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Stefaan

ECM Mechanika Gicar Control Box

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My 2-year old mechanika IV water pump (from reservoir) fails from time to time. Either during coffee making, before or after, pressure drops to 0-2 and water no longer flows.
It has been in service 2 times now and they do not find the cause because they cannot reproduce the problem. Everything points to a faulty relay or something else in the control box, so I want to replace the unit  (quote for 350€ installed!).

It is coded Gicar M2004 9.9.06.30G00, which I cannot find online.
I do find 9.9.06.30G01 and G02. Newer Are these newer versions of the same unit?

Any advice?

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It's probably not the Gicar box even though your description of the problem is imprecise and can be read a few different ways.  The gicar boxes of that type are also simple to repair for a few pounds  if it is just a faulty relay. How about some basic info, what country are you in (otherwise people will recommend UK suppliers...is the pump actually stopping mid shot, things you have checked etc..because everything you have written doesn't point to a faulty relay..but more likely a bad connection.

 

You can also open your gicar box and look inside (much later if basic diagnostics don't fix the problem).


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I love it when people come on post about some huge problem and then.......go on holiday for 2 weeks?

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ACS Vesuvius DBPP, Izzo Duetto DB, Minima DB, Lelit Bianca Prototype DB (paddle flow control) BTC Machines: Roasters: Amazon Dalian 1kg Drum Roaster, other failed roasters: Grinders: Ceado E92, Niche US and UK: 145kg assorted greens: My reviews at https://coffeeequipmentreviews.wordpress.com/

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Posted (edited)

I'm so sorry I did not get back to this forum.
I did read up on replacing the relay and it seemed like a PITA. So I replaced the complete control box myself. It did nothing to solve the problem!

Some more information, which I sent to ECM directly.

- water level sensor is working (orange light is on)
- switch behind lever cam is working
- pump is getting 230V when turned on, also during the issue. SO the relay must be working correctly.
- disconnected the pump and applied 230V, in itself it is working and pumping water
- when the pressure drops, the pump is still making a humming sound, but the water is not flowing. As if something is blocking it.
- after the problem occurs; turning the machine off and on or repeatedly putting the lever down/up does not help. Water is not pumped.
- after a long period of cooldown (next day), everything works back as normal 90% of the time
- when using the machine a few hours later (not completely cold) it works maybe 50% of the time; even if it worked earlier that day.
- solenoïde valve is receiving 3.5V, whatever that means
- the machine had a complete maintenance and descaling a few weeks ago
- descaling and cleaning doesn't impact the rate of failure
- the problem is slowly getting worse. Earlier this year maybe once every few weeks, now it's almost every day.

I'm from Belgium.

Edited by Stefaan

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ECM responded, for anyone with a similar problem. I have not replaced it yet.

"After checking the problems you describe, we are sorry to inform you that these issues are most likely caused by the expansion valve.

If there are air bubbles in the silicon hose coming out of the expansion valve to the water tank when the group head is activated and you use a blind filter, the valve needs to be changed as there is then air in the machine’s system.

 Therefore, we recommend to exchange article no. P7000 (expansion valve)."

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The part didn't change anything. Another 50€ down the drain! I'm getting desperate.

 

I was going to say, but what do I know. They basically said that the expansion valve cannot have air in it, or it will render it useless. I am no expert, hence I’m not commenting here, but it seemed nonsense to me.

 

Can’t you take it to a dealer or something?

 

Also, re reading you post, you mention about a solenoid valve. Where is this? On the group or elsewhere?

 

Could it be that the pump is at fault?

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Don't know what solenoid does or what is fitted but believe that they are usually energised when a shot is being pulled. That would normally be mains voltage on many machines but other voltages of solenoid are available. The voltage is usually marked on the coil casing.

I'm assuming it provides the 3 way action. When not energised that usually vents the group head and should seal it off when it's energised. It that is causing your problem I'd expect to see water flowing to the drip tray when you pull a shot rather than a pulse of it just after a shot is pulled. Some sort of blockage in it might also cause problems. They are easy enough to dismantle. I posted how on the Sage forum. 3.5v sounds a bit odd though.

John

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Don't know what solenoid does or what is fitted but believe that they are usually energised when a shot is being pulled. That would normally be mains voltage on many machines but other voltages of solenoid are available. The voltage is usually marked on the coil casing.

I'm assuming it provides the 3 way action. When not energised that usually vents the group head and should seal it off when it's energised. It that is causing your problem I'd expect to see water flowing to the drip tray when you pull a shot rather than a pulse of it just after a shot is pulled. Some sort of blockage in it might also cause problems. They are easy enough to dismantle. I posted how on the Sage forum. 3.5v sounds a bit odd though.

John

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My point precisely. Traditional E61 group does not have a solenoid valve.

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Just read this thread. You had Dave on the hook in the first 24 hours and then let him go. I hope you get to the bottom of it but that was a critical error. For anyone else lurking with a problem don’t make the same mistake.


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@MediumRoastSteam

I have taken it to 2 repair shops. The first being the store where I bought the machine. They no longer sell ECM, although they are willing to take a look at it again (couldn't find the problem the first time). The second shop, more or less the same story. And BOTH tried to sell me a new machine giving me peanuts for this 2y 'broken' Mechanika.

The problem is that it might work once or twice. So whatever they do, they'll consider it fixed, untill I get home and expect a nice espresso.

I'm glad ECM germany responded while they clearly state that they don't diagnose problems via e-mail. I have contacted them again. Wait and see.

@ajohn

The solenoid valve: https://www.elektros.it/gb/en/ECM_spare_parts/ecm_2_ways_solenoid_valve_c199900275.html
No idea what it's function is. I have all the numbers if you like: P G 1/8; DN2.3mm; 18.0 bar AC; 21JN1R0V23.

Oh, if anyone needs a working second hand gicar control box or expansion valve... :)

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The function of the solenoid valve is to divert the water flow either to the boiler to fill it or to the group to make coffee.

It is difficult to help you as your original description of the problem is unclear. You changed what you call the expansion valve. Not very familiar with your machine but there are typically two types (both correctly called pressure relief valves because that is what they do): an adjustable PRV fitted to machines with vibratory pumps to give control over pressure and b) safety valve, usually set to 12barg or so, to protect the machine against excessive pressure. I believe your machine has a rotary pump so you probably replaced type b) as the adjustable valve is built into the pump.

In the first post you say the pump has failed as the pressure drops to 0-2 bar. What is the pump doing when the pressure drops, ie does it continue to run and sound normal? I would now concentrate on the pump.

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ECM replied and insisted on the same "bubbles returning to water tank" observation test. I did the test a few times and there are no more bubbles (after a few cycles).
Since then the pump works fine. Maybe I was a bit to premature to assume that the replacement didn't help.
Fingers crossed it is not a one-off.

I'm enjoying a doppio while I write this, and I will keep testing (and not waste good coffee).


@Nikko
It is type A, with a water tank, not connected to water supply.
The pump seems to stall, in which case I can hear a humming sound comming from the pump, not the usual vibrating sound.

As a side note: the nut which fastenes the flexibel hose leading out of the pump has always been banging against one of the copper pipes. A bit of tape made the machine so much quieter.

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You say you have type A, so you have a vibratory pump. In that case you should  be seeing water returning from the valve back to the tank when brewing coffee as the valve is trying to maintain the set pressure.  Is that happening? If water is returning to the tank but you get no flow through the group, then you have a blockage somewhere (probably at the jet in the mushroom).

 

But you say the pump is stalling. Is that when you lose pressure?  May be there is your problem.

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I really need a full parts list to comment any further but would expect the solenoid to be marked something like 220v AC if it's mains powered. Possibly 12 AC or DC or some other voltage but I would have thought that was unlikely on a machine like this but they might.

3.5v with the meter on AC range may or may not be a reliable reading. If as mentioned it's involved in shots I would expect it to be energised when the shot is pulled and not energised when it isn't. That's assuming the manufacturers have some sense as I would have thought energising a solenoid all of the time a machine is on would not be a good idea. However even then the voltage should change when it's on and off.

This seems to be the solenoid

http://avalco.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/1-21JN1R0V12-2.pdf

They don't spec the voltage so not much help. It block flow through it unenergised and allows flow when it's on. How many solenoids are there in the machine?

 

:) I'll give you £60 for it shipped to the UK. As DaveC said it's probably something rather simple

John

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I can only guess but the solenoid probably controls flow to the group head and is energised for that. Then shut/ not energised for boiler fill and that controlled by level sensing and effectively no shot being pulled.  Difficult to see any other way that aspect could work. It might just be gummed up.

John

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In Use Sage DB+IMS Shower Screen, Niche. Others Sage BE, Mazer Mini A,. Projects Little Gem, Gaggia M7D

SageBanner_v01.jpg.a45786743a4eb401969788b45ae7f893.jpg

 

 

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For now the machine is working again. The guy from ECM is quite confident it was indeed a failing expansion valve.

I will keep the old control box, just in case that starts to falter in a few years.

 

Case closed.

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