JR Senior Member Joined: 31 Mar 2003 Posts: 1,833 Location: Germantown, TN (right next to Elvistown) Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: New but inop Quickmill... Grinder: Baratza Forté, Cunill... Drip: Bona Vita (Thermal) Roaster: GG/UFO
Posted Tue Apr 1, 2003, 7:43pm Subject: Old Coffee Gaggia
I recently picked up a ~20-year-old Coffee Gaggia at a thrift shop for $15. This one has the 3-way solenoid and 1500 watt boiler. The boiler appears to leak where the top half joins the base. This is one of the boilers with the aluminum top and brass (I think) base. I took it apart and found it pitted and rough where it is supposed to seal. The rubber seal was rough as well. I also have doubts about the pump. It does not appear to be original. My questions:
Does anyone know where I can get replacement boilers or parts?
Can I get a machine shop to mill the surface smooth? (It wouldn't take much)
Where can I get replacement seals?
Where can I get a replacement pump?
Is this worth the effort and cost? (for someone who otherwise will continue to use a steam-powered espresso machine)
There was a posting in this forum from about a year ago from someone else with the same machine, but he didn't say how it turned out.
I've been to espressoparts.com, but didn't see anything listed that looks like what I have.
You're in luck. As long as you have some mechanical ability this machine is really easy to work on. The biggest problem you have already identified: The mating edge of the aluminum top half to the brass bottom. I mounted the top half of my boiler in a lathe and turned the edge of it down. The machinist where I worked helped me. If you go to a machine shop to have it done, it will probably be pricy. Be very careful, as the boiler is irreplaceable! These older boilers are three times the size of current gaggia boilers, and they no longer make them. So don't break off the heating element tips. The boiler seal, and the group head gasket (older blue one) are both available from www.electra-craft.com. You will have to call them to order. The gaskets are about $18 for both. Why do you think the pump was replaced? If it works, I wouldn't mess with it. But if it does need replacing it costs around $40. I can't write as much as I want to right now (I'm at work) but suffice it to say I can probably answer every question you have about this machine. Yes it is worthwhile to refurbish it, as it is the equivalent of the current $400 gaggia classics. The biggest flaw it has is the lack of any diffuser for the water exiting the grouphead. The single small hole above the dispersion screen tends to dig a hole in the puck. It is a great machine to learn on, and a real step up from steam toys. I assume that the one you have came with the portafilter handle and baskets? Otherwise you will have to purchase these too. Actually even if you have the portafilter handle, you will eventually want to replace it. For some reason Gaggia saw fit to make these old ones out of aluminum. The new ones are chromed brass, and are a lot better. Feel free to email me, and later I will write what you really need to know about this machine.
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Well, I found someone with a lathe who was willing to work on my boiler. He ground it down so that almost all of the pitting is gone, but it now leaks worse than before. The original boiler gasket was badly caked with mineral deposits, and now that they're gone, I'm just not getting a good seal. I'm going to have to wait for the new gasket to come in.
I also discovered my water reservoir is cracked in one corner, so it leaks. I'm not sure whether to try Crazy Glue, JB Weld, or something else. Any advice?
Yes, the new boiler seal is a necessity. It will also most likely be necessary to shorten your bolts that hold the boiler together. You can check this by taking the seal out, and screwing one bolt back in. It should screw tightly enough so that it is difficult to move the two halves, eventhough there is only one bolt holding it. If it doesn't (like mine didn't) you will have to shorten the stainless bolts.
As for the water container, I would try some epoxy that mixes together, or the type that sort of melts the plastic. Do it on the outside only. We have a pourover coffee maker at work that has a plastic reservoir, and it leaks too, even though it has had a bunch of stuff slatherd over the crack.
I've got to go right now, but I will get around to writing the long description at some point.
Please remember CoffeeKids throughout the year: www.coffeekids.org
Just an update for anyone who might be interested. I got the new boiler gasket, and installed it.
However, the top thermostat went bad when I had the boiler apart to grind the mating surface. I could not get current accross the thermostat. I pried it open and tinkered with it (bad move!) and got it to "work"--just long enough to blow out the thermal fuse on the boiler. But the good part is, no leaks, even at a temp high enough to blow the fuse!
So, back to Electra-craft for parts: Thermostat, thermal fuse, and a new water tank (turns out the new tanks will fit the old machines). Once I get the new parts in, I'll post another update.
I've now sunk about $63 into this machine. Hopefully, that will do it for a little while. The only thing left that's still questionable is the pump.
Just a quick question. What do you recommend using to seal boiler gaskets with. I completely refurbished my 70's lever group Gaggia last year and used a product called Loctite 510. It is amazing stuff. Its pink and gloopy and only sets when under pressure and in the absence of air. I ended up using it for all of the copper joints and all of the gaskets. The only thing I don't know is how it will wear of the years.
pressurestat Senior Member Joined: 25 Apr 2003 Posts: 10 Location: London Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: Gaggia Lever, Bezzera 2000 Grinder: Mazzer Mini Drip: Gaggia Bulk brewer for above
Posted Thu May 1, 2003, 4:05am Subject: Re: Old Coffee Gaggia
You should use some sort of sealant on boiler and group head to boiler gaskets. I am not personally familier with your machine but if it only has 4 bolts holding the boiler plate on, even more a reason to use a gasket sealant.
it is a cynoacrylate based sealant, ie super glue, but it only seals and sets when under pressure and in the absence of air. Which is exactly what happens inside a gasket joint. It is approved for use on potable water and its performance does not degrade over the temperature and pressure ranges found inside most boilers.
I have rebuilt a dual lever italcrem and a dual lever Gaggia both 1970's ish and have not had a single leak anywhere after using this stuff. Much better than silicone and way better than PTFE tape.
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