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Gaggia Classic ('98) Steam wand "upgrade", frothing pitcher, cleaning showerhead
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Gaggia Classic...  
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thoraxe
Senior Member


Joined: 4 Mar 2014
Posts: 10
Location: Atlanta
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Gaggia Classic '98
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Posted Tue Mar 4, 2014, 4:43am
Subject: Gaggia Classic ('98) Steam wand "upgrade", frothing pitcher, cleaning showerhead
 

Hi all,

Been playing with my Gaggia Classic for a month or so now, and still trying to figure out how to get good microfoam. I don't have any "good" local coffee shops very close to me, so the only time I get to interact with baristas is when I am traveling for work, which is only every few weeks (where the good coffee shop is).  I digress.

I've seen a lot of information about upgrading the Classic's steam wand to the SIlvia wand, but my Classic is really old (1998 on the sticker on the bottom). I'm not sure if that means I need a different type of Silvia wand. There are many threads all with slightly different info, so I'm wondering if anyone has a unit this old (have they changed much?) who can lend some advice.

The Classic I have has the old-style metal wand with the metal sleeve and the tiny hole at the very top. I find that I get super awesome foam in my pitcher but mostly just hot milk. I may practice with soap/water like some of the videos show, but I'm wondering if the Silvia wand won't give me better performance.  Also, I'm typically only steaming 6oz of milk and pulling 2oz of espresso.  Is a 12oz pitcher too small for 6oz of milk? Anyone have luck with the Ikea 17oz pitcher?

Second question - the previous owner didn't maintain the unit all that well, and the showerhead is not completely clean. I soaked in Cafiza for 30+ minutes with hot hot water but it did not dissolve the coffee in the showerhead, so some holes are still blocked. Short of using a needle to poke it all out, is there anything that will dissolve this old baked-on coffee but not damage the showerhead or potentially introduce toxins into my coffee?

Thanks in advance!
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dwRK
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Sep 2013
Posts: 92
Location: Houston
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Tue Mar 4, 2014, 6:53am
Subject: Re: Gaggia Classic ('98) Steam wand "upgrade, cleaning showerhead
 

I tape the hole so no air gets in...use the tip to control...better microfoam...no visible bubbles. I have the upgraded metal tip...probably same as yours.

I'd take off the dispersion block for cleaning too in addition to the screen. The screen is stainless steel...i hit that with detergent and descaler, and brushing. The block is aluminum so be gentle with descaler. Worst case just get new screen...cheap and readily available.
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thoraxe
Senior Member


Joined: 4 Mar 2014
Posts: 10
Location: Atlanta
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Gaggia Classic '98
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Posted Tue Mar 4, 2014, 8:38am
Subject: Re: Gaggia ('98) Steam wand "upgrade", frothing pitcher, cleaning showerhead
 

I attempted to remove the dispersion head when I first purchased it, and was unsuccessful. It is really stuck on there and I did not want to damage it. I may send the unit to Gaggia for service, but that's half as much as a new unit. If there are any suggestions on how I can get it off, let me know. It is really stuck on there and, as you said, it is soft. I may also just use it until I really have a problem.

Are you using a special brush?

Tape? That tip gets hot. What kind of tape?

My wand looks very similar to this one:
http://www.importika.com/email/090712/wand-2.jpg
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,181
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4, Pharos,...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Tue Mar 4, 2014, 9:27am
Subject: Re: Gaggia ('98) Steam wand "upgrade", frothing pitcher, cleaning showerhead
 

thoraxe Said:

...I may also just use it until I really have a problem.

Posted March 4, 2014 link

Sorry, please don't take this wrong. I only mean it in a helpful way...but you do "really have a problem."  All that gunk preventing you from removing the shower screen is ruining any chance you have of making a good shot.  The lucky thing is...as you said...you don't often have a chance to visit a good cafe and (this too is not meant to insult you) probably don't have a solid foundation in what really good espresso tastes like.  It's likely your shots are only acceptable in milk drinks.

I say all that to help you realize you need to get that screen off and get your group clean.  Do it carefully and don't be afraid to replace parts.  There's a ton of info out there on rebuildiing G.C.s, so it's fixable - even self-fixable.  Look at some blowup parts diagrams and see what parts you need, get them before you start working on it, so you're not kicking yourself halfway through the project - when you don't have something you should have known you might need.  I've been there...it's not fun!

It's always good to have an extra shower screen and group gasket on hand, no matter what machine you own, so it's not like buying, at the very least, the two of those is going to be a waste of money.  In fact, considering the current condition of your machine, I suggest getting two group gaskets - one for now (it would be shocking if yours is in good condition) and one to have for future replacement.

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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D4F
Senior Member


Joined: 15 Mar 2012
Posts: 2,023
Location: USA
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic PID
Grinder: Baratza Forte-AP
Posted Tue Mar 4, 2014, 10:45am
Subject: Re: Gaggia ('98) Steam wand "upgrade", frothing pitcher, cleaning showerhead
 

A couple tricks for the dispersion screen

http://www.gaggiausersgroup.com/index.php/topic,315.0.html

http://coffeegeek.com/forums/espresso/machines/365095

Do not use a needle on the shower screen unless you are very careful. If you enlarge some holes it will not work well.  Clean again, a few times, and if not clean, replace it.

As far as the wand, look at the top end of your wand, the inserted end.  It is likely is the same as this

Click Here (www.partsguru.com)

If 49 and 51 are the same, the Silvia V.1 should be good.  One fellow with an old machine did have a problem

Click Here (www.home-barista.com)

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


Joined: 4 Mar 2014
Posts: 10
Location: Atlanta
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Gaggia Classic '98
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Posted Tue Mar 4, 2014, 1:30pm
Subject: Re: Gaggia ('98) Steam wand "upgrade", frothing pitcher, cleaning showerhead
 

emradguy Said:

Sorry, please don't take this wrong. I only mean it in a helpful way...but you do "really have a problem."  All that gunk preventing you from removing the shower screen is ruining any chance you have of making a good shot.  The lucky thing is...as you said...you don't often have a chance to visit a good cafe and (this too is not meant to insult you) probably don't have a solid foundation in what really good espresso tastes like.  It's likely your shots are only acceptable in milk drinks

Posted March 4, 2014 link

When I come to Raleigh I visit the Morning Times. That is my measuring stick -- perhaps there are better lattes out there, but I find theirs to be superbly delicious compared to Starbucks (which is, at best, a hot milk drink).

I am essentially only concerned with milk drinks, and lattes only.  Hence my questions about the steam wand. I rarely drink espresso straight.

I didn't say I couldn't remove the shower screen, but rather the shower head which is bolted onto the boiler, with a gasket in between.

emradguy Said:

I say all that to help you realize you need to get that screen off and get your group clean.  Do it carefully and don't be afraid to replace parts.  There's a ton of info out there on rebuildiing G.C.s, so it's fixable - even self-fixable.  Look at some blowup parts diagrams and see what parts you need, get them before you start working on it, so you're not kicking yourself halfway through the project - when you don't have something you should have known you might need.  I've been there...it's not fun!

Posted March 4, 2014 link

The issue is that I cannot remove the shower head from the boiler. There are two bolts that hold it on and the instructions/videos/demos/etc all say "turn it". Gaggia's own video says "insert a needle-nose pliers and turn it". Well, I've turned it about as hard as I am comfortable doing and am at the point of marring/denting the head (which is soft), and it has not come off.

Since the head is bolted to the boiler with a gasket in between, until it leaks, there's not much of a problem. It means I can't get it super clean inside (I could backflush), but things taste OK so far.  Yes, parts are available, but as I cannot separate the boiler from the shower head, even buying the parts doesn't help -- hence the hesitance to send it up to Gaggia until something is "really" wrong.

I hope that makes a little sense.

I would probably need another shower head, gasket and shower screen, and possibly the bolts/hardware.  It's not a lot in parts, but removing the head from the boiler is a bigger project than I want to entertain, especially as the only next step I can think of is removing the complete boiler/head assembly together and figuring out how to really clamp onto the head (and probably destroy it in the removal process).

emradguy Said:

It's always good to have an extra shower screen and group gasket on hand, no matter what machine you own, so it's not like buying, at the very least, the two of those is going to be a waste of money.  In fact, considering the current condition of your machine, I suggest getting two group gaskets - one for now (it would be shocking if yours is in good condition) and one to have for future replacement.

Posted March 4, 2014 link

See above -- can't get the head off, so no gasket replacement.  But, yes, disassembly was actually the first thing I did the next day after I bought it, and then found I couldn't get the head off. I have an extended vacation coming up, and was thinking of sending it to Gaggia then.  I could not find a place in Atlanta that was interested in servicing this unit.
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thoraxe
Senior Member


Joined: 4 Mar 2014
Posts: 10
Location: Atlanta
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Gaggia Classic '98
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Posted Tue Mar 4, 2014, 1:39pm
Subject: Re: Gaggia ('98) Steam wand "upgrade", frothing pitcher, cleaning showerhead
 

D4F Said:

A couple tricks for the dispersion screen

http://www.gaggiausersgroup.com/index.php/topic,315.0.html

http://coffeegeek.com/forums/espresso/machines/365095

Do not use a needle on the shower screen unless you are very careful. If you enlarge some holes it will not work well.  Clean again, a few times, and if not clean, replace it.

As far as the wand, look at the top end of your wand, the inserted end.  It is likely is the same as this

Click Here (www.partsguru.com)

If 49 and 51 are the same, the Silvia V.1 should be good.  One fellow with an old machine did have a problem

Click Here (www.home-barista.com)

Posted March 4, 2014 link

Roger on the needle -- I'll probably buy a new shower screen, as they are inexpensive.

The parts diagram you show looks like the newer plastic-style panarello wand. I have the older style metal panarello wand, but it looks to have a similar top. However, mine does not have #50 on it (gasket), unless the gasket is stuck up inside 49 (steam hose). Most retro-fits I have seen have essentially only swapped #51 for the Silvia assembly.  I will poke over at the Gaggia users group for more info.

I did try the "long screw" method of removing the head, but found that I was getting pretty close to (what I felt was) stripping the threads in the head.  I did not try once the unit was hot/wet.  I will give that a whirl this weekend.

Thanks for the tips/thoughts!
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,181
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4, Pharos,...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Tue Mar 4, 2014, 3:30pm
Subject: Re: Gaggia ('98) Steam wand "upgrade", frothing pitcher, cleaning showerhead
 

sorry man, my misunderstanding.  I'll just shut up now, since you're in good hands.  Fred (D4F) will surely be able to help you

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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dwRK
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Sep 2013
Posts: 92
Location: Houston
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Tue Mar 4, 2014, 6:10pm
Subject: Re: Gaggia ('98) Steam wand "upgrade", frothing pitcher, cleaning showerhead
 

On the tape...i used high temp electrician tape i had around...its a small hole, you can plug/cover it with anything...silicone bands, , teflon tape, etc. i'd try this trick first and see if you're happy with the microfoam.

I have the same metal tip. this is a $30 "upgrade" part for gaggia...I believe it comes standard on newer more expensive models. The tape trick is a no cost OK option for microfoam...but a traditional 1 hole silvia v1 tip should be miles better. gaggia has a latte art wand upgrade but i've not tried it. this is the easiest option but I don't know why it is not popular.

The screen is stainless steel...don't worry about using strong bathroom descaler. using a needle should be OK just to pushing the "dirt" out. Unlike the basket, the screen is quite hard and if you did make a few hole bigger, I think its no big deal. My screen isn't that bad so my weekly cleaning is detergent & descaler soaking and using a tooth brush.

The dispersion block is bolted to the lower boiler/group using two metric hex bolt. Brute force is usually required to loosen and unscrew it the first time. You need a proper Allen key for the job. Don't put it back too tight.

Once the two hex bolt is removed...the dispersion block may still be "stuck". You can try to pry and knock it loose. what is holding it "stuck" is scale/dried coffee oil. I went the "slightly" brute force way instead of the screw. There is no gasket between the block and the group head...you're probably referring to the group gasket, which seals the group to the filter basket. FYI, I take the dispersion block out for cleaning every month or two.
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thoraxe
Senior Member


Joined: 4 Mar 2014
Posts: 10
Location: Atlanta
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Gaggia Classic '98
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Posted Tue Mar 4, 2014, 7:01pm
Subject: Re: Gaggia ('98) Steam wand "upgrade", frothing pitcher, cleaning showerhead
 

dwRK Said:

On the tape...i used high temp electrician tape i had around...its a small hole, you can plug/cover it with anything...silicone bands, , teflon tape, etc. i'd try this trick first and see if you're happy with the microfoam.

I have the same metal tip. this is a $30 "upgrade" part for gaggia...I believe it comes standard on newer more expensive models. The tape trick is a no cost OK option for microfoam...but a traditional 1 hole silvia v1 tip should be miles better. gaggia has a latte art wand upgrade but i've not tried it. this is the easiest option but I don't know why it is not popular.

The screen is stainless steel...don't worry about using strong bathroom descaler. using a needle should be OK just to pushing the "dirt" out. Unlike the basket, the screen is quite hard and if you did make a few hole bigger, I think its no big deal. My screen isn't that bad so my weekly cleaning is detergent & descaler soaking and using a tooth brush.

The dispersion block is bolted to the lower boiler/group using two metric hex bolt. Brute force is usually required to loosen and unscrew it the first time. You need a proper Allen key for the job. Don't put it back too tight.

Once the two hex bolt is removed...the dispersion block may still be "stuck". You can try to pry and knock it loose. what is holding it "stuck" is scale/dried coffee oil. I went the "slightly" brute force way instead of the screw. There is no gasket between the block and the group head...you're probably referring to the group gasket, which seals the group to the filter basket. FYI, I take the dispersion block out for cleaning every month or two.

Posted March 4, 2014 link

I was looking at the parts picture D4F posted and from my recollection I thought the gasket was between the dispersion block and the lower boiler, but it appears that it is not really "between".  That being said -- I will have to try to get the dispersion head off once the unit is hot next time.  I tried some light hammering and some twisting with the needle-nose pliers. Short of removing the entire assembly (boiler and all), I'm running out of ideas. I'm also not home to play with it, so that also makes me a little useless!

As for descaler, I had bought:
Click Here (www.amazon.com)

I am hoping this stuff is good enough?  That is different from Cafiza which is listed as a cleaner.  Should I try soaking the showerhead in descaler after soaking it in cafiza to clean it?

Sorry for all the questions -- I guess this is what I get for buying a used unit :)

emradguy -- no worries! I wasn't super clear in the beginning but I appreciate your input!
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