Espresso Machine Thread Sealer

Equipment doesn't work? Troubleshooting? If you're handy, members can help.
Dogshot
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Postby Dogshot » Jul 08, 2017, 3:30 pm

My Elektra Semiautomatica has a solenoid that controls flow from the reservoir to the group or to the boiler. The solenoid requires an elbow connector at one end and a tee at the other, and these connectors must be in a particular configuration to fit in the machine. The elbow connector is tight, but it's leaking where it screws into the solenoid body. If I really pushed it, I might be able to tighten it a small amount, but then it wouldn't fit. What are my options? I have never used a thread sealer in my espresso machines before - is that an option here, and if so, what type would be safe for the heat?
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bengee
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Postby bengee » Jul 08, 2017, 5:27 pm

Hi Mark, I tried many techniques and sealants for a much worse scenario while rebuilding an old Brasilia. It turns out you can do no better than regular teflon tape for this issue of yours. Pull the elbow out and try 7-8 winds of teflon tape around the elbow thread being xtra careful not to have the tape overlap beyond the threads in the section that goes into the solenoid and winding it in the opposite direction that you will be screwing it in. Screw it in and try it out. If its not sealed, try with more wraps but my guess is it will be xtra tight. If you have to unscrew a teflon taped connector, make sure you remove all the old tape and start anew each time. Forget the gucky liquid sealants, its a complicated mess for the issue you have!

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erics
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Postby erics » Jul 08, 2017, 5:32 pm

Use Loxeal 18-10 or find the equivalent Loctite product. I realize you are in Canada but this guy is an EXCELLENT source for that product and anything else you may need for your machine.

https://www.espressocare.com/products/cleaning-supplies-and-maintenance-other-products/10/P20
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JohnB.
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Postby JohnB. » Jul 08, 2017, 6:25 pm

Loctite 545 would be similar to the Loxeal Eric recommended but I'd have to agree with Benjamin that teflon tape would probably solve your problem with no cure times.
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erics
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Postby erics » Jul 08, 2017, 6:55 pm

. . . but I'd have to agree with Benjamin that teflon tape would probably solve your problem with no cure times.

Somewhat reluctantly, OK . . . but NOT 7-8 wraps . . . maybe 2-3 as a start and stay off the first one or two threads.

Stefano is in daily(?) contact with these manufacturers and sells the sealant they use. Teflon tape is really applicable to US NPT threading but has certainly been used on espresso machines by OEM's and repair folks with success. As an FYI, Vibiemme is a big proponent of this sealing method.
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bengee
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Postby bengee » Jul 08, 2017, 7:12 pm

Eric is surely right, start with 2-3 wraps and see if that works (for the application I had in mind, more was required, but in this case, less should be more than adequate). I have found that with more wraps than necessary though, the excess just gets squeezed out anyways, possibly helping to create a seal. As a DIY fixer, teflon tape is so much more easy to find and use than the liquid stuff.

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Randy G.
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Postby Randy G. » Jul 08, 2017, 8:50 pm

If you use Teflon tape, use the white, 'light duty' stuff and not the heavy duty think stuff.
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Dogshot
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Postby Dogshot » Jul 08, 2017, 10:31 pm

Thanks very much for all this excellent advice. I'll try the teflon route first and hope that it leads to a dry machine.
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Alan Frew
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Postby Alan Frew » Jul 09, 2017, 5:48 am

Thread sealant use by Italian manufacturers is mostly because it's quick and easy, not because it does a better job. Teflon tape doesn't suffer from bad batches and doesn't degrade with time, temperature or pressure.

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bluesman
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Postby bluesman » Jul 10, 2017, 1:43 pm

Randy G. wrote:If you use Teflon tape, use the white, 'light duty' stuff and not the heavy duty think stuff.

Be aware that there are many thicknesses of Teflon tape out there and they're all white. The "standard" US spec (which originated as military spec MIL-T-27730A) is 3.5 mil thick. But the tape you find in bargain bins and that comes with most inexpensive plumbing fixtures like $10 shower heads is only about 1 mil thick. This stuff is very fragile, stretches easily if pulled, and deforms so readily when wrapped around threads that if you don't position it right the first time you should disgard it and use a fresh length. It's OK to use if you're careful, but it takes a few more wraps than the better stuff (3 - 3.5 mil). You "save" pennies on the purchase price of cheap 1 mil tape, and it's false economy because you use more and have to reseal more joints that leak the first time.

There are many specialized Teflon tapes available in thicknesses as high as 30 and 60 mil - they sound great when you read the descriptions, but they're not for routine sealing of small pipe threads like ours.

Complete removal before resealing is essential, and it's not as easy as just pulling the old tape off. Thin filaments of Teflon are cut off by the threads when the joint is tightened, and they remain at the bottom of the groove. You have to use a small, sharp tool like a sewing needle or the tip of a very small knife to peel these strings of Teflon out of the threads on both sides.

The rule is to wrap in the direction of the thread you're wrapping, starting from the open end. So you wrap the threads on a pipe fitting clockwise looking at the end, because the actual thread runs clockwise toward the hub and the female mate will be threaded onto it in a clockwise direction. This pulls the trailing end of the Teflon tape in the same direction, so it stays flat and well apposed to the male thread while screwing the mating parts together. In case it's not obvious, you only wrap male threads with Teflon tape.