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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Isomac Tea...  
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espresso_jim
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espresso_jim
Joined: 13 Jun 2002
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Location: Austin, TX
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Posted Mon Nov 11, 2002, 7:04am
Subject: Isomac Tea Problems + Solution
 

I have had my Isomac Tea for several months now and have been totally satisfied with the espresso and micro frothing abilities.  That said, there have been little nagging issues that, almost to a person is echoed throught the reviews, alt.coffee and here.

The biggest irritant I have is the inability to see the water level in the reservoir.  This has occasionally led to shots stopped in the middle, a retraining to pull the machine out each time I use it and check the water level.  My Tea sits under a cabinet and I have had it on an acrylic cutting board to facilitate pulling the machine out. Then I have to lift off the cup warming tray and check to see if there is water in the tank.  The first time one of my friends saw these antics popped out with the statement that the machine should have a water guage on tank.

I have wanted to plumb in the machine just to avoid the constant pulling out and checking/filling.  Not a big deal, but as time went on, an irritant. I came up with a simple and low cost solution.  From Wal-Mart, I got a plastic water dispenser.  It is transparent water-bottle blue, 14"x9.5"x3" (roughly) and holds 1.25 gallons.  Sitting horizontally on the 3" side, there is a fill cap in the top middle and a handle on one side along with a spiggot.  It fits behind the Tea quite unobtrusively.  

I bought flexable tubes that the Tea's hoses fit into with a tight fit that seals completely.  I used two sliding window locks (the type that has a thumb screw so it can be slid up and down on an aluminium frame) on each back corner of the warming tray to lift it so the extended tubes can run over the back machine edge.  I drilled a hole into the center of the bottle fill cap for the intake tube and the return tube hole was drilled close to one corner of the bottle.  The uptake hose has the water softener device and I needed easy access to it, hence the placement of the hole in the fill cap. I use a Mason jar full of pennies where the Tea's original reservoir was to keep weight on the pressure switch so the machine stays on. This weight device might change to something else down the road.

To refill, I unscrew the bottle fill cap, move the cap over and add water.  So easy!  The extra tube length is probably no more than 10 - 12 inches per tube.  (Yes, I checked for water and air leaks in the tubes and flow rates.  All okay.) The water container sticks out on both sides of the Tea but one side is in a corner that is hidden by the Tea.  The other side sticks out about 1 -2 inches and is easy to see and fill.

Total cost - less than $10.00!

Problems solved:
  1. Easy to see water level.
  2. Easy to refill.
  3. The  water in the reservoir does not get hot and according to another_jim, the water softener that is included with the Tea works best if the water is not hot. (My water is not that hard and if the supplied softener is working as it is supposed to, then this is all I need - water that is room temp does this.)
  4. I no longer need to slide the Tea over my counter and have removed the acrylic cutting board.
  5. The cup warmer, while slightly slanted still keeps cups nice and warm.
  6. No voiding of warranty by cutting or drilling on the machine.

Disadvantaes:
  1. The cup warmer does tilt, but not badly.  Perhaps eventually a little trimming on the tray will solve that problem.
  2. The pump is nosier because there is no container of water to muffle the sound.
  3. If a person is not obsevant, the pump could be run dry; however, there are only two people who use the Tea in my house and both of us were involved in the mods.  Both of us have agreed to NOT let the container ever get below half empty.

We have used this mod for a couple of days now and things are great!  

If there are problems, I'll let you know.  I hope this helps anyone out there who was at the same place with the Tea.

 
Jim
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BellaJava
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BellaJava
Joined: 27 Jun 2002
Posts: 432
Location: Jacksonville, FL
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Livia 90 Auto
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Posted Mon Nov 11, 2002, 9:04am
Subject: Re: Isomac Tea Problems + Solution
 

Jim... how about posting a few pictures?

Bella
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espresso_jim
Senior Member
espresso_jim
Joined: 13 Jun 2002
Posts: 325
Location: Austin, TX
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Mini Vivaldi II
Grinder: Mazzer Mini E
Drip: Technivorm Moccamaster...
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Mon Nov 11, 2002, 9:12am
Subject: Re: Isomac Tea Problems + Solution
 

BellaJava Said:

Jim... how about posting a few pictures?

Bella

Posted November 11, 2002 link

As much of a techie as I am, I don't have a decent digital camera.  The one I have might work - let me play with it some but don't get your hopes up.

Jim
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jeru
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Joined: 18 Sep 2002
Posts: 44
Location: Corvallis, OR
Expertise: Intermediate

Espresso: Isomac Tea
Grinder: Mazzer Mini
Posted Mon Nov 11, 2002, 9:43am
Subject: Re: Isomac Tea Problems + Solution
 

Very clever solution!  I wonder though, it all that really easier than just plumbing it in?  Has anyone plumbed the TEA?  What is the estimated cost, and difficulty?
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espresso_jim
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espresso_jim
Joined: 13 Jun 2002
Posts: 325
Location: Austin, TX
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Mini Vivaldi II
Grinder: Mazzer Mini E
Drip: Technivorm Moccamaster...
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Mon Nov 11, 2002, 10:54am
Subject: Re: Isomac Tea Problems + Solution
 

jeru Said:

Very clever solution!

Thanks.

I wonder though, it all that really easier than just plumbing it in?  Has anyone plumbed the TEA?  What is the estimated cost, and difficulty?

Posted November 11, 2002 link

I see several detractors for plumbing in the Tea.  Chris at Chriscoffee says that the current solution can be done but it is a real PITA, and that is just hooking it into the Tea.  

Let's see, tap into water line, drill holes in counter, run tubing, attach in-line water softener.  Forget about hauling the Tea to a party or moving it to a different spot if the need ever arose.

Current kit to plumb in to the Tea, I've heard isn't that expensive - around $20 - 25.  Then you need a "T" fitting, tubing, ...you get the picture.  Time involved would be, depending on your plumbing and carpentry skills start approaching hour to hours.  In my case, I would have to pull out my dishwasher to run plumbing to where I want it.

The external water tank thing took, oh if I were pushing it, max 15 minutes.  It took longer to go get the stuff and stand in line than it did to do the actual install.

It would be interesting to hear from someone who has plumbed a Tea in.  When I spoke with Chris concerning this, he discouraged me by saying how difficult it would be.

If things hold up, I no longer have a need to plumb in the Tea, have an option to move it and the softener is now working to its maximum efficiency.

Jim
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jim_schulman
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jim_schulman
Joined: 19 Dec 2001
Posts: 3,772
Location: Chicago
Expertise: I live coffee
Posted Mon Nov 11, 2002, 4:10pm
Subject: Re: Isomac Tea Problems + Solution
 

jeru Said:

Very clever solution!  I wonder though, it all that really easier than just plumbing it in?  Has anyone plumbed the TEA?  What is the estimated cost, and difficulty?

Posted November 11, 2002 link

Seconds on the clever solution.

The Tea isn't predrilled for plumbing; the Millenium is. If plumbing is an issue, the millenium may be a better choice.

 
Jim Schulman
www.coffeecuppers.com
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narc
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narc
Joined: 20 Apr 2002
Posts: 532
Location: bayfield
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: MCal,PVL2
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Posted Mon Nov 11, 2002, 5:03pm
Subject: Re: Isomac Tea Problems + Solution
 

Jim,
So the holes about 3cm in diameter located on the base plate are not for the plumb-in option? Sounds like the kit is a pain & jim roes solution is simple, inexpensive plus it works.

 
Noel
Mano dell 'operatore> Macinadosatore> Miscela> Macchina espresso
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milnerb1
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Joined: 25 Sep 2002
Posts: 405
Location: Gig Harbor, WA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Vivaldi II, Isomac Tea,...
Grinder: Mazzer Mini, Solis Mulino
Roaster: Behmor 1600, BBQ drum,...
Posted Mon Nov 11, 2002, 5:37pm
Subject: Re: Isomac Tea Problems + Solution
 

another_jim Said:

Seconds on the clever solution.

The Tea isn't predrilled for plumbing; the Millenium is. If plumbing is an issue, the millenium may be a better choice.

Posted November 11, 2002 link

Jim:

I believe that you can actually plum the TEA.  

There is a hole a little smaller than an inch in diameter on the bottom of the machine to allow for a water line.  Also, when I bought my machine from Chriscoffee, he said that you could plum the tea and was willing to install the plum-in kit if I wanted him to before he shipped it to me.

Perhaps Isomac recently started drilling holes in the base of their TEAs to allow for plum-in?  

Please let me know if you know otherwise.

Thanks a lot,
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milnerb1
Senior Member


Joined: 25 Sep 2002
Posts: 405
Location: Gig Harbor, WA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Vivaldi II, Isomac Tea,...
Grinder: Mazzer Mini, Solis Mulino
Roaster: Behmor 1600, BBQ drum,...
Posted Mon Nov 11, 2002, 5:45pm
Subject: Re: Isomac Tea Problems + Solution
 

Great post on instructions for doing this.  Here's a little 'twist' on the idea that might provide some additional benefits including:

- auto shut-off feature would still be enabled
- additional water capacity

You can actually siphon the water from an external tank into the internal tank automatically.  See the following link:

link
(edited by CG staff - with long urls, it's better to put them inside a link tag - see the left side bar for the easy way to do it)

I have not yet tried this, but it may be worth a try.

If anybody has experience please post results.
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jim_schulman
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jim_schulman
Joined: 19 Dec 2001
Posts: 3,772
Location: Chicago
Expertise: I live coffee
Posted Mon Nov 11, 2002, 6:37pm
Subject: Re: Isomac Tea Problems + Solution
 

narc Said:

Jim,
So the holes about 3cm in diameter located on the base plate are not for the plumb-in option? Sounds like the kit is a pain & jim roes solution is simple, inexpensive plus it works.

Posted November 11, 2002 link

My model is obviously outdated, it doesn't have the holes. Chris sold off the stock of the previous importer; then had Isomac make a few good mods, the plumbing holes must be one (the other is the more accessible pressurestat, of which I'm very envious).

Is there one to the drip tray too?

 
Jim Schulman
www.coffeecuppers.com
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