Major Bellman stovetop steamer breakthrough! - Page 7

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.
DaveB

#61: Post by DaveB »

SteveRhinehart wrote:If memory serves, the relief valve in the Bellman handle should open at 1.2-1.3 bar. I will also confirm that I recommend heating the Bellman until the relief valve opens and hisses lightly. If it is vigorously spewing steam I recommend reducing the heat and maybe bleeding some pressure from the steam valve to calm things down a little. For the retro La Pavoni owners out there, I wait for the valve to hiss like it's in Min mode, not Max mode :wink:.
Thanks for the info, Steve. Your video (embedded upthread) made me believe that it was somehow possible to get good microfoam from the Bellman, despite my wildly inconsistent results. I will definitely follow your advice to turn down the heat to keep the relief valve hissing softly. I can confirm that it was howling like a banshee when mine literally blew a gasket the other day (due to the lid not being screwed down completely).

In other news, I removed the steam knob to check the gasket of the leaky steam valve:

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It takes a 15mm wrench to remove, and my pedal wrench worked perfectly. I put some Dow 111 Molykote all over it and reassembled. The steady leak slowed considerably, but not completely. But it's operating much more smoothly than it was. The little clear gasket near the tip appears to be the same size as the 007 red silicon gaskets I bought a year ago for the BDB's boilers. Naturally, the unopened bag of 100 sits buried somewhere and I can't find it at the moment. :D
Von meinem iPhone gesendet

DamianWarS

#62: Post by DamianWarS »

DaveB wrote:A recent thread entitled How to clean a Bellman steamer? in the Repairs, Restorations & Mods sub-forum branched off into a discussion of idiosyncrasies and woes relating to the unit. IMHO, the news I am about to share is fully worthy of its own thread, and it's more appropriate to be in the Tips and Techniques section. It's worth noting that I post this in the context of my having read everything I could find on the Bellman going back at least 10 years, on HB and beyond. So without further ado, strap on your seatbelts an prepare to be amazed! 8)

I made this stop-the-press postâ„¢ yesterday in that thread, and to follow up, this morning I boiled approx 1 cup of water in my PID kettle and added it to the Bellman, striving for a level about an inch deep. With the unit on the stove, I turned up the gas as high as possible without the flames coming up the sides. I positioned it to be slightly off-center so the handle and the steam knob wouldn't get hit with direct heat. I set my stopwatch and the pressure valve starting hissing in 5 minutes flat! I then submerged the wand fully into a vessel of cold water (as depicted in the linked post above) and opened the valve all the way. Interestingly, I didn't get any large bubbles but kept in open for appox. 10 seconds anyway. I waited till the pressure built up again to hissing, turned the heat down to low, did a quick purge, and prepared to steam. With exactly 4 oz milk in my small Cafelat pitcher, I got an immediate whirlpool going with good control, and I ended up with most excellent microfoam rivaling that of the BDB! I repeated the process for a 2nd latte with 4 oz milk, and again was met with success. When it cooled I measured the remaining water and there was 140mL left.

My takeaway is that it might be a combination of purging air from the device as well as cooling the wand, which is super-heated as it's in direct uninsulated contact with the boiler. Additionally, I confirmed that you can get away with very small amounts of water and still make at least a couple of drinks back-to-back. I have to say, a 5 minute heat up time (using pre-boiled water) is pretty awesome! During last summer's preventive power outages (one lasting 4 days), I had lots of practice time with the Bellman, but could never got results as good as I did this morning, and many times it was much worse. I hope this helps!
After a few days of long purges I'm still noticing over aeration, it's a wonderful velvety microfoam but it's just a little too much. I'm finding that after I get the texture I desire and submerge the tip aeration continues quite a bit and I need to submerge the tip quite early and I'm still getting over aeration.

I bring to pressure, do a long purge about 40 seconds before use then bring it to pressure again and steam but I don't submerge it in cold water to do the purge and perhaps that might help otherwise I may have to start with the tip fully submerged during the whole entrainment.

Have you nailed a system down that works best for you yet or experienced similar issues?

staymesso
Supporter

#63: Post by staymesso »

Just wanted to share I have had excellent results with the Bellman, even better than I ever got on the e61 HX machine I had. So long as you let it purge and also come up to pressure, it steams plenty fast and hard for a latte. Haven't tried a double amount yet, but 8oz milk is no problem. The key really is to open and let all the air out. Has anyone ever tried drilling into it and installing a pressure gauge? I have a spare one from my flair laying around.....

DamianWarS

#64: Post by DamianWarS »

DamianWarS wrote:After a few days of long purges I'm still noticing over aeration, it's a wonderful velvety microfoam but it's just a little too much. I'm finding that after I get the texture I desire and submerge the tip aeration continues quite a bit and I need to submerge the tip quite early and I'm still getting over aeration.

I bring to pressure, do a long purge about 40 seconds before use then bring it to pressure again and steam but I don't submerge it in cold water to do the purge and perhaps that might help otherwise I may have to start with the tip fully submerged during the whole entrainment.

Have you nailed a system down that works best for you yet or experienced similar issues?
today I pulled out a digital temp gauge which pretty much has an instant reading. I did a long purge, brought to boil and sunk the wand it as far it could go with 8oz of milk. the temp went up a lot faster than normal but I didn't need to try and texture the milk by bringing it to the surface and it textured perfectly by leaving it in one spot. Because the temp went up a lot faster I suspect there may be something wrong with the analog temp gauge I was using. The milk was textured perfectly so whatever it did I'm just going to copy this system to keep getting those results

monkeygrinder

#65: Post by monkeygrinder » replying to DamianWarS »

DamianWarS, the issue you described in your previous post is EXACTLY what I'm now facing. I get nice looking foam, but it's a bit thicker than it should be, so when I start the high pour into the espresso, it doesn't blow below the surface, but instead just muddies everything up. For example, looking at the foam in this video, it's obviously not as thick as mine, so works nicely.

I would like to try your "bury the wand" approach, but it doesn't seem like you can get a good whirlpool going with that. Do you see some small-ish (maybe 1mm or less diameter) bubbles at the top right after aerating? If so, do those disappear during your heating phase? Do you have a visible whirlpool with the wand buried that deep?

DamianWarS

#66: Post by DamianWarS » replying to monkeygrinder »

I just bury it and make sure the wand is up against a wall and it gives a sufficient whirlpool. It's still just a little too much aeration for my liking. There are slight bubbles but some post steaming swirls and taps seems to handle it fine. I'm using UHT milk and I think that's some of the issues but fresh milk is hard to come by where I live. When I see some I'll pick it up and try it out.

monkeygrinder

#67: Post by monkeygrinder »

In case there's anyone out there who has tried a lot of these ideas and is still getting foam that's a bit too thick, I wanted to share what finally worked for me.

I have already tried leaving the main valve open during heating and various purge tactics. Using those techniques I could get foam, but it was always too thick to really flow nicely across the surface during the artistic part of the pour. Majorly frustrated, I went back to simulating a first latte steam using water (i.e., following the idea of DaveB in this post). This also worked for DamianWarS (see this post).

Basically, I brought the Bellman up to temp until the relief valve just barely hissed. Then I took a plastic cup with some ice water, submerged the wand and steamed about as long as I'd normally do a latte (maybe 30 seconds). I even "cleaned" the wand afterwards, thinking the cold, wet rag might cool down the wand a bit, and did a quick purge to get the water out. Brought the Bellman all the way back to pressure while pulling the shot. Then I started with 6 oz 2% milk and followed the normal recommended procedure. This time, NO large bubbles, and I got a great whirlpool going.

The result was perfect milk texture and density. My artistic skills during the pour still need work, but that's a whole other issue. :) I know this method is a bit more time-consuming and someday I may try other techniques again, but am sticking with this for now. (What remains a huge mystery to me is how so many youtube posts of people using the Bellman don't seem to mention this issue of air inside the unit.)

maximatica

#68: Post by maximatica »

DamianWarS wrote:... i'm not so sure about the wooden knobs but perhaps they are cooler to the touch than plastic.
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Actually wood is one of the best insulators there is.

I took a welding class once and one of the field trips was out to Kaiser steel in Fontana Calif. They took us by the coke ovens where they would cook coal until it became coke to use in the steelmaking.

They pointed out that the guys working 10-15 feet away from the ovens were wearing wooden shoes as that was the only thing that would sufficiently insulate their feet.

When they opened the doors of the ovens (so the guys could pull the coke out into a big dumpster trolley), the heat was very fierce and we were about 60-80 feet away.

So, if you ever have to insulate anything, if wood will work, it's your best choice.

HTH.

Max

GKallweit

#69: Post by GKallweit »

So, I had been following this thread for a little while and have struggled with similar problems with my CXE-25. It's got the integral heating element in it, but otherwise works the same as a stovetop model. 500 watts for those who care.
What I've recently done is what someone on another thread mentioned: I cut off the tip and pinched the tube down into a vertical slot, then opened a couple small holes with an awl (also filed and wet sanded smooth) The old tip was almost 2mm in diameter and always created coarse foam and a lack of uniformity. I could create good microfoam on other machines, but never on the CXE-25.
Now that the tip is modified to have smaller orifices, I'm getting nice homogenous, silky foam. So much better than the big old single hole.
Hacking off and modifying the wand won't be for everyone, but I wanted to share how well it has worked for me. I still do a long (30 sec) purge as others have suggested, but the finer tip is like night and day.

Geoff

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spressomon

#70: Post by spressomon »

I swapped the old original single hole tip & arm for the newer 2-hole tip & arm on my CX-25 and CXE-25; worth it. Just spent the last 10-days out camping in remote places and relied on the CX-25 atop a SnowPeak burner for foam, along with the EspressoForge, for our 4-7 cappas each morning and it did not disappoint. Easy, reliable and pure micro-cell foam.

Sorry, no pic of the Bellman...just the results :)

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No Espresso = Depresso