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Couple questions about my new Expobar Lever Plus
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Couple questions...  
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toyman
Senior Member


Joined: 30 Oct 2012
Posts: 49
Location: PA
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Expobar Office Lever Plus,...
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Drip: Cuisinart
Posted Wed Mar 19, 2014, 6:03am
Subject: Couple questions about my new Expobar Lever Plus
 

Let me lay out what I'm seeing and you experts can give me some guidance.

1)  I'm using a bottomless PF, and the shots look fantastic coming out.  Thick and brown and right in the middle of the PF.  I dose 17g of beans, and do the WDE? method. (ie:  stirring with a thin pointy object).  NESW, Tamp, flush and go.

2)  An unusual situation is that after I pulled a few (2 or 3) shots, the brew pressure jumped to 11-12 bar and held there until I flushed.  I would have thought the OPV would have released that pressure?  

3)  My boiler pressure is steady at 8 bar, which seems a little low.  I say this because I don't seem to get any flash boil on my initial flush.  I realize that this machine has the WLL restrictor installed, but I have the unit on a timer to come on about 1.5 hours before I pull a shot.  

So far the shots are pretty good, but I'd like them a bit smoother, and understand I need to get to know the new machine.  Any feedback on the items above would be greatly appreciated!
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uscfroadie
Senior Member
uscfroadie
Joined: 2 Aug 2008
Posts: 405
Location: San Antonio
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: GS/3 Strada MP, BDB; owned...
Grinder: Forte, Zass and PeDe hand...
Vac Pot: Nope
Drip: Nope
Roaster: owned Behmor
Posted Wed Mar 19, 2014, 6:34am
Subject: Re: Couple questions about my new Expobar Lever Plus
 

Thom,

I'll give you my $.02.

  1.  WDT (Weiss Distribution Technique); named after John Weiss who came up with the idea many years ago and posted about it on Home-Barista.  Sounds like this is working our for you, so stick with it as long as you don't mind the additional prep time.

  2.  The BREW pressure should be at zero unless you are pulling a shot, at which point your machine's OPV will help vent pressure, provided the resistance (puck or blind basket) is great enough to get the brew pressure up to your OPV's set point.  The OPV is basically a spring-actuated valve, so tighten it to increase max pressure, and loosen it to lower the max pressure.  9 bar is the standard though some like it higher, others lower.  When you say "brew pressure jumped to 11-12 bar and held there until I flushed", do you actually mean the BOILER pressure moved up from .8 bar to cycling between 1.1 and 1.2 bar?

  3.  Just for clarification, I can assure you the boiler pressure is not 8 bar.  Your machine's safety release valve would have blown well before this, and if it failed, your boiler may have exploded before reaching 8 times atmospheric pressure, which is why they are installed at the factory.  Don't worry, in the last ~8 years I've only seen one posting about a boiler exploding (over on HB), and the consensus was that it had to be one of the most poorly maintained machines on the planet.  .8 bar is more accurate, and you are right - is a little low.  If after you flush (or vent the steam or hot water wand) you see this rise to the normal set point of 1.1 - 1.2, you have a problem with your vacuum breaker being stuck, creating false pressure.  

To check if your vacuum breaker is sticking, open up your machine when it is powered off and cooled down.  The breaker circled in red below should have its plunger in the down position, to vent air to the boiler.  Press on yours.  If nothing happens, it's most likely down (where it should be); if with the machine cool it drops when you press on it, it's sticking (which means it's not venting and causing the low boiler pressure until you vent the boiler (through your steam wand, by flushing, or through your hot water tap).  This is called relieving "false pressure".  

If working properly, as your boiler comes up to temp, the plunger will rise (making a hissing sound as you get near closure) and seal, allowing you to come up to your set boiler pressure (1.1 - 1.2, I'm guessing is right for your machine) without having to vent off this "false pressure".

It's hard to really know without seeing it, so if possible, make a video and post the link.  That will help tremendously to ID your issue and recommend a more sound fix.

Hope this helps.

uscfroadie: 11709118415_ba607210a1.jpg
(Click for larger image)
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toyman
Senior Member


Joined: 30 Oct 2012
Posts: 49
Location: PA
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Expobar Office Lever Plus,...
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Drip: Cuisinart
Posted Wed Mar 19, 2014, 8:51am
Subject: Re: Couple questions about my new Expobar Lever Plus
 

USC - thanks for the detailed reply!

My big sausage fingers failed to hit the . key on the boiler pressure.  Yes it is at .8 and stays there consistently.  I will probably open up the machine and raise that before too long.  

The BREW pressure, on a few occasions has shot up to 11-12 bar and held (not 1.1 or 1.2).  It idles at around 2 prior to the shot and then climbs gradually as it pulls.  (I called WLL tech line yesterday and spoke about this, but was less than pleased with the answer, which was, those gauges aren't very accurate - no kidding.  After further review, I believe the Tech meant that they didn't give an accurate reading unless pulling a shot.  This was me, not WLL.  (Just wanted to edit to square this away)  I also asked specifically why the OPV wouldn't relieve the pressure, and really got no answer. (See previous sentence)  Although, I will also say that I have been greatly pleased with WLL on all my other interactions, and continue to be pleased.  

I'll try to make a video of the brew pressure gauge rising, when it happens again.  It hasn't done it on every shot.
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toyman
Senior Member


Joined: 30 Oct 2012
Posts: 49
Location: PA
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Expobar Office Lever Plus,...
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Drip: Cuisinart
Posted Wed Mar 19, 2014, 10:18am
Subject: Re: Couple questions about my new Expobar Lever Plus
 

Fired up the machine at lunch time.  Funny enough the Brew Pressure was around 12 bar after warmup (15-20 minutes)  The boiler pressure was steady at .8.  Here's the pic.


I did a video of the shot (I have to figure out how to upload) and at the end of the shot, after I put the lever down, the pressure shot up again.  As soon as I lift the lever the pressure is relieved and after the shot water comes thru the OPV into the drip tray.

toyman: expobar 5.jpg
(Click for larger image)
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steamer
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steamer
Joined: 11 Feb 2005
Posts: 900
Location: socal
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Expobar Brewtus IV R
Grinder: Mazzer Mini-B Baratza...
Vac Pot: Krubs Moka Brew, vacPot
Drip: TechV, and many more
Roaster: Hottop
Posted Wed Mar 19, 2014, 12:29pm
Subject: Re: Couple questions about my new Expobar Lever Plus
 

put in the blind basket and give it a whirl, look at you settings then, thats a true reading on where the OPV valve is based on the onboard gauges, that is what matters. It comes from WLL at .8bar on the pressure stat.
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toyman
Senior Member


Joined: 30 Oct 2012
Posts: 49
Location: PA
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Expobar Office Lever Plus,...
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Drip: Cuisinart
Posted Wed Mar 19, 2014, 12:43pm
Subject: Re: Couple questions about my new Expobar Lever Plus
 

Ok, maybe a little overly concerned.  WLL let me know (again) :( that the gauge is only giving an accurate reading while the lever is engaged.  I found a video on HB of the Lever Plus pulling a shot doing the same thing.  So, I'm satisfied that I can ignore the gauge unless I'm pulling a shot.  I did put the blind basket in and it goes to 8 bar and then releases into the drip tray.  Case Closed!

My plan for now is to raise the brew pressure to approx. 9 bar and the boiler pressure to .9 - 1.0 and see what happens.  Thanks for all the help!
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uscfroadie
Senior Member
uscfroadie
Joined: 2 Aug 2008
Posts: 405
Location: San Antonio
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: GS/3 Strada MP, BDB; owned...
Grinder: Forte, Zass and PeDe hand...
Vac Pot: Nope
Drip: Nope
Roaster: owned Behmor
Posted Wed Mar 19, 2014, 1:35pm
Subject: Re: Couple questions about my new Expobar Lever Plus
 

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DavecUK
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Joined: 21 Sep 2005
Posts: 1,412
Location: UK
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Wed Mar 19, 2014, 8:14pm
Subject: Re: Couple questions about my new Expobar Lever Plus
 

toyman Said:

USC - thanks for the detailed reply!

My big sausage fingers failed to hit the . key on the boiler pressure.  Yes it is at .8 and stays there consistently.  I will probably open up the machine and raise that before too long.  

The BREW pressure, on a few occasions has shot up to 11-12 bar and held (not 1.1 or 1.2).  It idles at around 2 prior to the shot and then climbs gradually as it pulls.  (I called WLL tech line yesterday and spoke about this, but was less than pleased with the answer, which was, those gauges aren't very accurate - no kidding.  After further review, I believe the Tech meant that they didn't give an accurate reading unless pulling a shot.  This was me, not WLL.  (Just wanted to edit to square this away)  I also asked specifically why the OPV wouldn't relieve the pressure, and really got no answer. (See previous sentence)  Although, I will also say that I have been greatly pleased with WLL on all my other interactions, and continue to be pleased.  

I'll try to make a video of the brew pressure gauge rising, when it happens again.  It hasn't done it on every shot.

Posted March 19, 2014 link

The reason the gauge  rises to 11-12 bar is not because it isn't very accurate as claimed by WLL tech line, it's simply because cooler water entering the boilers HX expands as it heats, this expansion in a closed system raises the hydraulic pressure to 11 or 12 bar and at that point your expansion valve (OPV) starts to let by and prevent the pressure rising further. You will notice that as the boiler temp restabilises over time this will gradually fall away to a lower and lower pressure.

It does tell me that your expansion valve is set too high and you could reduce the shot pressure slightly. I wouldn't go below 10.5 bar on that machine though, because the expansion valves are not the best. Use a blind filter, plull a shot, you will see 3 pressure stages.

  1. About 4 bar for a second or so (preinfusion chamber filling)

Then you will find you need to grind your coffee a little coarser for the same shot time, get a smoother flavour and drier pucks.
  1. Rising to the next pressure 10,11 or 12 bar holding and then gradually rising again to C
  2. Possibly rising still further (water expansion increase)

It's B you want to set to 10 or 10.5 bar, then you will probably notice a more pronounced rise to 12 after a few seconds at the 10 bar pressure at stage B
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toyman
Senior Member


Joined: 30 Oct 2012
Posts: 49
Location: PA
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Expobar Office Lever Plus,...
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Drip: Cuisinart
Posted Fri Mar 28, 2014, 5:52am
Subject: Re: Couple questions about my new Expobar Lever Plus
 

An update after a week with my new machine.  Firstly, I'll say that the best shots I had initially were after dialing in my grinder, about 3 shots.  That's with the machine set from WLL.  Then after getting all OCD, I had to see if I could do better and had to change everything.  I adjusted the boiler pressure from .8 to 1.0 and increased the brew pressure from 9.0 to around 10.5.  I messed with my grind, dose, tamp and flush.  What I was finding was over-extraction.  I would get some of the subtle sweet flavors, but overwhelming bitter.  Some close to a cigarette.  

I got the bottomless PF from WLL, which came with a triple basket.  I decided to move away from that and use the Expobar double basket in the bottomless PF.  Anyway, I read some more and did a long (30 second) flush and go to get the brew temp low and then a quick flush and go to keep it high.  I got my 'taste' profile and decided to lower my dose from 17g to 16.5g and it is starting to come together.  Did a 15 second flush from an idle (1 hour) machine, loaded the PF and pulled after a 10 sec wait.  No cigarette.  It was a little fast so I bumped up the grind 2 micro notches on my Preciso.  Already had 3 shots, so I'll have to wait to see how it works out.  

I also did a good cleaning on my grinder and found way more old grounds than I expected, so that variable is eliminated.   I'm also at the end of my locally roasted espresso beans, so some fresher beans will be at the house shortly, which is another variable I'm hoping will help this along.  Overall, the machine is great.  I have it on a timer and it comes on every day at around 5:30 am and I'm pulling shots between 6:30 and 7:00 am.  

A few future changes are 1)  Pretty sure I'm going to plumb it in  2)  I found that the cup tray on top has 2 sets of holes, 5" on center, that I can put bar pulls on to ease taking the tray on/off with the cups in place and also give it a nice look.  3)  As much as I hate to spend $110 on a Taylor thermometer, I'm probably going to add Eric's Thermo to the group head in the near future.
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mgk2031
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Joined: 28 Mar 2014
Posts: 13
Location: Tampa
Expertise: I live coffee

Posted Fri Mar 28, 2014, 12:44pm
Subject: Re: Couple questions about my new Expobar Lever Plus
 

Never truly realized there were that many changes on the new machine
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