Question about FrancisFrancis! X5 Espresso Machine

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Francis Francis I am having problems with my francis francis getting to temperature. I want to know where I can buy parts. I called illy on the east coast and they will not sell parts and it will cost too much money to ship it for repair. Does anyone know? My X5 won't heat up enough to froth the milk. It brews OK, but the lower light never goes off to indicate there's enough heat for the steam wand. I've read people's reports about sparks flying and so on, and while I didn't have that I did hear a little pop and smell a slight burning for a few seconds during my last successful frothing endeavor. I called Empire Fulfillment and the guy I spoke to distractedly told me (I think I was interrupting his game of Solitaire) to de-scale the machine and that would probably solve it. Nope. Did that--no dice. So, now what? I have to send it in at great expense and drive to town every morning & hunt for a parking space near Starbucks? Not pretty. But the worst part is I've only had this machine for maybe seven months. Does anyone know if this is likely a blown thermostat? And is sending it to Empire my only option??

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  • SlaterBird Oct 18, 2008

    Hey, thanks a lot! And it did in fact trip the GFCI when I moved it to another outlet. But that was a month ago; I have it back, all fixed at no cost. They honored the warranty and repaired a slew of things on it, so I'm pleased (until it happens again). So I'm only out the shipping, the insurance, and whatever I spent at StarBUCKS and Dunkin' for two weeks. Almost just bought a French press, but I knew I'd break it. My kitchen is tiny and I have precious little storage--which is another reason I chose the X5! I mainly got it because of the quality of the materials (I just won't do aluminum); little did I know of these repair issues. I should clarify, though, that I bought a refurb, so it wasn't merely seven months old--that's just how long I owned it. Just another fussy but beautiful European item with lofty maintenance requirements.



    So thanks again for your input. You know your stuff!

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Yeah, no love lost to the sole-source send-your-machine-in-with-a-wad-of-cash "Empire Fulfillment" (how's THAT for an audacious name?)

Hard experience with my machine has taught me something about the design & I will know better than to get another F-F next time. At least I know Saeco will sell you parts if you need them, for instance.

Your machine is only 7 months old? That's kind of young for this, but you may have the same counterintuitive problem I did. I was convinced my problem was in my t'stat also until I did a bunch of testing and figured out that the real problem was that the element had corroded through. I can't find one other post where I detailed the test for this, but I'll summarize: if the element is corroded through, it will still heat, but not as well, and the thermostat is bypassed and irrelevant. **** design, yes. The "neutral side" of the element heating circuit would, after this corrosion eats through the outer shell of the element and exposes the actual resistance-wire, be through the boiler water, and then through the ground wire...not pretty, and makes me wonder what WON'T pass a UL inspection. If you plug your machine into a GFCI type outlet and it trips the interuptor, well, there's your diagnosis. If not, then your guess about the tstat was probably accurate.

If my tstat were bad, I would probably try replacing it with something very different and custom, like one or two Murphy "switchgage" dashboard-style gauges (google them - high-quality mechanical gauges that have built-in adjustable temp switches). You'd need to to some severe mods to mount and wire in the gauge/s as a repair - though there is room in the stock case where the tstat is now, just barely. (Hmmm...might be a new category in your local custom motor show...) Other options may be out there, but I wasn't able to easily find a two-temperature tstat when I googled around thinking mine was bad. Honestly, I think I would rather replace the element than have to come up with a tstat fix. But then again, replacing the tstat, you'd be able to correct the basic design problem, where F-F uses the tstat to switch the NEUTRAL side, rather than the HOT side. That alone should have stopped the thing from getting a UL cert.

Posted on Oct 18, 2008

  • justin_steig Oct 01, 2011

    Thanks for the information! do you have a link or a shop that can provide me with a new or replacement Coil/element? I'm desperate to fix my X5

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@allan50: that was precisely the info I was looking for when Google took me here. My element failed by corrosion. Eerily, the machine keeps working when this happens, due to what I would term a serious design-flaw. Why? It's the neutral, and not the hot side of the power supply that gets interrupted by the thermostat in this design, leaving the hot side routed right on through the heating circuit until it can't get back to neutral- or ground, as the case may be...so to speak. When the element corrodes through within the boiler, yet remains intact electrically (as it had done in my case, who knows for how long) it uses the third wire (the GROUND, which should NEVER carry any current normally) as an alternative to neutral. Hence, the thermostat is unable to regulate anything under these circumstances! I thought my t'stat had failed, but it is actually still OK. The only thing that stops the unit from getting all Vesuvius on you then is the cheapo snap-disc hi-temp cutout. This is the only thermal-cutout on the hot side of the line, period.

I'm not sure if my X5 is UL-listed, but it would seem to me this design should never have passed. It wouldn't have been so hard to put all switching on the hot side of the line for safety.

I'll finish by piling on WRT "Empire Fulfillment." (Now THERE is truth in advertising, eh?) If these guys repaired cars, you'd have to send your car into the dealer and leave it for a week for a wiper-blade replacement. I will not buy another espresso maker from Francis-Francis (or anyone else) without finding out whether I can buy whatever parts I want to do my own repairs. I don't need to fulfill anyone's empire, thankyou very much.

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