The Dirty Portafilter

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

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.


  • At 3:43 PM, Blogger dean said…

    How very cool. I just found your blog today. How did you come across the machine? Did you have any experience with plumbing or anything that gives you an upper hand on rebuilding it? Do you have a guide? a mentor? something?

    If you're up for meeting strangers through the internet, perhaps this summer when I'm in Lebanon you'll be finished and can show off your work.

  • At 9:55 AM, Blogger cannonfodder said…

    I essentially jumped in with both feet. No prior experience with espresso machines, in fact I have only been drinking espresso for a year now. I got the machine from Barry, owner of Riley’s coffee and fudge I have also seen several similar Faema’s on ebay.

    Most folks think of these machines as being more complicated than they really are. After all, it is just a small boiler, some plumbing, pump and a small electrical box. It is not rocket science. Now having said that, this is a simple machine, an LM, with its programmable membrane pads and volumetric flow meter is a bit more complicated. If you have ever rebuilt a car or home, this is easy in comparison.

    You will have to send me an email when you are in the area. Work keeps me busy but if I am in I don’t mind showing off the final product and pulling some shots.


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