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Help Rebuild a Rotel Espressomat (Why???)
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seedlings
Senior Member
seedlings
Joined: 6 Jun 2007
Posts: 252
Location: Saint Joseph, MO 64506
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Nuova Simonelli Premier V
Grinder: Rossi RR45
Vac Pot: Cory DCU / DCL Rubberless
Drip: Newco Air Pot
Roaster: CoffeeAir II
Posted Fri Dec 7, 2007, 7:33am
Subject: Help Rebuild a Rotel Espressomat (Why???)
 

I'll let you finish laughing.  Go ahead...

Finished?  OK.

First of all, if you know what a Rotel Espressomat is, you've probably been hitting the espressos for quite some time.  My guess is it's a late 80's model.  (this picture I've already taken the pump out)
Click Here (i206.photobucket.com)

Why rebuild it? To learn about the guts of an espresso machine.  This machine was free (free with purchase of a used Rossi grinder).  So, I can afford it.  Plus, I don't have any money to buy a machine after acquiring aforementioned grinder.

So, what's wrong? Looking it over, and never having actually pulled an espresso from any machine, I could only guess what the buttons do, since they're pictorally coded, as opposed to being labeled in an ancient Swiss dialect.  I suppose the icons are a hair better.  After plugging it in (from reading troubleshooting manuals in the past, I made sure it was plugged in to the 120V AC wall recepticle).  I put some water in the tank, and flipped the left switch, which has the "Target" icon.  The corresponding light came on.  Ahh!  
Click Here (i206.photobucket.com)
I flipped the center switch, with a cup and saucer icon.  The corresponding light came on, and the pump ran!
Click Here (i206.photobucket.com)
Click Here (i206.photobucket.com)
No water, so I shut it off to save the pump, and went to the 'net to find out what to do before the first espresso.  Prime the pump!  Ahh.  Now, how to do it on this machine.  I looked at the manual for a cheap Saeco (since I heard they acquired Rotel) and it said to turn the machine on, then open the steam wand until water came out.  Easy enough.  So, flip the "target" switch - machine is on.  Turn the steam knob fully counter-clockwise - and ...pump runs, but  nothing happened. No water went up the tube.  Here's the pump.
Click Here (i206.photobucket.com)

Why won't the water flow when the pump runs? I took the pump out, stuck the inlet tube in some water and pointed the open end toward the sink, then tried again.  Pump ran, no water came out.  OK.  Disassemble the pump.
Click Here (i206.photobucket.com)
Click Here (i206.photobucket.com)
Click Here (i206.photobucket.com)
Click Here (i206.photobucket.com)


Hey, taking this pump apart reminds me of my Wagner Power Sprayer!  Anyway, I re-assembled the pump and vaseline-lubed the rings.  Reinstall... and now it primes!  I let a few cups of water flow out the steam wand (I had already taken the tip off the wand) hoping to flush anything else out.  So, now there's steam and steaming hot water.  Great!  Now, for Espresso!  Nope.

Whywon't water flow out the grouphead ? Well, time to disassemble the grouphead.  WOW those allen screws are stuck in there!
Click Here (i206.photobucket.com)
Click Here (i206.photobucket.com)

Well, I broke one of the three screws behind the screen.  That's probably bad.

Click Here (i206.photobucket.com)

A new gasket came with the machine, so after cleaning it all so it's new and shiny, I replaced the gasket and reassembled.  Now, for some espresso!

...nope.  The wand works, nothing comes out the grouphead.

Here's where I need some help.

On a 3 button machine ... with a "target" a "cup and saucer" and a "puffy cloud" help me push the right button or combination of buttons to get espresso.  

Now, I turn the power on ("target") and the machine gets HOT.  Then what?  If I flip the "cup and saucer" switch, the pump comes on and runs constantly, but water doesn't come out anywhere.  If I flip the "puffy cloud" button too, so that all 3 switches are on, the pump goes on-off-on-off... but no water comes out anywhere.  At any time I can turn the steam knob and get steam or hot water.

Help.  The machine has been gone through pretty thoroughly.  Everything is CLEAN!  I think I just don't know when to flip which switches.

Thanks,
CHAD
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ByronA
Senior Member


Joined: 24 Aug 2007
Posts: 378
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Rancilio S24, KitchenAid...
Grinder: Compak K5, KitchenAid...
Vac Pot: Don't want one
Drip: Don't want one
Roaster: Will eventually get one
Posted Fri Dec 7, 2007, 7:10pm
Subject: Re: Help Rebuild a Rotel Espressomat (Why???)
 

I have a 10 year old Saeco with 3 buttons, and the way I think yours would work is that TARGET would provide power to the machine (turn on the brew temp element, Cup and Saucer would provide pump power, and the Cloud button would provide power for the steaming element as you surmised. My Saeco needed water in the boiler and therefore priming, so I would turn on the power, and the pump, and then open the steam valve. Once the boiler fills, you should start getting water from the steamer. I would then close the steam valve. If I left the pump on, water would come out the grouphead...which is where I think you are stuck.

If I turned off the pump, then the water in the boiler would have time to heat up. I would expect a light to turn on or go out once the boiler reaches brewing temp. At this point, on a working machine, you could then make your espresso. Once espresso made, you turn on the cloud to heat the boiler water to steaming temp. Once again, expect a light to go on or off. Ready to steam, open the valve and steam your milk. Once steaming was completed, I always refilled my boiler by turning off the steam element and turning on the pump to refill the boiler. I would then be ready, once brewing light did it's thing to make another espresso, and the cycle could coninue.

That is in a perfect world. It sounds to me like you have a blockage between the boiler and the grouphead. That or else a solenoid is not opening a valve allowing water to flow through the grouphead. Have you descaled this machine? THat is likely a good next step, however not really knowing the material your Rotel is made of, I would take that with a grain of salt. Even after descaling, there might still be a blockage, but you will have at least removed any easy to get at scales. If you are still not getting brewgroup water flow, I would imagine you will have to take things further apart. Incidentally, were you able to replace the screw you broke? You will likely need to do that in order to get a proper seal somewhere.

Good luck
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seedlings
Senior Member
seedlings
Joined: 6 Jun 2007
Posts: 252
Location: Saint Joseph, MO 64506
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Nuova Simonelli Premier V
Grinder: Rossi RR45
Vac Pot: Cory DCU / DCL Rubberless
Drip: Newco Air Pot
Roaster: CoffeeAir II
Posted Sat Dec 8, 2007, 12:29pm
Subject: Re: Help Rebuild a Rotel Espressomat (Why???)
 

Thanks, ByronA for the reply.  I suspect you're spot on with your analisys of the functions.  However, this is now a mute point.

I disassembled everything again and this time also took apart the "boiler".  http://i206.photobucket.com/albums/bb54/seedlings/Boilerguts.jpg

To see if, as you suggested there was a blockage or a solenoid, and there was neither.  With the grouphead disassembled from the bottom of the "boiler," I ran the machine and the HOT water flowed out.

So the only thing between the bottom of the "boiler" and the coffee was the grouphead.  A springloaded gasket, I believe, is responsible for making sure there is some amount of pressure built up before it will let water pass.  http://i206.photobucket.com/albums/bb54/seedlings/Groupheadguts.jpg  You can see this on the right-hand of the picture.  I put this springloaded gasket back into the grouphead, but only halfway screwing one of the screws, to make it even easier for water to flow.  No water came out.

I have concluded that the pump, while it technically operates, does not provide enough pressure to do anything other than flow water through almost no resistance.  A new pump would be $40+, and would be a foolish purchase.  I'll begin saving for a real espresso machine.  It may be a while.

Project ended.  Thanks,
CHAD
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enginerd
Senior Member


Joined: 4 Apr 2007
Posts: 15
Location: Ithaca, NY
Expertise: I like coffee
Posted Wed Apr 30, 2008, 2:02pm
Subject: Re: Help Rebuild a Rotel Espressomat (Why???)
 

Did you follow the nifty instructions under the lid? Haha, I laugh because I bought one of these for $5 at a yard sale just to play with. You need to make sure you fill the "boiler" first by turning the machine on (Target switch down) then putting a cup under the steam wand and opening the steam knob until water exits. At that point the boiler is filled and ready to go. Pack in your grinds, insert PF, and flip the cup switch to the down position. It could be the pump that is bad but I doubt it, and there is really not much of a boiler on this machine to clog. It is really just an aluminum HX block that it pumps water through to achieve steam or hot water. It is possible to turn the machine on with all the buttons in the down position and nothing will happen with the pump etc while the steam switch is on but the valve is not opened. Best of luck!
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cerradodudenumber2
Senior Member


Joined: 27 Jun 2008
Posts: 10
Location: USA
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Silvia
Grinder: Iberital Espresso
Posted Fri Jun 27, 2008, 8:58am
Subject: Re: Help Rebuild a Rotel Espressomat (Why???)
 

Did you guys give up?  I used to have a Rotel Espressomat and the truth is it was an amazing machine! In many ways, it beat the pants off my Silvia.  Not all will agree and maybe I need to do a head to head to be sure, but in its day (late 1980s to early 1990s) the Espressomat was one of the greats, if not THE great home espresso machine.  It had a built in thermostat! And you didn't have shell out any extra time/money for a PIDing.  Seriously, I wouldn't give up yet.  Check with the SAECO/Rotel importer in Saddle Brook NJ for the parts if you can't find them.  The issue I always had was the pump(Cosmec, not ULKA) and shower/dispersion assemby would need to be replaced every 3-4 years.  But yes, as it best, it might just have been better than the Silvia...
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