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EK43S Cleaning


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I’ve been putting off opening up my EK43S for a little while now but figure I can’t put it off any longer. I’ve had it since May, so 8 months without a clean. 
Should I be removing the burrs and cleaning under them, or is it ok to leave them in place until the next clean? If I do remove them, is there anything special involved in making sure they’re radially aligned when refitting? I notice there’s a £100 tool to help with this, but is it necessary? Or can good alignment be achieved by eye?
 

Any advice or tips would be much appreciated.

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Quick update - when measuring the face plate screws against my only largish flathead screwdriver, I discovered that one of them (on the left) was loose. Not sure how that came about. Ordering a torque screwdriver and some lube now so I can give the grinder a clean later in the week.

Edited by AJP80
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Important to torque the face plate retaining screws and, if you remove the burrs, those screws too. Not necessary to remove burrs just for cleaning purposes. Static burr, if I recall correctly, is responsible for the bulk of misalignment if there is any. To check the static burr, you will need a Titus burr alignment kit. If you do an alignment check - will bet you a fiver static burr isn't out by more than 2-3 microns.

When zeroing the burrs and chirp point is heard and the hex retaining screws tightened, put a couple of doses through the the grinder and carry out zero process again. This is recommended by Mahlkonig.

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Londinium-R - EKS43 running SSP Silver Knight burrs

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Thanks for the tips. I took the face plate off today for a quick look before putting it back together and making finger tight. I had to tighten the loose screw without a torque wrench in any event so didn't think I could do much damage. However...very nearly crunched the burrs when I next used it. I guess the calibration must have been way out once I tightened the previously loose screw. 

Re alignment, I was thinking of centring the burrs, rather than anything more intensive like shimming or sanding. I saw there is centring tool (https://www.coffeeomega.co.uk/product/mahlkonig-ek43-alignment-tool-2/) but wasn't sure if this is necessary to achieve good centring (is this axial alignment?). 

 

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@AJP80 - I got one of the MK alignment tools bundled in with my EK43S, checked it whilst cleaning and it was spot on. They should “all be that way” really if you bought new since the standards got tighter.

Why don’t you do the dry wipe marker test on the fixed burr to get a baseline, cheaper than either the radial alignment gauge or Titus measuring tool?

Will give you a rough idea on high points or if the radial alignment is causing dead spots. If you are still looking to improve say your espresso range with “new coffee burrs” then that flags how easy it might be to make a difference.

Edited by Northern_Monkey
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8 hours ago, Northern_Monkey said:

@AJP80 - I got one of the MK alignment tools bundled in with my EK43S, checked it whilst cleaning and it was spot on. They should “all be that way” really if you bought new since the standards got tighter.

Why don’t you do the dry wipe marker test on the fixed burr to get a baseline, cheaper than either the radial alignment gauge or Titus measuring tool?

Will give you a rough idea on high points or if the radial alignment is causing dead spots. If you are still looking to improve say your espresso range with “new coffee burrs” then that flags how easy it might be to make a difference.

Thanks for this. I think for the time being, I really only want to clean under the burrs and possibly fit the Titus rotating burr carrier. I looked at some Mahlkonig videos and they showed the engineer using a device (the one I linked, above) when reinstalling the burrs. I wasn't sure if this is necessary or if I can reinstall the burrs by eye.

I've no doubt there's some improvement to be had with shimming and/ or sanding, but I'll leave that for the future. Maybe lockdown no.4.  

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Unless you are very unhappy with the alignment I wouldn’t take the burrs out to clean them. Just give them a good brush/vacuum and swipe behind with an alcohol wipe or two.

Whilst in “theory” it should go back how you found it, there is a chance it might not 😉 Bit of an alignment/shimming rabbit hole from other people’s experiences which can take a long time...

I bought one of these for the screws. Let’s you do the tightening in set increments for a nice bit of control, especially as the face plate can influence it a fair bit.

https://www.ffx.co.uk/Product/Get/Wera-05074701001-4013288100658-Adjustable-Torque-Screwdriver-1.2--3.0-Nm

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21 hours ago, Northern_Monkey said:

Unless you are very unhappy with the alignment I wouldn’t take the burrs out to clean them. Just give them a good brush/vacuum and swipe behind with an alcohol wipe or two.

Whilst in “theory” it should go back how you found it, there is a chance it might not 😉 Bit of an alignment/shimming rabbit hole from other people’s experiences which can take a long time...

I bought one of these for the screws. Let’s you do the tightening in set increments for a nice bit of control, especially as the face plate can influence it a fair bit.

https://www.ffx.co.uk/Product/Get/Wera-05074701001-4013288100658-Adjustable-Torque-Screwdriver-1.2--3.0-Nm

I thought I'd bought one of these from Amazon but when it turned up it was far from adjustable. It was set at 1.2NM and the only way to increase the torque was to dismantle it and adjust a non-gradiated, paint sealed bolt that needs a calibration tool to set! Promptly returned to Amazon and I have now ordered the adjustable version from the link you sent. Reminder to self - always read the Amazon reviews before purchasing.

Kluber turned up today, so now to wait for the Titus burr carrier. I am hoping that will reduce the amount of bean fragments left under the pre-breaker and avoid the need to use a blower. The blower, I have discovered, creates a right mess inside the grind chamber, with espresso grinds blown all over the place.

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Ah, I might have been too clever for my self by buying a rocket blower last week to puff down the chute. Made it easy to get the final fragments onto the burrs in order to make it zero ish retention! 🤣

Will see how messy it is when I open it up now...

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That's what I use! I think most of the mess is caused when blowing up the exit chute (excuse me!), which I do when switching from espresso to pour over. There probably shouldn't be too much mess caused by blowing down the bean chute.

I think I'll stop the practice of blowing up and just relay on the brush to clear the exit hole and chute

 

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Slightly more reassuring!

Ive ordered a couple of acrylic discs with a hole in the center to put the puffer nozzle through, so it sits snugly in the chute. Basically a more refined version of grind the dose into a cup, switch off and stop turning, jam the puffer in the neck and squeeze, then remove and switch on again before thwacking.

It’s let me get the same weight out that I put in, exchange didn’t look that bad based on swapping between darker and lighter beans.

The eBay people do custom sizes and the finish on the edges is pretty good for the money.

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/283595172673

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I have a titus alignment tool you are welcome to borrow if you pay postage?

On 24/01/2021 at 18:16, AJP80 said:

Thanks for the tips. I took the face plate off today for a quick look before putting it back together and making finger tight. I had to tighten the loose screw without a torque wrench in any event so didn't think I could do much damage. However...very nearly crunched the burrs when I next used it. I guess the calibration must have been way out once I tightened the previously loose screw. 

Re alignment, I was thinking of centring the burrs, rather than anything more intensive like shimming or sanding. I saw there is centring tool (https://www.coffeeomega.co.uk/product/mahlkonig-ek43-alignment-tool-2/) but wasn't sure if this is necessary to achieve good centring (is this axial alignment?). 

 

 

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1 hour ago, arellim said:

I have a titus alignment tool you are welcome to borrow if you pay postage?

 

Thanks for the offer. I would have taken you up on it but I’ve decided to put off alignment until next year (and only then if I up my espresso game).

I was thinking of purchasing the Mahlkonig burr centring tool but now realise it’s only for the stationary burr, which I won’t be removing when I fit the Titus burr carrier.

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Quick update:

The Titus Burr Carrier arrived and I fitted my existing rotating burr to it, torquing the bolts to 2.8nm. I gave everything a good clean and re-lubed generously as per Mahlkonig videos. All back together, recalibrated and....

...gushers!!! Oh dear. Not sure what I have done wrong, but I've had to tighten the grind to zero (just off chirp point), increase dose from 13g to 14g (in a 51mm basket) and ratio from 1:2 to 1:3 (in 32 secs).

I might try again tomorrow making sure the burr is perfectly centred and the bolts are evenly torqued.

It could be that replacing the burr screws with hex bolts (provided by Titus) has resulted in fewer fines, but that's probably just wishful thinking.

Edited by AJP80
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So, it turns out that the grinder may not be to blame for my gushers. 

Before playing around with my EK43S, I dismantled and cleaned my La Pavoni. I think I must have done something wrong putting it back together as it is now blasting a jet of water through the shower screen and aimed at the front of the coffee puck. I have managed to stop the gushers by placing a circular cut out from a filter paper on top of the puck. However, I have not managed to fix the cause of the problem. I have taken the La Pavoni apart again, re lubed the plunger and re-taped the shaft where it screws into the piston to ensure a snug fit (it's the one with the hole from the PPK). It has not fixed it.

Does anyone have a fix for this? Note this is not the first time it's happened but I have never managed to pin down the cause. It just comes and goes following a strip down/ rebuild.

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I had another go at fitting the Titus burr carrier, today. Stripped and cleaned everything, including with alcohol on all the contact faces, which I made sure were spotless. All burr screws were evenly torqued (to 2nm this time), as were the front plate screws (to 3nm).

I’ve definitely lost some espresso range, which was the opposite of my intention. I’ll see how I get on for a few weeks, and I’ll consider switching back to the original burr carrier then.

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On 02/02/2021 at 00:04, tambu said:

Did you fix your pav issues? Or have you lost range but are still using the filter paper?

Yeah I pulled it apart on Friday and spotted the issue almost straight away. The piston had come loose and was sitting perhaps 1 mm lower than it should. At the same time, I fitted a new brass boiler pipe connector (I managed to shred the threads on my old plastics one) and a brass piston sleeve.

It worked like a treat for one day. Sadly I now have a spongy pull problem. No idea what’s causing it. But today I focussed on the EK43S, so i will worry about the La Pav another day.

I checked the alignment of my burrs today using the Titus tool. The bottom burr was pretty good, within 20 microns. I switched it for the rotating burr to check that and it was pretty much perfect. I reinstalled the bottom burr and shimmed it, which was a real hassle. I felt like I was chasing my tail for hours, but I finally got it to within 10 microns except for at one of the screws, which I couldn’t shim so it stayed at 20 microns.

All back together and recalibrated zero point. Sadly, no improvement. Both 13g and 14g shots (both at 0) were gushers. Tasted good though.

Here’s the thing. With the burrs touching, the gap where the troughs overlap must be 250 microns or more. So what is the purpose of shimming to get the peaks within 10 microns? The boulders will still get through.

Edited by AJP80
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@AJP80 - Sounds like a tough day with your grinder, I can see why some people get so excited about the HG-1 and  easily accessible burrs...

I think people use the “peaks” as a measurement since they are the bits of metal hitting each other first and therefore the thing which impacts the alignment the most.

I believe Frank has found burrs from MK that weren’t quite right in terms of tolerance. You have sorted your rotating burr, is there anyway you can use the gauge to see how flat the grinder housing is?

If it’s all flat, you might be looking at Turkish or ssp ones then to get more espresso range? The Turkish set on mine are typically 4.5-1.5 for espresso and a pretty big range of adjustment.

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@Northern_Monkey It was certainly a long day! And I’d commandeered the kitchen to fettle the EK, so when I was still going 6 hours later, I had to treat the family to a takeaway on account of the kitchen looking like a workshop. 

I had planned to measure the EK without burr and use that as a baseline to shim both bottom and rotating burrs, but I couldn’t figure out how to do that with the Titus tool, so I just measured each burr three times, rotating the burr anti-clockwise for each new measurement. With the rotating burr, it was never more than 10 microns lower than the high point so I figured it didn’t need shimming (I have the Titus burr carrier installed, so I figured I only needed to shim the rotating burr if the burr itself was out).

I drink mainly brew and really like the V60s I get with the brew burrs. I don’t want to compromise on that but had thought I didn’t need to, and I’ve been using the EK for espresso for the last 9 months without issue. However, now I’ve tinkered with the thing, I’m struggling to see how, with a minimum of (what looks like at least) 250 microns of gap between even a perfectly aligned set of brew burrs (on account of how high the teeth are at the circumference), it’s possible to make espresso with the brew burrs without the help of lots of fines. 

The simplest solution is for me to up-dose to 15g. That’s not such a bad thing, it’s just that this espresso hobby (which I was determined not to get infected by this time round) brings out the obsessive tinkerer/ worrier in me

Edited by AJP80
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@AJP80 - Also have similar tendencies, I have learnt through experience sometimes I have to just put the spanner/screwdriver down even if it is still annoying me...

Being able to up dose and get away with it sounds like the best plan. I normally use 15.0 to 15.5g with my Pavoni since I like longer shots.

Not tried the new coffee brew burrs, but just for reference the Turkish ones still make a mean V60 especially if you  use the Rao single pour fine grind approach.

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@flufflesI haven’t, simply because it is very unlikely that the issue is the new carrier. There’s also a lot of work involved in swapping out carriers to make sure all surfaces are spotless before reassembly, so it’s a morning’s work, and as it’s the least likely of the causes, it is the one I’ll look at last (if at all). 
The memory’s a bit vague now, but I think the issues started when I discovered and tightened a loose screw on the front plate (one of the two main ones holding the face plate on). That might have impacted the grind, albeit positively in terms of uniformity.

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17 minutes ago, AJP80 said:

 but I think the issues started when I discovered and tightened a loose screw on the front plate (one of the two main ones holding the face plate on). That might have impacted the grind, albeit positively in terms of uniformity.

Certainly will - face plate screws should be tightened with a torque screwdriver to 2.8Nm and periodically re-checked and re-torqued as needed.

Edited by The Systemic Kid
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Londinium-R - EKS43 running SSP Silver Knight burrs

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