee in the double-shot basket. It took a while, but I eventually got a few acceptable temperature readings. Typically, after a little cooling flush, the temperature gauge would be idling at 85 degrees. When the shot was started it would jump up to 96 degrees in the first few seconds, and then settle to about 94 at 8 seconds. During the rest of the 30 second shot, the temperature would slowly drop to 93 degrees.

                            I seemed to be in the ballpark, and made myself a flat-white, but the shot was fast and watery, so I'm going to have to work on that a bit before I pass one to the wife!

                            Cheers, Steve

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