Newbie Seeks Advice - Elektra Maxi (Modern) 2 Project

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

Postby jyl » Nov 24, 2018, 2:48 am

Hi everyone. I'm a new member here, and also new to espresso machines.

Normally I think the appropriate thing would be for me to lurk and read, start asking questions, learn about espresso and how to make it, get help selecting a beginner machine, etc.

However, I am going to ask your forgiveness and help as I jump right in. I have already acquired an espresso machine, I need to fix it before learning how to use it, and yes I am going about this all backwards.

A few years ago, I curbpicked an Elektra 2 group machine. The neighbor who set it on the curb told me she used to work in the coffee industry, was given this machine, used it in her house, then stopped, and finally decided to get it out of her basement. I brought it home, and realized that in addition to needing work it needed 240v. Since I've no 240v in my kitchen, the machine sat in my garage collecting dust.

Well, I recently installed a 240v dishwasher and as part of that I put in a subpanel that can feed another 240v circuit to the kitchen, so...

I pulled the Elektra out for a look. It is a Maxi 2 group from 1993, also called a "Modern". It was very dirty inside, with some superficial rust on the frame, missing the portafilters. The hot water tap is missing and that hard line has been folded to plug it. The power cord has been disconnected but is present. The drain line is missing. There are a few other bodgy things. Otherwise it seems complete. I've pulled off the outer panels and started cleaning it up and listing the obvious parts I'll need.

So, I'm here asking for advice. My tentative plan is to completely disassemble this machine, restore it (treat rust, strip, descale, paint, buff, polish, replace gaskets and grotty bits), then do a test hook up in the garage (I have 240v and water there) and get it working properly, then consider whether to install it in my house or, if it proves to be too much machine for me, sell it. Does that make sense?

Or should I simply do a basic clean then do the test hook up in the garage? If there is a good chance this machine has some unrepairable problem, that might make sense. But it looks like a pretty simple machine, how likely it is to be unrepairable?

Or should I take it to a local espresso machine service company - I assume there are some in Portland? - and ask them to get it working? If repairing these machines is likely to be beyond my ability then that might make sense. However, I strongly prefer to DIY stuff like this. I work on cars and bikes, have all the tools to disassemble/reassemble this machine, an air compressor to test the boiler, a paint sprayer to repaint the side panels, etc.

Money is an object. I have $0 into this machine so far, I'd like to get it beautiful and installed in my kitchen for something in the hundreds of dollars. I'm aware that more outlay will be needed for the grinder etc.

Here are photos. I've done a bit of cleaning, but no serious disassembly so far. Basically I'm asking what would you do? Thank you so much.

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John, Portland OR
Vintage bicycles, Porsche/VW, cooking, old houses.

User avatar
guijan12

Postby guijan12 » Nov 24, 2018, 4:14 am

Imo it's always repairable, depending on how much you like it and the money/time you want to spend on it.
Your tentative plan is the best: take it all apart, descale, replace some stuff if necessary, etc.
You will have touched every part and know your machine well afterwards.

But why would you want a machine this huge in your kitchen?
Half the size would be perfect for a household.
Unless you plan on having a lot of parties, of course. :lol:
Regards,

Guido

jyl

Postby jyl » Nov 24, 2018, 4:49 am

I do have a lot of dinner parties. That's why I installed the 240v commercial undercounter dishwasher!

I can find space for this machine. There is a location I'm eyeing in the dining room, if not in the kitchen. But I figure if I can refurbish it to very nice condition for not too much cost, then I'm ahead even if it turns out too much machine for me, as I can sell it and put the proceeds toward a smaller machine?
John, Portland OR
Vintage bicycles, Porsche/VW, cooking, old houses.

ira

Postby ira » Nov 24, 2018, 11:17 am

I would start by filling it with water and seeing if it heats, then checking the HX which look like they can just be unscrewed out the top of the boiler. Cleaning, descaling and replacing all the gaskets is what it will normally need, but if it needs electronics, the cost to repair can skyrocket. I did the same to a commercial lever and it cost a couple hundred for gaskets, hoses, missing hardware, an over pressure valve, a solenoid and the wire and fittings needed to repair the wires to the heater. I have a wholesale account at the local espresso supply which helps a bit with the prices, but still not bad for a perfectly functioning machine.

I would make sure there is an over pressure valve before firing it up, I looked in the pictures but couldn't see one. Or at least pay close attention to boiler pressure.

Ira

jyl

Postby jyl » Nov 24, 2018, 4:55 pm

Thank you!

I've emailed Stefano to ask if he has a gasket and o-ring kit, and a hot water valve, for this machine. I don't see these on his website but perhaps he will have them anyway.

For someone located in Portland Oregon, is Stefano's the go-to source for Elektra parts? I believe he is semi local to me.
John, Portland OR
Vintage bicycles, Porsche/VW, cooking, old houses.

jyl

Postby jyl » Nov 24, 2018, 9:31 pm

I removed the heating element, it was quite clean with no great scale buildup. Resistance across the heating element terminals is 20 ohms.

There was about 1" of water in the boiler, that's been there for at least 5 years and maybe longer. The bottom of the boiler was covered with a layer of silty stuff. I felt one of the fittings inside the boiler and the opening seemed nearly closed with buildup.

I've removed most of the lines and fittings. Having a little trouble with the lines that go to the flowmeters, the tubing ends don't want to come free from the boiler and I don't want to damage the lines. Also having trouble with the shiny dose control thingy (?) that is hanging from the front panel between the locations for the pushbutton pads; trying to figure out when it unplugs.

I'm going to descale the boiler and lines, and also get the frame derusted and painted, and clean up other stuff. Then I'll put it back together with fresh gaskets etc and plug it in see what doesn't work. Maybe this is not the logical way to proceed but I really don't like working on dirty equipment. Sounds like I'll want to thoroughly descale everything anyway so might as well get that done. When I was working on my cars, I always washed and degreased whatever I was going to be taking apart, before putting wrenches on bolts.

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John, Portland OR
Vintage bicycles, Porsche/VW, cooking, old houses.

jyl

Postby jyl » Nov 25, 2018, 2:33 am

Done for the night. The components are in a box, I couldn't safely remove a few of the lines from the lower boiler fittings but hopefully they will come off after some descaling.

Frame is too rusty to want to deal with using a wire wheel. Going to have it blasted and powder coated.

To descale the boiler and lines, I should use a bath of hot water and what? I have a lot of CLR around, will that work without damaging anything?

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John, Portland OR
Vintage bicycles, Porsche/VW, cooking, old houses.

jyl

Postby jyl » Nov 25, 2018, 7:39 pm

Inside of a heat exchanger and of the boiler. Doesn't look terrible, does it? Lots of silty stuff but I was afraid of stalactites.

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John, Portland OR
Vintage bicycles, Porsche/VW, cooking, old houses.

jyl

Postby jyl » Nov 27, 2018, 1:18 am

The boiler and lines, adapters, etc are in the citric acid hot bath. I am using a large Coleman cooler in hopes that the solution will stay hot overnight (is 150F now).

I separated the pump from the motor. The motor shaft spins easily. The pump shaft was stuck at first, but now it rotates smoothly and evenly but not "easily"; there is meaningful resistance to rotation which I think is normal. It is a Procon pump, I just watched a video about rebuilding these with a kit from EDCO. Seems fiddly but doable, should it prove necessary.

The motor casing is rusty so I'll have to clean and paint it. I'd like to retain the original stickers.

This really reminds me of restoring bicycles and cars. Similar drill - disassemble, derust, replace wear items, restore appearance but don't over-restore, replace or rebuild non working parts. Parts availability in general seems no worse than for a 1960s Bianchi bicycle or a 1970s Porsche. I hope I don't run into an unobtanium bit but once I searched eBay around the world for almost a year to find a bicycle part, and increasingly Porsche 911 parts have to be found at dismantlers because they are NLA.
John, Portland OR
Vintage bicycles, Porsche/VW, cooking, old houses.

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guijan12

Postby guijan12 » Nov 27, 2018, 2:49 am

It all doesn't sound and look too bad so far.
And you're quite handy, that also helps a bit. :D
Regards,

Guido