No, I did turn off the Steam switch, and turned ON only Brew switch.
Futher, after some tinkering, I do get some water when brewing, but the pressure is not enough for the water to come out in a normal configuration so I had to untighten the springball assembly half-way. THis way it seems to put the water through.
Probably not enough pressure, or, as I suspect, the boiler is gunky.
I gave the boiler total overhaul. The removal of it was amost a snap. It is much easier than many people think. The only thing I recommend strongly: take a scotch tape and mark every wire you disconnect in a manner so you won't think twice where it goes when you assemble it back.
As I expected, there were milk curds inside the boiler. Plus some deposits. The copper tube through which the water goes out of boiler was partly obstructed with some mix of milk curds and copper rust. I used Q-tips and some wire to clean it.
After cleaning everything was neat, the deposits mostly removed, the pathways cleaned, all the holes looking clean and well-open.
When putting everything back together I tightened the springball assembly all the way, not partly like I had it before.
Now, I was hoping, the water would come out gushing when I start brewing.
Well....t did not. First when water was cold it seemed to come out better, but as the machine heats up, the water started barely coming out. With the PF and coffee in place the pump's releas valve actually opens and the water comes back to the water tank. I barely managed making 1/2 oz of something really bad because it took 40 seconds. I tried to adjust the grind - no effect. Seeml like it is not really the coffee that chokes the pump.
Eventually I released a bit the springball assembly a thread or two. After this, like it was before, machine is brewing fine.
What's interesting, when it brews this way, the espresso comes out just fine - with good crema, with right timing when grind and tamp is right, and tasty enough.
I thought it is a pump that does not deliver enough pressure. However, with partly released springball, the machine handles really finely ground and hard-tamped coffee and makes good shots. Also, with the springball tightened all the way, the release valve in the pump opens, letting water back to the tank, which may mean that the pump is OK and pressure is OK too. Plus the water coming out of steam wand, if the knob is open, comes out under a lot of pressure: when I hold a cup under it, it will reflect from the cup's bottom, and fly out: the stream is really strong. And, also, the water flow from teh brewhead seems to diminish with tempereature rise. And, I inspected the boiler and there is NO obstructions whatsoever. Good, clean boiler now.
All this makes me think it is.....the springball assembly. Either the spring is too hard, or the ball (seems to be some kind of rubber material) expands with temperature so much that it blocks the flow, or the combination of both.
At this point since it actually brews, I am unwilling to invest in experiments with new pump, since I think it will be to no avail whatsoever given what I see. Maybe the new springball assembly. ------------------------------------ -----------------------------------
ardy2d Senior Member Joined: 22 Jun 2004 Posts: 62 Location: San Jose Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: Old Gaggia Grinder: Old Gaggia mdf Roaster: Popper--original poppery
Posted Sat Aug 14, 2004, 9:17pm Subject: Re: Gaggia Coffee won't brew. A technical question.
Disclaimer---I aint no expert but....
This sounds similar to the problem I had with my Gaggia coffee In short... it was the pump... which was good enough to pump water though the wand with no resistance, but not through the spring valve above the shower head.
It was pretty easy to replace (for me anyway)
I found the best price on the part at home expresso repair in seattle
for what its worth... I would expect your boiler to be pretty heavily calcified too
Kaanage You are correct and I am an idiot for not reading his last post. Still, I think my oriinal thought is correct.... for reasons below:
Either the pump is fine (correct pressure) or not.
Consider the alternative that the pump is still delivering correct pressure In this case, either the spring valve has some how become defective, or there is a pressure relief valve that is bleading off pressure prematurely so that it cannot pass the sping valve.
My Coffee Gaggia does not include a 3 way solenoid valve Frankly, I have not looked at this part of the machine... I cannot rule out some sort of failure of pressure relief system.
But spring valve failure seems logically unlikely... and observationally infrequent. That is to say... there is no reason to think a spring would gain strength to fail over time... And the hard rubber ball likewise seems to be fine and unlikely to fail in this way in any case. The original poster has disassembleed the sping valve so dirt in the spring valve seems to be ruled out as a source of failure. It is possible that someone has previeusly tred to tweak or exchange the spring.... but again this seems unlikely
Now let's consider that the pump may have failed It can fail catastophically (not the case) or gradually lose pressure. If gradual failure were the case , the pump pressure would reduce until the point where water will no longer pass the sping valve. I note here that this is exatly what happened when the pump in my Coffee Gaggia machine failed. If this were the case (gradual loss of pump pressure) and the spring valve were loosened... then you would get restored water flow through the loosened spring valve (albeit at a reduced pressure lets say 5- bar) You could still get brewing from a reduced pressure flow with a slight ( and likely unnoticable) increase in the coarseness of coffee grind. Of course there would be a reduction in espresso quality This reduced quality would probably be identified by an expert.... But the 5-bar espresso would probably seem to be pretty good to a novice And I think it is likely that the original poster is somewhat of a novice since an experienced espresso fiend would be unlikely to buy used Coffee Gaggia machine sight unseen.
Posted Mon Aug 16, 2004, 4:27pm Subject: Re: Gaggia Coffee won't brew. A technical question.
Mike spawned a few threads on this subject so the discussion is spread around. See here where we went into it further. I would think his Mazzer Mini and La Pavoni Europiccola would give him a reasonable baseline on what espresso should taste like.
Kaanage You raise an interesting (for me) though tangential question
"How might one evaluate the relative coffee expertise of some other unlnown person?"
At first consideration, it is tempting to see someone using a Mazzer and conclude that he must have some expertise. But I would not evaluate a person's driving skill based upon the car he drives, nor his golfing skills based upon his golf kit.
I would say the tipping point in my own case was when I started roasting my own beans.... before then, I would be a novice no matter what equipment I used.
I would also like to clarify that my comments about mozh's possible expertise. I think that only about 5... or possibly 10% of the readers of coffee geek really have become true experts. FOr many of us (including myself) having very very good coffee ia good enough. Since I typically drink cappuchinos with sugar, a little sourness or bitterness is easy to miss. And even my poorest product is still miles ahead of what I can get at any coffee shop I have been to.
Having used a Coffee Gaggia machine for about 7 years I am all too familiar with its limitations to achieve optimal results. Tiny boiler, no soleniod pressure relief system, and worst of all, mine is set to a brew temp of 175. These limitations are likely to have a much greater impact on espresso quality than the drop in brewing pressure that I speculated was the problem with morh's machine.
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