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Problem w/ holes punching thru puck on Livia 90
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Problem w/ holes...  
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fearles1
Senior Member


Joined: 5 Jun 2014
Posts: 3
Location: US
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Livia 90, Salvatore
Grinder: Rancilio Rocky, Solis (2)
Vac Pot: Cona
Drip: Filter, Chemex
Roaster: Hottop, Whirley Pop
Posted Thu Jun 5, 2014, 10:01am
Subject: Problem w/ holes punching thru puck on Livia 90
 

A problem has arisen with my Livia 90 that I have used daily for many years with no problems. Shortly after begining a shot (pump noise lessens as pressure rises) a hole gets puched through the puck, there's a blast out the spouts, and then water channels through the hole (and not thru the rest of the puck). The hole position in the puck appears at various positions. I've tried running some water before attaching the portafilter and have replaced the pump. No joy. I'm using a double portafilter, packing it to ~20 pounds, everything is squeeky clean, and shower and basket upon disassembly appear perfectly OK. On the occasions when it works the way it should, a shot takes about 25 seconds so the grind appears good. I'm at a loss. Has anybody else had this problem? Any ideas as to the problem?

Thanks.
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fearles1
Senior Member


Joined: 5 Jun 2014
Posts: 3
Location: US
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Livia 90, Salvatore
Grinder: Rancilio Rocky, Solis (2)
Vac Pot: Cona
Drip: Filter, Chemex
Roaster: Hottop, Whirley Pop
Posted Thu Jun 5, 2014, 10:35am
Subject: Re: Problem w/ holes punching thru puck on Livia 90
 

(Responding to myself akin to resorting to RTFMS) I've taken some time to search previous posts (thousands!) and have found some possible solutions to work through. I will post when/if I identify the problem. I apologize to readers for not having done more looking before posting.
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z0mbie
Senior Member
z0mbie
Joined: 26 Sep 2013
Posts: 374
Location: Online
Expertise: I live coffee

Posted Thu Jun 5, 2014, 1:45pm
Subject: Re: Problem w/ holes punching thru puck on Livia 90
 

Your screen is likely heavily soiled.

My guess is that the water jets produced by the clogged screen is boring holes into your pucks.  It has nothing to do with the size of your PF or your tamping force. When the screen is clogged,  there will be a few holes shooting out water at much higher pressures.
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fearles1
Senior Member


Joined: 5 Jun 2014
Posts: 3
Location: US
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Livia 90, Salvatore
Grinder: Rancilio Rocky, Solis (2)
Vac Pot: Cona
Drip: Filter, Chemex
Roaster: Hottop, Whirley Pop
Posted Thu Jun 5, 2014, 2:03pm
Subject: Re: Problem w/ holes punching thru puck on Livia 90
 

Nope, the screen/shower and  cup are shiny clean and totally unobstructed when held up to the light.

From a previous post on the forum I gathered that the possible problems could be puck too high in the PF or temp of head too high. I pulled a shot with a less-than-full PF immediately after allowing the temp guage of a cold machine to just get up (yellow heater light out) and did not get a punched hole. Typically I let the machine heat up for a hour or so while I lollygag in the sauna. Given that the PF was only warm, I was not happy with the shot.

So now I will draw some more shots while only changing one variable at a time to see if I can pinpoint the problem.
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z0mbie
Senior Member
z0mbie
Joined: 26 Sep 2013
Posts: 374
Location: Online
Expertise: I live coffee

Posted Thu Jun 5, 2014, 2:32pm
Subject: Re: Problem w/ holes punching thru puck on Livia 90
 

Ah... I didn't know you were overfilling your basket. But it still doesn't explain it because when I started out I regularly dosed my basket over the lip and tamped, trying to replicate (or should I say imitate) how the pros did it.  In all cases the puck left an impression of the shower screen meaning it was overfilled. And, in all cases, the puck was always intact.

So I think there is some variability somewhere in your prep versus anything to do with the equipment.. Hope you figure it out.  

Best of luck.
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boar_d_laze
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,318
Location: Monrovia, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Cimbali M21 DT/1 Junior...
Grinder: Ceado E92; "Bunnzilla"
Vac Pot: Royal Coffee Maker
Drip: Chemex + Kone; Espro Press
Roaster: USRC Sample Roaster
Posted Thu Jun 5, 2014, 3:02pm
Subject: Re: Problem w/ holes punching thru puck on Livia 90
 

If dosing lower solved the problem, good deal.  

You said your shower screen was clean.  What about the dispersion disk (the brass "shower head" thing with holes around the edge)?  Sometimes the little holes get clogged.  I had a lot of problems with the disk in my Livia after I'd had it a few years and before I learned proper maintenance and frequency.  

Cleaning the holes with a red hot needle was enough of a PITA, to teach me the benefits of proactive maintenance.  I learned to remove the screen and head at least once a week,  soak them both in espresso machine detergent, and brush the screen and scour the head until they gleamed.  
 
Presumably this isn't a problem for you and you're already maintaining your machine at the highest standards; but one never know, do one?

Rich
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Freddyo
Senior Member


Joined: 6 Feb 2002
Posts: 2
Expertise: Aficionado

Posted Mon Jun 9, 2014, 6:45pm
Subject: Re: Problem w/ holes punching thru puck on Livia 90 - SOLVED
 

First off, thanks to those that responded. It helped me focus (if not solve the problem).

Regarding anything having to do with cleaning - Definitely not the problem. I'm a bit anal and when I first stated that everthing is shiny, I meant it. I use Dezcale, Urnex, and a fine SS brush more or less regularly.

Regarding technique, I'm always suspect but I've pulling shots on this machine near daily for 15-20 years (?), on the same machine and with good results until now.

Basket overfilling? No. I use a convex tamper and there is no indication of contact with the screen.

Pointers to the solution: I noticed that with an empty basket for the first three-five seconds of flipping the switch that what came out was a spew of steam and water before the water started to come out in a steady stream. I also noted that when the heater indicator light went out, the temp guage was about an eight inch below the red zone but continued to coast up to the dividing line between the green and red zones.

My conclusion: I am at an elevation of about 4750 feet where the BP of water is somewhat less than 212F (which may or may not have anything to do with anything). The super-heated water upon leaving the boiler (where being under pressure the BP is higher) to atmosphere (where the BP is lower) and coming into contact with the head assy/dispersion disk  (possibly with an even higher temp than the boiler proper) the water immediately turned to steam which was what was punching the holes.

Solution: I dialed the temp down to where the guage needle coasted to a stop about a pencil width below the green-red line. I've pulled four shots since the change with no holes. Yahoo!
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