Posted Mon Jul 23, 2012, 8:58pm Subject: Adventures in HX - Starting now at a countertop near you!
After several years of hand grinding (Trosser, PeDe, Leinbrock's Ideal, and an unnamed grinder from Doug and Barb at Orphan with a burrset that can go fine enough to choke anything, even if it takes a couple of hundred turns of the crank to get there) and hand pulling with my pair of Caravels (one Arrarex and one Zerowatt), I've gone modern. Well, sort of - I've added an NS Ellimatic HX machine and an E. Bregant Obel Jr.grinder to the stable, both of which are just old enough to be not horribly well documented on the web, but just new enough that they're not desireable vintage pieces with a coterie of fans and enthusiasts writing about their every little quirk, foible, and eccentricity. Seems as if I've got my job cut out for me.
Thanks to a handful of threads here and on HB (and thanks to those who've done such a fine job of documenting their restorations and mods to the Elli and Ellimatic), I've gotten pretty familiar with the interior workings of the machine, or at least with pictures of the interior workings of the machines, and read the available articles I can find on doing the Safety, I mean the water dance. So when finally got the machine home today, brushed off the shards of broken plastic (UPS was less than gentle in shipping, and the side and back panels did not fare well, but that's only cosmetics, right? Panels can be found, adapted, or built - what's important is that the function of the machine wasn't harmed), filled up the reservoir, opened the steam wand, plugged 'er in and pressed that power button and stood back, it roared to life. With no back panel, and the pump a couple of inches from the wall, "roared" is not too great an exaggeration, but it was sweet musc to my ears.
Everything did what it was supposed to do: the boiler heated, steam started coming out of the steam arm (time to close the knob), and the heater shut off as the boiler came to pressure. I let it sit for 15 minutes or so to get a little stablilzed (figured 15 minutes should do for a test shot, since it's not a huge amount of thermal mass to stabilize), pumped a little water through the portafilter and basket to warm them up (not a full cooling flush by any means), and ground somewhere in the vicinity of 14 grams of home roast Brazil Mogiana peaberry at the grind that had worked for my Caravel. "It's put up or shut up time," I thought, and attempted my first cooling flush, figuring it had been about a minute to grind the coffee and wipe out, then dose the portafilter and my warming flush for the portafilter had only been a couple of seconds. Hey! Look at that, wouldya? Super-heated water coming out of the group head (what can I say? I'm easily amused) and seeming to stop boiling and just becoming hot water. I locked in the portafilter, took a deep breah and pushed the 'go' button. Shot was a little fast and a little hot, but I've seen far worse at cafes. So, tighten up the grind a notch and go for a slightly longer flush (I know - I should only futz with one variable at a time, but it was definitely too hot, and definitely too fast, and it's a new toy. Surely I can be forgiven this once?)
Adjustments made, pulled second shot. Temperature seems about right, but still a little fast. Heck, tighten the grinder up two clicks. Choke, but about a quarter of an ounce of incredibly sweet super ristretto. Suddenly, I realize that the Ellimatic's tiny drip tray is about to overflow. Grabbed a cup and did a little bailing so I could get it out without spilling water everywhere. At which point, I'm out of time and have to make dinner. Not until after a quick plain water backflush, though. Need to stay disciplined on maintenance. But I realize, this thing's gonna work! Just need a couple of days, a couple bags of coffee, and a couple friends who don't mind getting over-caffeinated for a good cause.
calblacksmith Moderator Joined: 25 Nov 2007 Posts: 7,314 Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A. Expertise: I live coffee
Espresso: ECM Veneziano A1 Grinder: Many different commercial Vac Pot: 40s era Silex Drip: Milita, Bunn&Curtis... Roaster: Cast iron pan, gas burner
Posted Tue Jul 24, 2012, 5:43am Subject: Re: Adventures in HX - Starting now at a countertop near you!
GREAT! Welcome to the modern, well sort of, age! It is a real bummer about shipping, I know it is a real pain but see if you can get the shipper to work with the shipping company for damages. It is great though that it works as advertised! Drip trays can fill fast and my feeling is that they should only be used for drips, I mean, I flush into a cup to warm it before the shot even though I am plumbed in, the hot water does a MUCH better job of heating the cup than any top of the machine cup warmer and you have the advantage in a pour over machine of getting a lot more time between emptying the drip tray.
You are WELL on your way to getting great shots, all that learning on the lever will not go to waste! You know what you are looking for and how to get there, the tools may be a bit different but you understand their use and adjustments!
If I can help in any way, just ask, I am just down the road a bit!
In real life, my name is Wayne P. Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!
Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
Posted Tue Jul 24, 2012, 7:44am Subject: Re: Adventures in HX - Starting now at a countertop near you!
I may take you up on that, Wayne. I could use some coaching on HX temp control (not anything I ever had to worry about on the open boiler Caravels) and figuring out adjustments for pressure, etc.
The unit came with two drip trays, one of which has a fitting for a drain hose (looks like a big nut off the bottom of the tray. Just need to figure out how to connect a hose to it and get the machine raised enough off the buffet top to make room for said hose) and the bottom chassis has a conveniently placed hole, almost as if by design.
Got the panel issue sorted. Found a guy who restores Ellis and Ellimatics and had spare panels at a reasonable price (an extraordinary stroke of luck, I must say), so I've got those ordered. If I'm getting good enough results from the machine, it may deserve actual metal work panels with appropriate graphics screened, so that's a potential future project. Maybe I'll even go so far as to add a vacuum breaker, though it heats fast enough that leaving the steam valve open when I first turn it on is not a problem.
randytsuch Senior Member Joined: 11 Jun 2009 Posts: 578 Location: LA, Ca Expertise: I like coffee
Espresso: Expobar Office with... Grinder: Baratza Vario Roaster: Customized Alpenrost,...
Posted Tue Jul 24, 2012, 10:00am Subject: Re: Adventures in HX - Starting now at a countertop near you!
A couple of years ago, I bought an Expobar office, which I think is similar to your "new" machine.
To set the pressurestat, I bought a pressure gauge, and built an "adapter" so I could connect the gauge to the steam arm. I used some high temp hose and some hose clamps from an auto parts store for this adapter. It has to withstand high temps and some pressure, since this hosing is intended for engines it had no problem.
For the shot pressure, I had another pressure gauge, and I build a different adapter that could screw into a portafilter. I'm away on vacation right now, but I should have this in a closet somewhere if you want to borrow it. It lets you have a little flow going, so you can check pressure with some flow, when you measure/set the OPV.
BTW, for temps, I "cheated" and installed a thermocouple into the group head. Erics from HB sells an adapter for E61's, and my machine has an e61 clone, and it was close enough for his adapter to work. I made a little arduino box with a thermocouple board to read the tc and display it, its mounted under the drip tray of my machine. Makes it really easy to control the shot temp.
I would also reconsider the vacuum breaker, it will let you put your machine on a timer. Once you get used to having a timer, where you can just walk up to your machine and pull a shot, you can't go back. Every once in a while, my schedule changes, so the timer hasn't turned on the machine, or it has already turned it off (3 day weekends and such), and I hate having to turn it on and wait.
Posted Tue Jul 24, 2012, 2:28pm Subject: Re: Adventures in HX - Starting now at a countertop near you!
Once again, Wayne, I'll likely take you up on that generous offer. I'd probably even bring a bag or two of home roast along for the ride out to Riverside (since I've currently got no shop). But I think that, first off, I should get up to speed at getting consistently good shots from the machine before I start tinkering, in an effort to follow the advice not to change too many variables at once ("too many" generally taken to mean "more than one").
Actually, I could pretty easily put it on a timer that coincides with my normal alarm time and just leave the steam valve open the night before. The amount of time it takes me to actually get up, take care of some necessary business and stumble out into the kitchen is almost exactly coincident with the time it takes for the machine to start pushing steam out of the boiler. Then the time it takes me to stumble back into the shower and get dressed covers time to some sort of temp stabilization. But, yes, if the machine looks like it's around for the long term, a vacuum breaker will be a must and I've studied the thread over on HB on putting one on the Ellimatic <http://www.home-barista.com/espresso-machines/modifying-n-s-ellimatic-to-include-vacuum-breaker-adjustable-pressure-release-valve-t18058.html?hilit=ellimatic> fairly thoroughly.
Posted Tue Jul 24, 2012, 2:50pm Subject: Re: Adventures in HX - Starting now at a countertop near you!
I don't see a vacuum breaker on it when I pop the cup tray off, and there aren't many places to stick one (that's a crowded box). I believe that in his restoration thread, he'd mentioned that he was considering putting one in, but didn't get around to it, which is okay, because it leaves me room to tinker once I've got the routine down.
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