I bought this off Ebay several months ago just to see what all the E61 fuss was about. It turns out the E61 is pretty neat.
I was immediately impressed by the build quality and, minutes later, the shot quality. This started life out as a seriously nice machine. As an engineer, I couldn't help but to want to make it better. I think I succeeded.
After general cleaning and descaling, I installed a float valve and plumbed it to a 1/4" line. The drip tray is capacious and I have it parked next to the sink anyway, so I did not plumb it with a drain. The tank is intact and can still be used as a "pour over." I run the machine hot for maximum steam and do long cooling flushes. I also typically run my machines all day. Filling the tank was easy, but filling it a couple times a day was a drag; thus the float kit.
I sort of hated the steam valve because I was scalding milk overshooting the temperature trying to juggle the pitcher, wand, and thermometer, while trying to turn the darn knob off. It probably wasn't all that bad, but I really like the look of the steam levers on the Elektra T-1 (?), so I thought "what the heck", ordered a pair from Chris Coffee, and banged them in. Wow. This was an excellent decision. "Joystick" valves are a delight. I'm probably going to put them on all my machines. These are "no burn", by the way. The Teflon liner reduced my steam volume too much so I pulled it out -the steam wand is now officially "burn." I'll find the tube and ship it with the machine or put it back at a buyers request. One thing that is really cool (no pun intended) about the steam valve is it releases a minute amount of steam for a second or so after you toggle the valve off. This means that any milk in the wand is gently expelled as you withdraw the wand from the pitcher. It's impossible to clog the steam wand with baked milk. I'm inclined to think someone designed it this way; it's not leaking and it's highly functional.
I had dialed the OPV to 9 bar and was sort of wondering what to do about the holes left over from the former wand configuration when I stumbled on a small trove of salvage Brasilla parts. I ended up with some tubing, a Sirai pressurestat, and a very nice brewhead and steam guage. I also fortuitously noticed that the green jewel bulb on the Giotto is exactly the same as the red bulb on my Mazzer. Score! I ended up ordering a couple of fittings, some more tubing, some new (softer) pump mounts, and a shiny new red bulb for a "heating" indicator.
A day in the machine shop later, we had turned and polished a shiny new bezel for the gauge, fabricated a mounting bracket, cut a hole, bent (and soldered) some tube and finally managed to make the gauge look like it was supposed to be there. We then moved the power switch down, moved the green indicator up, installed the red heat indicator in the former water wand hole, and wired everything up. I used shrink tubing to insulate the connections to the (apparently new) Mater pressurestat and the heating element and bulb terminals. Probably overkill, but I usually test a machine with the side panels off to check for leaks and I hate getting zapped when my wrench slips. Besides that, it looks better.
It looks and works great. It will ship with the new "Erics Thermometer" and a portafilter and double basket.
I briefly considered installing the Sirai pressurestat sitting on my desk, but it won't fit with the water tank installed. I also considered ditching the water tank and installing a rotary pump, but I isolated the vibe pump vibration and the noise is minimal (for a vibe pump). The brew pressure needle vibrates a little when you pull a shot and is dead still at 9 bar with a blind portafilter.
Edit: It's become obvious to me that I have way too much money in this machine. It's loaded up with new stuff, but c'est la vie. Any takers at $1350 with free shipping anywhere in the "lower 48"?
If you have any questions or concerns, please email me for a phone number or post here. I still need to get it off my counter and move on to the next project waiting in the basement...
Listing Details Asking / Suggested Price: 1350 Seller Name: Steve Green Seller Location: Minneapolis, MN Sale Type: For Sale
sgreen Senior Member Joined: 4 Apr 2011 Posts: 94 Location: Minneapolis Expertise: I live coffee
Espresso: Viblemme Replica E-61 Grinder: Mazzer Super Jolly Drip: Technivorm
Posted Thu Mar 28, 2013, 7:39am Subject: Re: FS-Bionic Giotto
To be fair, this was a very quiet vibe machine to begin with.
All we had to do was install new pump mounts and, in the process of installing the T fitting at the hx injector (for the brew pressure gauge) we had to bend the tubing such that no part of the copper tubing or the OPV was in contact with the frame. It all just kind of floats there. Viola! No rattles.
Best of all, the tank still fits. I sort of planned it that way, but it was nice to get it (mostly accidentally) right on the first try. ; )
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