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Gaggia Coffee won't brew. A technical question.
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Discussions > Espresso > Q and A > Gaggia Coffee...  
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morzh
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morzh
Joined: 25 Nov 2003
Posts: 152
Location: NJ
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: La Pavoni Europiccola...
Grinder: Mazzer Mini
Posted Wed Jul 14, 2004, 1:26pm
Subject: Gaggia Coffee won't brew. A technical question.
 

Hey guys,

I am in a bit of a situation: I've bought Pretty new looking Gaggia Coffee on E-bay, and pretty inexpensive too. The description claimed "works perfectly", the guy's feedback was OK, though not brilliant.

Now that it came, and I staryed it, first, as manual says, I warmed it up for 6 minutes, opened the steam knob, and then flipped both "Brew" and "Steam" switches to let water run through the steaming wand. Which it did.
The water came out of weird blew-milky color and continued to do so for 4 or 5 full size cups.
Then it started getting clear, but for 3-4 more cups it came with small amount of  small black particles.
Eventually it cleared.

After that, as manual says, I put a cup under the brewhead, closed the steam knob, and wanted to run water through the brewhead.
WHich did not happen: although the pump was trying to push water, nothing came out, except few dirty drops.

I did, prior to starting all this, unscrew the "shower" plate and clean it thoroughly, so it is not a problem.



Now, what can it be and how laborious is the enterprise of dismembering the brewhead and cleaning it, if it is what's required.

If not, what else can I do?

Short of sending the machine back: the shipping is not cheap, and the machine itself did not cost that much, so I am all up for trying fixing it.

I am an Electrical Engineer myself, and in teh course of my life happened to fix zillion of electrical stuff - from TV sets and computers (MOBO and even harddrive repair included, those were desperate times and they called for desperate measures) to toasters and huge NC machining centers.
Everything you can think of.

But first prior to adding espresso machine to my record I'd like to hear from experienced people.

Hopefully from AABRE TECH too.


---------




Update:

When taking a closer look at the spring-ball assembly, I found that if tightened all the way it leaves little way for the water to escape. I also think the tightening itself is there to regulate at what pressure the ball will open the water jet. I left the hex hollow nut-bolt with the hole , that holds and tightens the whole assembly, tightened not all the way but half-way, also trying to alighn the sideholes at the hex cap with two slots in the cylinder which it goes to (I don't know if all this is correct, but.....).




Still: as I go by a hunch and know not the real rules I still want to solicit opinions from all, and I especially am interested in those from people with experience, and if there are coffemachine techs here - I'd be delighted to hear from you guys.

An if somebody will e-mail me a repair manual I will be blessing this person in my mind for 2.5 hours straight (whatever effect it may have on you - I am not responsible).

Cheers!


Mike.
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kaanage
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Joined: 31 Mar 2004
Posts: 1,452
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Bezerra BZ99, Gaggia...
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Posted Thu Jul 15, 2004, 7:44pm
Subject: Re: Gaggia Coffee won't brew. A technical question.
 

See this thread where Doug & I discussed the same problem with his Gaggia.

Greg

 
do'in it on the cheap
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CremaGuy
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Roaster: P1 Poppery (modified), FR+...
Posted Thu Jul 15, 2004, 8:05pm
Subject: Re: Gaggia Coffee won't brew. A technical question.
 

You've got two threads going on your Gaggia.  It's not clear where you are with this machine.   Have you gotten it to brew yet?

Patrick
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morzh
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morzh
Joined: 25 Nov 2003
Posts: 152
Location: NJ
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: La Pavoni Europiccola...
Grinder: Mazzer Mini
Posted Fri Jul 16, 2004, 6:53am
Subject: Re: Gaggia Coffee won't brew. A technical question.
 

Sort of, but I am not sure how everything should be.

I am not even sure how the water coming of the shower should look: in my case after all the work I've done (it did not come out at all), and loosening the assembly (which I am not sure should be the case), it looks like weeping on the shower screen. I have an impression, someone was truing to get to the showerscreen with some fine sandpaper from outside - it look matte, not glossy. But the holes seem to be OK, after I really cleaned them with baking soda, a needle and a sope. It was really gunky.


Is there any sort of repai manula for Gaggias?
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CremaGuy
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Joined: 22 Jul 2003
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Posted Fri Jul 16, 2004, 11:32am
Subject: Re: Gaggia Coffee won't brew. A technical question.
 

Mike,
         I can help you with gettting it working properly.  I used to have one until just recently and know what makes them tick.  They are rather low-tech to put it mildly.    My gut feeling is that you've bought a Gaggia with a badly corroded boiler from ebay.  The boiler corrosion problem is a common one with this machine.  The particles from the boiler can create lots of problems.    However, from your profile it looks like you have a mazzer mini grinder.  If the pump is producing correct pressure you should be able to get a good shot out of the machine - assuming you have fresh-roasted beans.  Are you grinding/tamping correctly or are you unsure of your grinding/tamping skills?    I'd recommend that you forget (for now) about how the water looks when it comes out of the showerhead (unless you continue to see large particles in it - trap the water in a clear or white bowl).  Concentrate on grinding/tamping correctly and then let us know what you see/taste coming out the portafilter.  Your mazzer can choke the gaggia easliy so if you don't see much coming out, back off on the grinder and try again until the flow rate is correct (27seconds).  Let us know what you see/taste.

Patrick
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morzh
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morzh
Joined: 25 Nov 2003
Posts: 152
Location: NJ
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: La Pavoni Europiccola...
Grinder: Mazzer Mini
Posted Fri Jul 16, 2004, 12:43pm
Subject: Re: Gaggia Coffee won't brew. A technical question.
 

Patric,

Thanks for answering.

It is not a grind/tamp. Why do I know it? Simple: the water did not come out without the PF in place. If I did not write it - sorry.
That is the problem: it came out from the Steamjet, and would not come out of the showerhead or from the empty PF (with no coffee) in place.

The machine indeed lo=tech, you are right. I am pretty sure I can take the boiler apart, I just prefer to resort to drastic surgical measures after I tried all the therapeutic ones, like adjusting ballvalve tension, cleaning stuff etc.

I am not a big expert in tamping/grinding but I was able to make La Pavoni brew decent stuff (I don't claim it to be really good yet - La Pavoni requires you to piss the hell out of your spouse by diverting all available attention to it before it will benignly produce the first decent shot).

I am not sure, Like I said, about all those half-tightened screws I left in place. I have to yet to try to tighten them again after I got the water out and see if maybe something cleaned out and it will give out water with everything tightened all the way.


Any additional thoughts will be also appreciated.


Thanks again,

Mike.
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CremaGuy
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Joined: 22 Jul 2003
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Location: Renton, Wa.
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Posted Fri Jul 16, 2004, 2:51pm
Subject: Re: Gaggia Coffee won't brew. A technical question.
 

morzh Said:

Patric,
It is not a grind/tamp. Why do I know it? Simple: the water did not come out without the PF in place. If I did not write it - sorry.
That is the problem: it came out from the Steamjet, and would not come out of the showerhead or from the empty PF (with no coffee) in place.

Posted July 16, 2004 link

Okay let me see if I understand what you're saying:
  1. You fill the reservior and hit the brew switch.
  2. Nothing comes out from the grouphead - nothing at all regardless of whether the portafilter is attached - correct?

If this is the case, either your grouphead spring valve is clogged with junk from inside a badly corroded boiler (an extreme case) or your pump is bad.    First step would be to remove the grouphead spring valve.  do this by removing the showerhead screen (held on by a phillips head screw) and then removing the dispersion disk behind it (held on with two allen screws).  Now you will see a hex-head (about 9/16") top of the grouphead spring valve.  The grouphead spring valve is actually in two pieces screwed together (hex) - something like a hollow bolt. A spring and rubber valve plug are inside.   You should take it apart and note if there's alot of crud inside; then clean it.  Also note if the rubber valve plug is badly worn.  While it's disassembled, run lots of water through the boiler to flush it.  You should catch this water in a clear or white bowl to see if it has lots of large particles in it.  Then re-assemble the valve carefully and tighten the two pieces together fairly snugly and screw it back into place in the grouphead with a somewhat lighter torque than you used when assembling the two pieces together - this way the two pieces will come out together if you have to remove them together (hope that made sense).  Now reassemble the disk/screen and let us know what happens.

Let me know if any aspect of this isn't clear.  If you're lucky your pump is still good.

Patrick
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morzh
Senior Member
morzh
Joined: 25 Nov 2003
Posts: 152
Location: NJ
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: La Pavoni Europiccola...
Grinder: Mazzer Mini
Posted Fri Jul 16, 2004, 7:56pm
Subject: Re: Gaggia Coffee won't brew. A technical question.
 

Patric,

Thanks. In the beginnig of this thread I actually described doing exactly what you here just told me to do.
I took off the showerscreen, then unscrewed two allen bolts, then unscrewed the hex bolt that holds the spring-ball assembly. Cleaned everything, put it back. And so on.
IT kinda works when it is not tightened all the way. The details are above.


Mike.
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CremaGuy
Senior Member


Joined: 22 Jul 2003
Posts: 227
Location: Renton, Wa.
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Anita HX
Grinder: Rancilio Rocky
Drip: Pitcher/Strnr, Presto...
Roaster: P1 Poppery (modified), FR+...
Posted Fri Jul 16, 2004, 9:56pm
Subject: Re: Gaggia Coffee won't brew. A technical question.
 

morzh Said:

Thanks. In the beginnig of this thread I actually described doing exactly what you here just told me to do  ....IT kinda works when it is not tightened all the way

Posted July 16, 2004 link

Mike,
         I (for one) find your descriptions extremely unclear - almost incoherent.  You may want to re-check them before sending to make sure that they are readable and clearly expressed.  

Regarding the water at the grouphead, "kinda-works" is not good enough.  You should be able to tighten the grouphead valve (don't put it in loose) and expect the water to come out at full pressure.    If the passageways in the spring valve are clear ( no large particles from the boiler blocking them) then there's absolutely no reason the water shouldn't come out through the "puck" at a full 9atmospheres (roughly 135psi) as long as it's not ground over-finely.  Otherwise you need to start suspecting the pump - it might be defective.  

      The purpose of the spring valve is as follows:

The boiler operates at two pressures: High pressure for Brewing (about 135psi) and Low pressure for steam (roughly 10psi).   The spring valve won't open at low pressure; it only opens at high pressure.  So when you're steaming milk it stays closed and no water comes out the grouphead in spite of the fact that the boiler pressure is some 10psi due to the steam in the semi-enclosed boiler chamber.  But when you're brewing, the valve at the steam wand (the steam valve) is closed and the high-pressure pump is pumping water into the boiler at about 135psi.  This is more than enough to force the grouphead spring valve open so the water comes out the grouphead valve; it has nowhere else to go.    If you hear the pump working and the water fails to come out of the grouphead at high pressure,  your pump is most likely defective.  

Hope this helps...

Patrick
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gdsexyboy
Senior Member


Joined: 22 Jul 2004
Posts: 1
Location: Edinburgh
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Gaggia Classic
Grinder: Gaggia MM
Posted Thu Jul 22, 2004, 5:37am
Subject: Re: Gaggia Coffee won't brew. A technical question.
 

I also have a Gaggia.

I may be misunderstanding your first post but I read as follows:

1) You switched on 'steam' switch and 'brew' switch with steam valve open and water came out steam nozzle (though milky).  This seems correct though you may have a scale problem.

2) You then closed steam nozzle and no water came out of portafilter?  Water will only come out of portafilter if ONLY 'brew' switch is on.  If steam switch is on water will not come out of portafilter (even if steam nozzle is closed).

Try switching only 'brew' switch on with steam nozzle closed, water should come out of PF no-problems.  I have observed this myself, and it confused me for a while.

Gareth
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