The Dirty Portafilter

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

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.

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