Considering buying a Brewtus IV (rotary plumbed)

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peter riess

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May 1, 2023, 1:46:54 PM5/1/23
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Seller claims she bought it new from WLL. Works well bur apparently it drips a small amount of discolored water as it warms up. Collects on counter under machine. She's never descaled it for the 8+/- yrs she's owned it. I am not sure about her water quality but she has it on a filter. 

Does the dripping raise a hairy red flag??

Thanks for any feedback!

Pitcher Pitcher

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May 1, 2023, 2:58:28 PM5/1/23
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I do not think the dripping is a sign of something major. Mine is 15 years old and it drips since I have owned it. I would have to see where it is dripping from to give you a better idea. There are some things to consider if you are going to purchase. How handy are you? Some things I would recommend doing to your machine to make it more hardy. Is the machine for the States or Overseas? The machine was built for 220 v 10 amps. The States where I live are 120 v 20 amps. The extra amps over time has caused some problems.

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peter riess

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May 1, 2023, 3:09:10 PM5/1/23
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Thanks for the reply. From her description the dripping is coming from a spot under one of the boilers. I assume it was build for the states. My biggest concern I guess is the maintenance over the last 8 yrs...

Ben McCafferty

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May 1, 2023, 3:32:56 PM5/1/23
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Hey there Peter,
I think you have some unknowns here, and the bottom line is: what discount are you getting, how willing are you to replace/repair parts, and as Pitcher said how handy are you?

I owned a B2 from new for 12 years or so (still have it, no longer in service), and now have an ECM (another E61 machine, very similar). At 8 years, you are definitely into the phase where you will be replacing things and I feel that’s to be expected. As to the lack of descaling, that may or may not be an issue—where I live, I rarely descaled my brewtus and didn’t have any buildup to mention. Definitely not the case in all areas. As an aside, I’ve been using the BWT system (WLL carries it) for maybe 6 years now and it is money well spent. No more descaling is their claim, it’s been true for me (I live in a different area now than I did with the B2 that didn’t scale, harder water here).

If it were me, I’d consider the following parts likely to need replacing relatively soon:
—both boiler elements
—overheat sensors on top of both boilers
—pressurestat
—vibe pump if it’s a vibe machine and possibly solenoid/plunger
—miscellaneous copper and silicon tubing, esp the copper tubing to the hot water boiler which is prone to clogging shut
—seals for the E61 group
—vacuum breaker for the steam boiler (this can be repaired with a simple o-ring, instead of buying the whole part from a vendor—I have a bag of 100 high temp/food grade and happy to send you one or more).
—E61 portafilter gasket and screen

Less likely but possible:
—PID
—Giemme control box
—over pressure relief valve on the steam boiler
—seals for the wands

So if you add those up, and they are less than the discount you’re getting on the machine vs. new (and you like to work on machines), I’d say go for it! In any case, you will know the machine well, and since you’ll be doing future maintenance on any machine, it’s good knowledge to have. Meanwhile, I’d just get the machine and use it, fix the leak, and then be pleasantly surprised (and money ahead) for the time that you don’t need to do the things I mentioned above.  ;)

As to Pitcher’s comment about his machine leaking since new, that is not normal in my experience. I can’t recall a leak in mine ever, unless a line blew or something like that. You should be able to chase that down and fix it, I hope you can too Pitcher! Water under the machine is one of those things that drains my energy fast—just annoys the crap out of me I guess!

One tip/suggestion—Expobar uses a liquid sealant on threads. It works great, but it sets up FAST. You have to be really quick to get things aligned, etc., especially on the pump assembly. I have always used yellow teflon tape instead (you could add teflon paste over the tape if you wish) and have never had a leak that I can recall. Just might save you a little headache/heartburn.

Best and good luck with the decision and/or new machine!

b

peter riess

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May 1, 2023, 3:51:19 PM5/1/23
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Thanks for that beta! Good info to take into consideration. The ask is $950 but, assuming the worst, I wouldn’t want to pay much more than $600-700. 

She also has some back up bits and parts, prepared for the end of the line for the brand. I gather these are no longer made and parts are harder to find than for an old Quick Mill, for example??

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Jason Scott

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May 1, 2023, 4:09:40 PM5/1/23
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They're no longer made, but the parts are all pretty universal (heating elements, steam/water controls, pstat, etc.) I think I'd be right there with you on the price. I would LIKELY pass on a leaking machine at $950, but would likely jump on it at $600-$700. The plumbed rotary IV version is quite a nice machine. My biggest gripe (which is a common one) is the lack of steam power, but there are ways to improve that with different tips/wands. I chose a higher-wattage steam element, and if the elements are due for replacement anyway, this is an option (but not a trivial option, as it does involve replacing wiring that's not intended for higher current). 

peter riess

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May 1, 2023, 4:19:34 PM5/1/23
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The Brewtus Crew is awesome, thanks all. Good to hear this as well. I’m currently using a GCP so this would be a big upgrade. Maybe a huge time suck as well.. 

Is 35min accurate for heat up time? 

Any thoughts on plumbing vs dropping the tube into a big ol jug of good H2O. Plumbing would entail splitting my the icemachine line and figuring out an inline filter and some holes in counters, walls, etc. 

Jason Scott

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May 1, 2023, 4:32:34 PM5/1/23
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Hmmm, others will have to chime in on whether or not you can just stick a hose into a water vessel. I tend to think that the rotary pump needs a minimum water pressure to function, but I could be wrong there. 
35 minutes is more than enough time to heat up. 

Adam Meade

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May 1, 2023, 4:43:42 PM5/1/23
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When I got my IV-Rotary, I stuck the hose in a jug of water for a few months until I was able to plumb it in.  No issues there.  When I did plumb it, my water pressure was too high causing a leak in the machine so I had to add a pressure regulator upstream from it.

I'll echo what others have said... you'd best be handy to own this machine.  In the 6 or so years I have owned it, I've replaced several parts including a control board, a heating element, a sensor, and for whatever reason I am averaging going through about two pressurestat per year (I buy them in bulk now). If you enjoy learning about these machines and don't mind working on them, then go for it, but if you don't, then steer clear.   On the upside, this group is extremely helpful as has been Whole Latte Love tech support.

For heat up time, mine is about 8-10 minutes for the steam boiler followed by about 10 for the brew boiler.  


peter riess

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May 1, 2023, 4:56:15 PM5/1/23
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Sounds like my old hot tub… Thanks to it, I could probably have a part time tub repair job! 

Anyway, thanks again. I’ll see if I can get it to a dollar point where it feels like a fun hobby, not a money pit. 

Ben McCafferty

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May 1, 2023, 7:02:25 PM5/1/23
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A bunch of great advice here. 

Plumbed/vs water jug. Soooooo nice to have it plumbed. Even nicer to have the drain plumbed. Having done both with my current machine, I’d never go back.

Pitcher’s advice re: bigger heating element is good; you can also adjust the pressure stat to set the steam boiler to its max, around 1.45 bar if memory serves. This made a world of difference for me vs. stock settings. 

As to the multiple failed p-stats per year (that is quite exceptional Adam!), I don’t recall the brand but we used to discuss switching to a non-stock model that was available at Chris’ Coffee and maybe Espresso Parts. It was great (Jaeger maybe?). Search my old posts and you’ll find it.

Heat time—half hour is about right, to really get the group head up to temp (which is the strength of this machine’s design, as is the case with all E61’s).

Price—$700 max sounds reasonable. You could always mention this group and the consensus here? By about 10 years of age, I was working on my machine every few months, and after about 2 more years of that, went with the ECM instead. Holy crap have they gotten expensive though! The ECM likes to eat vacuum breakers, and also they have a silicon tube that goes from the vacuum breaker to the drip tray (a nice touch, keeps the steam condensation out of the housing). That tubing rots regularly also. I’ve done one element, very easy replacement method.

By the by, I mentioned using teflon tape instead of the liquid sealant. Another plus there—you’ll get to know the joy of removing a heating element from a Brewtus if it’s glued in with the factory sealant—definitely need a friend with an impact hammer and a way to clamp the boiler in a vise without bending it. With teflon tape, the remove/replace is worlds easier.

Rotary and PID were great (I upgraded to both on my B2)—the vibe pump was a regular replacement item also; the rotary never needed work other than setting the pressure when I installed it.

Backflush weekly with cafiza—and let it soak in there for an hour under pressure if you can! It will keep your shots really nice.

Best of luck, keep us posted!
b

peter riess

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May 1, 2023, 7:16:09 PM5/1/23
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Ben, 

Every few months? That may be more that I can stand… $700 is sounding expensive at that rate.

I wonder how much time and money do you think Expobar owners are spending on annual maintenance?  

Cheers, 

Peter

Ben McCafferty

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May 1, 2023, 7:33:48 PM5/1/23
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I was definitely in the cycle of replacing almost everything on the machine. Not necessarily saying that would be your experience but if no maintenance has been done before I just mean that you may have multiple things to do as I mentioned in my first message. Sorry, not trying to be
dramatic. ;)

b
Sent from my iPhone

On May 1, 2023, at 16:16, peter riess <plr...@gmail.com> wrote:

Ben, 

Ben McCafferty

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May 1, 2023, 7:34:43 PM5/1/23
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Ps one way you can do This is just to go ahead and replace everything that can fail. Then you basically get a new machine with your own labor to blame for any failures, ha ha. That would definitely get you a period of reliability, but possibly with unnecessary expense up front. 

b

Sent from my iPhone

On May 1, 2023, at 16:16, peter riess <plr...@gmail.com> wrote:

Ben, 

peter riess

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May 1, 2023, 8:25:03 PM5/1/23
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Update - It’s been on a filtration system since it was purchased and it comes with a back stock of replacement parts. I feel pretty confident and at $600, maybe worth the future trouble? 


Ben McCafferty

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May 1, 2023, 10:00:10 PM5/1/23
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Heck yeah!
b

Sent from my iPhone

On May 1, 2023, at 17:25, peter riess <plr...@gmail.com> wrote:

Update - It’s been on a filtration system since it was purchased and it comes with a back stock of replacement parts. I feel pretty confident and at $600, maybe worth the future trouble? 

Herman Dickens

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May 1, 2023, 10:23:44 PM5/1/23
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Sounds like a good deal to me. I have one of the original BII's still running part time. 

Herman


Ben McCafferty

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May 1, 2023, 11:06:55 PM5/1/23
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Herman Dickens

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May 2, 2023, 8:25:16 AM5/2/23
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Hey Ben! It's been a while. Sorry I've been flying under the radar.

Herman


Ben McCafferty

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May 2, 2023, 10:02:03 AM5/2/23
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Same. Does that make us sort of reverse-lurkers or something? I.e. formerly active and now not?

Peter—one other thought re: warmup time—a heavy duty timer is your friend!

b

peter riess

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May 2, 2023, 10:18:57 AM5/2/23
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It’s on my ever growing shopping list...

Jason Scott

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May 2, 2023, 10:53:07 AM5/2/23
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Being on filtration is good... but still doesn't do anything to a hard water supply. Some parts of the country don't suffer from this curse, but if you're in hard water country, it's something to be aware of. 
As for the "heavy duty timer", all you need is a smart plug! I bought the Govee Smart plug, set up a quick schedule for it on my phone, and now I have a custom on/off schedule for every day of the week! It's also worth noting that I have the upgraded steam heating element that draws a FULL (measured) 2,000w of power, and the Govee has handled it just fine. I bought a 4-pack of them just in case this amount of power chewed through them, but I'm at least 6 months in on the first plug and it's working great. 
Even the control board CAN be repaired (if you're remotely handy). The 2kw steam element quickly burned out the steam heater relay on the control board, but it was trivial to simply bypass that and route the traces to an external heavy duty 20A relay. As others have said, they're GREAT machines for tinkerers! 

Herman

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May 2, 2023, 11:06:14 AM5/2/23
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Probably. Lol. This forum is one of the best ones I've been on. Lots of help on almost anything to do with the Brutus. I still managed to keep my Old B2 running and as long as I can I'll keep using it. I do have to admit the GS3 is a heck of an upgrade.

Herman

Ben McCafferty

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May 2, 2023, 11:20:20 AM5/2/23
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Hey Jason!
I’ll have to check out that Govee plug—a remodel here resulted in a few devices on a 20A circuit that shouldn’t be, I wonder if it will help. I throw a breaker once in a while when they all cycle on at once by coincidence.

Re: filtration not helping a hard water supply—it depends. The BWT does in fact claim to reduce or eliminate minerals and scale (and in my experience it lives up to that claim—both with TDS testing and with empirical results when I swapped a heating element). But just a basic water filter wouldn’t. Since BWT is specifically intended for espresso, it also has a bypass setting that lets you choose how much mineral is going into the machine and shot, so you don’t eliminate all minerals—i.e. distilled water would produce a flavorless shot, relatively speaking. Having used the BWT setup for maybe 6 years now, I’m totally dumbfounded that it’s not sold with every machine ever.

Cheers!
b

peter riess

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May 2, 2023, 11:25:31 AM5/2/23
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Jason Scott

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May 2, 2023, 12:31:54 PM5/2/23
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Oh, I didn't realize it was a BWT! That would definitely make a difference. 

Jason Scott

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May 2, 2023, 12:35:57 PM5/2/23
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Not that EXACT model, but I have used an inline softener just like that. They work exactly the same as a whole-home softener (minus the recharging ability), so from an effectiveness standpoint, they work! Plain and simple. I would regularly test for hardness using test strips. My only complaint was the very short lifespan. I could get just under one month of use on one cartridge. To be fair, though, this one cartridge fed both my espresso machine AND my drinking water faucet, so it got a fair amount of use. If you did espresso only, I think you'd find it last much longer. 

peter riess

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May 2, 2023, 12:40:16 PM5/2/23
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This would only feed the refrigerator and the B IV so I think it should/could last. I don’t have the machine on hand yet. Picking it up tomorrow. Is the hose end for the supply 3/8 male or female?

Jason Scott

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May 2, 2023, 12:45:01 PM5/2/23
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You'll PROBABLY find that it already has a hose on it, since the connection is actually through the bottom of the machine. If that's the case, the hose will be female, but if there's no hose, then the machine fitting is male. Here's a full-color parts diagram. Page 8 (figure E) shows the water hose hookup.

Ben McCafferty

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May 2, 2023, 6:12:36 PM5/2/23
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Hey Jason!
No, I don’t know whether it was BWT or not—I just meant BWT in general. You’re right that the OP said “filtration system” so it may or may not have benefitted the machine in terms of scale.

Best,
b

peter riess

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May 3, 2023, 11:02:18 PM5/3/23
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I picked up the machine and opened her up. Looks like a project! A few wiring issues, some old heat baked components, and some scary looking white buildup on the boiler.
Only paid $500 in the end... 

Attached are some images. D3659062-D4ED-498B-9C2A-5A6AB728CB10_1_102_o.jpeg46B97167-CEC5-490A-ADD0-379CB408F3B1_1_102_o.jpeg2DC417DD-D99C-43DB-8829-8B674DA9E83B_1_102_o.jpegC52FDF04-C00A-479F-BE90-E6738354ADFB_1_102_o.jpeg

peter riess

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May 3, 2023, 11:55:04 PM5/3/23
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IMG_3625.jpeg
The water supply. This must be 3/8 BSA?

IMG_3622.jpeg

This is the pipe from the boiler to the brewgroup. Might be the source of the leak? 

IMG_3618.jpeg

Is the normal looking wear and tear? 

IMG_3617.jpeg

Shouldn’t the pressure be at zero, not at 2? Machine is unplugged.

Thanks for taking a look and sharing any thoughts!

Peter

On May 3, 2023, at 9:02 PM, peter riess <plr...@gmail.com> wrote:

I picked up the machine and opened her up. Looks like a project! A few wiring issues, some old heat baked components, and some scary looking white buildup on the boiler.
Only paid $500 in the end... 

Attached are some images. <D3659062-D4ED-498B-9C2A-5A6AB728CB10_1_102_o.jpeg><46B97167-CEC5-490A-ADD0-379CB408F3B1_1_102_o.jpeg><2DC417DD-D99C-43DB-8829-8B674DA9E83B_1_102_o.jpeg><C52FDF04-C00A-479F-BE90-E6738354ADFB_1_102_o.jpeg>
To view this discussion on the web visit https://groups.google.com/d/msgid/brewtus/0315ff64-b7c6-4b21-a03a-2546ec9f55f0n%40googlegroups.com.
<2DC417DD-D99C-43DB-8829-8B674DA9E83B_1_102_o.jpeg><46B97167-CEC5-490A-ADD0-379CB408F3B1_1_102_o.jpeg><D3659062-D4ED-498B-9C2A-5A6AB728CB10_1_102_o.jpeg><C52FDF04-C00A-479F-BE90-E6738354ADFB_1_102_o.jpeg>

Ben McCafferty

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May 4, 2023, 10:11:43 AM5/4/23
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Hey there Peter!
Saw all the pics yesterday as well, none of it scares me very much. I was going to comment that you’ve found your leak when I saw the brown stains under the boiler!

The E61 internals don’t look bad to me, and much of that will be replaced anyway. It should clean up well.

The factory wiring looks really good actually—I’m guessing this machine hasn’t been on very much each day. Mine is on from about 5AM to noon, and all the white shields on the female plugs became brittle and broke off after a number of years.

$500 was a good price I think!

As to the pressure, I don’t think my B2 (nor my current ECM) ever returns to zero—that also doesn’t strike me as odd.

I think when you get the old insulation pulled and start cleaning things up, you will be pleasantly surprised. It’s like a barn find for an old moto!

Best,
b



On May 3, 2023, at 20:54, peter riess <plr...@gmail.com> wrote:

<IMG_3625.jpeg>
The water supply. This must be 3/8 BSA?

<IMG_3622.jpeg>

This is the pipe from the boiler to the brewgroup. Might be the source of the leak? 

<IMG_3618.jpeg>

Is the normal looking wear and tear? 

Ben McCafferty

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May 4, 2023, 10:12:39 AM5/4/23
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P.S. I don’t recall what the water supply is, but I think I do recall that (for the US) it’s a weird size and hard to find. 
b