The Dirty Portafilter

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

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Now that I have the machine completely disassembled, it is time to turn to the frame. I decided to take on the stainless steel. It was brown and covered with residua. It appears to have dun battle with a scotch pad. These panels are brushed stainless, the brush grain runs up and down. You don’t take an abrasive scrubbing pad and rub cross grain. If you do you end up with a marred and ugly patch of scratches.


I got out the old high speed buffer (use to detail cars in college) a big bag of bonnets, light grit polishing compound, aluminum polishing cream and some carnauba wax.

I secured the panels to my workbench with some rubber padded clamps. I started with the light grit compound to buff out most of the scratches. You have to buff with the grain in the steel. After a couple of passes I switch to the aluminum polish. Now things get nasty. The oxidation starts to come off, the jewelers rogue in the polish does its job nicely. After another couple of passes and some very dirty bonnets…

I have some respectable brushed stainless steel.


Thursday, February 23, 2006

Boiler Level Glass

I have been staring at that nasty, crusty boiler sight glass. The glass had lime caked in it so bad that it looked like frosted glass. The brass was green and crusted with, well, I am not sure what it was crusted with. But I am positive it would not have passed a food safety inspection.


The assembly is relatively simple. There are two bolts holding on caps at either end. So I unscrew the bolts to disassemble everything. To my surprise, after unscrewing the last hex bolt, the bottom cap, bolt, and spring shot across my workbench. I did not realize that there was a very stiff spring in there. That spring holds a seal in place and the sight glass passes through that seal.

Unfortunately, I did not take any photos of the disassembled unit. You have a top and bottom assembly. Each assembly has a ball bearing in the intake, a seal sits in a brass ‘cup’, a very stiff spring that keeps that packing seal tight against the base and a the sight glass goes through the hole in that packing seal. The top of the glass has an additional fitting that allows the boiler water level sensor to pass through.

I had to soak the entire works in some descale overnight to get it clean. There was a painted stripe down the back of the glass that you use as a level indicator. The water in the glass magnifies the stripe so you know exactly how full your boiler is. That stripe was about half there. So I scrapped it off with my fingernail, the paint was so old and brittle that it came right off. I taped up the glass and painted a new black stripe down the glass. I also cleaned and repainted the glass mount.

A trip to the hardware store and I got new packing seals to put in those brass ‘cups’ and some new stainless steel bolts to replace the crusty zinc bolts that were on the bases. Carefully reassemble the ends and put the sight glass back in then bolt it all back onto the newly painted mount.

Hard to believe this is that nasty crusty thing in the first photo.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Faema Rebuild Project, Steam/Water Wands

First you have to remove the control knobs. These had a cap that unscrewed to reveal a cotter pin through the valve shaft and a washer. Pull the pin, remove the washer and unscrew the handles.

I have always wondered what the inside of a commercial steam/water valve looked like, now I know.

These were the most difficult part of the entire tare down. Not in complexity, even though they are one of the most complicated parts of the machine, but in getting the locking rings to let go. I put a bit of penetrating oil on the locking rings, they were not corroded, just very, very tight. I had to really put some strength behind these but they did let go. Once the lock ring is removed the valve just slides out of the mount and removes from the chassis.

If you decide to take one of these apart, you may want to do it at a table with a towel under everything. That way if you drop a small part, say a spring or ball bearing, it does not bounce everywhere. The terry cloth dampens the bounce and parts tend to stay put when dropped (a lesson I learned the hard way while rebuilding a carburetor). I don’t know about your garage, but in my garage there is a pack of gremlins that steel any small part that happens to fall on the floor. All of those little nuts, springs and pins are probably keeping the dryer sock gremlin company.

The steam valve was relatively clean, the steam wand was a nasty mess, but I am replacing it. The water tap is another story. It appears that it has been rebuilt but was full of some kind of greasy gunk. A water proof lubricant would be my guess but it looked more like plumbers putty. It took quite a bit of scrubbing to get all cleaned up.

The steam valve had a spring and ball in it. The water valve did not. I don’t know if that is normal or if someone had lost them when rebuilding it (remember those garage gremlins). If anyone can answer that, please do.

The inside of the valve consists of 7 parts, 4 of which you can see here. I did not realize that there was a brass insert and two O rings in the end that holds the valve stem until after I took the photo. So laid out in order, you would have a brass insert behind the spring (to the right of) and two small O rings after it, then the stem housing.

A soak in descale to clean everything up and a trip to the hardware store to get some more O rings and everything was in ship shape.