The Dirty Portafilter

My corner of the Internet, mostly espresso related but occasionally life will interfere.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Faema Rebuild Project, GroupHead

I have recently become the new owner of an old and very used Faema two group commercial espresso machine. It appears to have been sitting for a while and was very dirty, but appeared mechanically intact. So I decided to start another project and rebuild my first commercial heat exchanger.

As you can see, there was going to be a lot of scrubbing involved. I decided to do a complete frame up rebuild. Everything gets pulled, scrubbed, de-scaled, polished, repainted and reassembled.


One quick note. Some of the photos are mediocre at best. The strobe flash on my digital camera burnt out so I have to shoot without a flash. That means low F-stop and shudder speeds. Some of the photos may be slightly blurry because of that but I did my best with what I have.

GROUPHEAD REBUILD



First thing that gets pulled and rebuilt is the grouphead. These are a variation of the E-61 group. The groups were held on with two bolts and the two thermosyphen lines. Luckily, the thermosyphen lines unscrewed relatively easy. I believe it was a 21mm bolt head, a slight bump from my palm on the end of the wrench and off they came.
(the black box on the group stem is an electronic solenoid to open and close the 3 way valve)



After disassembling the lower stem/valve portion of the group, it was time to pull the shower screen and gasket to see what horrors were in store for me. I have an E-61 Isomac but it is less than a year old, so this is the first time I have removed this type of screen. I tried to pry up the screen with a screwdriver to no avail. So I decided to pry up the gasket. I inserted the tip of a small slotted screwdriver in the outer edge and pried up. It is just like opening a can of paint. It came right off.


Then I almost fainted! How on Gods green earth could someone let a machine get this bad. Both groups were in equal states of filth. It was at this point that I started to question weather or not I wanted to try rebuilding this machine. I took a deep breath and assured myself that it is just coffee residue and will clean up with a good scrub.

So that is exactly what I did. After disassembling the groups I soaked them both in descale solution over night. The 3 way solenoid channel was caked with buildup and required additional attention. After a bit of scraping and more soaking it came clean.

I have to point out one interesting thing. Descale solution does not remove the oily residue. While the inside of the groups was clear of any hint of scale, the dispersion screen was still black with buildup. So an overnight soak in some Joe-Glo detergent. Now that did the trick. After a bit of scrubbing and scraping I was rewarded with two shinny group heads. I installed new O-rings and reassembled the groups.

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