Should I take on restoration of an Isomac Millennium?

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

#1: Post by mikelipino »

I found a used Isomac Millennium for a DIY restoration price. I'm getting details from the owner to the specs, but it sounds well cared for except for a leak (trying to identify where), a full descale, and a likely breakdown of the valves and E61 to replace seals and gaskets.

I have no prior experience restoring an espresso machine. I am however handy and consider myself a DIYer and a maker. I have a full set of electronic tools (e.g. multimeter, soldering setup, tools to make wires and connectors) and most of the basic builder tools (screwdrivers, wrenches, vices, etc) and a free workbench. I probably don't have specific espresso machine tools like a gauge to test and adjust group pressure, but wouldn't be opposed to getting them if they're not too expensive or specific.

I'd like to keep the budget under $1k, and $300 will be for the unit. If the leak is on the boiler, I think the replacement itself would be $400-500, really eating into the budget. Time isn't a constraint as I'm quite happy with my Cafelat Robot and this project would be a fun way to tinker over the winter.

Some questions for this group:
- Is this project completable by someone like me? I think I have the skill set but that may be naive. There also seem to be videos available on the main systems that I can refer to as well as an exploded parts diagram
- Is it worth cutting my teeth on an Isomac Millennium? I've read here that they were once an internet user darling but have since fallen out of favor. Do they have any design flaws that make even a successful renovation not worth it? Would parts be easy to source?

Thanks in advance for any advice!

harrisonpatm

#2: Post by harrisonpatm »

I'm gonna be the non-expert response, so take my advice with that in mind: go for it. It's fun and you'll learn. It sounds like you have the basic tool setup, you probably won't need to buy specialty tools, and if you run into issues, you'll probably find the same as I did: this forum is incredibly helpful and the users are pretty great. I did it backwards and decided to scrap 3 machines into 1 frankenstein machine with almost no restoration experience, and I learned a ton.

mikelipino (original poster)

#3: Post by mikelipino (original poster) »

Patrick, thanks for the encouragement! Yes, it would be really fun to use this to learn how an espresso machine works. I'm completely for it unless it's impossible or if it's not worth it. It would be impossible if the parts are really hard to source or if too much of the insides are proprietary. And it would not be worth it if the cost outweighs the fun or if even a working Millennium isn't all that great to use. I'll do my homework to see if either is true.

NicoNYC

#4: Post by NicoNYC »

If you can do some basic troubleshooting with a multimeter and can tighten some plumbing fittings then you can fix a simple prosumer espresso machine. A few quality wrenches are indispensable for not mangling brass fittings, and a gauge for setting brew pressure is 20 or 30 bucks.

The Isomac looks like it has good access to all the boiler fittings and wires with the case off which is an important consideration. Most hydraulic parts like vacuum breakers and pressurestats are pretty interchangeable, the majority of prosumer machines use the same pump and solenoids, usually it's just the "brainbox" that's proprietary, maybe steam and hot water valves, and aesthetic bits. Also, take a look at cafeparts.com, not only is it a great source for parts, but they list equivalent part #s, often you can find a 'discontinued' part under a different brand name.
LMWDP #718

mikelipino (original poster)

#5: Post by mikelipino (original poster) »

Thanks Nico! I'll keep cafeparts.com in mind, and it's good to hear that most parts are interchangeable.

DaveC

#6: Post by DaveC »

It's a very easy machine to repair and as many people have said generic parts will be fine. Here are some photos from my archive of how it should look inside, hopefully help with the restore.. The box used is a pro-elind PRA-13 box which may prove tricky to get in the USA, but if you trace out the wiring and want to modify it a tad a Gicar RL30 can be used if your autofill controller is bad.

I have the .pdf parts listing and parts diagram for the Millennium, if you want it, drop me a pm with your e-mail

I would strongly recommend replacing the CEME stat with a MA-TER XP110





★ Helpful

mikelipino (original poster)

#7: Post by mikelipino (original poster) »

Thanks Dave! These pictures are a very helpful reference, and I'll PM you for the parts diagram and listing.

I also saw that you contributed quite a bit to a 2018 thread on the UK Coffee Forum on the same topic, so I'll try not to ask the same questions!

earlgrey_44

#8: Post by earlgrey_44 »

As you can see, there's no dearth of help here. There have been several folks who have come in recent years with a Millennium in various states of disrepair, and have come away with a nice machine for the investment of work and a modest, sometimes very modest, spend.
There are lots of places for it to leak other than the boiler - which is expensive - so check it out and let us know.
The Millennium is a pretty machine, and a good, basic E61 box. It's main idiosyncrasy IMO is the inconvenience of getting the case on and off, which I and others came to hate. If this doesn't sound daunting, I think you'll be fine.
Trust your taste. Don't trust your perception.