Sunday, August 14, 2011

Mini Vivaldi Strip

Now that the Cremina is running smoothly, it gives me some time to strip my main machine...my Mini Vivaldi. Here's how she looks just before the strip:



It's been a fantastic Latte machine, and has performed flawlessly for the last 3 years when I bought it new. Still, I figured it was time to open her up and poke around inside. I figure I'll remove some caked on dust and at the same time, see if there is anyhting that needs my attention.

Mine is a 2009 Mini Vivaldi. It has a sealed boiler (drain was added in 2010). Even with no drain. it's rather easy to add descaler. But you can't remove the top like on the regular Vivaldis with the bigger boiler to "physically" remove scale (which is often required if the scale develops any thickness). I understand why they did this, since it saves space and also cost. So this means you have to be careful to use soft water (5 grains or less), to avoid too much scaled build-up. At the same time, I believe this whole "scale" issue is a bit exaggerated. After all, while I've used a water softener for the last 3 years, I've looked at the heater coils in the steam boiler after I've removed the vacuum breaker, and it looks perfectly scale free (copper colour coil). Still, my plan is not really to decale the steam boiler (since I can do this simply using a funnel and syphon tube and removing the top cover only). I'd like to get inside the brew boiler, since this is the most expensive part of the machine and has been "on" for at least 10 times as much as my steam boiler (which I only turn on for 5 minutes when making a milk drink). This ability to turn  on the steam boiler briefly "on demand" and be ready to make steamed milk in less then 4 minutes is what makes the Mini Vivadi the best home espresso machine in the world (in my opinion of course).

The top, front and sides all come off very easily with any screwdriver (now that the side panel design has been changed so they are held in place with easily accessible top screws). Here's what it looks like from the back with the covers removed:


That's all for now. It just got sunny outside so it's time to go bike an dplay with the kids. More stripping later!

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