CSI-CoffeeCrew - Chapter Two

Do read or re-read chapter one for some essential background. A grinder purchase gone way awry...

Just when you think things are bad, they get worse. I am thinking of that old expression: "If it wasn't for bad luck - I wouldn't have any luck at all."

It looks like the national distributor is not going to do anything for me. And not only that that, they are not talking to me either.

Next action is to go up the chain of command. I sent a polite email to the manufacturer's world distribution office in Spain and tell them I have a possibly bad grinder and that one of their international distributors is not being helpful.

I get a quick and authoritative reply saying they will handle the situation with their overseas office and will get back to me.

Hmm...that's two and a half weeks ago. No response from them or anyone.

And of course, my second spout is rapidly deteriorating as it is vibrating itself to pieces. Where am I going to get parts? What about a warranty? The first spout lasted one week, the second lasted less than three weeks. Why is that top burr flopping around in the breeze and where is that vibration coming from?

It's time to tear down the grinder, do a post-mortem and see what's going on.

Remove the worm gear first. Easily done - just two large phillips screws and its off. Wiggle the top burr - yes lots of vertical free play there. How are are you going to get good grind quality if the burrs aren't parallel or held rigidly?

The top burr comes off easily - unscew it counter-clockwise and its off. The burrs look fairly substantial and well made. Nothing broken, no broken teeth or anything amiss it seems. Check the burr threads. Looks OK. Same for the burr carrier threads. Clean out the grounds with a vacuum cleaner. Clean any stray coffee particles out of the threads with a brush.

I remember that some Rocky owners had some issues with burr play, so I buy some teflon tape and wrap it around the threads. It was a little difficult to get the top burr threaded properly with the tape, but it gets done. Yes, the tape helps with the burr play, but it sometimes makes the burr difficult to turn.

Unfortunately, the tape trick only works for about a week. I guess the back and forth adjustment of the knob, eventually wears out the tape. The free play issue has returned..

Time to tackle the plastic spout. There is a single small screw attaching the spout to the metal body. This plastic tab is starting to crack. Perhaps some sort of a rubber insulating washer under that tab would help protect it from vibration. The burr carrier is integral with a square metal plate. The metal plate is scewed down at all four corners. The screw holes are either a bit large or slightly slotted so I was able to move the burr carrier towards the back of the grinder body by a few millimeters or so. This took pressure off the plastic spout and after doing some careful wiggling, it pulls straight out.. There's a foam gasket that forms a tight seal between the spout and the metal chute of the grinder.

Closer inspection shows the cracking starts underneath the spout and spreads horizontally out from the centerline of the spout. I tried some repairs using "super glue" but it it just didn't help. Curiously, the cracking starts on the inside surface of the spout rather than on the outside surface. I see a shattercone forming. From a layman's eye, it looks to me like a vibration problem.

Now here is something interesting. I was having difficulty getting the lower lip back into the grinder and just as a lark, I lifted the burr carrier a bit and in went the spout! This means that the full weight of the burrs, the burr carrier, the metal plate and motor is resting on the lower lip of the plastic spout!

Egad! No wonder the plastic spout is cracking.

If you peer up the spout you can see the side of the burrs. You appreciate just how close the burrs are together at an espresso setting. I turned on the motor and watched. Hmmm. is that a wobble? Hard to tell looking at something going 700 rpm.

In any case, my grinder teardown was educational but really didn't reveal much about the problem(s) except possibly, the lower lip of the spout bearing the weight of the grinder.

It took a long time to dial in the correct grind setting. If I were to do it again, I would tighten the two burrs together by hand and count the number of revolutions it takes to get the burrs to touch. So, if you ever have to disassemble the burrs, you can bottom the burrs and back them off by the same number of revolutions. Too bad the repair depot hadn't thought of that. Nor could they diagnose the spout problem either or the vibration or the gear binding....Worst of all they would not admit their fault in tightening the two burrs together during the last repair.

At this juncture, I have essentially, run out of options. I am not getting any help from the national or international distributors and my feeble attempts at machine diagnostics just isn't enough.

Head to chapter three.

Glenn is a senior financial consultant in Waterloo, Ontario (mad as hell -- not going to take it anymore). The CoffeeCrew web site headed by Colin Newell has graciously agreed to take up my cause. Stay tuned for further developments..