Simplifying the cleaning/maintenance of the Quest M3 [FAQ]

Discuss roast levels and profiles for espresso, equipment for roasting coffee.
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#1: Post by TomC »

The first few times you take apart the Quest M3 to clean and maintain it, it's kinda fun, you're getting to learn about all the fiddly bits and how they all work together. After a few dozen times, it's just tedious. Here's a few quick tips for cutting down the work time to a fraction of what it normally takes. It's only one suggestion and a few tips, but I hope it will help other users. There's a few quirks to the design that make tearing it down for cleaning far more difficult than it need be.

First off, unplug the roaster. :?

Establishing a standard frequency to clean the roaster helps, it's not the main point I'm making, it just helps with everything, keeping the workload down since there'll be less gunk to scrub. It'll likely be better on the fan motor's life too.

After every single roast, I lift the loading chute and using a stiff brush, I scrub down all the fuzzy chaff junk that has collected on the lid as well as down the intake tube. Use a synthetic brush for this, you don't want animal hair getting knocked loose from vigorous scrubbing.

You'll find that there's very little maintenance that needs to be done on the front end of the roaster, as long as you keep the intake tube clean and be sure to clear out any stray beans that landed in the horizontal exhaust tube, you're basically all set. Also make sure to blow out any burned chaff that collects on the bottom of the outer drum shell. It generally works easily enough to just tilt it backwards and blow it out.

From that point, the lions share of the time and work become the back end of the Quest and the time savers that follow.

First thing first is to plop the exhaust filter basket into a mason jar filled with hot water and Joe Glo or your espresso machine cleaner of choice while you then proceed to take things apart. It will be clean before you're done disassembling everything else. When you unmount the top lid and remove the screws that hold the upper most rear panel on, you can start tearing down the main components that get gunked up.

Here's where the problems start. The lower mounting plate in the Quest exhaust housing is affixed to the roaster with close to a dozen screws. And two of the little devils are located in an extremely tight spot, mounted right behind the drum and blocked from being removed, unless you unmount the whole front end of the roaster, drum, etc. which ads at least an hour onto the job.

If you have a Dremmel type tool with a cut off wheel, you can cut down the supplied allen wrench to actually fit back in that super tight space and get those two screws loose, like this. If you opt not to do this, you'll have to disassemble pretty much the entire thing to get to these two screws. I have multiple sets of allen wrenches, so it didn't matter if I modified the one that came with the roaster, and now it actually works better for it's task.

It takes some fiddling, but I managed to finally get them out after about 5 minutes without having to remove the whole front end. Don't worry, once they're out, you'll never have to deal with it again.

Everything on the Quest cleans quite easily. The same nylon brush mentioned earlier and warm running water is all that it takes to scrub off even thick build up. I didn't need to use any soap, but if you do, rinse and rinse again and dry everything well.

Looking from the back end of the Quest, you'll see the two screw holes in the photo below that become problematic. ( Look immediately underneath the exhaust tube, halfway up on the right and to the bottom on the left and you'll see the ones I'm referring to).

These two spots will pose a problem every time you want to tear down the roaster, and since they'd likely slightly alter the airflow if left out, they have to be dealt with. The simple solution is to reverse the orientation of the two screws, and fasten them from within the back of the roaster. I had thought of maybe tucking in small rolled up bits of aluminum foil as an alternative as well, to plug the holes, but this is a better solution.

Here's a few more shots to clarify which ones I'm talking about, it's pretty easy to figure it out once you're staring at your roaster.

And here, now back in, but the orientation reversed. They are a lot easier to get to now, without tearing off the whole front end of the roaster. Congratulations, you just saved yourself an hour between tearing down and then rebuilding the whole roaster the next time.

When you get to the exhaust fan itself, it removes with a 1.5mm hex wrench that has to be inserted horizontally thru the fan blades to unfasten the set screw/grub screw that holds the fan onto it's shaft. If you procrastinate cleaning the roaster's fan too much, the little bugger becomes quite a challenge to remove. But it's essential to limit strain on the fan motor by getting the gunk off the rotating assembly.

By this point, the exhaust fan filter is clean and just needs to be rinsed well. The fan itself now needs to go in and soak. While it's soaking, you can continue to clean the panels, and the black fan housing box with the nylon brush. The fan will be done and clean by the time you get everything else clean.

With the fan rebuilt, now's a good time to check the point at which your fan begins to actually turn. The Quest comes with green or red paint that marks on the fan dial where the fan actually begins to rotate. My Quest originally was marked at 4.5, but it actually starts spinning enough to feel it move air right at 4. It's useful to take note of this now, when everything is easily seen. If your fan is beginning to wear out, this is where you'll start noticing it likely, so it pays to check once in a while, since it only takes a second. I used acetone to remove the green ink/paint, I don't need to mark it again, I know where it starts.

When you're reassembling the roaster, stop long before you refasten all those tiny screws to the various panels and plug the power cord back in to double check that when the fan is turned on, it's mounted far enough down it's shaft that it doesn't scrape against the housing that you just blocked access to by completely rebuilding it. It's easy to remount the fan onto it's shaft too shallowly and not realize it till much later on and you've got everything else put back together. Then you get to re-familiarize yourself to how to take everything apart again. Don't ask me how I know this. It's important to not shove it down too far either, or the increased gap will likely affect fan efficiency when it comes to flow. If you're not hearing any scraping, and not seeing any major gaps, you're all set.

As things are going back together it's easy to put the two offending screws thru their relative holes backwards. They don't need to be torqued down hard, just secure.

Now, the next time you need to clean the exhaust housing of the roaster, you can do it without taking apart the whole front end of the roaster. The tear down/rebuild and clean up time drops from 90+ minutes to about 15 or 20.
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#2: Post by kwantfm »

Very helpful post. I haven't opened my Quest up fully because of those two hard to access screws. I'm going to do a full tear down and reverse those screws as you suggest. Thanks.
LMWDP #602


#3: Post by Marshall_S »

I thought vacuuming the fan was enough.. :o

Seriously.. great post, Tom. Appreciate the time you took to detail such a thorough cleaning regimen. I'll have to go deeper next time and follow your suggestions-


#4: Post by Bob_M »

Thanks for the write up, Tom.

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#5: Post by FotonDrv »

Thanks for the tips Tom!
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#6: Post by pShoe »

I gave this a try today with some success. I found I could not do it with all the screws or there would be too much of a gap. The screws thread (pull) from the piece inside. It there was some thread on the case then it would be able to pull the case and piece together.

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TomC (original poster)
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#7: Post by TomC (original poster) replying to pShoe »

The first time I put it back together it did the same think. Oddly, I switched the screws around randomly and it pulled flush like stock ( I have no logical explanation for this). Take a look at the second to last picture I posted above and you can see that it is flush mounted.
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#8: Post by triodelover »

I want to add to the chorus of praise, Tom. Cleaned my Quest today for the first time after 5 roasts and your advice was invaluable. Two thumbs up (as the late Roger Ebert would say).


#9: Post by prhomme »

Great idea with those two screws! I bought a Quest when they first came out and I've never been able to disassemble the front end sufficiently to get those two screws out. Will give this a try.

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#10: Post by another_jim »

I must have missed this. It's a great tip, since the fan is hard to clean with only the rear plates off.
Jim Schulman