s445203 Junior Member Joined: 17 Jan 2014 Posts: 6 Location: London Expertise: Just starting
Posted Wed Jan 29, 2014, 5:26am Subject: Cheapest Donor Machine for Frankenspresso
So I've got the bug, and I don't even drink that much coffee. I've ended up with a bit of spare time on my hands and I fancy making my own espresso machine as a hobby project. And also to some extent to address some of the really fundamental design issues I see with most espresso machines (mainly around an open-loop control approach in a complex, sensitive highly multidimensional process).
From you very helpful comments, it seems like 3d printing my own group head is not going to fly, and in any case, I don't have the metal handling facilities to manufacture my own boiler capable of 9 bar. So I'm after a cheap donor machine for my Frankenspresso project.
The requirements are:
Hard requirements: - An Ulka EX5 pump - Single boiler design of at least 100ml
Nice to have requirements (in decreasing order of importance): - Ease of getting at the water in between the boiler and the group (this makes a Silvia type design with the boiler being part of the group suboptimal) - An OPV valve (easy to get off eBay, except $$) - A 3 way solenoid valve
I'm really struggling with figuring out what's beneath the hood of a machine from looking at the marketing blurb on Amazon. Where do thermoblocks stop and boilers begin? How do you know whether there's an OPV valve or not?
Does anyone have any suggestions? The cheaper the better of course......
ilcaffedio Senior Member Joined: 31 Jan 2006 Posts: 445 Location: Atlanta, GA Expertise: I live coffee
Espresso: Astra G.A. Grinder: Baratza Vario Vac Pot: Yama Drip: Chemex Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Wed Jan 29, 2014, 10:25am Subject: Re: Cheapest Donor Machine for Frankenspresso
Given these requirements, I'd look at Gaggia home machines for their thermoblocks. I think that now the Gaggia thermoblocks are stainless steel, however they used to be aluminium. Personally, I'd stay away from an aluminium thermoblock. I noticed a Kitchen-Aid in the buy/sell forum, those have Gaggia internals. It's in the UK to boot. There are two Gaggia thermoblocks in that machine, and a 3 way solenoid. I'm not sure about the OPV though.
Best of luck!
"Never drink more than two Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters, unless you are a thirty ton mega elephant with a case of bronchial pneumonia" - Zaphod Beeblebrox
Posted Wed Jan 29, 2014, 12:23pm Subject: Re: Cheapest Donor Machine for Frankenspresso
Check out sites like espressoparts.com, cafeparts.com & espressocare.com. They have a load of parts, blueprints and exploded views of almost all the machines out there. Another Idea would be to sign up for the Ascaso catalog. What's your budget for your Frankenspresso? If you can;t afford to buy parts like the boiler and grouphead new I'd start hunting for broken commercial machines and start stripping stuff out. You can find some with full size 4 L+ boilers and E-61 groupheads for next to nothing. If your gonna stick with home machines I'd just look at Gaggia Classic & Rancilio Silvia. They are the best for the parts your looking for in the Single Boiler world.
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