Descaling & Flow control to rehome an S1

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mmg
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Descaling & Flow control to rehome an S1

Post by mmg »

I have recently acquire an S1, which I am tried to give new life to.

I wanted to descale the boilers, to start. I am not sure how to disassemble the coffee boiler, it seems very much part of the group head and quite the feat, but I am sure I am missing something.
So I moved onto the steam boiler, much easier, but I am unsure how to disconnect the water lines, the plastic tubes seem to fit onto the brass L connectors with some kind of hose fit and pulling them gently doesn't release them. Maybe it's because of the scale in that connection? Should I just pull as hard as I can?

On a side note, the 2-3 shots I pulled seemed overall ok, but I can't get the flow sensor to work, the alarm is on. I tried pulling a shot in program mode, which works fine, then I move onto brewing mode and the lights are steady for the first 2-3 seconds, then start blinking to indicate the alarm. I thought I might have had air in the boilers, but I am not sure how to bleed them, if it's needed.
After reading the forum, it seems that brass shavings might be the problem, does one just remove the sensor and brush the connections? Is that what cleaning it entails?

Finally, the steam want was extremely janky, it seems to be the long no-burn one, but the element inside is held by a metal tie, which is clearly not the original design. Could anyone show me how this should be held in place, so that I can understand what is broken/if I can fix it?


Sorry for the long read, but thank you so much in advance!
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Re: Descaling & Flow control to rehome an S1

Post by chas »

The back of the coffee boiler unscrews. They make a special wrench for that but I am not sure where you would purchase one. Also a strap wrench might work. In any case there is a gasket that sits in a groove in the lid that must be replaced. Don't open the boiler without one on hand.

As for the steam boiler there is a collar that must be pushed in where the plastic tubing inserts into the metal fitting. You need to be pushing in on that collar while pulling on the tubing.

It does sound like you may need to remove the flow sensor so you can dismantle it and check for obstructions. However, it is strange that it works in program mode but not in operational mode.

I bought the V2 with the no burn steam wand, hated it, and replaced it almost immediately with a full-burn S5 steam arm which I prefer over the V2's full-burn arm. Consequentially, I've never taken that wand apart to see how it is built.
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Re: Descaling & Flow control to rehome an S1

Post by mmg »

Well, while taking the flow sensor apart, the connection to the inline snapped (the brass/solder), so now I am the proud owner of a 60 lbs brick. The point where it snapped seemed in very poor conditions.
I hope Chris Coffee has the part, but that's something for tomorrow. On the upside (?) I couldn't really see brass shaving in the flow sensor, although I could clean it nicely.
IMG_20201012_140023.jpg
This is what they look like, I can't understand what I should push. The brass ring? Or the black part that I see inside the tube? And should i push it towards the center from the side? Or inwards towards the brass connector?
Sorry, I am just really worried of breaking more stuff.
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Re: Descaling & Flow control to rehome an S1

Post by mmg »

Apologies for a double post. I wanted to be more clear about the steam wand issue, it's not the wand per se, it's the valve attached to it and the knob itself. Turning the knob results in the wand rotating, at least till it hits the frame of the machine. This is how the valve is currently held together:
IMG_20201012_132826.jpg
This is clearly a DIY attempt to make it work somehow, but I was wondering how it is supposed to be.
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Re: Descaling & Flow control to rehome an S1

Post by mmg »

Just to update. The lines came out with a little tapping + pulling, I understand now that the collar was pushed inside and blocked them. I got the boiler out and will descale, the amount of black deposits that came out with just water rinsing was disgusting.
Chriscoffee has also been able to source the broken line for me and I will replace it.

The question that still stands is the steam valve. How should that be attached to the machine? I feel like something has been modified around that valve/knob, but I can't understand what/why without knowing what it was like originally.
So, if anyone knows, I'd appreciate it!
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Re: Descaling & Flow control to rehome an S1

Post by chas »

Check out the photos here. As far as I can tell all looks right except that the bottom strap shouldn't be there.

If you carefully pry out the plastic disk in the middle of the steam knob there is a nut inset in the knob that should be tight. Do you think it got loose and the previous owner added this strap rather than fixing it correctly?
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Re: Descaling & Flow control to rehome an S1

Post by mmg »

Thank you Chas, I greatly appreciate your help. it's still not entirely clear to me, but I feel like I need to put things back together before I can explain myself.

Today the group boiler came out (hammer + boxcutter). Unfortunately the pin couldn't stand the torque of the allen key to remove the temperature prove (everything is crusted), so the element can now rotate... Will proceed to descaling and reupdate.
Since the heater element is now somehow bent, does anyone have opinions on how much that would affect the temperature reading?
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Re: Descaling & Flow control to rehome an S1

Post by chas »

How much is the element bent? If it should bend down and touch the bottom of the boiler, it could start tripping your GFCI - assuming you have one on that circuit. Should that happen you're only recourse will be to replace the element.
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Re: Descaling & Flow control to rehome an S1

Post by mmg »

This is what it looked like, I have now straightened it to almost normal. I am 99% sure it doesn't touch (and there is a GFCI), but I had not thought about that.
Unfortunately after that pin broke I don't really have a way to unscrew the temperature probe, as I can't keep it still while I turn. I will try again after descaling, which might help make it loose.
If that works, I can straighten it all the way and fit it back in, hopefully.
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Re: Descaling & Flow control to rehome an S1

Post by mmg »

Hopefully I might be almost done. Descaling did wonders.
I submerged the whole steam boiler in vinegar and poured some more in the group boiler.
The inside of both still looks quite bad and it seems that it has also formed a patina on the outside (in the lower part). I am not sure how to proceed. Should I just be satisfied and reclose it or are there other steps? A steel brush does not seem to help all that much and oil (which works well when steel burrs oxidize), is also not really effective.
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Re: Descaling & Flow control to rehome an S1

Post by chas »

The S1 boilers are NOT stainless steel. They are either chromed brass or chromed copper. What you see in your bottom photo is an area where the chrome has been etched off. This doesn't make any difference. I've also had this happen with portafilters.

Given this, the inside of your steam boiler looks clean as a whistle - whatever that means.

The outside "patina" is probably where the chrome is getting thin.
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Re: Descaling & Flow control to rehome an S1

Post by mmg »

just one note Chas, I think they are nickeled brass/copper or so the parts manual says.

I got everything back together, although I have a broken circuit breaker in the steam boiler, but I am waiting for the replacement.
A couple metal zip ties and proper positioning also fixed the steam wand in place, now it feels more like a $2k machine...
For future memory, do not tighten it, it's brass and it doesn't have structural function.
Now I have been pulling shots (with the steam boiler off out of an abundance of caution), but I have realized that the double cup button does not work anymore?! It seems to me that this can only be electrical, maybe when I opened the buttons case to remove the metal panel? The single shot is perfectly fine and the flow sensor is back online too...

Random tips:
When opening the group boiler, the temperature probe should be removed before the retainer ring, then the temperature probe housing should also be removed before the ring. You will avoid breaking the pin that fixes the heater element in place and not being able to get a grip and unscrew the probe housing.
Vinegar works wonders, for the group boiler I recommend rinsing it several times after to remove the specks of scale, then brush it with a nylon brush and collect (by hand) the dust/specks that will be inside.
The steam boiler o-ring is available for quite cheap on espressoparts.com, it's $6-7, it seems to be cut by them, but it works just fine (will update in case...).
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Re: Descaling & Flow control to rehome an S1

Post by mmg »

My bad on the button, I believe I tightened one of the front panel screws onto the ribbon cable, thus nicking the one responsible for double shots...
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Re: Descaling & Flow control to rehome an S1

Post by chas »

Did you just need to untrap the ribbon cable or do you have to replace the ribbon cable?
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Re: Descaling & Flow control to rehome an S1

Post by chas »

BTW: By broken circuit breaker on the steam boiler, do you actually mean the thermal breaker that has a red button on it? I broke off the threaded bolt that connects it to the top of the boiler on my last V2. I just used thermal epoxy to glue it back on.
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Re: Descaling & Flow control to rehome an S1

Post by mmg »

Hi Chas, I think I need to replace it. I could solder it back maybe, which I would like to avoid removing the central unit, but it's probably not for the best.

Yes exactly, that is what I mean, I assumed you could glue it back, as the mechanism seems fairly simple (and conduction based), but I was afraid the switch itself might be broken, so I just ordered it.

Now, while that makes me very cautious to turn on the steam boiler before I fix it, I wanted only to make sure that everything was working. I didn't really use the machine all that much prior to opening it, but I feel like there is something wrong with it now. The hissing is really strong when the water is heating up, almost like a pressure cooker. However the pressure gauge stays very low and there is nothing coming out of the steam wand. Am I just being too careful? (I turned it off when it started hissing like that).
It also had a leak on the heater and on the water level sensor, which I fixed, although there is a small sputter at the beginning from the water level sensor (not the outer nut).

Again, I am really grateful for you help and interest.
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Re: Descaling & Flow control to rehome an S1

Post by chas »

It sounds like your Vacuum Breaker Valve isn't sealing. It is supposed to open when the boiler cools down. It should close when the boiler starts to steam. Usually, when the boiler gets close to boiling, the VBV sputters for several seconds and then closes. Only when it is closed can the pressure build-up in the steam boiler.

I had an unrelated hissing on my original S1 after it was a few years old. However, pressure still built up. Turns out the screws that hold the boiler lid on were not tight enough. I had to tighten each one between 1/16 and 1/8 of a turn.
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Re: Descaling & Flow control to rehome an S1

Post by mmg »

So what is leaking is the water level sensor, which I could have guessed. So the way it works it has this teflon short sleeve that goes into the smaller nut and that is ok. But is also has a narrower longer sleeve that goes inside the short one. This one is really loose, I can't push it high enough to go inside the nut and it just drops to the end of the probe (without falling off).
How should this work? It is not really listed as a part, so I can't understand.

There might be a small leak on the heater element connection, but that is much easier to deal with.
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Re: Descaling & Flow control to rehome an S1

Post by chas »

I am not sure if the previous owner tried to Jury Rig the water level probe or if your Teflon sleeve has broken in two but I think it is normally just one piece. At this point, you should probably just buy a new one. Here is a link to a replacement part from Chris' Coffee. Maybe you can find it cheaper but even Chris' price is pretty low.

Liquid Level Probe
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Re: Descaling & Flow control to rehome an S1

Post by mmg »

I assume the second sleeve was added right to avoid this issue, when he had probably ruined the first one. I guess there is a way to put them one inside the other so that it doesn't leak (I wonder if teflon tape could help somehow).
I have ordered the part now, it's funny because I bought the machine for $40 (I know...) and in parts and accessories I have spent ~$300-400, but I love it! :D
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Re: Descaling & Flow control to rehome an S1

Post by mmg »

Just to conclude, the machine is finally fixed! There was still a leak from the heater element, but i solved that with teflon tape, while waiting for new gaskets to arrive.

Now I have to understand how expensive the board upgrade is and how badly i need it...

Once more, thank you Chas for the help, it was really appreciated.
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Re: Descaling & Flow control to rehome an S1

Post by chas »

Someone recently quoted a board price of $250 here on the Forum. I was thinking they were closer to $400. $400 is outrageous but $250 doesn't seem too bad.
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Re: Descaling & Flow control to rehome an S1

Post by mmg »

I would say that $250 for a software upgrade still seems a bit steep, but surely better than $400!
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Re: Descaling & Flow control to rehome an S1

Post by mmg »

Just as a final update, if anyone happens to stumble upon this ever, the upgrade of the board with the new software (not swapping the board) is now quoted at $50, which I believe to be very reasonable. It's cheaper than the pre-infusion chamber!
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Re: Descaling & Flow control to rehome an S1

Post by chas »

That $250-$400 I mentioned was to buy a new board. $50 for reprogramming doesn't sound bad. Did you also have to pay to ship your board in for reprogramming or was $50 the grand total?
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Re: Descaling & Flow control to rehome an S1

Post by mmg »

I have not followed through yet, I am going to guess it does not include shipping, but I figure 1/2 h of labor would cost more or less that.
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Re: Descaling & Flow control to rehome an S1

Post by mmg »

Well, I had thought that, as long as the board was the V2, it would be possible to do upgrade it, but it turns out that even those have different chip numbers, so that my was an old one that cannot be upgraded.
Btw, a replacement board is $500, so it's really a volatile market :D
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