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Thread: Another modified Gaggia Classic

  1. #1
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    Another modified Gaggia Classic

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi
    First post on this site. I have been watching the site to get the information I needed to do a little bit of tinkering. I completed this work about 4 years ago, so guess you can say it has now proven to be very robust. I acquired a Gaggia Classic (full stainless chassis) using our ANZ points system and was very happy with it but wanted more. So that's when I started searching the internet about possible improvements and found the option of fitting a PID control. As I had not worked on a machine before I was not confident to start the butchery on my pride and joy. Fortunately Ebay came to the rescue with an older chrome plated Classic. The PO was English and not technically astute, as they advertised it as having EU plugs = no one else bidded; so I picked it and a Gaggia MDF grinder for $50. Swapped the power cords on both in about 30 seconds and was in business.

    The mods I wanted for the upgrade were; PID shot temperature control, preheat of input water and a better steam wand. Once again Ebay provided all of the parts for about $120, and as you can see in the photos (when I can post them) there was a bit of my time on the milling machine! I will post some photo's once i am permitted to do so

    I looked at all the PID kits and wondered why they cost $400+? So as an experiment I bought a PID for $25 delivered and a 240vac/240vac SSR for $10 delivered off Ebay and started to play. 4 years later those parts are still going strong!!! Once again photos will make it a bit more interesting.

    The Gaggia Classic with PID & preheat works very well and during a double shot the temperature usually does not drop, (display on PID), or at the most 1 degree. The other part of the equation is that I am using a Breville Smart Grinder BCG800 which can go fine enough to choke the Classic. I also measure and grind my beans immediately before the brew. My question is:

    I recently was lucky enough to get a Brugnetti Simona Top DE HX on Ebay. Should I expect to be able to get a stepped improvement in my shots from the Brugnetti when compared to the Classic with PID & preheat?
    Thanks
    Tim
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  2. #2
    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Classictc View Post
    Should I expect to be able to get a stepped improvement in my shots from the Brugnetti when compared to the Classic with PID & preheat?
    Thanks
    Tim
    Yes.

    I've owned 2 Gaggia Classics and a Simona Top DE. The Gaggias are awesome little machines capable of producing excellent coffee. A PID isn't absolutely necessary, but it certainly makes them easier to use. And the other mods you've done along with an adjusted OPV make for a very capable machine.
    The Simona Top is definitely a step up. While the Gaggia has a commercial size group it's not really a commercial group as such whereas the Simona Top very much is. It's still small as far as HX machines go, but it has some very clever design features such as an actively heated group head. The only mods I'd suggest you consider would be to insulate the boiler and replace the steam wand. Mine had an OPV, but the seller wasn't sure if it was factory fitted or not. If not you'll want one of them too.
    The single biggest improvement in flavour of coffee that I noticed through all the equipment I've owned was when I finally took the plunge and stepped up to a flat burr grinder from a small conical burr. So while your Breville Smart Grinder is more than adequate, something like a Compak K3 will provide a noticeable improvement in taste.
    Enjoy your new machine, look forward to seeing some photos at some stage.

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    Thanks LeroyC

    I still have the Gaggia MDF grinder which is a flat burr grinder, but hate the doser when I only grind immediately before brewing! Do you think that would e a better option?

  4. #4
    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Classictc View Post
    Thanks LeroyC

    I still have the Gaggia MDF grinder which is a flat burr grinder, but hate the doser when I only grind immediately before brewing! Do you think that would e a better option?
    I don't know a lot about the MDF sorry. Here's a write up about it that might help you -

    http://knowyourgrinder.com/gaggia-md...rinder-review/

    I've owned both doser and doser less grinders. The two grinders I've had with dosers have been Compaks that have had nice big dosers and easy access to the chute for cleaning out retained grinds. So they've been both easy to use and clean and the K10 is my current grinder. This would be the only issue I could see with the MDF, you really want to be able to get into the doser chamber and chute easily enough to be able to clean it out properly.
    The review I've linked to says it stands up against the Rocky which is a good sign. So if you haven't already I'd suggest you pull the burr chamber apart and give it a really good clean then partner it with your Simona and give it a go for a week or two.

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    Pulled the MDF out and stripped it right down and cleaned everything. Plenty of stale caked on grinds were removed. With it set at 6 it choked the Classic so I moved it to 8 and got a beautiful shot. The Simona is in transit so I will see how it tastes in the morning (cannot sleep if I have a coffee after 3pm!!).
    Felt a bit guilty putting the Smart Grinder in the cupboard, it has been a very reliable grinder for the last 4 years.

  6. #6
    Senior Member artman's Avatar
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    Great work pimping the machine, can't wait to see the pics.

    Cheers

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by artman View Post
    Great work pimping the machine, can't wait to see the pics.

    Cheers
    How many posts do I need to submit before I can attach a photo? Frustrating!!!!!

    Back to the MDF vs Smart Grinder. We do have a milk drink so I would have to say that I could not appreciate any improvement from the MDF compared to the Smart Grinder regarding taste! The doser on the MDF continues to be less user friendly than direct dispense on the Smart Grinder.

  8. #8
    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Classictc View Post
    How many posts do I need to submit before I can attach a photo? Frustrating!!!!!

    Back to the MDF vs Smart Grinder. We do have a milk drink so I would have to say that I could not appreciate any improvement from the MDF compared to the Smart Grinder regarding taste! The doser on the MDF continues to be less user friendly than direct dispense on the Smart Grinder.
    Yeah if you only drink milk drinks the difference between the grinders will be less noticeable. But hang onto the MDF until you are using the Simona Top so you can do a comparison between them on that machine before making a final decision. At the end of the day ease of use is a big factor and the Breville might be the way to go.

  9. #9
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    The Brugnetti Simona Top DE has arrived, and for a 17yr old machine it is in excellent condition. I have back flushed it and re-calibrated the shot volume to 26ml/shot. Now have to work on the grinder to get a good result. I have also gone back to the Smart Grinder as I am more familiar with it and I do not need 2 variables while dialing in the Brugnetti.
    There is an occasional drip coming out of the machine from either the pressurestat or the pressure gauge, but that can wait for the weekend to fix. Very happy with the purchase.
    Going to try and replace the MDF dosser with a spout in the future, but I am not sure if there will be enough angle on the spout.
    Cheers

  10. #10
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    Couldn't wait for the weekend to solve the leaks!!!
    Took the top plate off to see if I could spot where the leaks were coming from. I found 2 leaks, the first was the vacuum relief value. On every start up there is a small amount of water expelled out of the valve until the boiler develops enough steam to close it. There was enough scale on it to prevent it from closing completely. The other leak was on the boiler fitting for the steam wand valve.
    Rather than taking a short cut I decided to remove the offending parts, descale and clean them before reassembling. Leaks are now fixed.
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  11. #11
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    First coffees out of the Brugnetti were very good. I will have to work on my pre-flush process, as the first measured double shot was under volume after doing a single flush.
    Hopefully I will soon be able to post some photos

  12. #12
    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Classictc View Post
    First coffees out of the Brugnetti were very good. I will have to work on my pre-flush process, as the first measured double shot was under volume after doing a single flush.
    Hopefully I will soon be able to post some photos
    I never tested mine properly, but I made coffees both with and without a cooling flush. The feeling I got was that if the machine was at full temp (had been on for >30min) then a short cooling flush of about 5-6secs was a good idea. I read that the small size of its heat exchanger means that it runs a bit hot and I can see how that would be right. In saying that, if you're only drinking milk drinks you might not notice any discernible difference.

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    Photos

    Computer now says I can attach photos?
    I will try with some photos of the Gaggia Classic pre-heater mod.
    OK getting to terms of how this works, and this is not a good start!
    The first photos are of the forming tool I made up so I could use the standard fittings.
    Then some of the preheater including the 300w die heater element to help on startup. Once the boiler is to temp the die heater is not re-energised.
    Hope to get the next posts a bit better organised.
    How do you paste a photo into the text?
    Attached Images Attached Images
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  14. #14
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    More photos

    The next photo shows the internal chambers of the pre-heater.
    The PID thermocouple was located into exactly the same position as the OE. The OE is M5 and the thermocouple 1/4" UNC which needed a 5.2mm tapping hole, so it worked perfectly - just have to make sure that you do not drill any deeper.
    The pre-heater is fitted to the flat on the front of the Classic boiler with heatsink paste to ensure a good thermal connection.
    The pre-heater is clamped onto the boiler, with no additional holes in the boiler.
    A simple 90C thermal switch is fitted to the top of the pre-heater to control the 300w die heater element for start up.
    Attached Images Attached Images
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  15. #15
    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    In answer to your question: http://coffeesnobs.com.au/off-topic/...e-posting.html

    Alternatively, using the Attachment Manager once you've selected and uploaded the pics you want to post and they appear in the Attachments area select each pic by clicking on the box in it's lower right corner, then click the Insert Inline button, and then the Done button. You can then move the attachment tag(s) to where ever you want the picture to be placed with-in the text.


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  16. #16
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    More boiler photos

    Alternatively, using the Attachment Manager once you've selected and uploaded the pics you want to post and they appear in the Attachments area select each pic by clicking on the box in it's lower right corner, then click the Insert Inline button, and then the Done button. You can then move the attachment tag(s) to where ever you want the picture to be placed with-in the text.

    Thank you very much

    This is showing the inlet side of the pre-heater from the pump and thermo switch for the die heater.
    DSCF0420.jpg
    Outlet side of the pre-heater going into the OPV
    DSCF0421.jpg

    Fitted a Sunbeam ball joint steam wand which works better than the earlier Silvia mod. You need to bend the steam pipe a little to make it fit.
    DSCF0418.jpg
    Attached Images Attached Images
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  17. #17
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    Back to the Brugnetti Simona Top DE.
    I think I have struck gold! The PO had the instruction/service manual for the machine but forgot to include in the package. He was decent enough to post it separately.
    It has some basic instructions, but also some schematic diagrams including part numbers. From other posts it appears to be a very difficult document to access.
    What are the site protocols on sharing such a document?
    Spent some time this evening tuning the grind for the Simona and am now getting very good shot - will try to upload a video.

  18. #18
    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Classictc View Post
    It has some basic instructions, but also some schematic diagrams including part numbers. From other posts it appears to be a very difficult document to access.
    What are the site protocols on sharing such a document?
    Feel free to upload/post it in the appropriate (Each Equipment forum has a Documentation sub-forum nested with-in it. Note that for brewing equipment the different price categories reflect the original new retail price and not the price of a used item.) Documentation area following the guidelines contained in the sticky post at the top of each.


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  19. #19
    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    Whoops. I've had all the Simona Top documents in electronic form, including parts diagrams for quite some time and never thought to share them here. Better get onto that.

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    Posted a video on youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TW8NrS_0pCQ
    The first shot was just that without any tuning.
    The second shot is where I ended, with a decent crema
    The temp is in Fahrenheit, that multimeter came from the US!!! It looks a bit too cool? Any thoughts.

  21. #21
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    MDF mods

    In the last few days I have attempted several mods on the MDF to eliminate the doser. You learn by your mistakes!!!
    I have spent some time today with the shortest possible path for the spout to minimise any hang ups.
    I guess ignorance has been blissful. It has been really bugging me that no matter what I do there is always grinding residue left in the MDF outlet. On the Smart Grinder is very difficult to see that there could be residue remaining, but I suspect there is.
    My final mods ensure the shortest path and easiest access to clear any residue.

    This is the grinder with doser removed. See the grindings retained in the burr outlet.
    MDF doser stripped.jpg

    These are the new parts. The base plate is aluminium and the spout has a sliding sleeve. The sleeve is needed to seal off against the grinder outlet to prevent any grinds falling down into the motor. The second part is what I would call a shield to guide, to make sure all the grinds go into the portafilter basket.
    MDF new spout.jpg

    This photo shows the base plate in location with the spout slide retracted for assembly into the MDF. you can see the gap where the grinds would fall through the gap and into the motor. The gap is needed for assembly.
    MDF spout retracted.jpg
    The next photo shows the slide pushed up, closing the gap! The added benefit (not planned) is that it locks the base plate into the MDF without the need for any other fasteners.
    MDF spot locked.jpg
    The final assembly. I left the shield open at the top to make it easier to clean out the grindings. The whole grinder can be disassembled in seconds for cleaning.
    MDF full assy.jpg

    The MDF has a gear reduction and the burrs revolve slower than other grinders. That slower burr speed could reduce the MDF ability to expel the grindings. A question to those that have a non-doser Rocky, Mazzer, etc, do those grinders retain grindings? Or do they expel them all out of the chute?
    Last edited by Classictc; 28th May 2017 at 03:24 PM.
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  22. #22
    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Classictc View Post
    Posted a video on youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TW8NrS_0pCQ
    The first shot was just that without any tuning.
    The second shot is where I ended, with a decent crema
    The temp is in Fahrenheit, that multimeter came from the US!!! It looks a bit too cool? Any thoughts.
    Hard to say. Could be a bit cool, but I'd do more testing if I were you.

  23. #23
    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Classictc View Post
    In the last few days I have attempted several mods on the MDF to eliminate the doser. You learn by your mistakes!!!
    I have spent some time today with the shortest possible path for the spout to minimise any hang ups.
    I guess ignorance has been blissful. It has been really bugging me that no matter what I do there is always grinding residue left in the MDF outlet. On the Smart Grinder is very difficult to see that there could be residue remaining, but I suspect there is.
    My final mods ensure the shortest path and easiest access to clear any residue.

    This is the grinder with doser removed. See the grindings retained in the burr outlet.
    MDF doser stripped.jpg

    These are the new parts. The base plate is aluminium and the spout has a sliding sleeve. The sleeve is needed to seal off against the grinder outlet to prevent any grinds falling down into the motor. The second part is what I would call a shield to guide, to make sure all the grinds go into the portafilter basket.
    MDF new spout.jpg

    This photo shows the base plate in location with the spout slide retracted for assembly into the MDF. you can see the gap where the grinds would fall through the gap and into the motor. The gap is needed for assembly.
    MDF spout retracted.jpg
    The next photo shows the slide pushed up, closing the gap! The added benefit (not planned) is that it locks the base plate into the MDF without the need for any other fasteners.
    MDF spot locked.jpg
    The final assembly. I left the shield open at the top to make it easier to clean out the grindings. The whole grinder can be disassembled in seconds for cleaning.
    MDF full assy.jpg

    The MDF has a gear reduction and the burrs revolve slower than other grinders. That slower burr speed could reduce the MDF ability to expel the grindings. A question to those that have a non-doser Rocky, Mazzer, etc, do those grinders retain grindings? Or do they expel them all out of the chute?
    That level of retention is common, the chute will always have grinds in it on any grinder like this. Some do better than others, but they're all fairly similar. You've done a nice job of that mod. Leaving access to the chute to allow it to be cleared out is a great idea.



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