Post By Allen
Baby gaggia twin
After 15 years, my Baby Gaggia finally gave up. Maybe I should have descaled it more often, but the water here in Margaret River is pretty soft. This was my second Baby G; the first one lasted 13 years. Along the way I've had flirtations with a Simonelli Oscar (found it not awfully reliable, slow to warm up, incredibly noisy) and after I undertook a barista course, found that the coffee the Baby G produced was pretty well indistinguishable from the Oscar, so I stuck with the Gaggia and sold Oscar. I also had affairs with a Kitchen Aid (almost new, $200 on Gumtree --- couldn't resist) but found it inconsistent and terrible at frothing milk --- not that I do much of that, but occasionally guests ask for a cappuccino. Also tried a few Brevilles and Sunbeams when staying with friends, and decided I didn't like the crema that thermoblocks produced. Also tried a Pony Model T Express which was lent to me. It made good coffee but was fairly ugly and had a rather unwieldy filter holder assembly.
When the Baby G died, I figured I wanted a programmable machine under $1,000 (and preferably a lot less) with a boiler and separate frothing system. Not much to chose from it seemed. The only things that seemed available was the odd Breville DB which was sometimes on special at Harvey Normans or on line for about a thousand (and occasionally less) or a Gaggia Baby Twin for around $980. The Baby Twin, of course, has had awful reviews in terms of reliability, so I wasn't going to go down that path. But there is a very attractive video of it and its workings on A Whole Lotta Latte website. I had just about decided to go for a Breville DB (which seems to have had a share of problems too), when I decided to have another look at Gumtree, and there, around the 535th entry, 3 from the end, was an as new Gaggia Baby Twin for $300. I thought at that price, it was worth the risk. It was quite unmarked. Even the aluminium dispersion disc dropped out when I unscrewed it to give it a clean. They can be almost impossible to remove if left in place too long, so that seemed to indicate that it had hardly been used. But it's now been replaced with a brass one from the old machine anyway.
I've had it 2 months now (which is not long, I know) and have to say it makes a terrific espresso or long black, and altogether so far works beautifully. It looks quite handsome (well,I think so) and doesn't take up a lot of bench space. The touch buttons are a lovely feature, and it seems very tolerant (within reason) of the coffee grind and tamping pressure. Maybe it has a better pump than my old machine. It even produces a quite spectacular microfoam, or has since I covered the air bleed hole in the Pannarello wand.
The question now is, of course, how long will it last without problems? Leakage from the hose joints has been reported as being of major concern, but having taken the thing apart to check it was ok inside, can't see that if it did spring a leak, it would be difficult to fix. A friend runs a commercial coffee machine repair business in Margaret River, and tells me that most of the modern machines use plastic hoses and crimped joints nowadays, and they are often easier to repair than machines with copper or S/s pipes. Other than that, the Baby is much the same inside as previous Baby Gs, except that there are two electronic control boards which clip in and out, and when I last looked these can be bought reasonably cheaply from the USA.
Anyway wish me luck with it. I'll report back in due course with an update. Bit so far, I love this machine.
I also have had Gaggia baby's which included twins ,dose etc,I believe they are bulletproof!
One thing to be wary about is American voltage at 110volt @ 60 Hz,not operational here in Australia with 240 volts @ 50 Hz,just in case you overlooked that!
Good luck with your new machine anyway.
Good luck with your new machine !
Well it's 7 months on and until a few weeks ago I continued to be delighted with the Baby Twin's consistent performance. However some weeks ago it suddenly blocked up and no water would come out the head.. I took the filter and dispersion disc off to find that only a trickle of water came out of the supply hole in the bottom of the boiler. After a descale and some rather intense back-flushing, everything got back to normal, and the Baby Twin operated quite normally for a week or two. Then it happened again. And a bit later again. It then occurred to me that this appeared to happen after I had made someone a frothy coffee. So I checked, and have found that yes, after using the steaming system (which is separate via a thermoblock), the boiler system blocked and required some substantial back-flushing before it would work again.
Can't figure out why that would be, because the two systems appear to be independent. As this model Gaggia is, I guess, fairly rare, I don't suppose anyone has a clue what might be causing the problem? Perhaps it's something to do with a valve that possibly diverts water from the pump to the thermoblock when steam is required, and doesn't re-set?
I'd like to get it working properly because some friends do seem to like the odd Cappachino, and it does produce a pretty impressive mocrofoam if they do. Does anyone know of a Gaggia service centre or Gaggia specialist in Perth? Grateful for any advice.
Oh, and before I took the 15 year old Baby G (which the Baby Twin replaced) to the tip, I made one more massive onslaught with Cafetto de-scaler and back-flusher, and lo! it suddenly came good and works as well as ever.
It sounds like a typical Gaggia solenoid valve blockage. Quite possibly your old machine has the 'old style' brass solenoid with nice large holes internally, while your new Twin has the 'new style' with tiny holes that block up more easily. If you are any way DIY inclined it is a relatively easy fix that involves opening up the solenoid to clean it, descale, and probably sticking a pin down the holes and juggling it around ensure it is clear.
Probably the use of the steam thermoblock dislodges some junk or scale since it doesn't get used much by the sound of it.
I would investigate swapping the solenoid valves so the large brass one is in the machine you use most!
Back flushing with plain water before shutting the machine down after every session will prevent this from happening. Making hot water after steaming will also keep the steam thermoblock clean.
Thanks for both replies. I thought it may be something like that. Yes, I am fairly familiar with the innards of the Gaggias. I like them because (well at least until recently) they were in many ways fairly basic, and as I mentioned I have kept the 'old Baby' functioning well for 15 years. I'll post progress in due course.
Yes, on further reflection, I'm sure you have nailed it. I did take the solenoid valve off the old machine many years ago, but when I tried after it had stopped working earlier this year, I found I could remove the set screws but not the valve, which I guess after 15 years, had some corrosion holding it in place. I didn't want to break it. Is there an effective and safe way of getting it off? Not that I need to now, because as I mentioned above, after a really enthusiastic bout of back-flushing it now works perfectly. But might be worthwhile doing as a matter of preventive maintenance.
Back flushed the Baby Twin again, and made sure it was well cleaned out after steaming milk, and on the few occasions I have used this function, everything has worked perfectly again. I'll probably make an attempt at removing and cleaning the valve anyway. Hopefully not a problem as the machine is pretty new, and it's very easy to access after removing the main S/S cover. Lots of videos on YouTube too.
Took the Baby Twin apart ( well sort of). Removed the solenoid valve --- dead easy --- cleaned the holes out with a pin, stuck it back together. It worked a couple of times and then stopped. Repeated the process and Voila! Success. No more problems since. Really a very simple operation.
But tell me. What does the solenoid valve actually do, besides releasing the pressure after a coffee is brewed? What part does it play in distributing water to the boiler?? It obviously has a major effect if when the pin hole gets blocked, water won't flow through the boiler to the group. Bemused.
That's all it's designed to do...
Originally Posted by Allen
Without it, you would have to wait for the pressure to dissipate through the coffee puck before you could remove the Group Handle...
But timmyjj21 above said:
"It sounds like a typical Gaggia solenoid valve blockage. Quite possibly your old machine has the 'old style' brass solenoid with nice large holes internally, while your new Twin has the 'new style' with tiny holes that block up more easily. If you are any way DIY inclined it is a relatively easy fix that involves opening up the solenoid to clean it, descale, and probably sticking a pin down the holes and juggling it around ensure it is clear."
That's why I took it apart and after cleaning the valve it is working perfectly again. perplexed.
The solenoid valve seals off the boiler and diverts the pressurised water from the group head down the vent pipe. It prevents the boiler getting contaminated from back pressure and allows you to remove the portafilter without spraying coffee around the kitchen. Scale from in the boiler will move through after unblocking it and just block it up again, so it's not unusual to have to unblock it a few times in a row.
AH! now I think I see. If it blocks off the boiler, then becomes blocked itself, no water can get through to the boiler. Hence what I thought must have been a boiler problem wasn't, and why ultimately perseverance with back-flushing eventually fixed the issue. Now I can see that the quickest way to fix it if initial back-flushing doesn't do the trick, is simply to clean the solenoid valve. Not difficult in a Baby G. Thanks for the explanation.
Originally Posted by timmyjj21