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Thread: Gaggia Classic - Normal To Have Constant Steam On Brew Mode?

  1. #1
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    Gaggia Classic - Normal To Have Constant Steam On Brew Mode?

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi all,

    Purchased my first coffee machine off ebay for $100 - 2000 model Gaggia Classic. Tried her out a bit and espresso was a bit bitter (I'm a total beginner though).
    I opened her up and stripped everything down to the boiler - very limited scaling and cosmetically the machine is in overall good condition.

    The only issue I am having is not knowing if the brew temperatures are too high. The reason i suspect they are is
    1) The brew indicator light does not appear to be working. Sometimes it flickers on for a little bit, but once the machine is warmed up tends to stay off (but its inconsistent) - could this be a broken thermostat? I think I can hear a thermostat switching on and off though when on brew mode?
    2) I have constant steam (VID 20141118 210246 2791 - YouTube) even when the steam switch is off and its on brew mode - is this normal? Water, not steam, is coming out of the group head. Once the steam dies down in the video, u can hear the thermostat switch on and then the steam starts increasing again.
    3) Bitter espresso - but I'm a beginner so its more likely bad technique.

    I don't have a thermometer handy so can't test water temperature at the moment.

    Could anyone clarify if #2 is normal?

    Cheers,
    Ryan

  2. #2
    Senior Member deegee's Avatar
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    Hello Ryan, and welcome to the forum.

    Nice buy with that Classic. It's a deluxe model and appears to be in very good condition. If you ever want to sell it ...........

    In answer to your questions ( in reverse ) :

    3. If your water temp is too high - and maybe it is - that can increase the bitterness of the extracted espresso.

    2. It is normal to get some weak steam from the wand at brewing temps, but in your video the steam looks & sounds much stronger than it should be. The panarello wand might make it sound a bit louder than it would without it, but it still looks more like the full strength steam that you would get with the steam switch and light on. So it seems likely that the boiler is getting too hot. But I'm a bit surprised that you are not getting at least some steam out of the group head. That's what I would expect if the boiler is too hot. Not sure what that means.

    1. The thermostat by-passes the brew indicator light while it is sending power to the boiler elements. When it operates and cuts off the power to the elements, it removes the shunt and the light should come on. The light not coming on could be due to a faulty light, or a faulty thermostat. I suspect the thermostat because of the steam.

    All of your symptoms could be caused by a faulty thermostat, or having the wrong thermostat installed. e.g. a 145 steam 'stat instead of a 107 brew 'stat.

    I have found that with any S/H machine you just cannot assume that it is properly wired, or fitted with the right parts. Someone could have worked on it in the past and stuffed it up.

    You need to check the two t'stats. The one on top of the boiler should be marked L145-15C. The bottom left one should be L107-8C. There will be other numbers & letters on them, but these are the ones that matter.

    Question : What happens when you turn on the steam switch ? Does the R/H light come on after a while, and if it does, about how long does it take ?.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by deegee View Post
    Hello Ryan, and welcome to the forum.

    Nice buy with that Classic. It's a deluxe model and appears to be in very good condition. If you ever want to sell it ...........

    In answer to your questions ( in reverse ) :

    3. If your water temp is too high - and maybe it is - that can increase the bitterness of the extracted espresso.

    2. It is normal to get some weak steam from the wand at brewing temps, but in your video the steam looks & sounds much stronger than it should be. The panarello wand might make it sound a bit louder than it would without it, but it still looks more like the full strength steam that you would get with the steam switch and light on. So it seems likely that the boiler is getting too hot. But I'm a bit surprised that you are not getting at least some steam out of the group head. That's what I would expect if the boiler is too hot. Not sure what that means.

    1. The thermostat by-passes the brew indicator light while it is sending power to the boiler elements. When it operates and cuts off the power to the elements, it removes the shunt and the light should come on. The light not coming on could be due to a faulty light, or a faulty thermostat. I suspect the thermostat because of the steam.

    All of your symptoms could be caused by a faulty thermostat, or having the wrong thermostat installed. e.g. a 145 steam 'stat instead of a 107 brew 'stat.

    I have found that with any S/H machine you just cannot assume that it is properly wired, or fitted with the right parts. Someone could have worked on it in the past and stuffed it up.

    You need to check the two t'stats. The one on top of the boiler should be marked L145-15C. The bottom left one should be L107-8C. There will be other numbers & letters on them, but these are the ones that matter.

    Question : What happens when you turn on the steam switch ? Does the R/H light come on after a while, and if it does, about how long does it take ?.
    Thanks for the comment. I checked both thermostats and they were correct. I unplugged the thermostat so it was out of the circuit and the light still wasn't coming on - this lead me to believe the light/switch was busted... $60 for a new switch was too much so time for diy.
    Opened the switch using this guide coffeegeek.com/forums/espresso/machinemods/641078
    Very fiddly!
    The contact for the neon light was covered in carbon/some buildup of some kind. Cleaned contacts and pins, and then the task of trying to put everything back together - had to get the gf to help as its really fiddly.

    Success


    Still looking at getting a pid and SSR off eBay for $20

  4. #4
    Senior Member
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    Sep 2014
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    Gaggia Classic - Normal To Have Constant Steam On Brew Mode?

    Good work with the neon. Nice curtain raiser for the Pid mod. I say go for it.
    Now pull a shot for the GF for helping you fix the switch.

  5. #5
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    Shes already pestering me to have a go at it - but I don't think she realises the art that shes getting herself into.



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