VBM Domobar Servicing

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

#1: Post by kevviek »

Hi all. New member here, but a long time reader.

I've just bought myself a ~2009 VBM Domobar single boiler, also known as Levetta or Piccolo. It's been sitting idle for a few months but everything seems to be working. I have pulled it apart to paint the case white and am thinking that while it's apart perhaps I should give it a service.

So apart from putting in a new gasket and shower screen, are there other parts that fail often and make sense to replace and/or clean?

I was also wondering if it is worth pulling the boiler apart to check for scale, or if a flush with cleaner would be sufficient. I'm used to Gaggia Classics for which the aluminium boiler corrodes quite badly after a few years. The water is not hard where I live.


#2: Post by WWWired »

Hi kevviek :) Would be fascinating to see any photos and video of your journey! :)

Here's a link to an E61 maintenance schedule found in Home-Barista's "RESOURCES" section:

Many of the experts here suggest that the grouphead is a perfect sample of the machine to check regularly . . . for anyone looking for a canary-in-the-coalmine to diagnose the internal health of a high-end quality espresso machine, the E61 Grouphead has earned well its popularity and likely has a brilliant reputation in part because of this. The E61 is often easy to disassemble (leaving attached to the chassis) and the removal of the upper sleeve, lower sleeve assemblies and the lever assembly to inspect components can often be done fairly quickly. Looking at the jet valve, screen and mushroom in the upper sleeve can offer a great indicator of what's going on inside a high quality espresso machine.

Here's a link to a another post in a HB thread that discusses a maintenance checklist for another type of machine that may prove of some assistance . . .
La Marzocco Linea Mini maintenance issues

The VBM's are brilliant machines! :)

kevviek (original poster)

#3: Post by kevviek (original poster) »

Some pics so far

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BaristaBoy E61

#4: Post by BaristaBoy E61 »

Welcome to HB Kev

That's a very nice looking older E61 group head!
I'd also suggest replacing the group valves, gaskets, lub and a complete citric acid descaling.

Anon's link to an E61 rebuild is an excellent suggestion and a great place to start.

Feed it with non-scaling water and you should be all set.

Keep posting!
"You didn't buy an Espresso Machine - You bought a Chemistry Set!"


#5: Post by WWWired »

Spectacular!! :) :) :)

kevviek (original poster)

#6: Post by kevviek (original poster) »

Thanks so much for the links. I've ordered a bunch of parts, mostly gaskets but also some springs. I didn't think I'd need to replace the valves so fingers crossed when I open it up.

I don't see many people suggesting to open up the boiler for cleaning so might leave that for now.

I was thinking of replacing the knob & handle with wooden ones but the prices are insane.

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#7: Post by cafeIKE »

The Vibiemme e61 is Best in Class :wink:

Springs seldom fail.

Valve ends wear and replacing the valve gaskets is a Royal PitA!

Be sure to get OEM parts as all e61 are not created equal.

It's a ways to Oz, but Espresso Care is a world renowned resource for OEM parts.

kevviek (original poster)

#8: Post by kevviek (original poster) »

Is there a way to tell if the valves need to be replaced?

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#9: Post by cafeIKE »

I do a rebuild every five years or about 5000 - 6000 shots.

By that time the ends of the valves are well worn from a slightly convex profile when new to very concave.

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#10: Post by mrgnomer »

Yes, you should take the e61 group apart to look for valve damage. If you see a lot of wear on the brass stems and the rubber on those stems has compressed grooves in it and is rock hard it might be a good idea to replace the whole lever stem. Springs get weak but not as fast as rubber gets hard. You can get E61 kits for grouphead parts and other parts like the O rings, teflon washers, rubber washers and such you'll need for a rebuild. Dow 111 lube is your friend.

The lever camshaft wears pretty well but the seal is rubber. You'll be close to taking the camshaft lever assembly apart by disassembling the E61 so it's not a bad idea to do it to the camshaft lever assembly and inspect and lube it atleast. Going after the camshaft seal could damage it so it's good to have one handy just in case.

With the E61 apart you can also pull off the mushroom to see if there's scale buildup. Scale on the mushroom usually means scale elsewhere, especially the boiler. If there's lots of scale flush, descale, flush the boiler.

The overpressure valve seat is rubber as well. Good idea to replace that. A dried out worn out seat gets quirky. There's the vacuum pressure release valve as well. The o ring dries out/gets scaled over and keeps the valve from working properly. Clean it off and lube the o ring if it's only scaled, replace the o ring or the whole thing if it's worn out.

The fill probe can get scaled over. You'll know it if you open the water wand and draw water out and the boiler refill doesn't happen almost right away. Don't draw out too much water, just enough to trigger the probe. If the probe isn't working and you pull out too much water you risk exposing the heating element and burning it out.

That's what comes to mind regarding maintenance of an old machine. There's more stuff that could need servicing on an old machine but that stuff makes itself known by odd functioning.
LMWDP #116
professionals do it for the pay, amateurs do it for the love