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Izzo Alex Lever


TomR
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It was indeed me that went from a Decent de1+ to izzo alex leva. Machine arrived last week. 
 

very pleased to report that so far I am getting the shots that I enjoy more than a decent de1 and also enjoying the process more. Clearly there’s always some new machine placebo effect  

shots are sweeter and smoother 

surprisingly to me, light roasts are also pretty great 

Denis is of  Course right that A de1+ emulating a big lever group  it is actually pretty different from the real thing. But then of course I would say that

 

But

 

while you’re all here I could do with some help. This morning the boiler auto fill is no longer working and so the boiler has run down to steam only from group and tap

it’s a pretty basic machine. The auto fill level sensors are still connected. My water pressure and feed seems to be fine up to the machine

it was working fine a couple of days ago

any ideas??

 

I have a course contacted the vendor ( David at Black cat) who is a great guy and I’m sure will help sort it out as rapidly as he is able.  
 

I just thought I’d ask the team here in the meantime

I bought it because it seemed both simple to troubleshoot and easy to work on. Had not fully expected to be doing so in the first few days but there we go. Part of the fun. 

B60DDFBC-69DA-4729-B8CC-3BC6A9166611.jpeg

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7 minutes ago, TomR said:

It was indeed me that went from a Decent de1+ to izzo alex leva. Machine arrived last week. 
 

very pleased to report that so far I am getting the shots that I enjoy more than a decent de1 and also enjoying the process more. Clearly there’s always some new machine placebo effect  

shots are sweeter and smoother 

surprisingly to me, light roasts are also pretty great 

Denis is of  Course right that A de1+ emulating a big lever group  it is actually pretty different from the real thing. But then of course I would say that

 

But

 

while you’re all here I could do with some help. This morning the boiler auto fill is no longer working and so the boiler has run down to steam only from group and tap

it’s a pretty basic machine. The auto fill level sensors are still connected. My water pressure and feed seems to be fine up to the machine

it was working fine a couple of days ago

any ideas??

 

I have a course contacted the vendor ( David at Black cat) who is a great guy and I’m sure will help sort it out as rapidly as he is able.  
 

I just thought I’d ask the team here in the meantime

I bought it because it seemed both simple to troubleshoot and easy to work on. Had not fully expected to be doing so in the first few days but there we go. Part of the fun. 

B60DDFBC-69DA-4729-B8CC-3BC6A9166611.jpeg

There isn't a pump so it's got to be something simple - incoming water pressure?

If not then maybe a solenoid connection stuck or connection/cable loose?

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@TomR I've split this from the main Vesuvius Evo Leva thread to avoid confusion. Looking at the photos, there appear to be two level probes, so it is unlikely one of them is faulty. I would imagine they go to a single connector in the Gicar box, which is probably and RL30 and they are presumably joining the two probe wires together to a single connector...That said the RL30, has two connectors on it one for the boiler and the other usually used for low water detection in the water tank. This is a 5V DC current and could be used for another level probe. So they might well have two independent connections.

If either one of those connections fails, then you will get an autofill of the boiler triggered. In fact if the low water level sounder is enabled, you may even get an audible alarm briefly....as you don't mention it, it sounds like the alarm isn't enabled.

When low water is detected, the Gicar boxes are programmed to cut the power to the heating elements (and any boiler low water detection should be implemented this way).

 

Quote

while you’re all here I could do with some help. This morning the boiler auto fill is no longer working and so the boiler has run down to steam only from group and tap

This comment is worrying, because it would imply that the machine is still heating even though it's not autofilling?? I'm hoping it's a very loose turn of phrase being used and you really mean something else. Like " I realised once I couldn't pull a shot and couldn't get water from the tap, then switched the machine off"....hence only the residual heat in the boiler was causing this and the heating element was not on. If this was the case then it could be a solenoid wire, or a probe wire loose/disconnected from the Gicar, Solenoid or one of the two probes.

If you have since switched the machine on, and it heated up, and you could only get steam and no water from the hot water tap....then you have a different problem and risk exposing a heating element that isn't being switched off for some reason.

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Sticks and Stones, sours…or rancid (horrible). Quakers hide until roasted, pick em out and flick them in the bin. Life is too short for bad coffee

 

 

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2 hours ago, DavecUK said:

@TomR I've split this from the main Vesuvius Evo Leva thread to avoid confusion. Looking at the photos, there appear to be two level probes, so it is unlikely one of them is faulty. I would imagine they go to a single connector in the Gicar box, which is probably and RL30 and they are presumably joining the two probe wires together to a single connector...That said the RL30, has two connectors on it one for the boiler and the other usually used for low water detection in the water tank. This is a 5V DC current and could be used for another level probe. So they might well have two independent connections.

If either one of those connections fails, then you will get an autofill of the boiler triggered. In fact if the low water level sounder is enabled, you may even get an audible alarm briefly....as you don't mention it, it sounds like the alarm isn't enabled.

When low water is detected, the Gicar boxes are programmed to cut the power to the heating elements (and any boiler low water detection should be implemented this way).

 

This comment is worrying, because it would imply that the machine is still heating even though it's not autofilling?? I'm hoping it's a very loose turn of phrase being used and you really mean something else. Like " I realised once I couldn't pull a shot and couldn't get water from the tap, then switched the machine off"....hence only the residual heat in the boiler was causing this and the heating element was not on. If this was the case then it could be a solenoid wire, or a probe wire loose/disconnected from the Gicar, Solenoid or one of the two probes.

If you have since switched the machine on, and it heated up, and you could only get steam and no water from the hot water tap....then you have a different problem and risk exposing a heating element that isn't being switched off for some reason.

Thank you that’s very valuable. To be honest I only interacted with it for a short while before heading to work this morning but I am concerned that the heating element was still kicking in despite the boiler being too empty.

guess that might mean a problem with the control unit?? Or could it just be that there is no signal from the low water probe and so the gicar doesn’t know boiler is empty? 

i’m going to strip it down once I’ve got some spare time in a couple of evenings and see if I can see any obvious loose wires or anything.

Spoke to David at Black cat - he was of course very helpful but is on holiday at the moment so it may be a little while before we can get this fixed up.

in the meantime I can at least reassure the waiting for Vostock gang that the LSM group does seem to be as magical as described even in the lower tech Alex configuration

 

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1 minute ago, TomR said:

in the meantime I can at least reassure the waiting for Vostock gang that the LSM group does seem to be as magical as described even in the lower tech Alex configuration

 

I first saw it in the same lower tech Izzo Pompeii machine almost 19 years ago and fell in love with it then. tried to get Izzo to make a smaller 1 group Pompeii back in 2003, but that was at the time when I was completely unknown by the Italian companies. Making an Izzo Alex Leva was something they should have done 18 years ago IMO.

If what you say is correct it means 1 of 4 things

  • They don't disable the heating element if a boiler autofil is required (I can't see why they would ever do this)
  • The machine "thinks" it's water boiler is full (some problem with the probe wiring, or probe shorted (with 2 probes that seems unlikely)
  • fault in the autofill box (for such a new machine, seems unlikely)
  • It's wired wrong (unlikely, Izzo were always good with wiring)

One test you could do....unplug it from 240V mains open it up, disconnect the heating elements...Pull off an autofill  probe wire. Switch on and see if boiler starts filling (if it does stop after a few seconds). If it doesn't unplug it again and remove the other autofill probe wire. Switch on and see if boiler starts filling (if it does stop after a few seconds).

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Sticks and Stones, sours…or rancid (horrible). Quakers hide until roasted, pick em out and flick them in the bin. Life is too short for bad coffee

 

 

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am sure i read from another user of the same machine that they had tested by running low and it did disable the boiler element. 

Obviously i wouldnt assume at this point as its new, and clearly something not right.  

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Thanks to all esp Dave for advice, as ever

i disconnected/ reconnected the max/ min level probes plus solenoid cables, and gave the solenoid a few taps with a spanner in case mechanism stuck (????)

surprisingly it worked! 
 

boiler refill kicking in normally again

 

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How's it been since @TomR?

I got a Izzo Valexia today, was a toss up between that and the Vesuvius EVO but its price went up, the Valexia was EOFY reduced with wood trim and joysticks and thought if I get the EVO first, I'll have nothing left to upgrade to. And I couldn't wait to enter leverdom. :)

Also noticing boiler behaviour I don't understand yet. Different than yours, but water tap gets to a stage where it's just steam despite grouphead shower being fine. Refill doesn't kick in.

If I take off the min probe, solenoid starts sounding like it's straining rather than a definite click, temp stays at the set 122°C for about 30 seconds and then starts dropping to 117. Then solenoid makes a definite click, temp continues to drop to a minimum of 112 before turning the corner and increasing up to 122 again. The straining noise sounds similar to when an electric motor is jammed but maybe that's just the solenoid activated sound? Can't say I've heard it on previous machines, but they've had rotary pumps masking the noise.

 

Edited by shimon
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Same thing with my water tap. I presume once the level in the boiler drops so that the end of the water pipe is near the boiler water surface you get a mixture of water and steam coming through. 

 

my solenoid just makes a clear click-clunk when it opens then again to vlose about 30-40? Secs later  - boiler  Temp then drops about 10 degrees and takes a minute or two to recover  

 

could your solenoid be a bit sticky???

im running at 119 with medium/ dark roasts and using a quick flush to warm the group for lighter ones

How are your early shots?

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Hmmm, could be sticky if yours make a definite click to open (what I would expect). I take a video tomorrow morning.

Machine was set to 130°C upon first power up - bit suspicious it had been used at least a few times despite being advertised as new as the machine was a bit wet upon unpacking. Slapped a thermocouple in the flow of water and although not representative of brewing temp, the 98°C it was reading was going to be way too hot. 

Dropped it down to 122
°C so I also didn't get milk on the ceiling. The two hole tip on it had quite large holes, so swapped it to the 3 hole from the tip kit.

First shot on a medium roast was for getting some bearings - same 19g and grind I used on the Synchronika a few hours early. Took a long time for first drops but surprisingly got a stream going. Felt that would have chocked on my other machines. It was a sink shot nonetheless.

Loosened the grind, same 19g, much better extraction but was mucking around with steaming and forgot to reject the rubbish.

3rd loosened again, touch fast, 36g in the cup, drinkable, but a bit weak with 4 oz milk.

Very dry pucks which I didn't expect given there's no 3-way but I guess if water in chamber runs out before springs fully restored, it will be dry. Is that what you're finding?

 

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Yes very dry pucks. Im finding that duration of pre infusion makes a big difference to both extraction rate and taste  - no surprise

previously (robot) i ran PI until first drops. This seems to over extract and im running with 10 secs then lever up to try not mess with too many variable

i think the higher pressure extraction is very different from 6-8 bar. Easy to over extract darker roasts 

 

however i had a 90 second 1:1 ristretto, monsooned malabar, drip drip drip. It was the most delicious espresso i have ever had *shrugs*

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Upon closer inspection I do get a click at the start of the boiler refill.  So I feel like the solenoid is working, I just don't understand what algorithm the boiler uses to refill. 

Tonight I had the machine on for about an hour - water tap spluttered immediately upon opening - no meaningful output of water. Refill then kicked in a few minutes later.

I would have thought the min. boiler level be above the bottom of the hot water pipe.

The Synchronika also had me scratching my head, stealing the pump for the steam boiler refill in the middle of an extraction if steaming took it low. Shot wrecked, so I got into the habit of triggering the refill on purpose prior to a shot.

Edited by shimon
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It may be possible to pull up the low level probe so the boiler does not get as empty before refill kicks in

 

 

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This one does lift quite easily fortunately.

I think that's the best compromise. Before I would get about 700 mL from max to min, needing to get to a very spluttery, just about full steam stage the refill would kick in immediately. Otherwise at a poor but tolerable flow rate, I'd have to wait a minute or so for it to kick in - like there's a capactive circuit involved with the saturated steam slowing reaching the refill voltage refill threshold.

Now I've made it around 500 mL - more frequent refills but of course quicker recoveries. Might even go lower. Will play. Thanks - intriguing.



 

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On 16/06/2021 at 14:52, shimon said:

Upon closer inspection I do get a click at the start of the boiler refill.  So I feel like the solenoid is working, I just don't understand what algorithm the boiler uses to refill.

For this and other posts, I feel I ought to clarify what happens on a boiler fill, certainly on most machines I've worked with. There was a chinese one that didn't work like this and they added an extra pump just to fill the steam boiler...which meant cold water was continually being injected when steaming...a very bad Idea, I told them that, but they didn't listen.

The autofill probe when uncovered (water level drops below the tip), starts the autofill process of the boiler. The control for this in most machines is the black box we refer to as the brain, autofill box whatever. These are made by Gicar, Giemmie, Proelind, but they all do the same thing.

  • Autofill process starts when probe tip is uncovered
  • Box senses when probe tip is covered by water (resistance to earth 5V DC sensing)
  • Auto fill continues for n seconds (programmed into firmware, by box manufacturer)
  • Machine slightly overfilled above probe tip

They do this, because if they stopped and started as soon as the probe tip was covered, the pump would be continually stop/start when steaming and reduce steaming power. A slight overfill (timed) helps a machine steam for a while before an autofill is initiated. It's also why drawing a large amount of water, always initials an immediate autofill, where drawing 20ml might not.

Machines usually overfill in the range 30 - 80ml, often depending on pump type.

 

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Sticks and Stones, sours…or rancid (horrible). Quakers hide until roasted, pick em out and flick them in the bin. Life is too short for bad coffee

 

 

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Thats that clears up my understanding considerably 

 

alex Leva has a low and a high level probe- presumably the refill duration is not timed, but switched off when the high level probe is covered / i guess refill time very dependent on water line pressure so a single probe timed refill would not work

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