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Cleaning individual parts such as the loading chute cover and front cover occasionally does help, But there are times when a Hottop roaster deserves a thorough cleaning. How often that should take place varies with numerous factors to consider, such as:
How dark you roast.
The moisture level of the beans
How much chaff the beans throw off
How often you roast (roasts per month)
There is no way to give you specific time tables as to how often is often enough. The best way to find out is to partially disassemble and clean the roaster after about 6 months, or if you roast a lot, maybe after 50 roasts. A visual inspection and a bit of common sense will tell you if it needs cleaning now or if it can wait. Based on what you find during that inspection, you can set up a cleaning schedule to keep your Hottop Coffee Roaster working for years to come.
Removing the main fan and rear cover to inspect the inside of the rear portion of the machine is a good start. With the removal of just two more screws the top cover can be removed as well. This should give you an excellent idea as to what level of maintenance cleaning is required.
With the drum removed you can examine the inside of the front cover, the roast chamber's rear wall, and the drum itself. A light-brown tinge to the drum is fine, and actually preferred. Black, burnt-on dirt is generally not. The condition of the temperature sensor is also another inspection point.
Cleaning the buildup on the inside of the top cover and blowing out the loose chaff at that point will likely be enough.
The machine shown in the slide show above was about a year old when I received it. Its actual roast history is unknown but there were indications that there was at least one chaff fire. In its year of use it had likely roasted at least 50, large and dark batches. If I was told it had roasted 100 batches I would not be at all surprised. Based on that, I decided to do an total tear down, cleaning, and re-assembly.
Needle nose pliers (two if removing the eject door)
#1 and #2 Phillips head or Pozi-drive of various lengths
Small slot screwdriver for "-2" models to remove emergency knob
Hand and Eye protection
Magnetic pickup tool (not required, but handy to have)
The videos here as well as the repair instructions can guide you though he steps to disassemble your machine. THIS GUIDE can take you all the way through the major disassembly for the most thorough cleaning you are likely ever to need if you proceed through step number 4. Once you have the roast chamber's inner wall/bezel assembly removed you likely have gone far enough. I would say that getting that deep into it once a year is likely sufficient for a machine that is otherwise well maintained.
NOTE: Be sure to read through the entire process and be sure you are up to the task before beginning!
Take all the parts you intend to clean and place them in a five gallon bucket. Add your preferred cleaner. Use something that is safe on plastics if you intend to clean any of the body plastic parts. I caution against taking the four screw of the front cover out. These tend to fuse to the cover's casting and are likely to break off on machines which have seen a lot of use. The one shown here was submerged in the cleaning solution and then rinsed with a garden hose. I used compressed air to blow out the remaining water and dirt.
Hottop USA does not endorse any specific cleaning agents, but I have personally used Oxy-Clean and found it to be economical and very effective. I use two scoops and then add enough water to cover the parts. Leave it soak for about 24 hours, then rinse the parts, discard the solution and if necessary, repeat. That should be sufficient on all but the most abused and neglected machines The parts you see in the slide show on this page were soaked twice, then the few that were still encrusted soaked once more. Minor scrubbing with a fiber-bristle brush and a scrubbing sponge can be handy to scrub the inside of the stainless top cover to break up the tough deposits. Do not use abrasives or scrubbing pads on surfaces that will show.
A couple of things to note here: The first is that you should not immerse any of the electrical or electronic parts in any liquid. A customer did note that the motor appeared cleaned in the "after" images. Yes, it was. This was done by first blowing out the chaff dust in the motor using compressed air. I placed the motor, vent-end down on a folded towel and using a toothbrush and nylon scrubbing pad, I clean the motor and its bracket. I was careful to use a minimal amount of cleaning agent and to not get it into the vent openings. Compressed air was used to blow out any stray cleaner that might have gotten into the vents when I was done.
The other note I much mention is that the cleaning agents I have used to clean the stainless top cover have all removed the read, painted-on high heat warning on the cover. You might wish to try using blue painter's tape over that area to preserve the warning.
How did I get the black plastic to look so good. Once again, this is not an endorsement from Hottop USA, but I use "303 Aerospace Protectant" on all plastic, vinyl, and rubber, not only on my vehicles but here on my Hottop roaster as well.
The stainless steel outer shell can be cleaned with Barkeeper's Friend or other non-abrasive cleaner. Test what you will be using on the inside surface first.
When I had finished the job, that machine was ready to go back to work:
While it does not look new, and the dents and scratches on the top cover point towards the rough handling it has had in the past, a few hours of effort have brought this machine back to life.