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Trouble with Expobar Brewtus IV--need help!
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Beermaestro
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Beermaestro
Joined: 13 Feb 2014
Posts: 6
Location: United States
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Expobar Brewtus IV-R
Grinder: Rancilio Rocky SD
Posted Fri Jun 20, 2014, 4:20pm
Subject: Trouble with Expobar Brewtus IV--need help!
 

A quick post in the hopes that someone can put me on the path to diagnosing the problem with my machine. Said unit is an Expobar Brewtus IV-R, plumbed-in, water provided by Mavea Purity C. Never had any trouble with the machine until it recently started dropping pressure in the middle of pulling a shot. Normally, the gauge reads a steady 10 bars through the pull, but lately, intermittently, but more and more frequently, pressure drops to zero. The pump can be heard running throughout, and there's no discernible change in its sound. Also, the pump continues to run even though it's not pushing any water through the group. Sometimes if I open the steam valve a little the pump will then stop running. At that point, if I try to pull the shot, it might work--gauge up to 10 bars and a normal shot, or it might fail--pressure drop to zero and no coffee out. Pump sounds the same either way.

When the unit is in that latter 'fail' mode, it doesn't matter if there's coffee in the basket or not. I can take the portafilter off completely and there's just about zero output of water. But a second later the pressure will drift upwards, I throw the lever, and it works normally.

My thinking is that because the pump seems to work just fine when it's working, that it's likely something else... A pressure switch? I'm a decent mechanic/plumber/technician, but I'm not very familiar with the internals of these machines.

Would appreciate any advice or guidance anyone might have.

Thanks, Jack
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SStones
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SStones
Joined: 24 Nov 2012
Posts: 474
Location: Canada
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Giga 5, ECM Giotto, Rocket...
Grinder: Anfim Milano-Best
Vac Pot: No  :(
Drip: Some $30 thing from Walmart
Roaster: I buy pre-roasted.
Posted Tue Jun 24, 2014, 4:47am
Subject: Re: Trouble with Expobar Brewtus IV--need help!
 

For lack of any other posts...  Here goes.
If the pump is running and you're getting no flow at the group-head, then:
1)The pump is not moving any water. or
2)The flow is going somewhere other than the grouphead.

  1. If you run the pump without anywhere for the water to go (For example, push the button behind the control lever without raising the lever) for six seconds, does the pressure build to the point where you can hear the change in the pump?
    Can you see flow at the tube (Moving bubbles) from the relief valve?


  2. You could do a test where you'd ensure that the boiler is properly filled, then disconnect a wire from the boiler-fill solenoid. So long as you're not drawing off steam the boiler will remain filled long enough to see of the brew circuit works fine with the boiler-fill disconnected.
    If your machine works fine like this, then you can suspect that the boiler is trying to fill itself from time to time in the middle of a brew. It is much easier for the flow to go to the low-pressure boiler rather than overcome the pressure through the brew circuit.

It all comes down to "find out if the flow is stopping or going elsewhere", then work on that problem.
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calblacksmith
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calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,672
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
Grinder: Azkoyen Capriccio, Major
Vac Pot: 40s era Silex
Drip: Msl. Com. brewers
Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Tue Jun 24, 2014, 1:50pm
Subject: Re: Trouble with Expobar Brewtus IV--need help!
 

Is this machine plumbed in or is it on an internal tank? If the latter, is it possible that the hose in the tank has moved and it is not fully submerged anymore so it allows the pump to suck air?

 
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Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!

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Beermaestro
Senior Member
Beermaestro
Joined: 13 Feb 2014
Posts: 6
Location: United States
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Expobar Brewtus IV-R
Grinder: Rancilio Rocky SD
Posted Wed Jun 25, 2014, 11:49am
Subject: Re: Trouble with Expobar Brewtus IV--need help!
 

Thanks for the responses, and let me apologize for my slowness to understand the principles involved.

I've got the afternoon off, so I pulled the cover and heated up the machine (which is indeed plumbed-in). First I tried pushing the button without lifting the lever for 10 seconds or so. There was no discernible change in the sound of the pump, and nothing flowing from the tube. The pressure gauge goes to about 11 bars, but there's no flow that I can see anywhere. Then if I lift the lever (without a PF installed) there's an initial (second or two) higher flow of water, the gauge drops to near zero, and the flow drops concurrently. It is as if the pressure has been built up by pushing the button without lifting the lever, then when I do lift it, that excess is expelled, but the flow drops to near zero.

SStones, you suggested filling the boiler, then pulling a lead to the boiler-fill solenoid. Unfortunately, I'm not sure I know which component that is--but something occurred to me while trying to figure that out: I seem to hear what I assumed to be the boiler-fill solenoid a lot less than I remember hearing it. And just now fiddling around with the machine, I ran the steam wand for half a minute, then the hot water faucet, without ever hearing that solenoid (any solenoids) activate. When I run the faucet, the pump runs, but no solenoid do I hear. Shouldn't it activate when I draw water from the boiler via the faucet?

The last thing I did was put a blank in the PF (with a little cleaner) and backflush. At first, absolutely normal--I pull the lever, gauge goes to 11 bars or so, then after about 3 seconds, begins to climb, at which point I drop the lever. But after 5 or 6 such cycles, the pressure (according to the gauge, anyway) becomes erratic. Mostly, rather than jumping to 11 bars when I pull the lever, it goes to about 6, then might climb slowly, or might drop farther. It might start to climb, then drop as if a switch had been pulled.

And that's reflective of the character of this problem--why I have a hard time thinking it's a weak pump: that one second it's working just fine, and the next millisecond it can't push water through an empty PF. But while it's intermittent, it does seem to be getting worse.

Does any of this shed any further light?
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MattINLA
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Joined: 2 Oct 2009
Posts: 77
Location: Glendale
Expertise: Professional

Posted Wed Jun 25, 2014, 2:38pm
Subject: Re: Trouble with Expobar Brewtus IV--need help!
 

I assume you have a rotary pump installed?  Hope its not a vibrator ulka, cannot have this on a plumbed in machine obviously.  Go directly to the pump, remove the output fitting/ hose, let it dangle, and see what comes out of there with how much pressure when you turn the machine on to extract.  Matt Schwartz / Dolce Vita
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Beermaestro
Senior Member
Beermaestro
Joined: 13 Feb 2014
Posts: 6
Location: United States
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Expobar Brewtus IV-R
Grinder: Rancilio Rocky SD
Posted Wed Jun 25, 2014, 5:51pm
Subject: Re: Trouble with Expobar Brewtus IV--need help!
 

MattINLA Said:

I assume you have a rotary pump installed?  Hope its not a vibrator ulka, cannot have this on a plumbed in machine obviously.  Go directly to the pump, remove the output fitting/ hose, let it dangle, and see what comes out of there with how much pressure when you turn the machine on to extract.  Matt Schwartz / Dolce Vita

Posted June 25, 2014 link

Yes, rotary. Tried your suggestion. No increase in flow. Flow (plumbed-in so there is flow without pump activated) changed a little, but didn't seem to increase.

Can I safely conclude from this that the pump is bad? Does that make sense on a two-year-old, lightly-used machine?
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