Two unrelated? Adventures - Steam Valve, Blown Fuse

If something breaks post warranty, let us know about it. Tell us how you fixed it. Let us know how much the parts cost.
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java man
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Joined: Thu May 28, 2009 3:28 pm

Two unrelated? Adventures - Steam Valve, Blown Fuse

Post by java man »

I've had my Mini Vivaldi II for 9.5 years. During that time I've replaced one solenoid and the pump. Now, I've also replaced a steam valve and a fuse.

The steam valve stopped working after several episodes of getting stuck in the "on" position. I tried to stop it by cranking the handle up and down a few times, but that broke the small plastic link between the steam handle and the valve itself.

Getting the steam valve out was a major pain. The valve is accessible with the front and side panels of the machine removed. Everyone who's disassembled a Mini knows they're both very easy to remove. Next, I removed the steam wand, again, easy.

The valve is connected to the boiler via a plastic "steam delivery" tube with brass fittings on each end. The valve is mounted on a bracket. The steam delivery tube is cemented to the steam valve, and it was nearly impossible to get the fittings loosened, even with the large wrenches I was using. I had to hold the valve with a large expandable basin wrench to hold it secure enough to break the seal created by the cement. In doing so, I put a slight kink in the steam delivery tube, which I'm sure reduces its cross sectional area and adds resistance to steam flow.

I was worried that without cement to seal the new steam valve to the old fitting, it might leak. I had planned a trip to EspressoTec on Clark Drive in Vancouver anyway, and asked the techs there what they would do. They said they don't use sealer, or even Teflon tape, and the joints on the steam valves don't leak. I used Teflon tape, anyway, being careful not to get any in the steam path, and re-assembled it. No leaks, and much easier to work with than cement. This repair was completed more than a week ago, and there isn't a trace of leakage.

However, a week later, I found the machine dead while plugged in, with the "ready" light not blinking as it normally does when off but plugged in.

I soon discovered that the fuse (accessible without taking panels off - on the bottom right of the machine near the back) was blown. I checked online where I found them for $8 at Chris Coffee. Not wanting to wait, I went to Lee's Electronics on Fraser Street in Vancouver. They had replacements, found them immediately, and charged me $1 each. I bought 2.

Fuses don't usually blow unless they're protecting the device from a voltage or current spike. I see no effects from anything like that. Replacing the fuse brought the machine back to life, and it works as usual. We'll see what happens over the coming months.

While I was at it, I reset the steam pressure to the highest level using the onboard computer. It is a little faster, but more importantly, the quality of the milk foam it creates is far superior. It is now great for latte art.
Java Man
(A.K.A. Espressopithecus)
Mini Vivaldi II
Baratza Sette 270Wi
Kinu Phoenix hand grinder
java man
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Re: Two unrelated? Adventures - Steam Valve, Blown Fuse

Post by java man »

Update: The Vivaldi II has run reliably until a couple of days ago. Another blown fuse. The machine is on a GFCI circuit, and it was also kicked.

I reset the GFCI but the Vivaldi II did not come back to life. Turned it over and sure enough, a blown fuse. I replaced the fuse 3 days ago and put it back into service. This morning, I found the GFCI is again blown, and the machine did not come back on after the GFCI was reset. The GFCI outlet also powers my Sette grinder. It came back on normally after the GFCI was reset, so there is power at the outlet. Time for some detective work.
Java Man
(A.K.A. Espressopithecus)
Mini Vivaldi II
Baratza Sette 270Wi
Kinu Phoenix hand grinder
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chas
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Re: Two unrelated? Adventures - Steam Valve, Blown Fuse

Post by chas »

The biggest cause of this failure is some water getting inside the steam boiler heater element causing a partial short. Try disconnecting the power leads at the top of the steam boiler. If it still happens try pulling the heater element wires at the back of the coffee boiler. If either of those makes it stop, you're likely fix is replacement of the affected heater element.
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java man
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Re: Two unrelated? Adventures - Steam Valve, Blown Fuse

Post by java man »

Thought I'd close the loop on this for any other Vivaldi II mini owners with similar problems.

After blowing several fuses over the past year, I called Chris Coffee to talk to one of their techs. The fuse problem is intermittent. It seems to happen a few times a year, but not in any predictable way. It's happened occasionally since ~ 2014 (the machine was new in 2009) but was very infrequent, so I simply replaced fuses. It happened only once while I was operating the machine. If blew a fuse when I was steaming, and the pump turned on to fill the boiler. Aside from that, all fuses had blown while the machine was unattended after it was started by the timer in the morning.

During the past year it has happened more often - up to once a month - so I called Chris Coffee to talk to a technician. He said the obvious - it's difficult to troubleshoot intermittent electrical problems. He suggested a few tests which I'd already done, then finally said he'd try resetting the machine to 15 amps from 20, and see what happens.

I did that in July 2020. The machine has blown one fuse since then. I now use the steam boiler only when needed, and never turn the machine off while the steam boiler is on. That way, it always starts up with only the brew boiler powered.

This requires a little change in my shot prep process. I used to start pulling the shot first, then steamed the milk, which usually finished before the shot was completed. Now I start steaming first, stretch the milk to 100F, then start steaming while the milk heats the rest of the way to my preferred 140F. I turn off the steam boiler immediately after steaming. This seems to work well enough, and the change in my prep process hasn't adversely affected microfilm milk quality.

An occasional blown fuse isn't a problem. They're $1.20 each and I keep a stock on hand to last me a couple of years. The store where I buy them is a 20 minute drive away, so this should continue to work out well.
Java Man
(A.K.A. Espressopithecus)
Mini Vivaldi II
Baratza Sette 270Wi
Kinu Phoenix hand grinder
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