Spare parts and contingencies

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Spare parts and contingencies

Postby Rich Westerfield on Thu Apr 26, 2007 7:00 pm

Had an issue this week with a component on the Linea - electronic switch controlling the steam wands kept tripping. Problem kept us offline for lattes/capps for a couple of hours until our service techs could figure it out and replace the part.

Not being the mechanical types ourselves, we rely 100% on service folk (luckily ours are decent) for most tasks beyond routine maintenance and cleaning. The problem happened during a morning rush period, so the downsell from milk drinks to drip probably cost us a decent chunk of cash.

Got us to wondering whether we should learn how to do more of the "esoteric" fixes ourselves so we're prepared for anything. We do keep gaskets and other mechanical spare parts around, but not electronics.

Assuming these things have happened in your shop from time to time, how do you deal with them?

What types of components do you keep on hand for emergencies, how did you learn to fix your machines (if you do), when is the job "too big" that you have to call in a service tech, and what kind of back up do you have if your primary espresso machine conks out?

We've only got the one Linea here at the moment (getting a one-group back up/catering machine soon).
Rich Westerfield, Co-owner
aldocoffee.com
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Postby onocoffee on Thu Apr 26, 2007 9:02 pm

Perhaps I don't know enough about the Linea, but what electronic switch controls the Lineas' steam wands?

It's late. I'm tired and I don't feel like going into the garage to look at the 4EE, but I don't recall any electronic switch on the steam wand. From my recollection, it's an on/off valve then a copper tube to the steam wand valve with nothing in-between.

Of course, my 2AV has an auto steam wand with built-in temperature probe and a solenoid controlled steam valve which is controlled by both an "auto" and "manual" switch. Then the 4EE has an original solenoid and switch controlled steam wand. Are these the kinds of wands your 2group has?

As for parts, I keep a couple of AV keypads, EE switches, steam wand o-rings, as well as a few solenoid assemblies, pressure valves, ProCon pump, motors and the like.

How did I learn to Love and Fix the Linea? First off, I've got a great network of people to call who know the Linea better than I do. Second, I'm a cheap bastard who bought a used but refurb 3AV with no service support other than my hands. Third, I'm a bit too cheap to contract with an outside firm to handle "routine" maintenance. Fourth, I stripped and rebuilt my 2AV which gave me greater insight into understanding the Linea.

As far as backing up the 3AV currently in daily service, I've got both a 2AV and 4EE sitting in the garage on standby for emergencies and a new location.

Then, if push comes to shove, I still have my trusty E-61 based La Valentina should meteors rain down on my garage and wipe out the two Lineas.
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Postby phaelon56 on Fri Apr 27, 2007 8:07 am

Rich - email me phaeloncoffee [at] gmail [dot] com and I'lll send you a pdf of the troubleshooting guide for Linea. They are actually easier to work on than consumer espresso machines because the troubleshooting process is better documented, the dual boiler design separates some functional components and also a big plus - there's more room to get your hands in there to get at componenents.

Parts to have on hand for repairs - at a minimum:

- spare Sirai pressure stat
- auto-fill valve (the master fill valve for all incoming water)
- steam valve
- brew dispense valve
- flowmeter (for AV models only)
- a couple of the standard rocker switches; one for the water valve (if your Linea has a hot water tap) and one for brew dispense
- steam wand rebuild kit (includes the O-rings Jay mentioned)
- a few copper crush washers for the top of the brew group; if you ever drain the brew boiler these need to be replaced when you resaturate the brew group.

I'm not so sure about the need to have a spare Procon pump/motor assembly on hand. It can indeed go bad but I've seen pump/motor units that were used daily for 10 to 15 years and are still going strong. Granted - it could happen but it's unlikely.

You might also consider keeping a boiler heating element on hand - one for brew boiler and one for steam boiler. But IMO if you're using properly filtered water a heating element failure is about as likely as Procon pump/motor failure.

Parts to have on hand for routine maintenance and replacement:

- 7mm brew group gaskets (many of these)
- food grade silicone lube to use on top of the gaskets
- steam wand tips
- brew group diffusion screens (a fair number)
- diffusion screen attachment screws; if you purocaffe and clean the diffusion screens every day (you are doing that - right?) you'll lose some of these eventually
- portafilter baskets (yes they wear out)
- portafilter spring clips (yes they break)
- portafilter handle assemblies (yes they wear down on the bayonet where they lock in 'cause that metal is softer than the brew group - it's by design 'cause they are cheaper and easier to change then the brew group assembly that the portafilter locks into)

Tools to have on hand (you may need a few others but at one point or another I have used every one of these when working on a Linea)

- four way screwdriver
- stubby screwdrivers in both flat and Philips variety
- Crescent wrenches ranging from 4" to 10" (get the real Crescent brand instead of a cheapy)
- a set of open end/box wrenches in metric that go up to 17mm or 21mm (I forget which at the moment)
- a really big-ass cheap knock-off Crescent style for things like removing a heating element heateing element removal (go to Harbor Freight Tools or its ilk for this item)
- fine point awl or dentist type tools for prying gaskets out
- fine point snips
- needle nose pliers
- needle nose Vise-Grip brand pliers
- a small specialty hammer (not a regular carpenters hammer - this is more like a small hammer with metal head that is cylindrical on one end and ball peen on the other)
- multimeter/voltmeter
- emery cloth for cleaning gunk on copper connections

Jay - what's missing from my tools list?
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Postby nick on Fri Apr 27, 2007 9:49 am

phaelon56 wrote:Jay - what's missing from my tools list?

Scace thermofilter.
Snap-ring tool (for steam valves).
Allen/hex wrenches.

Sounds like Rich was talking about the pressurestat.
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Postby phaelon56 on Fri Apr 27, 2007 10:45 am

nick wrote:
phaelon56 wrote:Jay - what's missing from my tools list?

Scace thermofilter.
Snap-ring tool (for steam valves).
Allen/hex wrenches.

Sounds like Rich was talking about the pressurestat.


Good point on all three items. I've gotten by without the snap-ring tool but it was a huge PITA.

I would add to the parts list:

- spare pressure relief valve (maybe)
- spare vacuum breaker valve (definitely)
- a couple of extra cotter pins and hairpin clips for the steam valve/wand assembly.


I don't think of myself as being highly mechanically inclined. Some people, like my late brother, can just look at any mechanical device, quickly figure out how it works and can repair it in a hurry. That's not me. I stumble through with a book and some tools and lots of time. But after I've performed any single procedure once it's way faster and easier the next time.

I'd been doing Linea repairs/service for all of about two weeks and had to do a complete brew boiler swap on a three group AV. It took me 3X as long as it would to do that today but I did it... it worked.... nothing leaked when I was done.... and they were pulling shots the next morning.

Allow time to move slowly when you're first doing any procedure. Take notes, draw diagrams, take digital pictures etc. of any thing you plan to disassemble and even have some write-on type tags if necessary so you can label which wires came from what terminal and know for sure what they need to be reconnected to.

Owen O'Neill
Phaelon Coffee
Syracuse NY

"who still remembers blowing up the brain of a three group AV when I reconnected the wires on the pressurestat to the wrong terminals"
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Postby onocoffee on Fri Apr 27, 2007 11:17 am

The tools list looks pretty exhaustive, but do keep in mind that you need a Metric Allen/Hex set. 5mm will be the most important and you'll find it extremely gratifying later to buy the ball end hex set.

If you're really getting into the gist of the Linea then there are some specialty tools that may be worth your investment: There's a heating element tool, but you'll want to double check with La Marzocco on the proper size since they did change the nut size on the element (ask me how I know). There's also a dispersion block tool that is very helpful.

I got a Workmate type workbench a la Paul Pratt after seeing his online photos - nice touch. I also recommend getting a solid worktable to mount a monster vise from Harbor Freight that will be instrumental in wrestling certain large objects.

Open-ended wrenches are absolutely necessary and you will need larger than 21mm if you really get into the Linea. I've had to make Sears runs for 22mm and 24mm wrenches.

I only have extra ProCon pumps because I've got extra Lineas lying around the house. Not as many as T. Barry Jarrett, but enough to start crowding the Ferrari.

And I don't know if keeping an additional heating element is really necessary. They don't usually fail but if they do there's probably a ton of scale that will make unscrewing the element diffcult to impossible. I tried drilled out the element in the 2AV steam boiler. Failed. Then took it to a machine shop and they bored it out completely for $20.
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Postby Rich Westerfield on Fri Apr 27, 2007 12:34 pm

Thanks guys, very helpful lists. Pressurestat it was.

Owen and Jay - will PM you eventually with another boiler-related issue once I get more accurate details. I wasn't there when the service guy was working on it.

As we're going over to Florence in a few weeks, we'll see what tools we can pilfer from the LM workbenches :lol:
Rich Westerfield, Co-owner
aldocoffee.com
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