Custom espresso machine build

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#1: Post by lennoncs »

Hello All,

As I am not a prolific poster here at HB I believe an introduction is in order

I got involved with espresso and quality preparation around 2002 with a Silvia that got a PID modification soon after I acquired it. The follow-up act to the Silvia was a Brewtus that was soon ripped apart and modified. The 2007 SCAA conference in Charlotte was a big game changer for me as I got to hang out with a group that completely blew me away with their talent and passion for coffee.

After the SCAA conference I acquired a single group Synesso that has served me well for the past few years but the time has come to mix things up a bit and give the machine a new set of clothes and a few more tricks up its sleeve.

I have been using pressure profiling since late 2007 but the system is a servo driven piston that is a bit of a challenge to keep going as it is completely custom components that, whenever I need a part, requires me to spend entirely too long in front of the lathe, mill, grinder, etc...

Here is the plan:
• Use the Synesso boilers as a basis for a new machine
• Refit the controls to incorporate the latest innovations.
• I am in the process of deciding if the machine will be built up as a nude (glass panels) or stainless so it will be built up on a frame that will support either and get its skin after all the tweaking is done.

pardon the photos, I didn't feel like heating the shop up in this weather So, the counter it is...

The Victim:
Boiler set #375
it is an older boiler set with the removeable ports on each side. It makes it a bit more flexible for someone who want to experiment.

Assembled on the frame:

I am a bit biased towards fittings
If the machine is going to be a nude, they better be nice and I have ZERO tolerance for leaks.

There are a few fittings that are custom for the water fill side of the machine that are going to be a few days so the left side is all the farther I got tonight.

Not a whole lot exciting at this stage of the process.

I have a gear pump setup for brew pressure control but I had to get the boilers to a built up state to finish development on the controls. This project may take a little while as I have a fairly full work life but I will update as often as possible. If anybody has any questions; feel free to fire away (like you need to be told :lol: )

Sean Lennon
Davisburg Mi.

LMWDP #086

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#2: Post by TomC »

Sean, great to see you posting again. This will be a sweet one to watch!
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#3: Post by DanoM »

Always great to see custom builds and how people tackle different designs. This one is off to a very clean start, so it will be interesting to follow the build and end results!
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lennoncs (original poster)
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#4: Post by lennoncs (original poster) »


I came very close to using these sweeties for the entire build but ONE look from my wife put the big hurt on that idea.
These are micro weld fittings and tube runs in 1/4"
I use them for gas sample systems and they are SEXY!
when put together, there wouldn't be one fitting in the machine, hyper clean install. was pointed out to me by honey dearest, I need to finish this machine...this year.
and not very serviceable in an environment with scaling.
Sean Lennon
Davisburg Mi.

LMWDP #086

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#5: Post by damonbowe »

Best thing I've seen on HB.

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#6: Post by Bodka Coffee »

This really doesn't need to be said again but...This is gonna be really cool!!!

lennoncs (original poster)
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#7: Post by lennoncs (original poster) »

While I am waiting for the rest of the fittings to come in, I thought it would be good to mock up the water inlet valves with a couple of NPT fittings I had on hand.

the inlet check valves are the cylinders on the right hand side, they seem a tad big but are actually smaller than the valve and adapter fittings that used to be there. another plus to the check valves is that they have a cracking pressure of 1/3 Psi and are very stable at all flow rates without a hint of flutter. They are easy to clean and rebuild by just unscrewing the body.

the relief valve with the yellow band is the expansion valve.

This next photo shows the position of the water valves, they are a bit more compact in location than the original position.

I am considering cutting the angled tube and replacing it with a fitting so I can straighten out the solenoids.
there is nothing wrong with the angled valves, except the asthetic, still need to ponder on that one...

I have to say that working on espresso machines sure makes you appreciate just how much of a hodge-podge the issue of fittings is. The Synesso is pretty good but it still has AN, ISO228(BSPP), NPT, and some Parker ferrule fitting. The Expobar was a total mess of ill fitting, Fittings :lol:
AND they used some sort of pipe sealant that got rock hard....on re-positionable straight thread fittings!

Sean Lennon
Davisburg Mi.

LMWDP #086

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#8: Post by Chabeau »

This is amazing. I think a Detroit area meet up is in order!
"The percolations are imminent."

-C.M. Burns, c.1996

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#9: Post by contraflow88 »

Wow very impressive I can only imagine the power this thing will have! How did you run into these boilers, are they from a previous machine that you gutted?

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#10: Post by MikeMooney »

Astonished and amazed. 8)