E61 grouphead maintenance

Equipment doesn't work? Troubleshooting? If you're handy, members can help.
Marc01

#1: Post by Marc01 »

This may seem like a very basic question.. but I am curious nonetheless. I recently purchased a MaraX as my first ever machine and will be performing a chemical backflush shortly. I have been looking for wrenches with protective plastic or rubber pieces over the jaws to protect the chrome on the machine, but was unable to find anything. For now I will use electric tape on an adjustable wrench to lubricate the cam after backflushing. How do you keep the chrome on the E61 group head in tip-top shape for many years while doing routine maintenance? Thanks

jgood

#2: Post by jgood »

Electric tape is what Chris Coffee recommended to install Flow Control -- I think it's what the techs use for E61 disassembly/reassembly. BTW I don't think you need to do a disassembly/lube for a basic backflush w detergent. In case you do disassemble if I recall correctly I needed a 12" adjustable wrench to do it.

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bluesman

#3: Post by bluesman »

Marc01 wrote:For now I will use electric tape on an adjustable wrench to lubricate the cam after backflushing.
The tape goes on the part to be turned, not on the wrench jaws. I wrap two turns of good, smooth electrical tape around the hex, folding the last cm or so back on itself so it's easy to remove. No part on an e61 needs to be so tight that you pull, tear, or bunch the tape.

I don't open and lube the innards after backflushing. I think most of us open it annually at most, if it gets normal home use (eg 3 or 4 shots daily) and is back flushed with water after a day's use. I put about 1/4 tsp of Ascasa backflush detergent in the blind basket every month, dissolve it fully in a few cc of water from the wand, backflush 5 or 6 times, then flush 10 times with water. The little bit of coffee oil left on the brass parts is plenty of lubrication. I just did annual maintenance on mine and the surfaces that ride on the brew lever cam show no visible wear.

Jeff
Team HB

#4: Post by Jeff »

Using good "non-scaling" water is the first step -- little or no scale means little or no extra disassembly! Lots of threads in the Water section.

I use the Knipex "plier wrenches" as they grip very well and are relatively compact so that the chance of scratching the face of the machine is less. They aren't cheap though. From what I can tell, the 86-03-nnn and 86-05-nnn are the same, except for the handle grips. With the Knipex, I don't use any tape on the nut or wrench.

Protecting the face of the machine behind the two nuts of an E61 is a good idea.

If you have to use a normal adjustable wrench, I would definitely recommend tape of some sort.

Edit: I never lubricated the cam after my chosen routine of weekly Cafiza backflushes (2-3 shots a day). It was a little squeaky for the first shot or two, but quickly quieted down. Some have suggested a couple drops of olive oil, which seems reasonable. One reference is E61 lever makes squeaky noise

jgood

#5: Post by jgood »

bluesman wrote:The tape goes on the part to be turned, not on the wrench jaws. I wrap two turns of good, smooth electrical tape around the hex, folding the last cm or so back on itself so it's easy to remove. No part on an e61 needs to be so tight that you pull, tear, or bunch the tape.

I don't open and lube the innards after backflushing. I think most of us open it annually at most, if it gets normal home use (eg 3 or 4 shots daily) and is back flushed with water after a day's use. I put about 1/4 tsp of Ascasa backflush detergent in the blind basket every month, dissolve it fully in a few cc of water from the wand, backflush 5 or 6 times, then flush 10 times with water. The little bit of coffee oil left on the brass parts is plenty of lubrication. I just did annual maintenance on mine and the surfaces that ride on the brew lever cam show no visible wear.
+1 on the above -- should have been clearer about where the tape goes!

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bluesman

#6: Post by bluesman »

Jeff wrote:I never lubricated the cam after my chosen routine of weekly Cafiza backflushes (2-3 shots a day). It was a little squeaky for the first shot or two, but quickly quieted down. Some have suggested a couple drops of olive oil, which seems reasonable. One reference is E61 lever makes squeaky noise
I think the most common cause of squeaking when raising the brew lever is not in the group. A squeaking sound often arises from friction between the cam at the top of the handle and the actuating stem of the pump switch. I put a tiny dab of silicone grease directly on the end of that switch when I do a monthly Ascasa backflush. There was a faint but distinct sound when left bare. This will also probably prevent or reduce development of a worn furrow in the lever's cam over years (not a big problem, but a visible sign of use).

Nunas
Supporter ♡

#7: Post by Nunas »

Don't be in a big hurry to do a chemical backflush unless there's a reason to do it. Tear the group down and inspect first. I have found that daily plain water flushes are sufficient. I was having a lot of trouble with a stiff lever, squeaking, and so on when I did a monthly chem backflush. Then I stopped using chem altogether. The last tear-down showed no accumulation of crud, and only the lightest accumulation of brownish film which I could wipe right off with a damp cloth. Ditto for the shower screen. Bear in mind that backflushing chem does not remove scale, just oils. I feed my machine, kettles, and such with 25 ppm TDS water and never have any scale (knock on wood).

Marc01

#8: Post by Marc01 »

Thanks for the answers. I was able to find several European wrench makers that provide rubber or plastic pieces that slide over the jaw, but nothing similar in the US. I guess good old electric tape will do.

I already did a chemical backflush and didn't find it to be terribly dirty. That was after 2 months of usage making 2-6 shots a day. Given how clean things were, I will probably wait a little longer for the next one. Nevertheless, I think taking the group head apart will be a useful exercise to learn how it all fits together and in case any future issues arise.

Jeff
Team HB

#9: Post by Jeff »

If you do decide to disassemble it "for amusement", get a set of all the PTFE or otherwise compressible gaskets on hand. While it is sometimes possible to reuse them, tiny, "invisible" leaks can lead to puzzling behavior.

jgood

#10: Post by jgood » replying to Jeff »

Should have mentioned that too! When I removed the "flow profiling" that I had added (and then decided against) I crimped a washer and had a tiny weeping till I replaced it. Chris and others have the washers -- worth getting a set to have on hand.