Detergent Cleaning - E61 Manual Groupheads - Page 2

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks for making espresso.
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erics (original poster)
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#11: Post by erics (original poster) »

A poor pic of some preinfusion valves - left is mine; right is another machine. History of the other machine is not known other than the fact that operation of the lever (before and after) is like "night & day". New parts will produce a most pronounced mid-position of the lever.


Eric S.
E-mail: erics at rcn dot com


#12: Post by opother »

Thank you for posting this. I have probably prolonged the life of the cam and it's associated action parts (lubricated them with food grade Dow Corning 111 valve lubricant and sealant.) Because of your diagrams I was able to get a grasp of what needed to be done.

I noticed some wear but thankfully I don't need to replace any parts yet. The action is much smoother also.

I forgot to mention my machine is a Brewtus 2.


#13: Post by MrFrank »

I'm not sure I understand how the flush works using this method. Does the lever stay in brew position for the entire process? I'm trying to understand how the built-up coffee gunk is expelled if there is no flush (lever lowered to exhaust position).

I know I'm missing something obvious here, but I need some help.


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erics (original poster)
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#14: Post by erics (original poster) »

The built-up coffee "gunk" is expelled when you do several 10 second flushes through the grouphead. Repeat the process until the water flushes clear enough to drink.

Eric S.
E-mail: erics at rcn dot com


#15: Post by CelliniEVO »

My Rocket is only a couple months old and I do a chemical backflush once a month. I try to do five or so water backflushes at the end of each day, but sometimes I forget or am too lazy because I'm yet to plumb/drain and hate emptying the drip tray.
After this most recent chemical backflush (a week ago) my lever has become pretty difficult to comfortably engage and disengage......wondering how long this will last for and if there is anything I can do to speed up the process??

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Randy G.

#16: Post by Randy G. »

CelliniEVO wrote:My Rocket is only a couple months old .... After this most recent chemical backflush (a week ago) my lever has become pretty difficult to comfortably engage and disengage......
The chemical backflush washes away any lubricant and coffee oils that help the "followers" ride smoothly on the cam. Personally, I recommend not using the chemical backflush any more often than necessary, and making sure you do clear water backflushes at the end of every session. The coffee oils do re-deposit, but I found (now this is just my personal experience with my E-61) that the stiffness seemed to last longer as the parts got older and had "suffered" more chemical backflushes. My routine became one that, when I felt that a chemical backflush was needed, I disassembled the group, cleaned the loose parts externally, used a stiff brush to clean the inside of the group with detergent, lubed, and reassembled. I try to keep a few of the piston seals on hand just in case, and when I have it all apart, I also unscrew the seal retaining pin and washer (Eric will know what it is called - it's the short follower on top of each seal- they unscrew (at least with the VBM E-61 they do) to allow the seal to come out) and put a small dab on Dow on the threads so they don't corrode and break off the stud when removed next time.

- just one data point that works for me. But I get excited to see "assembly required" on ANYTHING!

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erics (original poster)
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#17: Post by erics (original poster) »

I agree with Randy - only an engine buff would call the part in question a follower which it actually is :)

I am NOT a big fan of detergent backflushing NOR am I a big fan of descaling - BUT, I am willing to pay the price and, in some infrequent instances, I do. I AM a fan in doing it as I initially described because that does keep the detergent (primarily tri-sodium phosphate - TSP) off the cam surfaces. As Ian Eales correctly pointed out earlier, this does not "clean" the cam area - I agree - but I'll accept that.

Someone, and I wish I could give him due credit, recently posted a maintenance schedule he adheres to on his machine. His screen and gasket removal were a little too frequent for me but hey - that's what forums are about. It was close.

The accumulation of "junk" on the backside of the dispersion screen and the surrounding area can easily impact the taste of the espresso in a large negative sense. This, to me, would be the primary reason to remove the screen and gasket on a routine basis and replace them with spares as the cleaning process takes place in the sink.

But, to answer your question, the ease of use should return after a few shots.

Eric S.
E-mail: erics at rcn dot com


#18: Post by AngerManagement »

Have to agree with the previous two posts..

Just like every day cleaning and washing of hands etc. There is a time and a place, but many go overboard.

Thus the initial intent of the chemical clean has a negative flow on effect.

1: Path way via the drain valves etc is subject to some high flow rates and some coffee oils etc but not as much as the shower screens and immediate area.

2: Plain water back flush as and when required... Dependent on 1001 variables :)

3: Chemical back flush... as and when required but less frequent can be a good thing... (disclaimer to follow)

4: A more regular manual clean of the shower screen, head and group diffuser will have a direct impact on the need for a hard chemical back flush.

In addition; if you just rely on the normal chemical backflush to clean the shower screen and group diffuser, then; you will need to do it more often and it will not be an ideal clean and can have short term negative impacts on teh cam's and followers.

PS. I always lube my group seal and screen and it means I do not destroy the seal or screen when removing to clean.

A: About every 4 weeks at 4 to 8 shots a day - Manual clean
B: Water back wash... Err at least weekly or at any time I feel it might need.
C: Chemical backwash.... When I have a problem that other methods do not clear or about every 3 or 4 months and it is done AFTER a manual clean.

That way I use less detergent and am not going to dislodge any crap and then have it get caught in the valve seats etc... Have seen absolutely filthy systems and some one just do a chemical clean and then have problems associated directly back to the clean... WHY do they do this, Why :roll:

Note: In a non E61 head, most this all changes as there are none of the cams, valves and seals that are involved. Mind you a manual clean prior to a chemical clean can be good practice. Seen a few solenoid valve issues after a so called clean :roll:
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#19: Post by CelliniEVO »

Well, I just looked at my calendar and its actually been 11 days since my chemical backflush and the lever seems to be getting harder to move progressively over the 11 days.....any ideas how this could happen?? Maybe something else is going on?? I've done a total of 4 chemical backflushes (I use 1/8th of a teaspoon of JoeGlo) over the course of the 4.5 months I've owned my machine. I'm pulling roughly 4-6 doubles a day......after each I scrub around the outside of the screen and flush an oz. or so of water to clean the screen.


#20: Post by earlgrey_44 »

erics wrote:Someone...recently posted a maintenance schedule he adheres to on his machine.
I suspect that was moi.

Cleaning and Lubricating the E-61

I too generally agree with the above posts. I think there is a consensus here about the need for detergent use to prevent oil buildup but to avoid overuse to avoid the negative effects of wear promotion. The operational definition of how to do this and how to embed detergent use in a pattern of other practices is still a bit elusive.

I have now read in recent weeks here that it's good to use baking soda (in its capacity as a mild degreaser) to backflush the system daily; to use detergent to backflush weekly; monthly, and every three or four months. Well, OK then...

I get the impression from reading over the years that many people over use detergent backflushing to the detriment of their machines, though I'm not sure at all that there are more or less people like that than those who neglect their machines in some heinous manner.

A few points: There are folks here who have in the past described Very Very Thorough daily cleaning practices - this is no doubt excellent but I will freely admit here that I am a lazy man. I have read and enjoyed The Lazy Mans Guide To Enlightenment and I seek the Lazy Mans Guide to E-61 Maintenance.

It makes a lot of sense to me to manually clean the screen and adjacent areas to avoid tasting rancid flavors in plain water run through the group head. (Taste the water and see) With my usage pattern, a cleaning out every few days does a good job for me - quick and easy with no unintended consequences.

If there any utility to plain water backflushing that is not achieved by screen rinsing/portafilter wiggle? I don't see any extra grounds removed that way and water does not wash away oil - why should I water backflush?
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