Yep, so I bought this refurbished Gaggia Baby twin almost 2 years ago from WholeLatteLove and it has been nothing, but problems from about 6 months after I got (right about the time the warranty ran out!). Anyway the newest problem has been reall difficult to diagnose; I think it might be electrical, or maybe it's two (or more different problems). So recently the steam has been "fading". Never a problem before, but now after about 20-30sec, it starts fizzling out and all the buttons on the keypad start blinking. If I close the valve and let it recover (little bioler light stops blinking) it last for even less time (but first produces a bunch of water before steam comes out again). Since this has started happening, I've also been unable to use the programmable shot feature when pulling a shot. It starts off OK, but whne it gets to about the 2 once mark all the lights start blinking again and it just keeps on brewing. It gets cleaned and descaled regularly, so I think we can eliminate that possibility.
After reading some reviews, post purchase (yes I know this is not a very helpful order of doing things) I'm realizing that this maching is not highly recommended and tends to be problematic. Still, I'm not afraid to pull it apart and replace what it needs; it used to make decent esspresso and steamed milk. My problem is I'd like to narrow down the cause so that I on't spend the purchase price in replacing parts. Any ideas what could be wrong? Any help from the community is appreciated. Thanks.
It's weird isn't it? These Baby Twins make pretty good lattes when they work. They are frustrating - especially the steaming. And, as you point out they get a lot of bad press. Still, I have yet to find a response to a question like yours where someone has a problem with one and there's a detailed response as to how to fix it. What do people do, throw them out? I still resent Whole Latte Love for telling me they were "upgrading" my order for a Classic and selling me a Baby Twin.
Well, I couldn't wait for help, so I figured that I'd dive in and maybe the problem would become obvious (or at least I could possibly eliminate some other variables). I figured, what do I have to lose, right? The machine doesnít work, and itís not under warranty anymore soÖPlus I had some excellent help (see helper pic). I was right, the problem did become obvious: severe clogging of the 3-way solenoid valve manifold (where it attaches to the boiler - manifold pics). Not all that surprising, right? What was surprising was the type and amount of material causing the clog. At first I thought it was scale, but that didnít make sense; I clean and descale regularly. Plus, I use only RO water in the machine (our tap water is horrible), so scale really should be a big issue for me. I went this far so, I opened the boiler. Wow (boiler pics)! What it looks like to me is that something was causing corrosion of the inside of the aluminum boiler. And, it was fairly extensive. The corrosion was causing the exfoliation and pitting of the aluminum boiler and subsequently, the exfoliated aluminum became free to clog any of the exit pathways of the boiler. So, what Iím wondering is, what caused this to happen and how can I keep it from continuing to happen? Hopefully Iím not the cause of this condition (I did purchase this machine ďrefurbishedĒ). Even if I am, I may pass the buck. Iím wondering if a previous owner may have used something like white vinegar to descale. Supposedly Aluminum can corrode in an acid or basic environment and the hot boiler may have exacerbated this condition even more especially if the water they used was conductive (hard, salty). My other question is: Is it new boiler time or can this one be fixed; grind and polish the pitted areas to reduce/eliminate the reactive surface? My only other concern is, if this is something that I caused, I need to know so I donít wreck another boiler (at 75 bucks a pop). In any case, I truly believe that this has been the cause of most, if not all, of the problems Iíve had with this machine thus far. Hopefully this may help others that have problems with theĒ twinsĒ. I would welcome and sincerely appreciate any ideas, advice, recommendations, scolding, etc. that the forum members are willing to bestow. Thanks again.
The short version is pure water + CO2 give carbonic acid and is not good for Gaggia aluminum. Water will get the CO2 from the air. RO water and and distilled water need baking soda to make sure that the ph does not get acidic. Many would say that RO and distilled should not be used and do not optimize taste. The good news is that you may be responsible, :) and can easily change water.
OK, I'm trying it again. Seemed to work when I sent it to myself.
Thanks for the response and link to the light reading on water. Very informative. Well, I'm not going to beat myself up too bad on this one. I'll chalk it up to ignorance especially for the Gaggia aluminum boiler (and by the way, when I was first having problems with this machine the tech folks at WLL didn't say not to use strait RO water in this machine after I told them that I was...). I'm gointo have to do the RO + baking soda fix. Our water is just too terrible in terms of taste and disolved scale forming minerials (Ca, K and Mn). If you've ever seen the "bathtub ring" around lake mead you'd understand.
So any ideas if I can sand this boiler out till it's smooth/polished, or is there no chance or sense in saving it?
Most boiler will seal if the O ring/boiler gasket is replaced, and if the surfaces are pitted, then a thin layer of high temperature/RTV silicone. The insides can usually be Dremel wire brushed if needed. Sometimes it is just a judgement call that you can try to fix and replace if you cannot seal.
Try a simple photo and then size down until it fits the limits of this site, or if you want it large, then a photo link.
Sorry again. Same problem. I also tried word doc with pictures inserted, but again just a blank page shows up when I upload (looked at the preview before a posted that time - see, I can learn, I'm just slow). Guess I'll have to post these one at a time. It won't let me post multiple pics (or again, I'm an idiot). Thanks for the advice, please let me know if this one works.
I think the flange (for lack of a better word) section of the boiler is OK. It wasn't leaking and not badly pitted in this location. I think I can clean that up sufficiently to avoid any mating/laking problems. The rest I believe can be cleaned up as well depending on what surface I need to achieve. Should I coat the inside with silicone as well, or just "polish to remove the pits and exfoliating areas. Any suggestions about how smooth a surface I need to end up with?
I'm attaching a pic of the boiler. For fun I can post another showing what was left in the bottom of the boiler when I opened it up...
I think that it should clean up fine. If I am looking at the properties of the picture correctly it is about 8kb and that does not allow it to enlarge when I click on it. It can be sized to about 75kb and will appear small until clicked on.
I cannot see the O ring grove, but you can see from here
You can surface the boiler easily with fairly fine sand paper on a piece of flat glass and moving the boiler. Stay out of the groove with abrasives other than to get it clean or you will make it too large. You can't really use anything on the boiler that you do not want to flake off or drink. So, nothing "inside." You can use a little RTV silicone in the part 28 area and outward. You can find some high temp silicone that is food safe for the flange/O ring, but not everyone does that as it is mostly external. If you look at the seal, it is really the O ring so pits in the flange do not matter much. Pits in the O ring groove is the reason that RTV silicone may be used.
Some clean with citric acid and then flush and some just brush with a Dremel type spinning wire brush. Though acid is not good for aluminum, the exposure is limited and flushed when you do it open system.
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