Astoria Laurentis SME/1N restore

Equipment doesn't work? Troubleshooting? If you're handy, members can help.

#1: Post by Circuitsoft »

Hello all,
Looking to upgrade my home espresso setup with some leftover Xmas money, I happened across this machine on Facebook Marketplace. Price seemed right, so I picked it up. At the moment, it's still in my trunk, as I can't carry it without help, and I haven't decided exactly where it's going yet.

Seller bought this machine at a food service auction a year and a half ago, planning to restore it, and never got around to doing anything before they moved and needed it gone.

MFG Date 3/9/94
Model SME/1N
Serial 113784
Volts 120
Amps 19.4
Watts 2330

Everything I have is pictured. Missing drip tray cover and portafilter. How hard will those be to find?

Anything I should look at immediately, besides a general cleanup? Also, planning to build a PID for it. Will probably rewire heater to be 1kw or 500w for home use.

How thoroughly do I need to take it apart to descale? Could I just put citric acid in a bucket and run the water inlet for the pump into said bucket? Once I do install at home, I have a reverse osmosis water filter with a remineralization post-filter-stage. Should I plumb this in before or after the remineralization?

I definitely want to add insulation. A family member recommended fiberglass batting pulled from insulated ceiling tiles. A co-worker recommended high density mineral wool.


#2: Post by sar5w »

These are fun little HX machines, very easy to work on and most parts are readily available. That's the good . . .

The bad is that somebody let that machine freeze at some point. You might as well do a full descale, taking everything off the frame and soaking it all! You may find along with the pressure gauge needing replacement that there are other freeze damaged bits you can't see. Often the HX cartridge in the boiler swells and/or ruptures, the plastic bits in the one-way valves deform. Pumps also take a beating. Sometimes the valve bodies of the solenoids (group and autofill) are impacted and compromise their ability to seal as well as the electric coil. I have even seen the cap on the flow meter and the mounting plate of the group head bulge. It can all be repaired, unfortunately some of it isn't obvious until you have the machine back together and you see where water is coming out.

Without power applied, connect the water inlet and see where you have leaks.

The drip tray and insert may take a while to get. Check with Ryoma Coffee World nee Astoria USA and see if they have them in stock or when they expect the next container to arrive.

Circuitsoft (original poster)

#3: Post by Circuitsoft (original poster) »

Since I'm planning to build a pid for it, anyway, maybe I'll just put a pair of pressure sensors in place of the gauge, and mount the control panel where the gauge was. I guess a full teardown is going to be the thing, since I don't have a heated workspace big enough for the whole project.

Circuitsoft (original poster)

#4: Post by Circuitsoft (original poster) »

The dose control panel doesn't seem to have built in relays. Should I be concerned about the corrosion/scale on the bottom connection on the gauge?

The relay box was held in with one screw, was loose, and the program switch was also loose. Has someone who didn't know what they were doing already been in here? The board, itself, looks very clean. The Phoenix connector for the pump and solenoids was also very loose.

This is the drain tube for the group head pressure release. This corrosion (scale?) looks pretty weird to me.

The steam wand tip is a bit pitted. Should I just replace it?

The end of the boiler is a bit dented in around these fittings. Is that anything to worry about?

The heat exchanger looks very slightly ballooned, but it's hard to tell in this picture, certainly not burst though. This is through the heater hole. Related question, the heater gasket is very hard, and looks like there's permatex behind it. Is it a cardboard gasket?

I haven't hooked water up yet, but I did blow into the water inlet. Without pulling the fill lever, no air got through. With the fill lever pulled, air came out of the far left fitting on the top of the boiler. Is that a vacuum valve that needs a certain volume of steam to close? Plugging it with my finger there was air getting out somewhere else, but not much, and I couldn't tell where. The steam valve opened and closed nicely without incident. When I opened the water valve and blew (with the fill lever still pulled and vacuum valve plugged), something came out of the water spout that looked like ash.

I turned the shaft stub on the back end of the pump motor and it felt good. I don't see visible corrosion through the inlet and outlet holes of the pump. Likelihood the pump is problematic?


#5: Post by sar5w »

It all looks pretty normal for a machine of that age and the frame looks pretty good!

You might not be able to tell on the HX if there is just bulging or a leak. The older style had brazed end caps and the joints are the weak point. The new ones have an end that is "spun" closed and then brazed on the ends to seal. Without line or pump pressure of a couple BAR, it is easy to miss a pinhole leak. The telltale sign would be your boiler overfilling by itself (and you know it isn't the autofill solenoid).

The fun of the larger format JUN is the 110v control board that covers up to 3 groups (I think).

Since you have it apart, you might as well replace the heating element gasket, boiler gasket, group head to boiler gasket. You'll be good for the next 40 years . . .

Circuitsoft (original poster)

#6: Post by Circuitsoft (original poster) »

I think I have the brazed end caps.

The control box does cover three group heads. It could handle four if a few more components were populated on the board.

Are they standard size gaskets, still available, or should I just buy a sheet of gasket material and manually cut it to fit?

Haven't gotten a response from Astoria usa yet. Dare I design and build a custom drip tray? Is the portafilter a standard 58mm?

Circuitsoft (original poster)

#7: Post by Circuitsoft (original poster) »

So, my heater is burned out. There's no melting, but it's pretty black with green spots, and is an open circuit. Dare I try to retrofit or ? The oem heater is significant $.


#8: Post by sar5w »

OEM shouldn't cost more than $70 and will save you the headache of trying to fit something else in the opening on the boiler end plate.

Circuitsoft (original poster)

#9: Post by Circuitsoft (original poster) »

Both electronic valves move freely and have reasonable coil resistance.

The pump produces just barely enough pressure to push my finger off the outlet when driven by a drill.

Got the group head apart and it was chock full of black crumbly gunk. The dispense valve had some black scale on the plunger. The burnt out heaters were covered in black stuff. Some of the pipe fittings I've opened had black coating with the texture of limescale inside. Any idea what the black stuff is?

Circuitsoft (original poster)

#10: Post by Circuitsoft (original poster) »

After soaking in a mild acid overnight, the pump is working well now, though the hose from the pump to the machine has sprung a pretty significant leak. I don't think I'll be able to find a bspt hose locally, so I think I just need to order all the rest of the parts I need, and start rebuilding.

One other problem, one of the bolts that holds the group head on is broken off at the face of the boiler mount. Since it seems to be steel, but screwed into copper, I want to ask my dad to weld a nut onto the end of the bolt, hoping that will attach well enough to unscrew, and maybe the heat of welding will help loosen it too.

Almost all of the seals seem to have several replacement options, sometimes different materials, sometimes different thickness. How do I decide what to use where?