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Thread: Time for some Gaggia Classic upgrades. PID, steam wand, grinder, other??

  1. #1
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    Time for some Gaggia Classic upgrades. PID, steam wand, grinder, other??

    I've had my Classic for about 3 years (pre 2015 model) and I think it's about time for some upgrades to get the most out of the machine. I'm after some advice/comments on what's best to do and how to go about it.

    Here's what I'm thinking:

    - PID. Trying to decide between a kit or DIY. Through my work I have access to PID controllers, enclosures, wire etc and so am leaning towards DIY to save some $$, at the risk of increasing the headaches. Any tips or links to good DIY instructions?

    - Group head seal. It needs replacing so wondering if silicone is the way to go?

    - Naked/Bottomless portafilter. This is as much for clearance for taller cups as any other reason. I'm tempted to just cut the bottom off the supplied Gaggia (twin spout) to save some $ but not sure this is possible, or a good idea. Any tips?

    - Grinder. Currenty using a Sunbeam EM0480 that I bought used. I have this on the finest setting and don't think it's fine enough. I'm wondering if it's worth doing any maintenance or mods or if I'm best to buy a new grinder? Thinking of a Breville smart grinder pro, which I've seen going for $150-$200.

    - Steam wand. I'll change to the Silvia wand.

    anything else?

    Also, any suggestions where to buy the bits I need such as: Seal, steam wand, portafilter etc. (online or in melbourne)

    BTW..I usually get my beans online from Sweet Yarra coffee or Manna beans. 1-2kg at a time, which take about a month to get through. Any suggestions for alternative online suppliers?

    thanks in advance for any input.
    cheers

  2. #2
    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by manchu View Post
    Any suggestions for alternative online suppliers?
    Right here on Coffee Snobs via BeanBay. Roasted fresh to order and typically shipped the same day.


    Java "Doesn't get any better than that!" phile
    Toys! I must have new toys!!!

  3. #3
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    Welcome to the forum.

    An upgraded grinder will always help in the cup. Pretty hard to go wrong there.
    Definitely recommend the wand upgrade. Very simple.

    Didnt know about group head seal, but never been an issue for me...

    the naked question: unless the design has changed , the classic pf isn't very conversion friendly. I have thought about seeking a new one that would fit.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member level3ninja's Avatar
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    Disclaimer: I have never used a Gaggia Classic.
    Silicone group head gaskets are always my preference. You should be able to get one from site sponsor Coffee Parts.

    You can shim the EM0480 to make it grind finer, I'm pretty sure there's a thread or two about it kicking around here somewhere. The Breville Smart Grinder is a small step up from the 480, but only small in terms of grind quality, Most of the step up is in the controls.

    I've converted a dozen or so portafilters to naked, though none a Gaggia. After reviewing some pictures online I believe it is possible but at the difficult end of the spectrum. Two issues I can see at first glance: One, there is no centre spout hole to guide your holesaw so you'll have to drill a pilot hole and hope you get it dead centre. Two, if you take out all metal in the base leaving only the vertical sides the neck will be quite weak and probably break after some time. If you leave a ring around the edge though it should be ok, if you search Google images for "gaggia classic portafilter naked" the first result should be a YouTube clip of one. You'll need to leave as much metal as possible while suitably clearing all basket holes so the drips aren't pulled to the sides.

  5. #5
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    I won't link direct to the document so it credits the author...
    DIY PID Steam and Brew
    I used this guide since it has easy to understand directions and pictures. Super easy PID installation and the cheap Chinese PID it refers to has worked well for years on my machine.

    Not all Silvia steam arms are the same, some cheaper eBay ones are a little off and need sanding to fit. I get mine from a seller in the UK and they are perfect, but I'm sure forum sponsors will have the same good ones. Check for a steam tip that doesn't have silly ridges to trap and hold milk residue.

    I have a severe bias towards cafelat silicone group seals. They last for years, feel nice to use, easy to remove, yadda, yadda, they sell themselves.
    Antony at Casa Espresso has them and is a really helpful bloke. You will want the blue 8.5mm one.

    Besides a PID, the best upgrade I made was from a little Sunbeam EM0480 grinder to a Mazzer Super Jolly. Amazing difference and it's now very hard to justify upgrading since the shots are so good. I agree the smart grinder will make your workflow easier, but it's more of a sideways move instead of upgrade.

    Of you love tinkering, there is so much more you can do to the Gaggia - integrated shot timer, boiler preheater, volumetric, low pressure profiling with a dimmer switch...

  6. #6
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    cheers for the replies all.

    I've bitten the bullet an ordered the Silvia wand and Cafelat silicone gasket. I also grabbed a blind basket for cleaning.

    I agree with comments that the Breville grinder being a side step so will aim a little higher. Coincidentally though someone has offered a near new Breville BCG820 for $90 which I'm very tempted by. It'd probably be a $50 changeover once I sold the old sunbeam.

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    Quote Originally Posted by timmyjj21 View Post
    I won't link direct to the document so it credits the author...
    DIY PID Steam and Brew
    I used this guide since it has easy to understand directions and pictures. Super easy PID installation and the cheap Chinese PID it refers to has worked well for years on my machine.
    Cheers. I've all but decided I'll go the DIY route when I get around to PID control so this should be very helpful. If I scavenge I should be able to pick up all the parts for free at work, and the implementation should be within my abilities...I hope.

  8. #8
    Senior Member CafeLotta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by manchu View Post
    Trying to decide between a kit or DIY. Through my work I have access to PID controllers, enclosures, wire etc and so am leaning towards DIY to save some $$, at the risk of increasing the headaches
    An interesting alternative to DIY PID for the Gaggia Classic is the MeCoffee PID - https://mecoffee.nl/mecoffee/

    The PID kit for single boiler machines has a wiring kit for the Gaggia Classic as well as the Rancilio Silvia and Vibiemme Domobar single boiler (Levetta/Piccolo).

    There is no visible external PID hardware. Control is via an app utilising bluetooth to a smart phone (extended functions) or computer (basic functions).

    Apparently there were some reliability issues early on but these appear to have been addressed through an upgrade to some components. Some additional research may be worthwhile if this kit has any appeal.

  9. #9
    Senior Member level3ninja's Avatar
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    Be aware that in my experience mecoffee customer support is extremely slow at absolute best of something goes wrong, usually non-responsive.
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  10. #10
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    A quick update: Group head seal replaced (I went for silicone) and silva wand fitted. The seal obviously improves things as it was leaking quite badly. The wand is so much better you have to wonder why Gaggia put that plastic piece of @#$^ on the machines.

    I have some paternity leave coming up any day now so I'll try and DIY the PID during my few weeks off.

    A new grinder is on the list but I'm having trouble justifying spending hundreds to the CFO.




    Quote Originally Posted by CafeLotta View Post
    An interesting alternative to DIY PID for the Gaggia Classic is the MeCoffee PID . .

    There is no visible external PID hardware. Control is via an app utilising bluetooth to a smart phone (extended functions) or computer (basic functions)
    It might be a viable alternative if it was only me using the machine, but I can't see my Mrs thinking too highly of it. I do like the idea of no external hardware though.

  11. #11
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    My budget mods continue. I just ordered a shim for the Sunbeam grinder. worth a shot for $2 as a new grinder is definitely off the cards for the time being.

    I checked the stores at work at found a REX C100 controller but unfortunately it's has relay outputs so can't drive the SSR without modification. Considering the controller, SSR and thermocouple is <$20 on ebay I'll probably just buy that.

    I also forgot about he OPV adjustment. Seems like a nice easy free mod so will have a go when I get the time.

    http://coffeesnobs.com.au/brewing-equipment-midrange-500-1500/25325-gaggia-classic-pressure-modification.html

  12. #12
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    I've adjusted the OPV on my classic. There's a Greg Pullman pressure gauge thread on coffeesnobs, worth borrowing it to dial in the pressure as i needed to turn min several rotations to get the pressure down.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Janus View Post
    I've adjusted the OPV on my classic. There's a Greg Pullman pressure gauge thread on coffeesnobs, worth borrowing it to dial in the pressure as i needed to turn min several rotations to get the pressure down.
    cheers for the info. I've just been looking at the gauge and reckon I can slap something together. If I understand correctly the spout should just screw off my portafilter, leaving a 3/8" BSP female thread. I can borrow the required fittings and and gauge from work.

    I've found this instruction on another forum. https://coffeeforums.co.uk/showthrea...Gaggia-Classic

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    Yeah I think you want a bleed valve on there too probably.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Janus View Post
    Yeah I think you want a bleed valve on there too probably.
    That's no problem, but I'm not sure why I need it when all the instructions I've read (albeit few) use static pressure for setting. ie. set to 10bar static for 9 bar operating.

  16. #16
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    I guess itís just for accuracy. If 10 static for 9 operating is close enough. Doubt it makes much difference.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Janus View Post
    I guess it’s just for accuracy. If 10 static for 9 operating is close enough. Doubt it makes much difference.

    I grabbed a needle valve anyway so will test the theory about static. I tried to do it last night but got stuck at trying to unscrew the spout from the group head. I don't have a vice so I slid a 5mm rod (alley key) into the hole on the spout to get some leverage. I managed about 1/4 turn before the allen key broke! bloody tight.

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