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Original Izzo Alex, new owner questions.
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Original Izzo...  
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benpiff
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benpiff
Joined: 5 Feb 2010
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Location: Portland, OR
Expertise: I live coffee

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Posted Thu Dec 27, 2012, 3:02pm
Subject: Original Izzo Alex, new owner questions.
 

Hi guys,

A friend of mine put his Izzo Alex up for sale to fund a new Duetto 3 upgrade, and I decided to give it a try. In the last month I've also owned a Brewtus II and an Andreja Premium, and thought I'd share my experience so far and get your take on it.

Here's a video of the first shot I pulled with the machine at home.
http://youtu.be/GD7rLcykji4
click here

The rotary pump makes a big difference in the extraction experience, but not sure if it's making any difference in extraction. This machine is definitely running cooler than the Andreja, as it hardly needs any cooling flush (just a slight hint of boiling water and steam for a second, instead of 5-10 seconds). I've been experimenting a lot over the past few months with raising the lever for preinfusion, and the Andreja would probably drip .5-1oz in 5-10 seconds. The Alex doesn't seem to be able to do this, why could that be, and should I think about it? If I plumb the machine, I'll be able to preinfuse like never before, right?

As you might be able to hear/see in that video, the pump takes about 5 seconds to actually start moving water. The pump always runs successfully and sounds smooth, but occasionally it takes 5 seconds before water comes out. Do I need to worry about this? Is this the kind of thing that a rebuild will solve?

The biggest adjustment from the Andreja to the Alex is STEAM POWER (and wand design). It feels like I've stepped from the best steamer to the weakest, and I wonder if there's anything I should adjust (pressurestat, boiler fill, changing the wand itself)? Is it easy to install a 90 degree elbow and swap to an articulating wand? (I have a complete wand here, but haven't looked into the elbow yet). I can't imagine the boiler sizes being that different between these two machines, so I'm hoping I can get the Alex steaming noticeably better. I never steam more than 3-4 ounces of milk, but right now it's taking a long time and not really able to get good mixing.

Thanks for anyone who can listen through all my rambling :)

Ben

 
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DavecUK
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Joined: 21 Sep 2005
Posts: 1,331
Location: UK
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Thu Dec 27, 2012, 5:25pm
Subject: Re: Original Izzo Alex, new owner questions.
 

  1. The Izzo Alex should require the same or larger cooling flush than the Andreja

  2. The Izzo Alex is a strong steamer

Click Here (coffeetime.wikidot.com)

Do the above search and check out all the Izzo Alex pages.....lots of mods, you can and should do on those early Izzo Alex machines, especially the MK1s and I can see from your Video that you definitely have a MK1 machine. I owned one for many years..

In addition check the steam wand and steam tip to ensure there are no blockages and the holes are not partially clogged (there is an article about that specifically on the Brewtus II).

The Alex has good steam performance (it will steam 400ml of water from 5c to 60c in less than 50 seconds, compared to 70 seconds for an Isomac Millennium). It has an enormous steam capacity and you won’t run out of steam with the Alex. Taken from the UK Handbook.
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benpiff
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benpiff
Joined: 5 Feb 2010
Posts: 295
Location: Portland, OR
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: RocketR58,GrimacMini,Elli
Grinder: LSM FK Conical, Vario
Roaster: Sonofresco 1lb, Behmor
Posted Fri Dec 28, 2012, 3:31pm
Subject: Re: Original Izzo Alex, new owner questions.
 

(I'm trying to figure out if I might need to clean my anti-backflow valve (Click Here (coffeetime.wikidot.com)), because I think my above post highlights two symptoms. 1, water coming out of the group cooler than I think it should. 2, pump delay, I'm not sure if I'm hearing "a hum then a louder rumbling sound hand in hand with a delay in water coming through then your pump is priming and running dry at this point".

But I took both hoses out and tried to do the return leak test, and only the intake hose is moving any water. The return line doesn't do anything or show any water. This situation doesn't seem described on this page.

What pressurestat setting do most people like for the Alex? I've always found 1.1-1.5 to be fine in the past, and my get tells me turning up the pressurestat might be disregarding another problem in the valves or lines.

This morning I steamed around 3 ounces of milk and it took me 50 seconds. I have a single hole tip on there, so no clogs. Hard for me to imagine scale build up in Portland, because the water is so soft.

 
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DavecUK
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Joined: 21 Sep 2005
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Location: UK
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Posted Fri Dec 28, 2012, 5:41pm
Subject: Re: Original Izzo Alex, new owner questions.
 

The Alex can take a 2 hole tip and it will steam faster, optimal pressure is around 1.35 bar average (if you want smaller cooling flushes, then 1.2 bar, but you get weaker steaming). If your in a hard water area the anti backflow valve will almost certainly need attention/cleaning and you may only see water flowing back through the INTAKE hose, not the return, read the article more carefully. Water run from group, fresh water into HX, cooler than boiler, water expands as it heats, flows back past antibackflow valve, level in tube rises (tube held out of tank to see rise).


Big delays and pump rumbling means plenty of backflow, I don't know how bad your situation is, but because of your own description of running cooler than an Andreja, I can assure you the thermosyphon loop is stalling. I know these machines backwards forward and inside out.....bite the bullet and do the maintenance stuff (and mods) on the Wiki. Your machine will last a lot longer and give less problems. Izzo even relocated the Gicar box on later models of the Alex.

The early Alex models are good machines and well built, very good quality S Steel , had some issues, mostly easily modded out, even the noisy (non existent)  pump mounts.
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benpiff
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benpiff
Joined: 5 Feb 2010
Posts: 295
Location: Portland, OR
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: RocketR58,GrimacMini,Elli
Grinder: LSM FK Conical, Vario
Roaster: Sonofresco 1lb, Behmor
Posted Fri Dec 28, 2012, 7:20pm
Subject: Re: Original Izzo Alex, new owner questions.
 

Thanks Dave! I'd love to pick your brain in more detail about getting to know this machine. Could I email you directly (or mine is in my profile)? I've got the top and outer case off, but want to be careful to not remove more screws then I need to (recently got in over my head trying to replace the clutch in my car...).

 
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DavecUK
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Joined: 21 Sep 2005
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Location: UK
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sat Dec 29, 2012, 3:48am
Subject: Re: Original Izzo Alex, new owner questions.
 

It's all in the Wiki I linked you to (plus a lot more), read the articles and look at the pictures....just don't remove too many screws at once in the lower part of the frame.....the frame will then most likely fall apart. Theres only 6 fittings you have to remove to get full access....4 top screws and 2 threaded bolts. If you want to remove the water tank carrier, 2 at bottom (get the right 2 at the underneath/bottom of the case) and one at back.

The only wrinkle is that my Alex MK1 at the time was another pre-production prototype, so some of my mods were incorporated in later production machines, but I don't know when or for which markets.
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benpiff
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benpiff
Joined: 5 Feb 2010
Posts: 295
Location: Portland, OR
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: RocketR58,GrimacMini,Elli
Grinder: LSM FK Conical, Vario
Roaster: Sonofresco 1lb, Behmor
Posted Sun Dec 30, 2012, 9:48pm
Subject: Re: Original Izzo Alex, new owner questions.
 

What I see in my machine is slightly different than what I see here Click Here (coffeetime.wdfiles.com) namely a 4 way junction instead of their 3 way junction (let me know if photos would be helpful). Yesterday was pretty satisfying, I soaked the anti back flow valve in Dezcal and then descaled the whole machine as the previous owner had not overfilled the boiler on previous descalings. Removed the mushroom and descaled the chamber, even though it all looked fine. I also turned the pressurestat up a bit and then used a steam wand gauge. The wand shows the machine is cycling around 1.4 bar, while the built in gauge is showing more like 1.6. The steam is vastly improved today!

But if anything, the delay on the pump seems longer now than it did. Is there anything I could have missed Dave? I'm also going to get my portafilter pressure gauge out tomorrow, because a technician friend said a rotary pump should build pressure almost instantly. Judging by this updated video from today, which shows a current flush as well as a view of what the intake and return tubes are doing (I don't see anything happening in the return line, but a fair bit of water will dribble back out of the intake hose).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yetPJTe8NHQ
click here

 
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benpiff
Senior Member
benpiff
Joined: 5 Feb 2010
Posts: 295
Location: Portland, OR
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: RocketR58,GrimacMini,Elli
Grinder: LSM FK Conical, Vario
Roaster: Sonofresco 1lb, Behmor
Posted Mon Dec 31, 2012, 12:17pm
Subject: Re: Original Izzo Alex, new owner questions.
 

OK, today I read a bit on expansion valves and decided to take mine out and inspect it. I think it may have been adjusted too tight, and it also had some scale so I decided to address both. Turned brew pressure up to 12.5 bar. Put in blind basket and loosened the valve until the hose just started to drip when the pump was running (and the hose was hanging down). Turned brew pressure down to 9 bar and pulled a couple shots. One thing I noticed with the blind disc in, and also during the shots was water flowing out of the bottom of the e61. I don't recall seeing this happen before I opened it and cleaned things up in there. Is this normal, or does it mean that something inside did not seal correctly? Video of my wife's shot:
Click Here (www.youtube.com)
watch this

Going to do some more serious shots this afternoon to see how the machine behaves with the expansion valve not so restrictive.

 
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DavecUK
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Joined: 21 Sep 2005
Posts: 1,331
Location: UK
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Mon Dec 31, 2012, 6:31pm
Subject: Re: Original Izzo Alex, new owner questions.
 

  1. Lower group valve is gunged (clean) up or needs replacing. If you are careful you can just replace the rubber seal for a few cents, otherwise a few dollars for the valve.

  2. Brew circuit is definitely leaking as the delay shows the HX is emptying significantly. I would imagine that if you stop the shot and then start it again water comes fairly instantly from the shower screen. this emptying can only come from 3 places, anti backflow valve, expansion valve (if too slack or seating badly), or top valve in E61 group.

Water from intake hose is anti backflow valve, from return hose is the expansion valve....there will always be a little from the expansion valve, it's there to prevent over pressurisation by expansion of water. The return hose should show very little. However you need to test properly bny holding it UP, waiting and seeing if a fair bit of water comes out.
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IMAWriter
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IMAWriter
Joined: 4 Jul 2002
Posts: 5,700
Location: Brentwood, TN
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Bezzera Strega
Grinder: Forte, Preciso/Esatto, KyM...
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Roaster: Behmor 1600, CO/UFO combo
Posted Tue Jan 1, 2013, 2:05pm
Subject: Re: Original Izzo Alex, new owner questions.
 

Just wanted to pop in and say this an excellent thread!
Thanks Dave for your expertise, and to Ben for having the stones to tackle the job!
Previous to my Cremina lever, I owned an Anita, with (thankfully) none of these problems, but I've archived this thread for any of my local HX friends...just in case.

 
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