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The Oscar Saga Continues: Backflush Explosion
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > The Oscar Saga...  
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Markarian
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Markarian
Joined: 27 Jun 2012
Posts: 656
Location: Seattle Area
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: ECM Technika IV Profi WT-WC
Grinder: Baratza Forte AP, HG One
Vac Pot: Bunn Trifecta MB
Drip: Moka, Aeropress, Hario V60
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Thu Sep 20, 2012, 1:19pm
Subject: The Oscar Saga Continues: Backflush Explosion
 

So some of you might remember the little trickle that came out when I attempted to backflush when I first got this used machine. I never got a clear idea of how much water was supposed to come out so I kept backflushing normally until last night. I heard this frightening *POP* sound and water leaking out the bottom of the case. When trying to backflush again, just to see where the leak was, water literally sprayed out of the side of the case and onto my new Vario-W.

So I finally got the nerves to saw off that screw that had prevented me from opening the case and discovered that the hose that goes from the 3 way valve to the drip tray had kinked and literally burst. I replaced the hose (the little Saeco parts machine comes through again!) and suddenly backflushing gave me that strong rush of water I guess you guys were talking about. And drier pucks! So I suppose that problem is fixed, however in looking inside the machine, I saw that the neoprene sleeve that covers the boiler had cracked dried, and turned very brittle. There's also some green patina on the boiler and some of the pipes coming to and from the boiler. So my question is, should I bring it in for service because of the boiler and its sleeve, or should I just let it be and keep using it normally?

Also, I found out I have a Sirai Pstat, a big fist-sized unit with a yellow dial.

Thanks again, everyone, for your advice.
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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,009
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Thu Sep 20, 2012, 1:33pm
Subject: Re: The Oscar Saga Continues: Backflush Explosion
 

I would fix it myself.  I would not pay to have someone else fix it in portland they quoted me 85 an hour. (I am clearly in the wrong biz)  Often they don't do the work they say they do and you learn more about your machine. This is coming from someone that is not that handy.  But I knew I did not have an espresso repair man anywhere near me so learning was the best thing for me.  And Stefano in Eugene doesn't work on Oscars.

The cover on your boiler can be replaced, I don't think it is that bad to do but I have not done it myself. The discolorations could be normal or they could be leaks.  Clean it up and pull some shots while watching it with the top off so you can see issues. Maybe you don't have to use coffee, I would think your back flush filter will do.  Just put pressure on for 15 seconds or so and watch for leaks.  Do this a few times in a row watching all the parts with a good flashlight to check for leaks all over.

I could be backwards, but I believe that hose that broke is from your OPV not your 3 way. Your three way, I think is the one on the right and the one on the left that had a hose leads to the drip tray below is the OPV.  I am dyslectic so I could be remembering it wrong.

 
Coffeenoobie

Buying advice: GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER. Don't cheap out on the grinder.

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Oscar trick out: http://s156.photobucket.com/user/GandBteam/story/14231
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Markarian
Senior Member
Markarian
Joined: 27 Jun 2012
Posts: 656
Location: Seattle Area
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: ECM Technika IV Profi WT-WC
Grinder: Baratza Forte AP, HG One
Vac Pot: Bunn Trifecta MB
Drip: Moka, Aeropress, Hario V60
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Thu Sep 20, 2012, 2:41pm
Subject: Re: The Oscar Saga Continues: Backflush Explosion
 

Just got off the phone with NS in Ferndale. The guy said the neoprene sock that goes over the boiler can be replaced, not easily, but can be replaced nonetheless. He says in the state it's in he wouldn't worry about it, and that it doesn't affect the machine's performance. He also says the patina is normal for a machine of this age (especially one with water in the case from various issues). The hose that burst (like literally pieces of the hose all over) was from the 3 way valve I think. The machine wouldn't backflush correctly until I fixed it last night and I ALWAYS got soggy pucks, no matter what grind, tamp, or beans I was using. That should have been my biggest clue. I pulled some shots just now and they were ground too fine, but I still got a dry puck afterwards so this is a major improvement. My biggest gripe about the machine right now is the rattling solenoid when I hit the brew button sometimes. The tech said this was again a cosmetic issue that could be fixed, but wasn't mission critical.

Since my current tamper has ragged edges which I believe are causing channeling, I'll withhold judgment on the shots until I can properly dial in my grinder with a tamper that hasn't been moonlighting as a hammer (former owner).

Seattle Coffee Gear gives free estimates and does tuneups for $190, which I thought was a tad expensive. I fixed the main problem myself, which was the kinked and burst backflush hose. And if NS is telling me to just keep on truckin', I suppose I should keep using the machine and not worry too much.
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germantownrob
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germantownrob
Joined: 2 Dec 2007
Posts: 2,139
Location: Philadelphia
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Duetto 3, A Dead Oscar
Grinder: Vario-W, Preciso w/Esatto,...
Drip: Brazen
Roaster: Diedrich IR-1, HT B
Posted Thu Sep 20, 2012, 4:16pm
Subject: Re: The Oscar Saga Continues: Backflush Explosion
 

I bought my Oscar new and my insulation is in bad shape after 3 years or so and I have plenty of plenty of patina, the force is strong with Oscar and he/she just keeps on trucking. I was going to upgrade a year ago when I was having some issues with my PStat but since replacing it I have found no real reason to do it yet. I have found Oscar to be a very good education in maintenance and minor repairs which has really shaped what I want from an upgrade but here I am still enjoying the performance I get from Oscar and I will probably keep Oscar for vacation travel or keep ie at my second house. EDIT: I have traveled many miles with Oscar trouble free but the Vario seems to suffer from road vibration and I advice bring the calibration toll with you if doing espresso.

You have a very capable machine for making great espresso and from the sound of it your second hand purchase is in good shape with just normal bumps in the road to get it in tip top shape. I personally don't like spending money on things I can do myself or learn to do myself and since you are here at CG you have access to people that have done this before. Helen is a great example of a do it DIYer that bought a machine that needed a lot of TLC and she still speaks highly of the machine.

As I mentioned I bought my Oscar new and yet I was in communication non stop with NS and Chris's coffee non stop for the first few months while I figured out how to work the beast. thankfully nobody busted my chops for just asking newb questions and I learned from them, now I can pull a great shot consistently and do minor repairs, Helen can more then likely knows more about repairs and Oscar then I so listen to her more then me but we are all here Tom support you and do our best to help you get to pulling great shots consistently.
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frcn
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frcn
Joined: 23 Dec 2001
Posts: 3,348
Location: Northern California
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Vibiemme Domobar Double
Grinder: Mazzer Kony, Baratza...
Vac Pot: Hario, 2 Cory pots, 1 Cory...
Drip: Behmor Brazen, Bunn A10 mod...
Roaster: computer controlled Hottop,...
Posted Thu Sep 20, 2012, 4:27pm
Subject: Re: The Oscar Saga Continues: Backflush Explosion
 

If the insulation is that bad, remove it so that you can inspect the boiler for leaks. A stitch in time, and all that rot. If you can get it off in (mostly) one piece, trace it for a pattern. There are plenty of materials out there that can do the job, even if it has to be done in pieces like a jigsaw puzzle.

 
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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,009
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Thu Sep 20, 2012, 5:00pm
Subject: Re: The Oscar Saga Continues: Backflush Explosion
 

I would would put that on my to do list when you break down the machine to really descale it in the future.  I would not worry about the insulation today. Get it running and learn to work it then you can break it down and recover the boiler. Lots of machines don't have insulation on the boiler.  Looking for leaks is important but I think the insulation would not stop you from seeing them. I don't consider myself an expert but I have been "under the hood" so to speak of Oscar a lot in the last 10 months.  I think he is humming along well.  Mine is not leaking and I have patina all over the boiler.  I will probably take my machine apart at the one year mark and give it a full descale and hopefully add the vacuum breaker mod.  I want to add the glaciers from Muscia at that time...  

I do feel like I know him well and think he is build like a tank.  I feel sure I can do what ever he needs me to do to keep him running as long as they make the parts.  I think he is making fine espresso and he tells me when something is wrong, I just need to learn to read him better.  Like the water dance issue I had the other day. I thought something was seriously wrong and it turns out my screen had some how come loose. I needed to tighten up the screw and it was normal again.  I spent days thinking something was wrong with my temps ....

Worry less make espresso more!

 
Coffeenoobie

Buying advice: GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER. Don't cheap out on the grinder.

My coffee treasure map...
Click Here (maps.google.com)

Oscar trick out: http://s156.photobucket.com/user/GandBteam/story/14231
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Markarian
Senior Member
Markarian
Joined: 27 Jun 2012
Posts: 656
Location: Seattle Area
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: ECM Technika IV Profi WT-WC
Grinder: Baratza Forte AP, HG One
Vac Pot: Bunn Trifecta MB
Drip: Moka, Aeropress, Hario V60
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Thu Sep 20, 2012, 8:22pm
Subject: Re: The Oscar Saga Continues: Backflush Explosion
 

Thanks for all the words of encouragement! It really sounds like the Oscar is quite the workhorse. After fixing it myself last night and adding the Silvia steam tip, I feel like I've really left my mark on this machine. It's a bit battle-scarred now, though I suppose that adds character. A quick question, anyone else have that intermittent rattle/buzz while brewing? The NS tech said it could be a solenoid clogged with scale.
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Markarian
Senior Member
Markarian
Joined: 27 Jun 2012
Posts: 656
Location: Seattle Area
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: ECM Technika IV Profi WT-WC
Grinder: Baratza Forte AP, HG One
Vac Pot: Bunn Trifecta MB
Drip: Moka, Aeropress, Hario V60
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Thu Sep 20, 2012, 8:35pm
Subject: Re: The Oscar Saga Continues: Backflush Explosion
 

Also, a bit of water splashed on the Vario-W wouldn't hurt it, would it?
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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,009
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Mon Sep 24, 2012, 1:52pm
Subject: Re: The Oscar Saga Continues: Backflush Explosion
 

Your vario is probably fine. Mine has gotten spritzed a few times with coffee sprites.  How is the Oscar running now??

 
Coffeenoobie

Buying advice: GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER. Don't cheap out on the grinder.

My coffee treasure map...
Click Here (maps.google.com)

Oscar trick out: http://s156.photobucket.com/user/GandBteam/story/14231
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Markarian
Senior Member
Markarian
Joined: 27 Jun 2012
Posts: 656
Location: Seattle Area
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: ECM Technika IV Profi WT-WC
Grinder: Baratza Forte AP, HG One
Vac Pot: Bunn Trifecta MB
Drip: Moka, Aeropress, Hario V60
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Mon Sep 24, 2012, 4:36pm
Subject: Re: The Oscar Saga Continues: Backflush Explosion
 

Oscar is running great right now, though there's still this occasional loud buzz/rattle when brewing and the tank is filling up. The tech at NS in Ferndale mentioned over the phone that it could possibly be a solenoid encrusted with scale inside. I'd like to descale my Oscar's boiler and maybe knock some of that scale out, but I've seen instructions ranging from just running Dezcal through the system to taking the entire unit apart and soaking its components (something I am uncomfortable doing). Can I just empty the boiler via the group head and just run water and descaler through normally? I also don't want to take my steam tip off, since it was hard to get it to seal on easily (it's a Silvia 1 hole tip). Any tips on a hassle-free descale?
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