I didn't want to steal anyone's fire, so I did a search for this thread and will post my mod/experience (installation bit anyway).
Thanks to super_pasty for this great mod and thread. Thanks to Aden for some technical data on this mod and the motivation to do it.
So, first off, I wanted to take this mod a step further and go "all hard-line" so here are the parts I purchased:
- 20 feet 1/4" copper tubing from Home Depot. I didn't need 20' but I didn't want to sell myself short. - 2x 1/4 compression adapters (1/4 - 1/4) for the coil ends. Of course, I bought extra just in case. - 2x 1/8 NPTF-1/4 compression fitting for pump and OPV ends.
Tools required: - 11mm wrench (I use Metrinch tools (both standard and metric, so you'd probably have to calculate the equiv) - 12mm wrench - 14mm wrench - M10-1.00 tap - countersink tool (to deburr the tube ends before installation. Feel free to use what works) - saw (I used an air saw just because it was available. A hack saw works just as well, just slower) - file, to square off the tube ends
Other things required: - a friend would be nice to hold the large bits while you mangle the copper tubing - A WHOLE LOT OF DEXTERITY!
Nevermind the calcium build-up. I just need to do it, but that's not what this thread is about.
The first thing I did was round off the sharp edges where the heating elements are. I figured the sharp edges would damage the copper tubing to some degree while fussing with it. I also rounded the top corners so the tubing would slip over easier. I figured this out because I had rolled a 3" coil and TRIED to slip it over the boiler and it wasn't working... so I made this mod and tried again.
I also lopped off the top tstat mount since I'm no longer using it and it was causing installation problems. Now it's nice and clean.
So I had to clean up all 4 corners. This also gave the copper tubing a better chance at gaining more surface area to contact the boiler for better thermal transfer... not much, but some.
Here is a rough installation. As you can see, the coil is not as nice as when it started. This is mostly due to the thermocouple, mounted on the side where the original tstat sits. Also, the bolts that hold the boiler and the group together also don't help.
Something to note here is this mod will assume that you will never separate the boiler from the group, since the coils sit exactly above the screws and you would never gain access to them after this mod.
This was my third try. I realized I lost access to the screws on my second try.
I used an old racer trick to keep the coil together - safety-wire. I situated the (bottom) end of the coil, started at the bottom and safety-wired each turn. This is where the friend comes in handy. My daughter pinched two adjacent coils together as I twisted the wire. I'm sure we could have done better, but... it was teamwork and it was fun.
You'll see that both ends of the copper tube gets a 1/4-1/4 compression fitting. This is not necessary, but I wanted to make sure I am able to disassemble the darn thing if I ever needed to. It is also a safety in case this mod didn't work out well, and also makes it modular enough so I can mod other things, like replacing the pump (which I have on my desk but not ready to install it yet).
This is where the custom work comes in. Don't worry, it's not too bad.
I got 2x 1/8 NPTF, 1/4 compression fitting for the pump output port and the OPV input port. These are our trusty M10-1.00 thread again. We see this thread size everywhere in the Gaggia Classic. If you look at the specs for 1/8 NPT and M10-1.00, they are VERY close and they will work fine if you chase the thread with a M10-1.00 tap.
The 1/8 NPT will turn right into the M10 stud, but it'll seize about half way and you may have sealing/leaking issues. A tap may cost you about $10 or so at a tool store. After chasing the thread, the fitting went ALL the way down for a nice compact fit. Then you apply teflon tape and you're good.
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