Monday, September 7, 2015

Round Jamestown Race

BB and I went to Rhode Island this weekend to participate in the Round Jamestown Race.  Marc Ladin, a friend, asked me to crew on his sailboat Jazz Bucket.  The boat is rated at 254.  That's very very very very ... slowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.  We did manage to finish 30 minutes under the cutoff time which all things considered is a considerable moral victory.  Here is a short video and  some photos of the event courtesy Marc.  Good times.  After race had dinner and awards ceremony at the Conanicut Yacht Club. Very good time after an all day sail on the water.

Jamestown - 18 miles around


L-R Josh, RJB, Dave's back
Here's Marc
Jazz Bucket moving toward the finish
Update 20150908: Links to more photos from the race and the actual race results:

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Loranzo espresso machine - the beat goes on



Parts are now ordered and hopefully will arrive in the next two weeks.

We filter and soften the water in the house.  The service guy way by today and I spoke with him about additional filtering for the espresso machine.  He thought it was a good idea.  He also suggested putting a bit of bleach through the machine to remove the taste.

When I collected the machine I also got a 3 stage filter system.  It's in rough shape (the bracket is rather rusted) but serviceable   I'll clean it up and install it in the water feed line.  This will also allow me to introduce descaler into the system.  Here's what it looks like disassembled:
Three stages.  1 2 micron filter and 2 activated carbons are the plan.
Filter holders are gross and will need to be thoroughly cleaned.
The filters proper are trash.  I can buy replacements at Home Depot or over the net.  I'll probably install a 1 or 2 micron filter and 2 carbon filters.  The filter containers are gross inside and will need a through cleaning.

Issues:
  • Should I drain the boiler?  Shoud I descale? - DEFERRED
  • Parts - OPEN
    • Karma is ordering 
      • Steam wand
      • Group head O ring
      • 2 shot basket
      • 2 shot spout
      • back flush basket
      • 3 way valve
  • Pressure gauge - Seems OK.
  • Pressurestat - Seems OK
  • Install filters

CURRENT PARTS LIST:

  • Steam wand - Looks like Espresso Parts has an after market wand at a reasonable price (>$40).  Karma will order.
  • Citric acid: I'm going to defer this for the moment.  
    • Amazon offers "Spicy World Citric Acid, 5-Pound"
    •  Are 1 or 2 tablespoons of citric acid per liter the correct concentration?
  • Portafilter - Espresso parts is a source or Dave may be able to help
    • Double basket
    • Double portafilter spout
    • Backflush disk
  • Group head gasket - Espresso Parts has part.  It is described as  RANCILIO GROUP HEAD PORTAFILTER GASKET - 74 X 57 X 8.2MM.  There is an aftermarket part as well described as "An economical alternative to the O.E.M. gasket. 73.5 x 57 x 8mm."
  • Three-way Lucifer - Parker Solenoid valve 110V 50/60Hz 9W Part number 491514P3 D400P3.
  • Filters
    • 8" filters ( 1 or 2 micron and 2 activated carbon )
    • valves to install filters as needed

CURRENT TODO LIST:

  • Buy/acquire needed parts
  • Replace three way valve
  • Replace group head gasket
  • Replace steam wand
  • Flush machine to resolve taste
  • Install filter system
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Monday, April 15, 2013

Loranzato espresso machine - leaks & three way valve


On the leak front I've fabricated a better drain arrangement.
New drain arrangement with 90 elbow to avoid crimping drain line.
Hopefully this will resolve the water problem.

I took the 3 way valve off and disassembled it.  Here's what it looks like connected with a good shot of the color codes.
Color codes on 3 way valve.
With some difficulty I was able to remove the valve.  There is a good description of the valve here.  Since the valve was not working I decided to take it apart with a view that trying to repair it.  Here's the valve partially disassembled.

Three way valve removed and partially disassembled.
I disassembled the valve guide (base and nucleus).  Here's what I found.

Disassembled base and nucleus.
When I examined it closely I found that a spring was broken.  This spring holds the valve closed.

There's a good description of 3 way valves here.  Based on this the valve is a 3 way valve with a flange body 110v coil and ruby valve nucleus.

Karma Dave said he'd order one.

Issues:

  • Should I drain the boiler?  Shoud I descale? - DEFERRED
  • Parts - OPEN
    • Karma is ordering 
      • Steam wand
      • Group head O ring
      • 2 shot basket
      • 2 shot spout
      • back flush basket
  • Drips from three-way valve - need to replace valve
  • Pressure gauge - Seems OK.
  • Pressurestat - Seems OK

CURRENT PARTS LIST:

  • Steam wand - Looks like Espresso Parts has an after market wand at a reasonable price (>$40).  Karma will order.
  • Citric acid: I'm going to defer this for the moment.  
    • Amazon offers "Spicy World Citric Acid, 5-Pound"
    •  Are 1 or 2 tablespoons of citric acid per liter the correct concentration?
  • Portafilter - Espresso parts is a source or Dave may be able to help
    • Double basket
    • Double portafilter spout
    • Backflush disk
  • Group head gasket - Espresso Parts has part.  It is described as  RANCILIO GROUP HEAD PORTAFILTER GASKET - 74 X 57 X 8.2MM.  There is an aftermarket part as well described as "An economical alternative to the O.E.M. gasket. 73.5 x 57 x 8mm."
  • Three-way Lucifer - Parker Solenoid valve 110V 50/60Hz 9W Part number 491514P3 D400P3.

CURRENT TODO LIST:

  • Buy/acquire needed parts
  • Replace three way valve
  • Flush machine to resolve taste
  • Sort out drain hose issue.
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Laranzato espresso machine - the adventure continues

On the leak front I've determines that the water came from the drip tray overflowing.  One would think this would be a simple problem to address.  One would be WRONG!  The tray is inappropriately shallow and connects to a hose that is intended to run to a sink/bucket.  Because of the machine structure the hose must make a fairly sharp bend.  It doesn't want to do this.  I'll have to work the issue a bit.

Notwithstanding the open issues I tried to pull a shot.  Discovered that the single shot portafilter basket holds about as much coffee as my home machine double shot basket!  Interesting.  Also discovered an important safety tip ... NEVER try to pull a shot on a machine with an old cracked group head gasket! If you do you'll end up with coffee mess all over.  Will now, sensibly, wait for replacement gasket.

After that misadventure the 3 way valve now leaks steadily.  I'll do a bit of research with a view to seeing if it can be cleaned or something.

Issues:

  • Should I drain the boiler?  Shoud I descale? - DEFERRED
  • Parts - OPEN
    • Karma is ordering 
      • Steam wand
      • Group head O ring
      • 2 shot basket
      • 2 shot spout
      • back flush basket
  • Drips from three-way valve - need to replace valve
  • Pressure gauge - Seems OK.
  • Pressurestat - Seems OK

CURRENT PARTS LIST:

  • Steam wand - Looks like Espresso Parts has an after market wand at a reasonable price (>$40).  Karma will order.
  • Citric acid: I'm going to defer this for the moment.  
    • Amazon offers "Spicy World Citric Acid, 5-Pound"
    •  Are 1 or 2 tablespoons of citric acid per liter the correct concentration?
  • Portafilter - Espresso parts is a source or Dave may be able to help
    • Double basket
    • Double portafilter spout
    • Backflush disk
  • Group head gasket - Espresso Parts has part.  It is described as  RANCILIO GROUP HEAD PORTAFILTER GASKET - 74 X 57 X 8.2MM.  There is an aftermarket part as well described as "An economical alternative to the O.E.M. gasket. 73.5 x 57 x 8mm."
  • Three-way Lucifer - Parker Solenoid valve 110V 50/60Hz 9W Part number 491514P3 D400P3.

CURRENT TODO LIST:

  • Buy/acquire needed parts
  • Replace three way valve
  • Flush machine to resolve taste
  • Sort out drain hose issue.
  • Try to clean 3 way valve.

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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Who cares if it's a bit chilly and a bit wet - ERICKSON'S ICE CREAM IS OPEN

A sure sign of spring, Erickson's Ice Cream is open!  Never mind lunch!  Erickson's is open!  Oh, did I mention that Erickson's is open?

First ice cream run of the year.

Laranzato espresso machine - plumbed in but still more work

Reassembled machine and with the plumbing parts in hand I've plumbed in the Laranzato espresso machine!

As with all plumbing projects this one had its moments.

The shutoff valve was up and partially behind the sink!  I'll never understand what it is with plumbers.  Are they operating on the assumption that it will NEVER HAVE TO BE MAINTAINED or what?

Managed with some effort to turn the shutoff valve off.  It leaked!  I'm rather put out with the plumber since I'd been VERY CLEAR, no ball valve fixtures that dry out then leak the first time you touch them!  Frustration mounts.

Shutoff water in house and drain pressure so that I can proceed.  Say silent prayer to the plumbing gods that I'll not have to replace the valve.  Install John Guest 3 way valve.  It's a considerable challenge since it sits on top of the shutoff valve well behind the sink.  Somehow manage to get it on and seated.

Reconnect cold water line to top of John Guest valve.  This is a serious challenge since it's WAY BEHIND the sink.  Ask plumbing gods to condemn plumber to hell long enough for him to perform such operations a few billion times.  Somehow succeed!

Turn shutoff valve back on and pray that it won't leak.  Much to my surprise it doesn't!  Today might be a good day to buy a lottery ticket since the gods of fortune seem to be smiling.

Run plastic cold water line to espresso machine and attach.  All seems well!

Install drain line.

Route power cord.

It's alive!!  It's alive!!  It's alive!!  It's alive!!  It's alive!!  It's alive!!  It's alive!!  It's alive!!  It's alive!!  It's alive!!  It's alive!!  It's alive!!  It's alive!!  It's alive!!  It's alive!!  It's alive!!  It's alive!!  It's alive!!  It's alive!!

Turn machine on and wait for pressure to come up.

Everything seems to work ok!! Joy oh joy.

Run a couple of liters of water through to flush system.

Taste water.

Yetch!!  Not good not good at all.

Run more water through.

Oops, something's leaking.

Now searching for leak.

The three way valve is dripping steadily so that may be part of the problem.  Interesting article on theory, care and feeding of three way valves here.  It appears to be a Three-way Lucifer - Parker Solenoid valve 110V 50/60Hz 9W Part number 491514P3 D400P3.  Espresso parts has them for about $80.  Ebay for about $40.

Three way valve.  Image rotated 180 so can read writing.
Part number 491514P3 D400P3

Decide not to buy lottery ticket just yet.

Need to investigate possible leak, replace three way valve, and resolve taste.


Issues:

  • Should I drain the boiler?  Shoud I descale? - DEFERRED
  • Parts - OPEN
    • Karma is ordering 
      • Steam wand
      • Group head O ring
      • 2 shot basket
      • 2 shot spout
      • back flush basket
  • Drips from three-way valve - need to replace valve
  • Pressure gauge - Seems OK.
  • Pressurestat - Seems OK

CURRENT PARTS LIST:

  • Steam wand - Looks like Espresso Parts has an after market wand at a reasonable price (>$40).  Karma will order.
  • Citric acid: I'm going to defer this for the moment.  
    • Amazon offers "Spicy World Citric Acid, 5-Pound"
    •  Are 1 or 2 tablespoons of citric acid per liter the correct concentration?
  • Portafilter - Espresso parts is a source or Dave may be able to help
    • Double basket
    • Double portafilter spout
    • Backflush disk
  • Group head gasket - Espresso Parts has part.  It is described as  RANCILIO GROUP HEAD PORTAFILTER GASKET - 74 X 57 X 8.2MM.  There is an aftermarket part as well described as "An economical alternative to the O.E.M. gasket. 73.5 x 57 x 8mm."
  • Three-way Lucifer - Parker Solenoid valve 110V 50/60Hz 9W Part number 491514P3 D400P3.

CURRENT TODO LIST:

  • Buy/acquire needed parts
  • Replace three way valve
  • Flush machine to resolve taste

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Saturday, April 13, 2013

Filing taxes - Done

I'm just about done with filing taxes and updating the three machines that still run Windows.  The Windows stuff was painful.  The taxes not so much, though it did take time.

One thing about the taxes that I'm a bit curious about.  The last few years we've gotten a federal refund but owed some state tax.  Why are Massachusetts taxes so different from federal taxes?  It doesn't make a great deal of sense particularly since some of our income is from federal securities not taxable by the state.  I guess it's just one of life's mysteries.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Laranzato espresso machine - Parts


Karma had the parts to plumb in the machine and will order the critical parts for the espresso machine.

Issues:

  • Should I drain the boiler? - DEFERRED
  • Parts - OPEN
    • Karma was able to provide plumbing parts
    • Karma is ordering 
      • Steam wand
      • Group head O ring
      • 2 shot basket
      • 2 shot spout
      • back flush basket
  • Drips from three-way valve - MOSTLY SOLVED
  • Pressure gauge - DEFERRED
    I've decided to run the machine and see what happens.  Is 1 bar a reasonable pressure reading? Is it normal for the pressure to drop to 0 when drawing 0.5 liter of hot water? The system has a 4 liter tank!  Is it normal for the pressure to take 5 to 7 minutes to return to 1 bar? Is there normally some variation between 0.7 and 1.2 bar in the returning pressure? Is it normal for the safety valve to vent a bit of steam until boiler pressure returns? Is it normal for the antivacuum retaining clip to spin like a top until boiler pressure returns after dispensing 0.5 liter of hot water?  I may need to adjust the pressure stat. Since I'm new to this I didn't know what it was/looked like. Turns out this is it.
  • Pressurestat - DEFERRED

CURRENT PARTS LIST:

  • Steam wand - Looks like Espresso Parts has an after market wand at a reasonable price (<$40).  I'll talk to Dave today and see if he can help
  • Citric acid: I'm going to defer this for the moment.  
    • Amazon offers "Spicy World Citric Acid, 5-Pound"
    •  Are 1 or 2 tablespoons of citric acid per liter the correct concentration?
  • Portafilter - Espresso parts is a source or Dave may be able to help
    • Double basket
    • Double portafilter spout
    • Backflush disk
  • Group head gasket - Espresso Parts has part.  It is described as  RANCILIO GROUP HEAD PORTAFILTER GASKET - 74 X 57 X 8.2MM.  There is an aftermarket part as well described as "An economical alternative to the O.E.M. gasket. 73.5 x 57 x 8mm."
  • Water source - Freshwater Systems has John Guest parts.  Dave may be able to supply them.

CURRENT TODO LIST:

  • Continue cleaning, cleaning, cleaning - I've got the machine mostly clean but need to go over it with some solvent to remove grease.
  • Reassemble machine
  • Buy/acquire needed parts
  • Plumb in machine

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Filing taxes - Hateful Windows updates

I actually don't mind filing taxes proper, but the process is a bit painful.

It starts with Windows.  I use Turbotax that runs only on Windows/Mac.  Now I don't have a Mac so I keep a boot of Windows on a couple of machines.  Day to day, however, I run Ubuntu.  The net of this is that the Windows installs don't get updated.  Step 1, then is to update Windows.

To say that this takes time is a monumental understatement.  Rather like saying that sending a spacecraft to the moon takes time.  I'm now about 3 hrs into installing sequential updates and hope to finish in about another hour with no more than 4 or 5 reboots.

As if it wasn't painful enough, the Windows updater is both slow and uninformative.  It's hard to tell if there is an update in process or what.  A web search yields a sort of solution, but really, shouldn't there be some status display.

Downloading Turbotax is simple enough, but it, rather reasonably, doesn't want to install while an update is in process.  So we wait, then wait, then wait, and then wait some more while Windows update does its work.

Along the way, Norton is screaming about being out of date since my Norton subscription is out of date.  It came with Comcast/Verizon but since I no longer use Comcast ( I happily fired them ) and Verizon has decided in its ill advised way to charge $10/month for a $60/year product that I don't really need I have to de-install it.  Since I don't much use Windows it makes sense to depend on the Microsoft Security Suite. Getting rid of Norton takes yet more time and another reboot or two.  During the de-install the machine can't be turned off.

Now nearly 4 hours later, I can install the previously downloaded Turbotax!  Now things get easy and I can file our tax returns.

Well, not so quick!  Turbotax needs to do its own updates.  I'm not entirely sure why since it was just downloaded.  But there is hope.



Tax time

Even the retired need to file! Nuf said!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Flame: Router failed, dealing with Verizon is painful

We use Verizon FIOS for internet and phone.  Basically, I like it.  Internet speed is good and the phone works.  No issues.

Sadly, the FIOS internet router recently started acting up.  It's Verizon equipment so I called them and had a somewhat inappropriate experience.

First, I tried to find a service number online.  There online presence would glaldly sell me something or direct me to some automated help site but did not provide an actual phone number!  If I live forever I'll never understand why companies, particularly on their help site, don't provide a phone number.  Really guys, your customer, you know the one you paid a lot of money to acquire and would like to retain so you don't have to pay a lot of money to replace them has a problem and needs help!  Failure to provide help does not improve the chance that the customer will continue to do business with you!  It really really really doesn't!!

Oh well, I dialed 1 800 VERIZON.  Go through a couple of IVR menu layers and get another phone number to call.  Now lets go slow here, Verizon is the phone company.  They know how to transfer calls.  I've seen them do it.  But no, lets not deliver service.  Instead lets deliver the implied message that we don't want to deliver service.  Dumb!

Call the second number, go through several more layers of IVR menus to get to one involving service for internet connections.  Help is just around the corner ... NOT!  Verizon wants to verify my account (never mind that when I finally do get to a human they'll ask me the same questions notwithstanding that I'm calling from a Verizon cell phone whose number will be used to pull up the account).

OK, lets verify the account.

Verizon wants to know my 10 digit account number, you know the one on your most recent bill.  That's right, the bill you don't have since you pay your bills online and Verizon wants you to use paperless billing.  Also, lets not worry that 10 digits is a BIG number.  Lets see, there are more or less 7 billion people on the planet so 10 digits is big enough that we each get one and some of us can get two.  Not to worry, they will verify based on the exact amount of the last bill.  Duh, if I don't have the bill and I can't get online what makes you think I know the last amount?  Dumb!

OK, lets try pressing 0 a few times to get out of the IVR to a human.  Verizon's IVR is dedicated to its programming.  'I don't understand that response' a few times in response to my pressing 0.  Things are not looking at all good.

Surprise, there are some clicks on the line.  It seems that the IVR system will time out.  Hurrah!  Of course the implied message is 'Verizon is willing to waste the customers time but will reluctantly let the customer speak to a human'.

Human answers!  Hooray!  Human verifies account based on my cell phone number.  Human wants to help but assumes I'm a nob.  I explain that I actually know what I'm doing, at least a bit.  Human has flow chart to address this class of problem and insist on following it.  Oh well, at least there's hope.

Go down several obviously blind paths, go up and down between ground and 3rd floor several times (try to convince myself that's it's really part of my health plan), clear my browser cache unnecessarily, try a different browser on a different machine, reboot twice, reboot router twice, ... .  Last reboot of router cures symptom.  Human says all is well and the classic 'Can I help you with anything else today?'

Bite tong and carefully explain this is the second time in two days this has happened.  Related problems have been happening for some time.  I'm happy about the symptoms being fixed but lets try to fix the problem.  How about a new router?  Human says OK!

Success!

Now to give Verizon their due, they expedite shipping and I got the replacement router the following day!  Now all I have to do is install it and ship the old one back.
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Laranzato espresso machine - continued

Sadly I didn't get any more feedback from Home Barista.com.  However, the one response I got was extremely helpful. Anyway, I'm blundering along on my own.

Should I drain the boiler? - DEFERRED

For the moment I've decided not to drain the boiler and use the machine as is. I've run a fair bit of water through so it should be reasonably flushed. Likewise I'll defer descaling.

Rust on near the steam and hot water valves - SOLVED

With the machine cleaned up this appears to actually be coffee! Examination of the group head revealed that the group head gasket is hard and cracked. It probably sprayed coffee which got up into the machine. There are no signs of rust on the valves or the frame so I'm fairly confident it's coffee.

Parts sources - OPEN


I called/emailed the suppliers I'd identified. Looks like Espresso Parts is the pick of bunch. The others appear to be fairly small operations.

Drips from three-way valve - MOSTLY SOLVED

Doesn't appear to be a problem.  I'll run the machine and deal with it if it becomes an issue.

Pressure gauge - DEFERRED

I've decided to run the machine and see what happens.
  • Is 1 bar a reasonable pressure reading?
  • Is it normal for the pressure to drop to 0 when drawing 0.5 liter of hot water? The system has a 4 liter tank!
  • Is it normal for the pressure to take 5 to 7 minutes to return to 1 bar?
  • Is there normally some variation between 0.7 and 1.2 bar in the returning pressure?
  • Is it normal for the safety valve to vent a bit of steam until boiler pressure returns?
  • Is it normal for the antivacuum retaining clip to spin like a top until boiler pressure returns after dispensing 0.5 liter of hot water?
  • I may need to adjust the pressure stat. Since I'm new to this I didn't know what it was/looked like. Turns out this is it.

Pressurestat - DEFERRED

  • So now I know what it is I need to decide if it should be adjusted, to what, and how. 

Filter holder gasket - OPEN

I spoke to a service tech.  There is one but it's cooked and cracked.  I'll need to replace it.

Water source - OPEN

I've decided to plumb the machine in and will get parts from Dave if possible.

CURRENT PARTS LIST:

  • Steam wand - Looks like Espresso Parts has an after market wand at a reasonable price (<$40).  I'll talk to Dave today and see if he can help
  • Citric acid: I'm going to defer this for the moment.  
    • Amazon offers "Spicy World Citric Acid, 5-Pound"
    •  Are 1 or 2 tablespoons of citric acid per liter the correct concentration?
  • Portafilter - Espresso parts is a source or Dave may be able to help
    • Double basket
    • Double portafilter spout
    • Backflush disk
  • Group head gasket - Espresso Parts has part.  It is described as  RANCILIO GROUP HEAD PORTAFILTER GASKET - 74 X 57 X 8.2MM.  There is an aftermarket part as well described as "An economical alternative to the O.E.M. gasket. 73.5 x 57 x 8mm."
  • Water source - Freshwater Systems has John Guest parts.  Dave may be able to supply them.

CURRENT TODO LIST:

  • Continue cleaning, cleaning, cleaning - I've got the machine mostly clean but need to go over it with some solvent to remove grease.
  • Buy/acquire needed parts

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Laranzato espresso machine - progress

I've mostly finished cleaning the machine though I need to wipe it down with a food safe solvent such as alcohol.

One of the mounting brackets fatigued and broke.  I fabricated a brace and repaired it.

I've identified the parts I need and have lines on a couple of sources.

I've decided to plumb the machine and have started working on identifying and securing parts.

All and all things are encouraging.