Espresso Machine Cleaning Digest - Page 2

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espressoperson

#11: Post by espressoperson »

roadman wrote:Our water here is hard so last month I descaled my Cremina with citric acid. I ran into a couple of problems.

I used about 1 1/2 tablespoons citric acid to 1 liter of water. It took around 20 cycles of heating and rinsing the water out through the group before the water was no longer green and tasted okay again. I was pretty surprised (and rather frustrated) by the number of flushes it took to have it run clear again.

Is this typical? Did I overdo it on the citric acid to water ratio? Should the water be run through the group or dumped out through the top?

After all that flushing the lever action got stiff. It clearly needs lubrication. Is this typical after descaling? Is there an easy way to relubricate the piston or do I need to disassemble the group?

Jon
Jon,

I can't comment on the concentration of citric acid; I use packages of Cleancaf. It has the advantage of cleaning as well as descaling, which is what the Cremina needs to clean out the lower piston and dispersion screen area and keep your shots tasting sweet. It always amazes me how brown and grungy the initial flushing water gets - even shows through the blue color of the Cleancaf.

Occasionally the lever may get too stiff to move easily. Here's what I use to lubricate it http://www.petrolgel.com/. I don't take the machine apart but just raise the lever to its highest point and then squeeze some lubricant on the lowest exposed parts. It takes a little while to work its way down but lasts for months. It even lasts through successive Cleancaf flushes, which I try to remember to do every two or three months.

I used to flush more often but two things I now do allow me to do it less often. First, pull less two lever shots; the elimination of the second lever raising in the middle of a double shot cut down on the amount of espresso that gets sucked up into and past the dispersion screen. And second, place a disk of filter paper on top of the tamped puck to also reduce the contamination of the screen. I cut the disks from pourover filters - I can get about a dozen 49 mm disks from one #6 Melitta filter.
michaelb, lmwdp 24

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roadman
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#12: Post by roadman »

espressoperson wrote: Occasionally the lever may get too stiff to move easily. Here's what I use to lubricate it http://www.petrolgel.com/. I don't take the machine apart but just raise the lever to its highest point and then squeeze some lubricant on the lowest exposed parts. It takes a little while to work its way down but lasts for months. It even lasts through successive Cleancaf flushes, which I try to remember to do every two or three months.
I've tried lifting and lubing as you've suggested. That was several days ago, but no change. I'm using the lube from the Olympia factory.
It's not like I have to wrestle with it, though it does take a bit of effort to raise it up. I just really enjoyed having that smooth as silk action that it had after it was reassembled.
What do think, wait longer for it to work in or re-lube or get out the wrenches?
Jon

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espressoperson

#13: Post by espressoperson » replying to roadman »

Jon,

I agree with you that it's just not the same machine without that frictionless feeling as you pull with nothing between you and the espresso but the pressure of the pull through the puck. Hope you can get back to that with minimal effort.

I squeeze a very generous amount around the openings over a few sessions. I'm wiping the area with paper towels for a few days afterwards to clean up the excess. I usually get a quick noticeable improvement quickly, but it takes a few heating and cooling cycles to kick in completely. But no more than a couple of days total before it is working smoothly.

The petrol gel may have a lower melting point than the stuff you're using. Perhaps that's why it can work externally. Perhaps it melts and flows to where it is needed. If that's the case, it might be worth trying. IIRC it is what service used to use before getting the current new and "improved" lubricant. Perhaps once the new stuff is properly applied it lasts longer. Hopefully more knowledgable users like bobcraige can chime in with suggestions...
michaelb, lmwdp 24

roadman
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#14: Post by roadman »

Espressoperson, thanks for the feedback. I finally ended up having to remove the group. I dropped the piston down far enough so I could pop the screen off and lube the piston walls. What a difference. I can lift the lever with one finger again. Sweet!
Jon

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xtophr

#15: Post by xtophr »

tmaynard wrote:Between shots
* Dump puck, wipe PF+B
* Flush group (with PF+B inserted? Or once without, once with? There are good arguments for both sides.)
* PF Wiggle (note to self: buy a blind basket, 58mm -- or possibly a dedicated wiggling PF+BB [blind basket])
* Scrub PF+B (Scotch Brite seems the preferred tool) and dry
I have essentially "made" a blind basket out of an unused single basket that my machine came with. I simply put two strips of black electrical tape, overlapping slightly, inside of it covering all of the holes. I use it for the portafilter wiggle and the dirty grouphead and gasket get blasted clean. If the tape ever falls off or goes bad, I just replace it. But I have had the same tape on for over six months.

As for scrubbing the basket with a Scotch Brite pad; Don't do it! You can actually make the holes slightly bigger by scrubbing it with one! Just use your Joe Glo or whatever you use for cleaning to soak the baskets and portafilters. Then just a simple rinse and wipe with a paper towel will do. Remember not to make your Joe Glo solution deep enough to get any plastic parts of your portafilter in it (handle, etc.). The plastic could get damaged by repeated exposure to it.
Ciao,
Bradentucky, FL

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espressoperson

#16: Post by espressoperson »

roadman wrote:Espressoperson, thanks for the feedback. I finally ended up having to remove the group. I dropped the piston down far enough so I could pop the screen off and lube the piston walls. What a difference. I can lift the lever with one finger again. Sweet!
Jon
Great! I still have to hold the base down when I raise the lever so the work you put into disassembling and lubing sounds worth it.
michaelb, lmwdp 24

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espressoperson

#17: Post by espressoperson »

xtophr wrote:I have essentially "made" a blind basket out of an unused single basket that my machine came with. I simply put two strips of black electrical tape, overlapping slightly, inside of it covering all of the holes. I use it for the portafilter wiggle and the dirty grouphead and gasket get blasted clean. If the tape ever falls off or goes bad, I just replace it. But I have had the same tape on for over six months.
Clever idea! I regularly clean and wiggle as you describe, but just with the portafilter and an empty basket, with a cup below to catch the overflow. There is enough water and pressure blasting through to get the job done. But I like your idea and will give it a try to see if it is even more effective. Finally, a use for the single basket? :)
michaelb, lmwdp 24