Fixing difficult to insert portafilters - Page 2

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.
Frost

#11: Post by Frost »

A softer durometer rubber for the group gasket sounds like a good simple solution. Not sure if anyone makes one for standard E61. The small orange gasket on my Isomac Venus is much softer than the hard black gaskets. The portafilter glides in easy and the gasket is 2+ years old, no cracks or signs of drying out or falling apart (it drops out for cleaning with the dispersion plate.) I'm not sure of the material (viton?). When I ordered a replacement, the new one is white and a bit harder rubber. I put the old orange one back in.

hperry

#12: Post by hperry »

another_jim wrote:Overfilled baskets are a different issue. My point is that if a PF/Group mating is so stiff that it takes two hands to put in or remove, even if the basket is empty, it is too stiff for commercial use. This is true even of new machines using the manufacturer's gear. For instance, out of the box, the Silvia and DC Mini required two hands to mount or dismount the PF.
Didn't have the issue with either Dalla Corte, so possibly either yours or mine are unique - thus the speculation on whether filling might be causing it. Both Dalla Cortes that I've used attached comfortably with one hand. Wonder if there is a variation from one Dalla Corte portafilter to the next.
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gscace

#13: Post by gscace »

another_jim wrote:Overfilled baskets are a different issue. My point is that if a PF/Group mating is so stiff that it takes two hands to put in or remove, even if the basket is empty, it is too stiff for commercial use. This is true even of new machines using the manufacturer's gear. For instance, out of the box, the Silvia and DC Mini required two hands to mount or dismount the PF.

If this is also true of their commercial offerings, they have a problem. Who's going to buy a torquathon machine for their cafe?
Well it's one thing if the pf requires two hands to insert and move, and another if the gasket material has hardened from high temperatures. The first case is the result of poor quality control. The second one is the result of inadequate maintenance. It's easy enuff to fix either case, although having to fix the first case would be annoying.

-Greg

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

hperry wrote:Didn't have the issue with either Dalla Corte, so possibly either yours or mine are unique - thus the speculation on whether filling might be causing it. Both Dalla Cortes that I've used attached comfortably with one hand. Wonder if there is a variation from one Dalla Corte portafilter to the next.
I hope you are right, but Marshall has complained about his Mini's PF falling out mid shot unless it's really torqued in.

I'm unaware of reports of difficulties mounting E61, NS, Elektra, or LM PFs. It could be that some group bells are engineered to be immune to normal manufacturing variations, while in others the tolerances are so fine that an appreciable number of new PF and gasket combos do jam.

If this is the case, filing the ears and the top rim should be regarded as SOP.
Bluegrod wrote: ... I took a small mill file and trimmed down the ears of the portafilter to make it fit. The only problem I did have was that once the protective chrome layer was gone and the brass was exposed I believe it shortened the life of the portafilter as brass is really soft and seemed to wear down fairly quickly
It might be better to wear down the PF ears rather than the brass in the group bell.
Jim Schulman

fwtechwiz

#15: Post by fwtechwiz »

If it were me, if it was easy to insert the p/f without the basket, and was difficult with the basket in place, I would either find a ridgeless basket or try peining down the ridge of the basket until it fit nice.

BeastinBarista

#16: Post by BeastinBarista »

another_jim wrote:Overfilled baskets are a different issue. My point is that if a PF/Group mating is so stiff that it takes two hands to put in or remove, even if the basket is empty, it is too stiff for commercial use. This is true even of new machines using the manufacturer's gear. For instance, out of the box, the Silvia and DC Mini required two hands to mount or dismount the PF.

If this is also true of their commercial offerings, they have a problem. Who's going to buy a torquathon machine for their cafe?

I can comment on the NS Aurelia I own/use on a commercial level... both portafilters glide/lock in with very little effort, even using 1 finger to do so. This is with fairly new group gaskets as well.
I must also say the fit/finish of the group castings/portafilters for this machine are fantastic.

jlhsupport

#17: Post by jlhsupport »

I have come across this issue on 1 group machines. For example, at the beginning of 2009, the group bodies on the Silvia were incredibly tight, but then they must have milled some more metal off the next batch. It was definitely the body and not the gasket because we noticed more than typical initial wear on the ears.

I think the problem is, as I have discussed in the past, is that parts and machines are designed by those with a commercial mindset. Many cafes have 2, 3 or 4 group machines that weigh between 170 and 300 pounds. When it's a tight fit, the barista can just push harder without the machine scooting around on the counter. With the added weight providing an opposing force, it's rather easy. With a lightweight (by comparison) machine like the Silvia (~30 lbs) or DC Mini (~50 lbs), one may have to place his other hand on the top of the machine to create the necessary leverage. Since brass is a fairly soft metal, it does wear away and will eventually be just right down the road.

I'll admit that my opinion on the matter is a bit skewed, as I'm used to it by now, but I can see where it might tick off an unsuspecting new owner.
Joshua Stack
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another_jim (original poster)
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#18: Post by another_jim (original poster) »

I have a hard time seeing any shop putting up with this, no matter how slip proof the machine. Having to torque a PF with 50 to 100 lb force for three or four shots a day may is not a health hazard; having to do it twenty times an hour is. A beefy owner operator may stay with something like this for a few days before he takes action; but at any shop with hired baristas, a group requiring this much force would be out for repair within the hour.

There is also the POS factor. Having a $2500 home espresso machine spit out the PF unless you hug the machine with one hand and twist it in with the other will not inspire confidence that you made a wise purchase.
Jim Schulman

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Bob_McBob

#19: Post by Bob_McBob »

I had the same issue with my Bezzera lever machine, but to the point where it was literally impossible to lock in the portafilter using the correctly speced gasket. I had to sand down the included gasket to get it to work, and I have a couple of thinner ones on order now. I still have no idea which part is out of spec.
Chris

BeastinBarista

#20: Post by BeastinBarista »

another_jim wrote:I have a hard time seeing any shop putting up with this, no matter how slip proof the machine. Having to torque a PF with 50 to 100 lb force for three or four shots a day may is not a health hazard; having to do it twenty times an hour is. A beefy owner operator may stay with something like this for a few days before he takes action; but at any shop with hired baristas, a group requiring this much force would be out for repair within the hour.

There is also the POS factor. Having a $2500 home espresso machine spit out the PF unless you hug the machine with one hand and twist it in with the other will not inspire confidence that you made a wise purchase.

Totally agree with you Jim. Seems as if some manufacturers don't fine tune the fit/finish of some parts like others do.