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Is my 3-way solenoid failing?
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floepie
Senior Member


Joined: 16 Sep 2009
Posts: 16
Location: Amsterdam
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic
Grinder: Gaggia MDF
Posted Tue Oct 1, 2013, 1:20pm
Subject: Is my 3-way solenoid failing?
 

Graduating from a Saeco Classico, which has no 3-way valve, to a previously-owned Gaggia Classic, which is equipped with the solenoid, I'm a little disappointed with its ability to "dry" the puck.  Most of my pulls results in a somewhat watery mess.  There is some water that is expelled into the tray resulting from the back pressure at the end of the pull, but apparently, not enough to dry out the grinds.  Is it such that the solenoid is either working properly or not, or are there varying degrees of performance, such that it performs somewhere between the way it shipped from the factory and a complete fail?

Today I managed to dismantle and clean up the solenoid a bit, checking for good spring action, and everything looked fine.  Still, I wind up with a significant amount of water on the top of the grinds at the end of the shot.
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D4F
Senior Member


Joined: 15 Mar 2012
Posts: 2,038
Location: USA
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic PID
Grinder: Baratza Forte-AP
Posted Tue Oct 1, 2013, 1:49pm
Subject: Re: Is my 3-way solenoid failing?
 

Welcome to Gaggia Classic.  The dry puck myth is exposed again.  The 3 way is a pressure release and it sounds like yours is working from your description.  It is kind of like the 3 bears, too much or too little vs just right.  If the puck is too full, you will get more grinds into/under the screen and often a messy puck, as well as channeling. If the puck is too little or too far down, the water is not vacuumed off. The 3 way is just a pressure relief and the dry puck is a desired side effect.  If/when you back flush, you will notice that water is left in the blind basket, as only down to a certain level can be removed.  This is probably some combination of pressure relief and siphon until air can break the siphon.  

That said, I almost have a firm dry puck and a minimal central screw indent on the puck, the just right amount.  Add a few beans and risk having the puck into the screen, remove many and wet puck.

Impressive that you have already jumped in and disassembled, and assembled.  You are obviously experienced.  So, other mods already done, OPV and Pressure wand?

 
D4F also at
http://www.gaggiausersgroup.com/
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floepie
Senior Member


Joined: 16 Sep 2009
Posts: 16
Location: Amsterdam
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic
Grinder: Gaggia MDF
Posted Tue Oct 1, 2013, 2:04pm
Subject: Re: Is my 3-way solenoid failing?
 

Yeah, I'm probably not filling the portafilter high enough with grinds, and thereby, asking too much of the valve to expel such excess amounts of water.  But, then again, I'm at the point where I'm getting an appropriate amount of extraction with a 30 second pull, so I'm hesitant to add more grinds.  This, even after a thorough cleaning/descaling of the brew group.  Conventional wisdom would prompt me to dial down the grind a bit, but judging by the feel of the grinds from previous experience, I'm already at the upper limits of what I'd consider an "espresso machine" grind.  Perhaps the real culprit is the pump.
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D4F
Senior Member


Joined: 15 Mar 2012
Posts: 2,038
Location: USA
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic PID
Grinder: Baratza Forte-AP
Posted Tue Oct 1, 2013, 3:20pm
Subject: Re: Is my 3-way solenoid failing?
 

I do not know your grinder, but grind fineness vs weight, vs a bit on tamp and you should be able to adjust to just touch the screw with a used puck.  Also OPV/pressure if not already done.  OTOH, a dry puck is convenience, not necessary for flavor.

 
D4F also at
http://www.gaggiausersgroup.com/
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CMIN
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Jun 2012
Posts: 1,507
Location: South FL
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Crossland CC1
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Posted Tue Oct 1, 2013, 3:47pm
Subject: Re: Is my 3-way solenoid failing?
 

You should get a digi scale that measures to .1 grams so you know what your dose is. Also I looked up that grinder but theres nothing about a Solis Maestro Deluxe, however the regular Solis Maestro is just a rebadge Baratza Maestro I believe (or vice versa), of which neither are near capable for espresso as they were designed for entry level grinders for coarse use, on a pressurized portafilter machine yes which your previous one looks like it was, but not on a real PF machine like the Gaggia Classic. Another reason your grinds are pry soupy as it's not capable of doing an espresso grind.
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 8,038
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
Grinder: Azkoyen Capriccio, Major
Vac Pot: 40s era Silex
Drip: Msl. Com. brewers
Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Tue Oct 1, 2013, 4:00pm
Subject: Re: Is my 3-way solenoid failing?
 

Fred (D4f) is right in. The reason for the valve is to let pressure off the PF, not to dry the puck. A dry puck MAY BE a side effect of releasing pressure but it is only a bonus if it happens. If you like what you are getting in the cup, don't worry about it. If it REALLY bugs you try going slightly more coarse and use a little more coffee.

 
In real life, my name is
Wayne P.
Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!

Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
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D4F
Senior Member


Joined: 15 Mar 2012
Posts: 2,038
Location: USA
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic PID
Grinder: Baratza Forte-AP
Posted Tue Oct 1, 2013, 5:33pm
Subject: Re: Is my 3-way solenoid failing?
 

Of course if the grinder is not finely stepped or stepless the adjustment of a touch more coarse and more coffee might not work and that may be the reluctance to change.  Before I would suspect the pump I would like to know what pressure at the group the pump delivers and if it will hold pressure and let the OPV work properly.  It could be that the OPV is already set to 9 bar and you are deallng with less pressure than you are used to.

Click Here (coffeeforums.co.uk)(over-Pressure-Valve)-Gaggia-Classic

 
D4F also at
http://www.gaggiausersgroup.com/
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