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Thread: Help before I turn on this stale Gaggia Classic

  1. #1
    enjoy black coffee JamesM's Avatar
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    Help before I turn on this stale Gaggia Classic

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Just picked up a Gaggia Classic and Gaggia MM grinder for very little coin from a bloke that has had it a few years but only used it a handful of times (too hard) heh.

    Before I turn it on, any tips for a machine that could possibly have been sitting for a year or two? I am thinking general clean down, remove shower screen, soak everything in some caffetto for a while.

    Then, switch on and prime boiler? Run a couple of tanks through it before trying a brew? God knows the condition of the boiler.

    I dont have any descaling agent/product.

    Advice is welcome! Hope to tinker tonight!

  2. #2
    enjoy black coffee JamesM's Avatar
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    Re: Help before I turn on this stale Gaggia Classic

    * update

    no one answered, so I just used some common sense.

    posted about whats happening here:
    http://thebeaningoflife.com/gaggia-classic-espresso-machine-for-work

    but basically, for those too lazy to click the above link:

    Today I picked up a used Gaggia Classic Espresso Machine from a bloke that "has owned it for a few years and only used it 3 or 4 times because its too hard / too much effort". I paid $150 au, and it also came with a Gaggia MM grinder.
    The first thing I did was open it up and inspect it. This machine is super clean, only a little dust. A quick wipe down, and a wash of all the parts in some warm water, and it looks brand new. I soaked the PF handle, baskets and shower screen in some cafetto before rinsing and switching the machine on.
    When I removed the shower screen, I expected some serious muck, nope, super duper clean. This guy wasnt kidding when he said it was hardly used.

    I turned the machine on and immediately activated the brew & steam switches which primes the boiler with water by jetting water out of the steam wand (turning on steam knob too). Within a sec or two it was primed and water was gushing out, it was just a fraction murky (not perfectly clear, but no floaty bits, good). A whole tank of flushing and I was ready to back flush it with some cafetto. I back flushed it about four times, then it was clean.

    Fired up the Gaggia MM grinder with some crappy supermarket beans (bought specifically to taint this machine after cleaning), what a terrible grinder, loud, crude, and struggling to grind, it eventually got there, funny, the setting I chose (backed off one notch from the burrs smashing each other) was perfect. I dosed the basket, tamped, locked in and brewed a shot. The machine fired up and the pour began. I was instantly shocked at how much slower, thicker, creamier the pour was compared to my Sunbeam EM6910. First shot and I get this really nice slow thick pour. The crema was quite brilliant (especially for my first shot!). I ran off four or five more shots to rid the machine of any cleaning agent and run it in a little. I took a sip of the last shot, it was -ok-. Not sour, or bitter, but creamy and full of body. The actual flavour wasnt brilliant, stale supermarket beans! I wasnt about to grind up and possibly waste any of my home-roasted good stuff!

    Before cleaning up the machine and packing it up ready to take to work I had to give the steam a go. I flicked the steam switch on and waited 15 or so seconds for it to be ready. Turned the steam knob and..... damn, Ive never jumped so high. The steam that came out almost knocked me over! I knew the sunbeam steam was poor, but now I know its really quite awful! This thing smashes the sunbeam for steam, its insane. (yeah I took off the stupid turbo frother). I can see this machine requiring a longer steam wand however (silvia).

    I suppose its ready to take in to work. To be honest, Im thinking Id rather keep it for home. I honestly believe this machine just kills the Sunbeam, not just in pour, but in steam (obviously).

    Three of us at work will be brewing on this, all milk drinks, so we will see how it goes. Perhaps the Sunbeam would work better for the several milk drinks due to its ability to brew and steam back to back (despite poor steam power). Time will tell and I will report back soon on my findings.

    Now excuse me while I pack this bad boy up in a box ready for work, and print some signs out that say "property of James, do not touch upon pain of death". heh
    [smiley=happy.gif]











  3. #3
    enjoy black coffee JamesM's Avatar
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    Re: Help before I turn on this stale Gaggia Classic

    wow, imressive sideways pictures *sigh*

  4. #4
    lu
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    Re: Help before I turn on this stale Gaggia Classic

    mmm whats that kink in my neck ::) - sounds like agood deal , and beaut for the office

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    Re: Help before I turn on this stale Gaggia Classic

    Only other things you may want to do are:
    Descale boiler with citric acid or commercial solution - I wouldnt bother as it has hardly been used, but it may make a difference.
    Remove and clean behind the dispersion screen in the group head
    Chuck out the stupid panarello frother (looks like you have already removed it)
    Add a PID, the water temp can vary up to 15 degrees with standard thermostat. Usual rules about 240v and dont do it unless competent/qualified. The alternative is temperature surfing and personally I cant be bothered.
    Tune up the OPV
    Upgrade to a rancilio steam wand - improves steaming performance dramatically. And the longer wand helps with larger jugs.

    Which you choose to use at work is up to you. If you use the gaggia, at some point, someone will forget to reprime the boiler after steaming milk, but at least on the gaggia, this is unlikely to cook the element

  6. #6
    enjoy black coffee JamesM's Avatar
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    Re: Help before I turn on this stale Gaggia Classic

    great tips. Ive done everything except pid, opv tune, steam wand and descale.. which is... well, everything you listed almost hahaha

    I just tried steaming for the first time on this machine with standard wand (plastic removed), its difficult, nothing like my sunbeam. The wand points straight down, I cant get a whirlpool effect at all like on the sunbeam, is there a trick to texturing on this thing? Will the silvia steam wand be similar?

    texturing tips most welcome! Will order the silvia wand asap, the standard one is really not good (too short)

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    Re: Help before I turn on this stale Gaggia Classic

    Cant remember exactly what I used to do before getting the rancilio wand, but I was able to texture milk ok. Although the short wand and lack of a milk jug (at the time I only had a steel camping mug) did make it difficult. I got the wand from Dibartoli. They may give you a discount if you mention coffeesnobs, if you dont they will not give you a discount.
    The rancilio wand is longer and at more of an angle, so not only gives more steam, but is easier to use.
    You need an older style wand apparently the newer ones dont fit.

  8. #8
    enjoy black coffee JamesM's Avatar
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    Re: Help before I turn on this stale Gaggia Classic

    thanks! wand ordered from di bartoli. didnt think to mention coffee snobs. I dont think the online store has a provision anyway...

    also grabbed a blind basket while I was there so I dont have to bring mine from home.

    Id like to get more info on PIDing this thing, and do it myself. Also tinker with the OPV. I tell you what though, this thing pulls really amazing shots as-is. Maybe the OPV is already in the sweet spot, Im getting brilliant crema and 25-30 sec shots. It blows my EM6910 away for shot qual. Just need to get my milk texturing up... (sucks right now)

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    Re: Help before I turn on this stale Gaggia Classic

    Loads of threads on pidding. I wrote up my experience under the non-machine specific section a while back.
    There is a really good guide on a website by thedomesticbarista.

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    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Re: Help before I turn on this stale Gaggia Classic

    Gaggia Classic machines do have a rep for pulling great espresso James, just as is.

    They are very amenable to the addition of a PID Controller for the boiler as well and probably make a better job of it than a Silvia with the simpler Boiler-on-Group design - Makes for less lag in the control loop and therefore easier to tune and manage....

    As Who says, theres a lot of info around from other CSers who have completed this mod... ;)

    Mal.

  11. #11
    enjoy black coffee JamesM's Avatar
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    Re: Help before I turn on this stale Gaggia Classic

    You guys have been a great help. Ive now found more than enough info to get tweaking on this machine. "thedomesticbarista" has a nice guide, with elec schematic, and pics. Ive also recently discovered auber instruments do an actual kit, although its $150USD I think.

    I see there are PIDs on ebay pretty cheap, like around $25-35, I assume the internal relays are not ideal and one should get a good SSR.

    Im eager for my silvia steam wand to arrive from dibartoli as Im struggling with the standard wand. Im way to used to texturing on my sunbeam, which Ive mastered great microfoam with.

    To be honest, Im just amazed at the quality of the shots on the classic. Even more impressed since I scored the machine for only $150 (with a grinder)

    remarkable! 8-)

  12. #12
    Coffee+carbon=heaven Mono's Avatar
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    Re: Help before I turn on this stale Gaggia Classic

    Quote Originally Posted by 4368646C7A44090 link=1304412107/10#10 date=1304641990
    I scored the machine for only $150 (with a grinder)
    Yep that is a great deal :) Well done JM, enjoy the coffee

    Steve

  13. #13
    enjoy black coffee JamesM's Avatar
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    Re: Help before I turn on this stale Gaggia Classic

    This morning in the office:

    Switched on the classic, locked in PF, walked away, came back later (10 min) with crew (four of us).

    grind-on-demand each shot, double basket, brew in to shotglass (none of our cups fit under the group), pour in to big cup. 2-shots back to back

    flush group, switch on steam, wait.

    Milk time. texture a 600ml jug (filled just over half way) for two milk coffees. purge wand, wipe, cycle boiler, wait.

    pull two more shots back to back, flush, back to milk again.

    So, four milk drinks with four pulled shots and two jugs of textured milk. It handled it fine.

    Just getting the hang of temp-surfing and steaming just prior to the readly light comes on to keep it strong.

    So quirky, I love it

  14. #14
    Senior Member fivegallon's Avatar
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    Re: Help before I turn on this stale Gaggia Classic

    James, dont forget to get the maintenance dept to test and tag the machine with the appropriate quarterly coloured tag ;)

  15. #15
    enjoy black coffee JamesM's Avatar
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    Re: Help before I turn on this stale Gaggia Classic

    quarterly tag, haha, indeed!

    Id like to take a moment to thank site sponsor dibartoli for shipping me a silvia steam arm and blind basket SUPER FAST.

    will be fitting it up on Monday to the Classic. Thank you guys!

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    Re: Help before I turn on this stale Gaggia Classic

    Cheap pids off the bay will work fine, but not all can drive an ssr
    Check the specs before ordering. You definitely want an ssr as mechanical relays will wear out.
    Dont know if ssr quality is an issue, I went with the cheapest and it has been fine.
    Firepower posted instructions a while back about using the alarm output on the pid to control the steam function.

    If you buy a kit, it will be easier to install as all components, wires, casing and instructions are included. Im guessing that it will also be pretuned, but you pay for that and diy is half the fun.

  17. #17
    enjoy black coffee JamesM's Avatar
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    Re: Help before I turn on this stale Gaggia Classic

    *update, I just added the silvia steam wand to the Gaggia. It was pretty simple. My steam wand from dibartoli included a brass adapter, with thread tape on it, ready to go.

    I bolted it up and prepped the machine for brew. Some observations:

    1. the water tank no longer slides in and out of the machine! the steam wand is in the way now, it sits too low with the brass adapter on it

    2. the wand itself sits too low to the bench top that the machine sits on! I can hardly fit a 600ml jug under the wand with milk in it, let alone stretched milk.

    For now, Ive propped the machine up on an old street directory book, made it about 1" higher, I think it needs to be higher still, maybe a phone book would be best.

    Long term, Im thinking about taking the wand off, removing the adapter and fitting up the original gaggia threaded collar on the silvia arm. At least I will be able to get the water tank in and out easily. I understand I will need to bend the orig gaggia wand a little to get the threaded collar off it.

    For the time being Im filling the tank through the top of the machine (filler).

    Also today whilst using the new wand for the first time I ran out of steam. I wasnt paying attention (was in a rush) and wasnt temp surfing the boiler. fail!

    As for performance, its better than the standard wand for sure. I think after a few more goes Ill have it sussed

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    Re: Help before I turn on this stale Gaggia Classic

    James, you obviously have one of the newer classics, on mine the only way to get the nut off the old steam arm is to hacksaw it.
    The water tank thing is a pain, I just remove the steam arm when it is time to clean the tank, and only hand tighten it. My machine is set up at the right hand edge of the worktop, so no problem with clearance.

    I think putting the original fitting onto the new arm will be the best solution.

    surfing the steam is much easier with a temp display. If you do decide to add a pid, given that you seem to make milk drinks, it is probably best to use the alarm output to control the steam and then surfing is no longer necessary.

  19. #19
    enjoy black coffee JamesM's Avatar
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    Re: Help before I turn on this stale Gaggia Classic

    nice tips. I had to bend the orig steam arm to get the collar off. Havent changed the silvia arm to have the orig collar as yet. Just have the machine resting on a platform (street directory hahaha)

    would certainly like to PID at some stage!



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