Broken Francis Francis X1 Personal Repair Advice / Diagnostic Support

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

#1: Post by CrossD »

Short Story: No water comes through, overheats. Seeking troubleshooting advice for personal repair.

Full story:
I recently got a very old (15 years) Francis X1 machine thats been in storage a good time and was likely never descaled. Needless to say, it doesn't work.

I'm an engineer and want to fix it myself, but I know nothing about espresso, except how to drink it. I know very little about how the machine should be operated.

So far I've taken it apart. And have been moving forward in the process from pump on. I first had to prime the pump (fill with water) to get it to move water through the system. I also did this the poor way by dissembling it, filling it with water, then reassembling it. It now steams, but no water will come out where the coffee should come from. I see water move to the boiler but not out. This is improvement though!

I removed / disassembled the boiler, and descaled. There was a lot of the stuff. It appeared to have enough to clog it up, but after a good descaling no luck. Still no hot water. (We'll get to coffee one day).

Also, after running the machine for ~20 seconds to see if water would get through it got incredible hot. Maybe 160 if the scale is accurate past the steam range. At that point, I turned it off, unplugged it, opened the steam valve and ran to another room to hide til it cooled down.

On that note, the steam wand does work and very well in fact.

Open question: I also took the spring / plug out of the bottom of the boiler. It seemed like I could overtighten both the spring cap, and the metal plate with holes to where water may not come out. I'll be testing this next. Can anyone advise on how tight / loose to make each of these.

Finally, I'd take all advice on what to test or may be wrong. If you need more info to give an answer, I'll happily pull apart / test / answer any questions necessary.

User avatar
oofnik

#2: Post by oofnik »

I would say that since your machine failed to shut off after reaching 160 C (assuming Celsius here), something in your safety system is awry, and should be your first priority. These machines typically have two thermostat switches, normally closed, one set for 90-95 C for brew and an override for steam set to 120 C. In addition, a thermal fuse usually lives in series with the line from the wall. If any of these parts are not functioning as they should, replace them!

Dumb question, but as a fellow engineer I know the temptation to skip over the manual. Have you read through it?

Finally, disconnect the power to the heating element in order to diagnose your plumbing problems. Remove the bolt, spring and plunger from the bottom of the boiler. Make sure the steam wand is closed, and run the pump until water comes out. It has nowhere else to go. It can take 40-50 seconds.

Larz

#3: Post by Larz »

Had two X5's at one time; after months of no use the only way to get water to flow through the system was by injecting water directly up the reservoir draw tube with a turkey baster....got the tip from another Francis Francis owner....worked every time.

CrossD (original poster)

#4: Post by CrossD (original poster) »

oofnik wrote:I would say that since your machine failed to shut off after reaching 160 C (assuming Celsius here), something in your safety system is awry, and should be your first priority. These machines typically have two thermostat switches, normally closed, one set for 90-95 C for brew and an override for steam set to 120 C. In addition, a thermal fuse usually lives in series with the line from the wall. If any of these parts are not functioning as they should, replace them!

Dumb question, but as a fellow engineer I know the temptation to skip over the manual. Have you read through it?

Finally, disconnect the power to the heating element in order to diagnose your plumbing problems. Remove the bolt, spring and plunger from the bottom of the boiler. Make sure the steam wand is closed, and run the pump until water comes out. It has nowhere else to go. It can take 40-50 seconds.
First, I have now been running the machine with the heating element power disconnected. I'll check the fuses as well.
I have read a manual, but it's clearly a newer version, and I don't know which model X1 I have either. SO I've read it but am not sure if I can consider it entirely accurate. My machine is real old. The tag on the water pump is dated 1998.

As for the pump, I forced water through and now it flows to the boiler, but not out. I removed the spring and plug from the bottom of the boiler. Now water runs through. But when I replace the spring / plug, water doesn't come out. I also tried it with the heat element on (to test if it needed steam pressure to open), and again no luck.

TD1

#5: Post by TD1 »

In case you are still working on this...

After completely disassembling our Gen 1 X1, we found the boiler outlet tube completely plugged. Try removing the outlet valve by unscrewing the cap and see if anything is blocking the flow of water out of the bottom of the boiler.

Hope that helps.

caroleve0604

#6: Post by caroleve0604 »

Hi - i also bought a used (I think it's from 2001) FF X1 for $150. I've already fallen in love with it, but took it apart because the water was coming out strangely and making not great espresso. Everything else seemed to be functioning pretty well.

Inside, the machine actually looks in great shape, but there was significant build up in the boiler that we scraped out as best we could. Put everything back together very carefully, but when we turned on the machine, no water seemed to move and the temp went up way too high. (Something like CrossD described) Quickly unplugged and let it cool down, but now I'm afraid we may have fried the heating element.

When we opened up the boiler, water came out and may have gotten on some of the electronics. Could that have caused the problem? Should we have put water in the boiler before turning back on? The pump was working fine before, but may be kaput now....

Any suggestions for what to do next?
Thanks in advance -Carol