Saturday, May 11, 2013

Fixing my Coffee Machine

Fixing the DeLonghi Rialto EAM 4500 fully automatic expresso machine.

Difficulty Level (Easy, Medium, Hard, Insane):

Other blog post/fixes for the same model cappuccino machine:
Last night I wanted to make a cup of coffee and join my son out on the deck for some daddy-son chats when the machine all of a sudden stopped working.

I've had to fix this machine before for various issues, which I consider regular "maintenance" but today it was sounding like it worked but no water came out.

After taking it apart and tracing the water lines it became apparent quite quickly that a "T-connector" had cracked and kinked one of the water lines.

About a year ago, Chris M, a wonderful coworker of mine, had given me an old broken Kuerig machine. I tried to fix it but it was too far gone so I stripped it of all its parts and put them all in a cardboard box. Lucky for me, there was a T-connector that would perfectly replace the one that was broken on my machine.

Once the machine was opened up, it was just a matter of taking off 3 clamps with a set of pliers, pull out the broken connector, put in the "new" connector and put the clamps back. After mounting the coffee machine panel with 6 screws it was all done and ready for many more coffees.

As a side note, I entered into diagnostics mode for fun to see how many coffees were brewed and I was blown away that we are at 14,340 cups of coffee and 3320 liters of water in just about 5 and a half years of owning the machine.

Considering that I save about $1.25 per cup of coffee, we already saved $18,000 by making our own coffee! I think the initial $800 investment has paid off!!!

The three silicone hoses after the T-connector was removed
The new T-connector from my coworker's Kuerig machine and two of the clamps
The machine after it was all put back together
Viewer Questions:
John asked a question about a leak in the back and send me a picture with an arrow of where he's thinking the leak occurs:

He then sent me a picture of the part he thinks might need to be replaced:

My suspicion is that the leak actually occurs where the nylon hose ties into the solenoid as I had that exact same issue with a different connection (circled green):

The way it works is there's a metal retaining ring crimped onto the water supply line and a little o-ring stuck on the end of it. Then, there's a small metal clip that locks onto the metal ring and holds the supply line in the connector. What I had to do is actually double up on the o-rings and stick two o-rings on the end of the protruding water line which sealed up once I pushed it into the connector and locked it in place with the little metal clip.

Here's a diagram of the connector:

I looked through my pictures and I couldn't find one where I actually took it apart but I do remember it well because there were a few places where I had to double up on the o-rings. I hope this helps someone else...

Needle nose pliers



1/2 hr


I love my coffee machine!!!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Building Tables and Benches for the Church Nursery

I was asked if I could whip up some seating arrangements for the 2-4 year old class at church. They even provided some nice instructions ( After purchasing the wood I got side tracked with my metal lathe and my parental leave was over quicker than expected. However, since I had committed to do up these tables/benches within a few weeks I took my first long weekend after going back to work to tackle this project.

Difficulty Level (Easy, Medium, Hard, Insane):

The building was fairly straight forward, but it did take quite a bit longer than I expected. After all, four tables and eight benches don’t build themselves, not if you want it done properly anyways.

The most time-consuming part was actually the preparation and cutting up of all the needed pieces. I had bought just regular lumber but since the kids would be sitting on and working at the benches/tables I didn’t want any rough surfaces with potential splinters so I had to put them all through the thickness planer.

After that, they had to be cut up into the proper length, glued and nailed then screwed together for extra durability.

The table tops were made out of 5/8” MDF and the benches were simple 2x8’s.

I had agreed to build the tables but I knew I’d be pretty busy so I had agreed with the condition that someone else would do the painting. After I dropped off the tables/benches at the church someone else came and routered the table and bench tops and painted them a bright blue and red. I think they turned out quite nicely. Now I can’t wait to see them in action in the kids class


The mother load of all lumber
Planing the support pieces nice and smooth
I did up a quick jig considering I had to make 12 leg units
After all the leg units were built
Attaching the middle shelves to the legs
After the top frame was built and the table top attached
The finished product
Love the color! It's so bright; perfect for the kids
The 8 benches
The 4 tables
The underside of the bench was fortified with triangular pieces of wood, then glued and nailed

Finished in the classroom

Chop saw
Table saw
Air nailer
Measuring tape
Thickness planer
Belt sander
Cordless drill
Drill bits

3 sheets of 5/8" MDF

$252.88 plus paint


Not sure how much they would have cost if we bought them but my guess is that at $100/each we saved about $150


I think they look amazing

Friday, May 3, 2013

Fixing the Van's Instrument Cluster

Mel's dad gave us their previous van (2005 Pontiac Montana) because they bought themselves a sweet new ride. He's wanted to get rid of it because the inspection is coming up in June 2013 and there were over $1500 worth of repairs necessary to pass inspection (wheel bearing - $200, rocker panels - $500, instrument cluster - $850). So he said we could have it if I fixed it up, then sell it and use the extra money for home schooling curriculum and expenses.

Today's blog post is about the instrument cluster. Dad was quoted $850 to replace the cluster because the temperature gauge was acting up. Once he gave us the van I did some research and found out that it's actually a quite common occurrence with these vehicles and fortunately, the fix was quite easy and rather cheap.

Difficulty Level (Easy, Medium, Hard, Insane):

The first thing I had to do was taking off the trim around the panel, loosen 4 screws, unplug 2 plugs and the panel came right out.

The second thing was to pry open the little plastic latches, take off the needles with a fork (learned that on youtube at 2:06).

The third thing was to de-solder the 4 pins of the broken motor

The fourth thing was to re-solder the 4 pins of the replacement motor

The last thing was to put it all back together


The cluster after it was removed
The rear of the panel with the 4 stepper motors visible
The plastic covering the needles
The front of the panel where the stepper motor pins came out
The four stepper motor pins marked with a blue marker
A braided soldering wick. I bought one on ebay for $3 bucks but it didn't get here in time so I just braided my own with some stripped copper wire
After I got the broken motor out I re-drilled the holes with a tiny drill bit. I bought the entire set at princess auto for 2 or 3 bucks a couple of weeks ago; didn't think I'd need them this soon
The opened up stepper motor that was broken. It is only about 1" diameter. The replacement motor only cost a couple of bucks on ebay and took about a week to get here
After it was all put back together. Easiest $850 bucks I've made ever!

Soldering iron
Soldering wick

Replacement stepper motor (X27-168)




Works great