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timmyjj21

Gaggia Classic preheater box

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All credits go to this person:

http://randytsuchpreheater.blogspot.co.uk/2009/11/gaggia-preheater-construction-rev-1.html

 

 

 

Since I was pulling apart my Classic today, I thought I should finally take some photos of the preheater mod I did a number of months ago.

 

I spent a while looking at possible electrical enclosures that might match. Specifically aluminium with IP68 rating. Of course this rating is for water getting *in* and not for holding pressure, but it was a place to start. Most importantly, the Bud Industries enclosures have a single continuous gasket with no join. Almost every other electrical enclosure I looked at had a gasket strip that was inserted and then cut to size. Not good for holding 9BAR of pressure!

 

I initially made the mistake of ordering a Bud Industries AN-1302 electrical enclosure from Mouser.com as it was the biggest that would fit inside the machine and had nice slots to place dividing inserts. Unfortunately it couldn't hold the pressure, bowed out the lid, and blew the gasket immediately.

Back to the drawing board I coughed up for another import - This time the AN-1301-A, which is equivalent to what the blogger used initially. It is smaller and the screws are closer together, so it holds the lid down and prevents it from bowing out with the pressure. I jammed a piece of aluminium sheet diagonally across the inside to create a partial divider for water flow.

 

The enclosure has a pretty small volume and I thought that having most of the preheated water vanish down the OPV was not useful, so I inserted another OPV right after the pump:

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Adjustable-Over-Pressure-Valve-OPV-1-4-suit-Gaggia-Coffee-Machine-Maker-/400777270392?hash=item5d502fd478

To complete the fit, the OPV needed an extra connector plus a 1/8 to 1/8 adapter, which I actually already had lying around.

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/2-Pcs-1-8-PT-Male-to-6mm-Tee-Coupling-Tube-Connector-Quick-Coupler-Fitting-/121726468544?hash=item1c577681c0

@Norvin kindly donated a Gaggia coffee deluxe boiler inlet many (many!) months ago, so I completely removed my normal OPV. However, you can just adjust the normal OPV so that it doesn't open and all water flows through it.

 

Since the Gaggia Classic uses 6mm Teflon tube from the pump, connecting it all together is fairly simple.

I used these to get Teflon tube from the pump/OPV to the enclosure:

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/High-Temperature-Food-Grade-Push-in-Fittings-Elbow-Male-Stud-bspp-Air-Steam-/111192949040?var=&hash=item19e39dc130

This involved tapping a 1/8BSP thread into each side of the enclosure. The push fit elbows provided a nice, solid, leak proof seal. The elbows swivel and allow the tube to rotate so moving the tubes around hasn't caused leaks.

 

The box mounts onto the flat of the boiler nicely. Pick your method of mounting it, but I used large cable ties scavenged from the street!

You could also file/sand and level the boiler surface and then use thermal paste, but I really just wanted to warm the incoming water and try to avoid having it boil when steaming. Letting the Gaggia warm up for 15 minutes is plenty of time to passively heat this box.

 

I have been using this daily for nearly 4 months without issues. Shots are more stable, with the PID showing no temperature drop when pulling a standard double basket shot. I would normally get a 2-3 degree drop registering before this mod. It is a lot simpler than ridiculously coiling copper pipe around the boiler, plus it is more effective since the preheated water is not wasted down the OPV.

 

 

Sorry, the internal machine pic is a bit confusing - I have a PID, integrated shot timer, plus a half completed volumetric counter designed to pause the shot timer when the preset volume is reached... Wires going everywhere!

 

 

IMG_20160811_133353.jpg

IMG_20160811_113237.jpg

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IMG_20160811_113256.jpg

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Great idea...so much neater than the copper tubing. Did you redo the auto-tune on the PID after you installed this? Just presuming it changed the way the machine heats up and cools down a bit.


Heavily modified Gaggia Classic including Slayer-inspired needle valve flow profiling, brew+steam PID and a preheat enclosure with in-line OPV. Motta Competition 58.4mm tamper. Baratza Sette 270

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ahh the old two cable ties cascade trick - optimised by using black and white :)


The more I learn, the less I know!

 

Rancillio Rocky:) Gaggia Classic :) 18g VST

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I actually didn't do anything with the PID settings! I probably should run another auto tune but the machine has been heating without issue.

I've never been sure about when to actually tune it; do you do it when cold, or do it when fully warmed up?

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I actually didn't do anything with the PID settings! I probably should run another auto tune but the machine has been heating without issue.

I've never been sure about when to actually tune it; do you do it when cold, or do it when fully warmed up?

 

I think (from reading things from others on here) you're supposed to let it get to Sv temp. for about 2 hours (so it's as stable as possible) and then start the auto-tune process. I doubt it's making much of a difference though - the preheater will probably do nothing but reduce the cooling mid-shot. Will definitely be doing this in the near future!

 

One question: how long did the enclosure take to arrive after you ordered it?


Heavily modified Gaggia Classic including Slayer-inspired needle valve flow profiling, brew+steam PID and a preheat enclosure with in-line OPV. Motta Competition 58.4mm tamper. Baratza Sette 270

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I didn't use any extra sealant. The silicon seal for the box has been effective, and the push-fit elbows I specifically picked because they are rated for high pressure and temperature.

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interesting which option is better for temperature stability: this box or a copper tube.


La Marzocco Linea 1EE || Baratza Sette

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The box is a lot easier to make!

I saw lots of comments about the small volume of water inside the copper tube, but never bothered.to measure the volume of the box.

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Ok, I've ordered all the parts I'll need, and will be hoping to put it together over the weekend/early next week! Not sure what I can add that @timmyjj21 hasn't already covered but I'll put my experiences up in case anyone else is interested :)

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As a quick update, I'm still just waiting for a 1/4-1/8 connector to turn up before I can crack on (as I'm careless and ordered a 1/4 OPV rather than 1/8...), hopefully tomorrow.

 

I'm going to use this as an opportunity to do a mini-overhaul on the machine, and add some insulation to the case, as well as replace some of the screws in the group head with brass.

 

Edit: Well, I'm not going to pretend it hasn't been a bit of a ball-ache; have gut the traditional cuts all over my hands and have been troubleshooting leaking issues. I think I've finally isolated it down to needing an o-ring for one of the connectors, so hopefully that'll be the final piece.

Edited by Quetzalcoatsy

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