Cafelat Robot Gaskets Failing Quickly

A haven dedicated to manual espresso machine aficionados.
User avatar
GregoryJ
Posts: 1069
Joined: 6 years ago

#1: Post by GregoryJ »

A couple people (myself included) have had a problem with water flowing around the outside of the portafilter when a shot starts. I believe the gaskets are supposed to last for over a year, but this can happen on seals that are only months or even weeks old.

Usually I drink my espresso while letting the extra water drip into a cup under the weight of the robot arms. By the time I am done, all of the water is out and I can remove the portafilter. However, I have gotten distracted before, and even left the portafilter in the robot for several hours. I believe it's after an event like this that the leaky problem starts to happen.

If that is the case, is there any way to refurbish a gasket that has been deformed by the portafilter? Or should I just replace the $6 gasket and try not to be forgetful next time? (I'll try not to be forgetful either way :) )

Moozac
Posts: 24
Joined: 4 years ago

#2: Post by Moozac »

Are you sure your seal is seated properly?

Do you leave a 1 centimetre gap in the portafilter or do you fill above this level?

Do you pre-infuse with both levers?

pcdawson
Posts: 387
Joined: 7 years ago

#3: Post by pcdawson »

I'm wondering how people are storing their Robots when not in use? With the basket locked in place? Or with the basket off and seal exposed? If the latter then might the seal not dry out or get dirty with dust, grease, etc?

Nate42
Posts: 1211
Joined: 11 years ago

#4: Post by Nate42 »

I think most people are storing with it seperated, I know I am. I would think storing it assembled might cause premature wear on the seal by keeping it compressed. I use mine daily and haven't had any trouble with it getting dirty, dry, etc. If you left it untouched for weeks at a time you might need to wipe it clean and make sure its lubricated I guess. Even though I would recommend leaving it separate, I don't think there is any need to be concerned if you leave it for a few hours as described by the OP. I have certainly forgot to clean up after myself before, sometimes even overnight, with no ill effect.

I'm in the camp of people who have been using the same seal for over a year with no issues. Any time I have thought it might be getting close to time to replace it I have always been able to bring it back to life by cleaning and lubricating.

As far as premature wear, I suppose it might be possible if you tried to use it with the seal not properly seated in the groove it might become streteched and no longer work properly?

I would suggest carefully removing the seal, make sure it is clean and well lubricated with dow 111 or equivalent. Make sure the groove where the seal fits is clean. And when you reinstall run your fingers all around it to make sure it is fully seated in the groove. Also make sure orientation is correct, with "skirt" facing down. If you do all that and it still isn't working well, you are probably right that the seal has become damaged in some way.

pcdawson
Posts: 387
Joined: 7 years ago

#5: Post by pcdawson »

Interesting - most commercial levers have similar silicon seals which sit fully enclosed within the bore of the group assembly. I would think this mimics keeping the robot assembled with the basket in place. Therefore I would think it would be better to leave the robot fully assembled when not in use - much like a commercial lever.

hercdeisel
Posts: 160
Joined: 5 years ago

#6: Post by hercdeisel »

To add another data point:

I use my Robot somewhat sporadically. Once or twice a week on average, though sometimes I'll go a few weeks without using it at all. I don't lock in the portafilter to store it. In our climate we've got either heat or a/c running 8 months of the year making for a relatively dry environment.

I've never had a problem with the gasket. Given that cafelat makes so many different silicon gaskets for so many different machines, it seems initially unlikely that there's a special issue with robot gaskets.

User avatar
yakster
Supporter ♡
Posts: 7341
Joined: 15 years ago

#7: Post by yakster »

You don't remove the seals from the cylinder of most commercial levers except when replacing them, unlike the Robot where you remove the seals form the cylinder every time you remove the portafilter.
-Chris

LMWDP # 272

pcdawson
Posts: 387
Joined: 7 years ago

#8: Post by pcdawson »

True - but the time during which the seals are exposed during prep of a coffee is a fraction of the time the robot would sit on your counter with the gaskets enclosed by the basket. I make two shots a day on my Robot. I hope Paul Pratt decides to weigh in on this one - my curiosity is now fully piqued! :?:

jpender
Posts: 3917
Joined: 12 years ago

#9: Post by jpender »

pcdawson wrote:I'm wondering how people are storing their Robots when not in use? With the basket locked in place? Or with the basket off and seal exposed? If the latter then might the seal not dry out or get dirty with dust, grease, etc?

I suspect that the vast majority of people store the basket separately. I don't understand why you think that storing it locked in might protect it. From "drying out"? Locked in doesn't mean it's hermetically sealed. It would still be exposed to the air. And storing it separately doesn't automatically mean it would be in a dirty, dusty, or greasy environment. You're supposed to grease it up once in a while.

I suspect that heat and mechanical wear are the main sources of damage, long term. I've wondered if my pre-heating routine could reduce the lifespan. I doubt it, but I suppose it's possible.

The seal in my Robot spent 99.9% of the last year exposed to air, almost all of that in a cool, dry cabinet. A have an unused seal which has been in the exact same cabinet for 99.999% of that time. They are noticeably different in appearance.

pcdawson
Posts: 387
Joined: 7 years ago

#10: Post by pcdawson »

Go figure - my robot was one of the Kickstarter's - I think I've had it two years now? Basket always stored on the robot when not in used. Gasket looks exactly the same as the spare I got with the robot. No leaks so far too. Conclusion? I don't think there is a right or wrong way - both seem to work.