Welcoming an early La Marzocco GS3 AV into my home

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Jake_G
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#1: Post by Jake_G »

As recently noted in the ramble, I am the proud new owner of an early GS/3 AV. The machine made the long trek across country and made it to me in several pieces. Luckily, all of those individual pieces were in one piece and after sorting through what's what, I had this awaiting me on my doorstep...


I lugged it inside and pulled off the right cover to see which updates had made their way into my early machine and he good news is that the previous owner did an excellent job of adding the additional check valves, the longer braided hose for the pump, and the vacuum breaker updates. This machine precedes the fire-sale machines in age but has nearly all of the updates.


The shot above shows some stains on the steam boiler from leaking fittings, so I stripped this side down and pulled the logic board out to have a look for signs of water damage.

Here's what I found on the steam boiler:


And here's a shot of some of the mineral deposits on the logic board.


I'm going to use this topic as a launching pad for smaller topics regarding the machine as time goes on, including a write up on removing and cleaning the logic board and changing the battery for the real time clock, and doing an in-chassis seal change on the machine. There will be much more added as time goes on, including thoughts on workflow, comparison to my existing flow-profiling HX machine, and requisite plans for flow profiling...

Why not pull the boilers?
**Edit** I decided to pull the boilers because it was going to be quite a chore getting the sealing surfaces clean with the boilers in the machine...

Because I have never seen a boiler look this good on the inside:

The previous owner did such an amazing job taking care of this machine that so far the only thing I've found on the internal components aside from some minor silt that wipes off is a protective layer of copper oxide, which I intend to leave in place.

That's all for now folks.

Cheers!

-Jake

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Chert
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#2: Post by Chert »

I bet you will enjoy the explorations of that thing. Nice find!

On the steam boiler image, is that an insulation seen in upper right?
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Jake_G (original poster)
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#3: Post by Jake_G (original poster) » replying to Chert »

It is!

About 50% of the steam boiler is insulated. The insulation starts just above the machine frame at the back (visible on the lower right in the photo above) and continues around the top towards the front. See photo below, which shows the left side of the machine:


This image also shows a couple more leaks that I'll be addressing over the next little while.

Cheers!

- Jake

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Peppersass
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#4: Post by Peppersass »

Your machine looks great for it's age. I'm sure you've seen my post on Replacing Steam Boiler Seals on La Marzocco GS/3, but if not, click on the link.

The logic board looks pretty good, though definitely some mineral deposits from leakage. If it's no worse than what's in the photo, some 99% rubbing alcohol will take care of it. I'd recommend drilling a bunch of holes in the brain box under the board to ensure that no water builds up underneath. I also sealed a couple of holes in the chassis to the left of the steam boiler that allow water from that side to drip down on top of the box, where I believe it can get in via the screw holes in the box. I put electrical tape over the screw holes as well. The bigger problem is water wicking in via the cables, and no one has come up with a solution for that. AssafL and I have applied conformal coating to our boards just in case. You can find posts from AssafL on that. My job came out a bit sloppy with a bunch of air holes in the coating because I didn't have a good oven to dry the board (I used a toaster oven), but I'm sure it's effective and a whole lot better than no coating.

The red handle on the steam boiler drain valve probably indicates that the valve has been replaced, which is a good thing. It's a cheap part that doesn't last forever. Still, worth checking for leaks around the handle stalk. Also, never open that valve when the boiler is under pressure. I accidentally did that with the brass cap on and the valve seal broke down due to the pressure. It's not designed to handle any pressure in the open position.

If the firmware hasn't been updated and you have the expertise, that would be a good things to do. If you decide to get into flow profiling with long shot times, you might want to see if you can get your hands on the version that extends the shot time.

jyl
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#5: Post by jyl »

That looks tight to get in and work on. Do the body panels come fully off?
John, Portland OR
Vintage bicycles, Porsche/VW, cooking, old houses.

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AssafL

#6: Post by AssafL » replying to jyl »

Most of the fittings are accessible from the side.

But the top, front top, front bottom and back all come off.
Scraping away (slowly) at the tyranny of biases and dogma.

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

Peppersass wrote:Your machine looks great for it's age. I'm sure you've seen my post...
Thanks, Dick. Indeed I have seen that post, but thanks for linking to it. It's always a good read. Especially the points regarding the HX gigleur and the input from Bill. I'm considering adding the gigleur, but I wonder how much of a difference it actually makes...
The logic board looks pretty good, though definitely some mineral deposits from leakage. If it's no worse than what's in the photo, some 99% rubbing alcohol will take care of it. I'd recommend drilling a bunch of holes in the brain box under the board to ensure that no water builds up underneath.
I have done just this and will document the process shortly. It turned out great.
The red handle on the steam boiler drain valve probably indicates that the valve has been replaced, which is a good thing. It's a cheap part that doesn't last forever. Still, worth checking for leaks around the handle stalk. Also, never open that valve when the boiler is under pressure. I accidentally did that with the brass cap on and the valve seal broke down due to the pressure. It's not designed to handle any pressure in the open position.
Thanks for this reminder. The ball valve would have been off my radar...
If the firmware hasn't been updated and you have the expertise, that would be a good things to do. If you decide to get into flow profiling with long shot times, you might want to see if you can get your hands on the version that extends the shot time.
I have a copy of the custom firmware that you and Assaf are running. All I need is a USB compatible AVR programmer. I'll get to that after I get the machine back together.
jyl wrote:That looks tight to get in and work on. Do the body panels come fully off?
What Assaf said. :wink:

Here is the machine after pulling the panels:
#2 pencil for the coils, Assaf, ;)


The sides come off by unscrewing the chrome-plated brass thumb screws and the 13mm half-nuts behind them. The top panel comes off after removing two Phillips screws under the cup warmer grating. The rear cover comes off after removing the two Phillips screws that hold the electronics tray in place. The upper front panel comes off after removing the two Phillips screws on the front of the machine and finally, the lower front panel comes off after removing two 10mm hex head cap screws that that thread into the frame. It comes apart very easily.

Cheers!

- Jake

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Peppersass
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#8: Post by Peppersass »

I ditched the 13mm half nuts. They're not needed and make taking off the side covers a harder task. The ornamental thumb screws are more than adequate to hold the covers on. I also ditched the two Phillips screws in the top cover. They're not needed, either. The upshot is that it's much faster and easier to remove the side and top covers for inspection, which should be done regularly. Best time, I think, is when you do a detergent backflush, generally on a 1-2 week schedule.

With your skills you might consider outboarding the pump and motor. The longer hose didn't reduce the noise and vibration from my GS/3 AV, though it's a fire sale machine and yours could be quieter. If you decide to do that, it's much easier to buy an aftermarket motor and use the stock pump with it. The motor I bought was about $165. Removing the stock motor requires removing the boilers. That said, you have the machine so stripped down now that it wouldn't be all that hard. It would, however, be a chore to return the machine to stock condition.

The wiring is pretty simple: just remove the leads to the internal motor at the big green plug on the logic board and substitute the AC leads to the outboarded motor. I put an on/off switch inline so I could do line-pressure preinfusion. The move paid off later, when I replace the motor/pump with a gear pump for pressure profiling -- no work needed inside the machine for the initial manual version.

Quester

#9: Post by Quester »

Peppersass wrote:I ditched the 13mm half nuts. They're not needed and make taking off the side covers a harder task.
Yep. That was my first "mod" when my GS3 was new.

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Chert
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#10: Post by Chert »

This nicely shows the LM boiler with great temperature stability. The smaller LMLM is also a cool design, integrating the boiler directly into the group. This makes me want to see other manufacturer's takes on the brew boiler of stable temps.
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