ECM Giotto 2003 version - Steam boiler pressure high?

Equipment doesn't work? Troubleshooting? If you're handy, members can help.
burgieman70
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#1: Post by burgieman70 »

Hello everyone,
I just purchased a used ECM Giotto on CL. It's a beautiful machine and in great shape. The machine has an Erics Temp sensor on the E61 grouphead. I am struggling to make good tasting espresso and I think it may be the boiler pressure is too high. The boiler pressure stabilizes at around 1.2-1.3 bar. The temperature at the grouphead is around 215-217F.

I was told that the process to making good espresso is to reduce the temperature by release water through the grouphead until I get the lower desired temperature. This process causes a lot of wasted water. I live in California and water is not a resource we want to toss out.

So the questions I have are:
1. Should I get a new PStat? Which one? (The current Pstat is Jaeger and is already fully to CCW position. Can't lower it.)

2. Is it worthwhile to add a PID to this machine? If yes then any instructions on how to do it?

Any advice is much appreciated.

chipman

#2: Post by chipman »

The only answer for your issue is not the one you want to hear. This is a H/X machine and you have to run some water thru before your first shot. Your pressure stat is fine, and adding a PID is of little or no benefit.

burgieman70 (original poster)
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#3: Post by burgieman70 (original poster) »

Thanks for reply Chipman.

I still want to bring the boiler pressure down to 1.0-1.1. This will allow me to reduce the amount of water i need to run through since the boiler pressure/temp will be closer to my desired target temp 195-200F. Do you use a PStat / relay combination to control your machine?

Nunas
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#4: Post by Nunas »

I agree with Steve. When the ECM Giotto came out in the early 2000s, it was hailed by some reviewers as the Ferrari of HX machines. As for the waste water, a common complaint about all HX machines, I suggest you put a bowl under your group the next time you flush it to the proper temperature, and see how much you collect. While it seems really wasteful, and appears to be a lot of water, the first bit is mostly steam, not water. Once the steam stops, you should already be near the right temperature. Even on a "dragon HX", which might take nearly 20 seconds to flush, we're talking ounces, not cups of water. Moreover, you only have to do that for the first pull; for subsequent pulls, the temperature is generally right after waiting a short time for rebound. Enjoy your machine; you've got a good one.

Concerning modifications, you've already got the single most important accessory for an HX, a group head thermometer. If you're still concerned about wasting water, the only modification I would suggest is experimenting with a restrictor. A restrictor is a device that's placed in the upper HX line, between the boiler and the group head. It can go in either place, but is usually placed in the boiler fitting. Get some brass shim stock and cut a little disk that will fit. Poke a hole in it and install. Mess with your machine to see what happens. By changing the hole size, you should be able to find a restrictor that reduces the amount of flushing for the first pull. This works by altering the mix of top and bottom water from the boiler, the top water being hotter, because the bottom water is where the replacement water goes when the boiler calls for water. The down-side of this is the recovery time between shots will be longer, because the thermosiphon is now running more slowly. If you want to make this modification in a more professional way, get a needle valve of appropriate size and cut it into the upper thermosiphon pipe. A few very expensive espresso machines come with this feature. If you do a search on this site, you'll find many threads about this, as it was a hot topic a few years ago.

Nunas
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#5: Post by Nunas »

burgieman70 wrote:I still want to bring the boiler pressure down to 1.0-1.1. This will allow me to reduce the amount of water i need to run through since the boiler pressure/temp will be closer to my desired target temp 195-200F. <snip>
If you only drink espresso shots, this is a viable option. But if you steam milk for cappuccinos, lattes, etcetera, you will likely want all the steam your machine is capable of.

burgieman70 (original poster)
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#6: Post by burgieman70 (original poster) »

Thanks Nunas,
I will continue for another week or two with current process. I am not up to adding the restrictor. Worst case I will find PSTAT that will allow me to reduce boiler pressure to machine specs 1.0 bar.

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cafeIKE
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#7: Post by cafeIKE »

See HX espresso machines waste water - or do they? about saving water w PID.

I ran a PID on an HX for about 15 years and boiler idled about 0.5bar... but I tend to brew mid 190°F's

e61 restrictors are available in various sizes and pretty straightforward to install

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homeburrero
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#8: Post by homeburrero »

Nunas wrote:If you're still concerned about wasting water, the only modification I would suggest is experimenting with a restrictor.
Nunas is correct that the old ECM (pre-Rocket) Giottos don't have a thermosyphon restrictor. Newer Rocket models have a 3mm restrictor in the upper thermosyphon fitting where it joins the grouphead. You could do that modification to yours and it would idle a little cooler and require less flushing. On the other hand it will rebound quite a bit slower. Once you get the cooling flush technique figured out I don't think you really need that restrictor. I think Rocket was wise to add it because most people, especially new users, are not up to mastering cooling flushes and expect to simply just walk up and pull a shot -- note that the operator manuals for these machines don't even advise folks about cooling flushes. If you do entertaining where you need to pull multiple shots you are arguably better off without the restrictor. I never bothered to add one to my old ECM Giotto.
Nunas wrote:Enjoy your machine; you've got a good one.
+1

burgieman70 wrote:1. Should I get a new PStat? Which one? (The current Pstat is Jaeger and is already fully to CCW position. Can't lower it.)
The Jaeger is a fine choice, but you can replace it with a Mater xp110 or with a CEME, available from most espresso machine parts vendors. Be sure it's 15 amp or more and has the 1/4" BSP fitting.

A Sirai P203 like they use in newer Rocket Evo Giottos would give you two 20 amp contacts, but is really too large to fit in these older machines. On my machine I did add a mechanical relay to handle switching of the heater current and wired the pStat into the relay control. But I don't see that as necessary, partly because replacement pStats are relatively affordable.

burgieman70 wrote:I still want to bring the boiler pressure down to 1.0-1.1.
I think that would be fine. That's where I ran my machine, also where I run my current Rocket Evo Giotto. I do use a slower steam tip and don't make large milk drinks. A higher pressure will give you more initial steaming oomph because of the stored energy from the hotter water, but if you steam for long the pressure will drop to 1 bar or lower because the 1200 watt heater can only generate so much steam flow. (A slower tip does give you a higher steady state pressure when steaming, and my 2 hole new Isomac tip seems to be a good match for maintaining 1 bar with a 1200 watt element.)








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Pat
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chipman

#9: Post by chipman »

Regarding the possibility of using a Sirai PS. As a coincidence I still have my original Giotto I purchased around that time. During a major repair job and service Great Infusions in Santa Cruz cleanly installed a Sirai PS. I haven't used the machine in awhile but it performed beautifully in the five years of daily use before I purchased my first Duetto. There is a really good espresso tech in Richmond who i'm sure could do that install if that's the way you want to go.

burgieman70 (original poster)
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#10: Post by burgieman70 (original poster) »

Thanks Ian. I read the HX water link. I appreciate your advice.