TIPS, HINTS and UPDATES
After two years of rebuilding perhaps 100 Olympia Creminas and reviewing our full Cremina rebuild guide I am still content with the guide as a good primer on DIY Cremina rebuilding. This guide has helped many people go from nervous nellies about tackling such a job to competent Cremina mechanics, and we are so very pleased with this result! We have added various videos and other small guides for specific issues and hope that these are helpful as well. Now (9/23/2010) we would like to offer some thoughts based on what has turned out to be extensive hands on experience at rebuilding Olympia Cremina espresso machines.
First, get your tools in order.
We use only the mini snap ring pliers. The black handle plier is ideal for inserting the rod seal seeger clip as it comes out of the package. The red handle plier is used on the lever pin clips. Take the time to custom fit the tips of these pliers in the lever pin clip holes.....scrape the paint from the tips with a blade and sand or file the tips to get a perfect fit in the clip holes (the older clips have slightly smaller holes than the new ones). Use the ring plier at a direct 90 degree angle to the clip....once you are certain a good fit has been made of the tips in the clip holes open the clip very slightly and lift straight off the pin.
If at all possible use only fixed size open end wrenches and avoid Crescent wrenches or other adjustables. We do show crescent wrenches in our photos but this was done in an attempt to include the tool deprived individuals in the world of espresso machine repair.
A good mechanic can repair a car with a hammer, a piece of wire and a pair of pliers, and you can rebuild your Cremina with about the same tools....but tool up and you will not regret it!
Over time we have constantly upgraded replacement parts. These upgrades include a silicone group to boiler o ring seal...it simply lasts longer than the rubber part. The use of a teflon ring at the pressure safety valve replacing the copper washer. And the use of silicone o rings to seal the water sight glass upper and lower. We did this in each case because the upgrade part was easier to install and more durable than the originals, taken from Olympia spec sheets as a guide. For each case allow us to make a short guide to installation of these parts.....
Group to Boiler Silicone O ring
To install this part one needs to roll it into the seal groove on the back of the group. Place one edge in the groove and grasp the other edge with your fingers and roll backwards so when you push the o ring into the groove it will be flat. If you simply try to push it into place it will pop out....you need to roll the uninstalled side of the ring so once installed it will not be twisted. If it stays in place you have installed it correctly.
Pressure Safety Valve Teflon Ring
For us this upgrade is a big improvement over the copper crush washer. Simply place the ring into the machined indentation around the safety valve hole on top of the sight glass and hand thread the valve into the socket. Using a 17mm wrench tighten until snug. No hammering is required. Once you pressure test the machine you may need a bit more tightening of the safety valve if you detect a leak or bubble but generally another 1/8 to 1/4 turn will seal. If for any reason you need to remove the pressure safety valve you can re use the teflon seal over and over. The copper washer was one of the most difficult seals to get completely leak free and we are glad to be shed of it!
Silicone O Ring Sight Glass Seals
This upgrade has been a vast improvement in the ease of installation of the sight glass. We include 2 upper and 2 lower rings in our parts kit. If you have a machine that includes the small brass washer under the sight glass nut then you will likely need only one top and bottom...if your machine has no brass washer under the nut then you will need to use 2 in both the top and bottom. To install (after cleaning the threads of the brass sight glass nuts) simply push the 2 rings into the lower socket then insert the glass through the top. When the tube protrudes from the upper socket install the upper rings on the tube followed by the upper nut and work these parts UP the tube as you work the tube DOWN. Place the lower nut on the tube before it enters the lower socket. Once you have seated the glass tube all the way down into the lower socket start the lower nut. Do not tighten it, just catch the first thread. Then push the upper o rings into the upper socket using the upper nut as a tool. Catch one thread of the upper nut. It will help to put a drop of DOW 111 on the LOWER edge of the nuts before starting them (to lubricate the surface of the nut that touches the ring).. Align the red or blue stripe in the back of the socket taking a visual from directly in front or a 90 degree visual when viewed from above. Tighten the 17mm nuts with a wrench until snug in the upper and lower sockets until the glass can not be turned by hand. Very simple installation compared with the old parts.
After completely rebuilding the machine it should be leak tested. Fill the boiler half full and turn it on. As it heats up wait, look and listen. Any leak will be evident. The usual suspect is the pressure safety valve and it may require a small tightening but will generally be easy to seal. When the machine is hot be sure to lift the lever (with a vessel under the group) to assure that the piston and rod seals are seated properly. Listen for any hissing or odd sounds.
Re Tighten After Heat Cycling
We like to run a machine intermittently for a couple of days after a rebuild to give the seals a chance to seal and the metal parts a good period of heat so they can expand and contract a number of times. After some period of heat check the fittings to make sure they are tight. Remove the pstat and check the sight glass nuts for tightness, then replace the pstat. Turn the machine over and check tightness of the boiler bolts, again using an X pattern to get them even. You may need to check again in a few weeks time. It is better to expect to address the sight glass seals again than to over tighten the nuts on a one shot deal. Over tightening reduces the life of the seal and can lead to some severe headaches down the line for your next seal replacement, which WILL happen sooner or later as long as you own, use, and enjoy the machine.
A BIT ON ELECTRICAL ISSUES
To do a DIY on it you more or less have to follow the circuit and eliminate possibilities as you go.
First check all the wires to make sure they are not loose or burned looking.
If there was no know overtemperature event then eliminate by logic a burned element or some tragedy of this order.
Start at the switch and unhook the two terminals on the top orientation of the switch (the bottom two spade terminals come from the power cord and the top two are the cold side of the switch). Using a multitester set on ohms check the switch. When turned ON is there continuity through the switch? Test with probes on lower and upper terminals on each side of the switch. If switch good move on.
Go to pstat...the microswitch may be stuck. When you push up and down on the silver U shape spring does the switch click? When the machine is cold the switch should read continuity, or ON. If it does not read ON then the little plastic button may be sticking. Unhook wires and check with meter. If this switch is working fine then move on to the thermal safety switch.
Unhook wires and check with tester. It should read continuity If so it is fine.
Go to element and unhook terminals (careful do not bend metal rods) test with meter. You should get a steady reading of 12.5 ohms with no wander of the reading. This means element good, Now put meter lead on one terminal and the other on the base of the boiler. You should get NO reading and if you get an ohm reading with this test the element has a repairable short. If you get ohm reading from terminal to base plate observe the behaviour of ohm reading....does it wander all over or remain steady?
If you have no element short move on to the pilot light....unhook terminals and test. It should read continuity...the light bulb is part of the neutral circuit and if the bulb is burned out it will not heat.
Those are all the tests and besides a bad power cord (which would throw your circuit breaker) it cannot be anything but these components I have listed and one must be bad and the repair is simple. Take your time, don't break any parts and all will be good. Let me know what you find out and we can go through any and all solutions.
If you get stuck, have a crisis of confidence, or just need clarification just email and ask....always glad to help!
Barb and Doug