X1 Francis 1st gen questions, cleaning

drjoeshmoe

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Feb 3, 2017
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Just purchased a used Francis X1 1st gen, built in 2001.

The machine just looked dirty, like it was stored for along time, the old lady I got it from said her kids used it, but was stored a while.

I ran 2 bottles of
[h=1]Durgol Swiss Espresso Descaler,[/h]purchased on amazon with excellent reviews,...I re-ran the descaler through multiple times,...however, once I ran it threw the milk steamer, it kept coming out dark, and very dirty, to where I did not want to put it back threw the machine.
I then ran several batches of apple cider vinegar threw (don't care about the taste/smell, I plan on rinsing alot).

Anyway, I have flushed out this machine for a very long time today, and still keep getting a mixture of white/black dirt, grime, and cloudy water from the steamer.
Can this stuff be harmful, or just plain disgusting?

I assume there was water left in the machine before stored, which is why it is so bad,.
Does anyone have any experience with this,...will I ever get the machine clean enough?

From what I can tell, the machine is working,...except the thermometer meter does not work.
My first attempt at brewing an expresso (to throw away), I set my burr grinder to the finest setting, the expresso came out at a drip,...I am new to this, but read this means your grind is too fine,...second try, and it was much better with some good crema.

The water threw the brew cycle seems pretty clean, it is only threw the milk steamer that is nasty.
Should I sell this machine as is and save for a new one?, or is there hope?

Another problem seems to be,...it drips more than it seems it should from the brew area. I attempted to dis-assemble to remove the boiler, however I really didn't have the right tools to get a socket in the tight location, and I aborted,...I wanted to see about replacing any gaskets.

Sorry for the long post,
I thank you for any info/experience.
 

shadow745

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Aug 15, 2005
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Durgol is a good descaler, just costly for what it does. Basic citric acid powder mixed with water does great. If that is an early X1 (judging by the date it is) it may have an aluminum boiler as they upgraded them to brass over time. The white/black grime you're seeing could just be oxidized scale that can happen with aluminum boilers. Just flush over and over to remove as much as possible. Worst case scenario would involve splitting the boiler halves to manually clean. I wouldn't use apple cider vinegar though, only white distilled if I had to resort to vinegar.

Those lame temp gauges didn't seem to last long on any of them. I recently bought a used/abused X1 3rd Generation and the temp gauge on it doesn't work. BTW the 3rd Gen X1 is quite nice considering it has great temp stability/control, auto boiler refill and I snagged it for a mere $30. Granted it "was" the Trio version that uses some sort of lame pod portafilter and was needing repair, which is why she sold it so cheap, but I have a non-working X5 that I swapped boiler halves/portafilter with the X1 and now have a very nice functioning X1. It is sitting idle as I stumbled onto a killer deal on a Silvia/Rocky and haven't looked back, but the X1 is a great backup.

Regarding the dirty steam discharge... Open the steam valve and just pump water through it over and over to flush that side out. Over time improper use may have caused milk to get sucked back into the steam side, causing lots of nasty buildup. That is why it's important to clean/purge the steam wand after every use. You should be able to unscrew/soak the steam wand tip. They aren't the best steam demons for a home machine, but with a bit of practice with the funky steam tip design they are capable of great milk texturing.

Dripping from the brew area could be scale buildup on the mushroom valve. Under the shower screen there should be a fitting that can be unscrewed which houses a rubber/silicone mushroom shaped stopper/spring. This is what holds back boiler pressure while the machine is ON and then allows flow to pass once the pump is activated. Over time these can get dirty/buildup of scale and won't seal correctly. If you have leaking during extraction then likely that the group gasket is the issue.

The Francis Francis machines are actually decent home machines. Parts can be costly due to supply/demand, but I have seen tons of them (machines) on eBay over the last few years that can be had for cheap parts donor machines. They aren't prosumer grade, but definitely a step above the typical consumer machines.
 

shadow745

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Aug 15, 2005
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The only complaint I have with the FF machines is the heating element design. Over time the seal between the element electrodes/insulator sleeves will break down from heat/pressure. This will let water seep up from the boiler and eventually cause a short, which is what happened with my X5. Guess this can happen with other machine brands, but seems to be quite common with the FF line. New elements aren't very costly, but I was able to get that X1 for $30 and knew based on schematics it shared the same parts with the X5, so I combined the two as I stated above to have a working machine for cheap. I have some links to a site that can help you with different X1 fixes, just have to find them and will post here when I do.
 
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drjoeshmoe

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The only complaint I have with the FF machines is the heating element design. Over time the seal between the element electrodes/insulator sleeves will break down from heat/pressure. This will let water seep up from the boiler and eventually cause a short, which is what happened with my X5. Guess this can happen with other machine brands, but seems to be quite common with the FF line. New elements aren't very costly, but I was able to get that X1 for $30 and knew based on schematics it shared the same parts with the X5, so I combined the two as I stated above to have a working machine for cheap. I have some links to a site that can help you with different X1 fixes, just have to find them and will post here when I do.


Thanks a bunch for all the info,
I removed the mushroom shaped seal last night, it did have alot of build up,....I have done alot of flushing,...but will keep it up, and hopefully will get to the point where I see nothing floating around in the water coming out.,
I do believe the previous owners (lazy kids), did absolutely no cleaning of this machine. I snagged this machine for $40 so it's worth a shot.
 
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drjoeshmoe

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Thanks a bunch for all the info,
I removed the mushroom shaped seal last night, it did have alot of build up,....I have done alot of flushing,...but will keep it up, and hopefully will get to the point where I see nothing floating around in the water coming out.,
I do believe the previous owners (lazy kids), did absolutely no cleaning of this machine. I snagged this machine for $40 so it's worth a shot.



One thing I forgot to ask...
Is it normal to get a lot of water along with the steam when using the wand?

it gets very hot, and lots of steam...but over about a 20 second period, there is enough water for a few big mouth fulls..if you were to drink it....which I refuse at the moment.
 
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drjoeshmoe

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To be more presise, I steemed into a measuring cup until the steam ran out (maybe 20 seconds)..and ended up with almost a half cup of water.
 

shadow745

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Best thing to do is when you first kick it into steam mode purge any water from the wand and once it maxes out at steam temp you should have fairly dry steam. If you have lots of water the boiler may not be getting hot enough to vaporize. Does the machine seem to heat to steam level properly with the indicator light kicking on/off? Could possibly be so much scale on the element it may not be operating very efficiently.
 
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drjoeshmoe

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Best thing to do is when you first kick it into steam mode purge any water from the wand and once it maxes out at steam temp you should have fairly dry steam. If you have lots of water the boiler may not be getting hot enough to vaporize. Does the machine seem to heat to steam level properly with the indicator light kicking on/off? Could possibly be so much scale on the element it may not be operating very efficiently.


The machine does get plenty hot enough for steam, and the light does go on and off. Is it normal for the light to come back on during the steam process?
after 2 days of descaling and rinsing, the brew mode is nice and clean, and the steam wand only occasionally has a few white specks floating in there.
 

shadow745

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Yes it's normal as that is an indication steam is being consumed and more is needed. Don't try to steam a large volume of milk at once though as most small boiler machines aren't designed to handle more than maybe 4-6 oz of milk at a time. Once you switch the steam off be sure to run the pump every time to refill the boiler (with steam valve open to flush it out) until you have flow again. So many mistakes are made from this not being done and it will lead to element burnout.
 
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drjoeshmoe

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Yes it's normal as that is an indication steam is being consumed and more is needed. Don't try to steam a large volume of milk at once though as most small boiler machines aren't designed to handle more than maybe 4-6 oz of milk at a time. Once you switch the steam off be sure to run the pump every time to refill the boiler (with steam valve open to flush it out) until you have flow again. So many mistakes are made from this not being done and it will lead to element burnout.

Thanks, I am new to this,...and have not seen a manual for this machine.
In order to descale and rinse,...I have been running the steam wand alot by fully opening the steam valve, then running the pump to flush water and get out the specs that are present.
There is definitely not a very dry steam coming out.
 
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drjoeshmoe

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well that was short lived...
I made myself a pretty good latte early this morning,...now that the wife is finally out of bed, I was going to make her one as well,...noticed the outlet GFCI breaker was tripped.
The second the X! touches the outlet, the breaker trips. Sounds like the heating element is now no good.
 

shadow745

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That sucks for lack of a better word. Did this happen as a result of water seeping up from the boiler and shorting out the element electrodes? If so, there is a possibility that all the scale/gunk in the boiler was temporarily filling a void and the descaling/flushing simply unplugged the void, leading to a leak. Have read of that being an issue in machines sitting for long periods of time, not being properly cared for, etc.
 
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drjoeshmoe

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That sucks for lack of a better word. Did this happen as a result of water seeping up from the boiler and shorting out the element electrodes? If so, there is a possibility that all the scale/gunk in the boiler was temporarily filling a void and the descaling/flushing simply unplugged the void, leading to a leak. Have read of that being an issue in machines sitting for long periods of time, not being properly cared for, etc.

I ended up completely taking her apart....when I got the boiler opened, I was horrified as to what I saw, I cannot believe I drank from there, totally gross.
The heating element was fine, I found a burnt transister on the board. At that time I was pretty frustrated, since she was already apart, I decided I will just part her out and buy a new machine.
I am going to go cheap with a $75 Mr coffee (true espresso enthusiasts will probably cringe)...I may upgrade to a quality unit later on.
Thanks again for the help.
 
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