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So, I just bought my first (and second) Gaggia Classic. The quest for the ultimate build!


Zatogato
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Posted (edited)

Having fallen ill and been laid up for a while, I got back on the case again (wish life would stop getting in the way!)

With no experience in drilling stainless steel and taking a leap of faith - I decided to go for it with repairing the broken spot weld on the 2003 case. I cleaned up the rust from the leaking pump on both the bracket and in the case and then set about drilling some holes.

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It was tricky and I managed to break a drill bit in the process. One of my holes wandered lower than I planned due to the drill slipping.

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Fortunately @ratty suggested a fix. It will be slightly misaligned on the back, but at least I didn't miss the tab, so it should only a minor cosmetic botch and not overly noticeable at that. I will flat one side of the nut that I'm putting on the right hand side here to allow it to fit. That way it can still be bolted through the misplaced hole. From putting a bolt there, the shelf holds nice and stable so I think it will work.

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I also stripped down everything remaining including the OPV and solenoid. I also took the pump apart with the intention of fixing the leaking elbow but in doing so I tore the rubber mount!

Will it need replacing or is it at all possible to glue it back together? I found these replacement parts in case it is essential to replace: 

https://www.mrbean2cup.co.uk/gaggia-classic-eaton-pump-support and https://www.theespressoshop.co.uk/en/Gaggia-Classic-Ulka-Pump-Support-OEM---996530056315/m-5197.aspx. I wondered if anyone could advise whether the Ulka one will fit an Invensys pump?

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This is the part that tore as I was taking it off.

I've scrubbed the scale out of the boiler and the group head is gleaming clean - it took multiple soaks and using brass wire brush drill bits for lots of manual cleaning.

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I should be ready for reassembly tomorrow once I'm done cleaning the fully stripped down parts. All in all it ended up getting messier and more tricky than I planned but I'm definitely learning as I go!

Hopefully I'll be ready for the next stage then. A big thank you to @ratty for helping me out with advice by PM!

Edited by Zatogato
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Posted (edited)
55 minutes ago, FairRecycler said:

@Zatogato

Both ULKA and Invensys/ARS pumps have same rubber mount size.

Thanks @FairRecycler. I need to order the top plate but am holding off ordering it in case I end up needing any other parts. I'll glue this one back together with silicone glue for now and if needed will replace it with a new one that I can throw into the same order. Hopefully I can move on to the BoostBox installation shortly (finally!)

Edited by Zatogato
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Posted (edited)

Almost everything is sparkling clean and anything that doesn't have rubber in it has been lovingly bathed in citric acid. Currently in the process of lapping the boiler face which is about as enjoyable as shaving with splintered balsa wood. 🤣 Started with low grit to make it easier at P80, will probably go up to P400 but I have higher grits if that isn't polished enough.

I got tired of having to keep shaking the paper so here is my lapping station with a custom particle removal system (recorded low fps makes the fan look much lower rpm than reality). Since the dust is flying around, it turns out Covid had a micro upshot, as I happened an N95 mask going spare. 🤣 Here is my lapping station:

Also wondered what to do with this little plastic collar here:IMG_2879.thumb.jpg.3f3976062eb57e92f9defee9f3a74867.jpg

If that is acting as a seal of some kind, it would be doing a pretty poor job so would I be better off removing that and replacing with PTFE tape?

My new hinox drill bit (allegedly better than cobalt for drilling stainless) arrived today so I had a go at finishing the hole that wasn't fully done - no joy. I used lubricant and tried a slower speed but I think I might have work hardened the steel. @ratty might need help with this one if you have any get out of jail free cards for this!

Hoping I can finish reassembly today as almost all of the fiddly bits are finished.

Edited by Zatogato
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Sorry,

I just use cobalt drill bits and they go blunt after a few holes drilled through. I don't go slowly with 3mm drill bits and use quick bursts, stop let everything cool fully and then go again. It usually takes me around 4 stop and starts to get through the 1.5mm steel. 

I leave the weird gasket seal on in the picture, and not had a leak there yet.

ratty

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53 minutes ago, ratty said:

Sorry,

I just use cobalt drill bits and they go blunt after a few holes drilled through. I don't go slowly with 3mm drill bits and use quick bursts, stop let everything cool fully and then go again. It usually takes me around 4 stop and starts to get through the 1.5mm steel. 

I leave the weird gasket seal on in the picture, and not had a leak there yet.

ratty

Cheers Ratty, I might try and sharpen this one or failing that pick up a new cobalt one and hope for the best! The hole is almost done but somehow the last part doesn’t want to cut.

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4 hours ago, Zatogato said:

Almost everything is sparkling clean and anything that doesn't have rubber in it has been lovingly bathed in citric acid. Currently in the process of lapping the boiler face which is about as enjoyable as shaving with splintered balsa wood. 🤣 Started with low grit to make it easier at P80, will probably go up to P400 but I have higher grits if that isn't polished enough.

I got tired of having to keep shaking the paper so here is my lapping station with a custom particle removal system (recorded low fps makes the fan look much lower rpm than reality). Since the dust is flying around, it turns out Covid had a micro upshot, as I happened an N95 mask going spare. 🤣 Here is my lapping station:

Also wondered what to do with this little plastic collar here:IMG_2879.thumb.jpg.3f3976062eb57e92f9defee9f3a74867.jpg

If that is acting as a seal of some kind, it would be doing a pretty poor job so would I be better off removing that and replacing with PTFE tape?

My new hinox drill bit (allegedly better than cobalt for drilling stainless) arrived today so I had a go at finishing the hole that wasn't fully done - no joy. I used lubricant and tried a slower speed but I think I might have work hardened the steel. @ratty might need help with this one if you have any get out of jail free cards for this!

Hoping I can finish reassembly today as almost all of the fiddly bits are finished.

Didn’t you wet your wet and dry?

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Posted (edited)
31 minutes ago, Uncletits said:

Didn’t you wet your wet and dry?

Epic fail. I used it dry at first but later I added a bowl of soapy water to proceedings which sped things up. (Don’t usually use wet and dry sandpaper so I’ll chalk this up as another lesson along with my failure drilling the case)
 

Is it essential to completely eliminate every last bit of pitting? I’ve seen conflicting advice on this but have a couple of spots that are very stubborn. Thinking to keep going but just wondered if you guys remove all the material necessary to get the mating surface ‘just so’? The area in the upper right of this picture will probably mean having to go a fair amount further if I’m to get that out

image.jpg

Edited by Zatogato
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42 minutes ago, Zatogato said:

Epic fail. I used it dry at first but later I added a bowl of soapy water to proceedings which sped things up. (Don’t usually use wet and dry sandpaper so I’ll chalk this up as another lesson along with my failure drilling the case)
 

Is it essential to completely eliminate every last bit of pitting? I’ve seen conflicting advice on this but have a couple of spots that are very stubborn. Thinking to keep going but just wondered if you guys remove all the material necessary to get the mating surface ‘just so’? The area in the upper right of this picture will probably mean having to go a fair amount further if I’m to get that out

image.jpg

No that is very good

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Nice job - particularly since a lot of it requires new skills. Let me know if you want a couple of screws for the top rear of the lid and I’ll stick them in the post 

Edited by jpd99
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1 hour ago, Zatogato said:

Epic fail. I used it dry at first but later I added a bowl of soapy water to proceedings which sped things up. (Don’t usually use wet and dry sandpaper so I’ll chalk this up as another lesson along with my failure drilling the case)
 

Is it essential to completely eliminate every last bit of pitting? I’ve seen conflicting advice on this but have a couple of spots that are very stubborn. Thinking to keep going but just wondered if you guys remove all the material necessary to get the mating surface ‘just so’? The area in the upper right of this picture will probably mean having to go a fair amount further if I’m to get that out

image.jpg

This looks great. A much more thorough job than I did! Looks like it's coming together well. 

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Uncletits said:

No that is very good

I remember why I didn't wet the paper - I was following along with this video. This chap seems to be a lot more thorough than is necessary. By contrast in this video he reassembles the boiler having left more pitting than I have. I'll polish it tomorrow and see where I'm at but the pitting is now not possible to feel with my finger so it might be good to go.

4 hours ago, larkim said:

Doesn't the rubber seal under pressure deal with those sorts of imperfections?

It should do if the latter video above is anything to go by!

3 hours ago, jpd99 said:

Nice job - particularly since a lot of it requires new skills. Let me know if you want a couple of screws for the top rear of the lid and I’ll stick them in the post 

Thank you! Let me check if I have suitable ones laying around but I might take you up on that (I'd pay costs of course).

Today I got held up by:

  • Lapping the boiler plate being slower than planned (my own fault for not wetting the paper).
  • Grinding the nut turning out to be a PITA as I don't have a circle cutter and struggled to get a grip on it - I feel like I need to invest in a dremel for some of these tasks (edit: just bid on one on eBay!) In the end I made a wooden mount for the nut and went at it with a file while that held it in place. It worked and it's nearly ready to fit the botched hole side.
  • Failing repeatedly to finish the hole where the alignment is better. I'm through to the metal tab but the new drill bit already seems pretty useless. I will see if I can get it through tomorrow.

That'll be all the more DIY orientated tasks (not my strongsuit) done and then I can concentrate on reassembly! So much for finishing today, but I've cleared tomorrow to get it done. Thanks for the advice and comments everyone!

Re the boiler:

The inside of the boiler looks quite grey and sludgey - I've used a combination of 3 citric acid soaks (1 tbsp/litre for 20 minutes at a time), brass wire brush and brass brush drill bits (different shapes to get in all the nooks). Manual methods definitely worked best as per what @Uncletits said.

It still looks kinda dark grey and sludgey - should I aim to get that pretty clean before reassembly? Was considering going at it with fine sandpaper just to renew the surface inside but again seen quite a lot of comments saying that this is unnecessary. I do want to make sure I get rid of any remnant slurry/corroded aluminium while it's open. I noticed some posts saying citric acid will affect the surface and make it more prone to corrosion in future - especially in soft water areas - I wondered if this is anything to be weary of hence considering to refresh the surface... (Might suck it up and buy a Dremel for my toolbox at this rate).

Edited by Zatogato
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19 minutes ago, Zatogato said:

Let me check if I have suitable ones laying around but I might take you up on that (I'd pay costs of course).

No need - PM an address if you need some and I’ll post

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Posted (edited)

Updates:

  • I finally had a successful attempt at getting that second hole sorted - hinox drill bit and using a different drill did the trick.
  • Filed down a bolt to fit the botched hole - it worked a treat and once I screwed in a bolt, the shelf turned out to be level and doesn't budge at all - my OCD doesn't love it, but it is actually quite hard to notice when you're looking from the outside of the case - a couple of mm out of alignment 🤷‍♂️ - shown a pic of this on the last part of the before/after compilation below (by this point I had already begun teardown of the 2013 unit so you can see the group from that in the reflection! 😀
  • Finished the boiler lapping - probably went further than needed as the picture doesn't show the final polish that I put on it.
  • Repaired the rubber pump mount that tore (earlier in thread) with some food grade silicone adhesive. In a moment of stupidity I hadn't thought about the fact that the purpose of this is not to act as a seal to anything but to stand the pump up and absorb some of those noisy vibrations! Seemed like a waste of money to replace it vs fixing it. The 'teeth' of the tear fit perfectly back together so it's hard to tell it even broke. Perhaps the silicone can be called a mod in case it helps dampen the vibrations even more. 🤣

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So that meant all the manual labour DIY type challenges were out of the way (not my strongsuit as per earlier in the thread!)

That left me free to reassemble. I did a full set of eBay seals (well, apart from the OPV o ring and it doesn't seem common that people change the plunger in this). During the extended teardown/doing the seals I discovered that the pump didn't have a top o ring! 

I put one in from my kit as well as applied 2 wraps of PTFE tape for good measure. Went pretty quickly as now it was just about connecting everything back up (PC modding experience probably made this seem easier).

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You can see from the bottom right picture that I cleaned this well enough to be able to eat from the inside of it!

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Reassembled and ready to test. I was slightly paranoid about the electrical aspect so double checked the plug wiring and made sure I'd connected the earth etc and then recorded a test run where I primed the boiler.

Success! No signs of any leaks inside (and I didn't die!) I ran it again and checked the flow at the group which was great and still no leaks. I was so sure it wasn't going to work first try or that something would go wrong that it was actually a nice surprise that everything was working. Pump appears to be completely fine and just needed its o ring (and maybe that PTFE tape for reinforcement!)

Currently I have stripped down the 2013 in preparation for service and removed the PID and have begun transplanting it into the 2003. 

In the process of restoring the 2003 unit I fell in love with it. Not sure whether it is:

  • The 1425w sticker (that apparently makes no difference since the wattage changed for regulations sake and it'd perform exactly the same).
  • The Made in Italy sticker (just sounds good!)
  • The heavier gauge steel (actually this does feel a lot more sturdy)
  • The better parts such as the Olab solenoid (ok, better parts seems legitimate!)

Any metallurgists amongst us, are there any contraindications to the 2003 vs a 2013 unit from a safety perspective? I notice the 2003 back of the group (the side where it meets the boiler) has completely lost it's plating revealing a coppery coloured sort of surface underneath. Is that brass and is there any chance of it leaching lead? Just wondered if that coating is important in any sense. I'm not concerned about aluminium but wondered why they moved away from brass looking stuff - whether it was cost cutting or to improve safety or some combination thereof (Solenoid/OPV parts that meet the group etc) or if the materials changed overall through the years for either reason. Overall, whatever the case I'm sure the toxicity would be negligible so I'm not overly worried but it is still interesting to know.

Hopefully I finish getting the PID reinstalled in the 2003 and can get the BoostBox installation underway (I feel like I keep saying that but this time I'm serious!)

Edited by Zatogato
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Posted (edited)

Hey guys, overdue some updates as a lot has transpired!

My new (ok secondhand) Dremel arrived so I had another crack at cleaning the boiler and used brass brush attachments to much greater effect. The boiler had a renewed surface inside once done with the final bits of scale gone and the aluminium sludge cleaned out way easier. This is so much more effective than using acid that in all honesty I would just start here as @Uncletits was absolutely right that mechanical cleaning is far more effective.

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Once that was done, I set about transplanting the PID from the 2013 into the 2003 unit. Thankfully everything about the PID installation was completely reversible and mostly a case of undoing the connections and removing everything from the 2013 unit. Making it reversible was very thoughtful by it's creator @MrShadesand made life much easier than needing to get the soldering iron out or something akin to that (I wasn't sure what to expect at first).

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Here is the unit with the transplanted PID about to undergo some testing. I checked my connections about 300 times and everything worked first try. I discovered some mistakes in the PID settings while going back through the initial setup procedures so I went back to @MrShades suggested values.

With the PID fully operational it was time to finally get the BoostBox installation done.

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This is the beta kit for the BoostBox as @FairRecycler was looking for testers to attempt installation of the version of his BoostBox kit for installations where there is already a PID in place. It is worth mentioning that his full kit (with his PID setup) is different and allows an additional feature for intrashot temperature surfing with the steam rocker. Since I already had a PID and there was the opportunity to try out the beta kit, I opted to go this route and forgo this feature but it is certainly an interesting addition.

I found the installation very therapeutic, but I might be a bit of a weirdo in that regard! 🤣

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Adding more wires definitely felt like the ardent pursuit of the ultimate build in any case. There are a couple of bits that were tricky and require a bit of finesse (positioning the water tank LED for example). I don't have the hands of a surgeon but it was all quite doable and I must credit the quality and level of detail of the instructions provided in order to make it possible for an amateur with no experience of espresso machines to get to grips with everything. Also the level of detail and thought that has gone into each and every feature is very impressive!

The testing all worked straight away and then it was time to recalibrate the OPV. I got some great advice from @FairRecycler which helped me to plan ahead for tuning the dimmer to capture the range of pressure that was ideal for me (just over 10 bar on max and easy control from 0 to that.)

 

 

Edited by Zatogato
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Posted (edited)

After I had indulged my OCD and tidied every last cable neatly into the cutouts of the BoostBox insulation, I installed the lid and all was finally done.

I am planning to make some cosmetic upgrades including a front panel in walnut and a replacement dimmer knob to match the wood of (well, just about everything else as per second picture!) I am also going to replace the cup holder metal top plate. It got bent in transit on this machine so it has been hammered straight.

With everything done, the only thing that remained was to take her for a test run. (I say that like it was one, but I spent the entire morning practicing pulling shots!) To anybody considering a dimmer I cannot recommend it enough. Having control of preinfusion and being able to dynamically control the pressure has meant that every shot I pull now has a consistent rat tail and more importantly huge improvement in flavour! I will make a video of my current process but I am extremely happy with the results I've been getting. Having said that I did change a lot of variables at once including temperature so it will be a while before I can more accurately describe how each variable affects the result.

The shot pictured was from the cheapest beans from the Coop (just because I didn't want to waste my good beans while testing various parameters). Pulling a good shot at the right temperature and pressure has honestly meant that I've had better tasting coffee from my crappy beans than the ones I bought from a proper roastery (I live around the corner from one!) Quite excited to see how far I can go with the setup I have now. I think in all honesty it could probably give machines that are a lot more expensive a run for their money with the ability to pressure profile on top of the additional temperature stability of the PID.

Now that the PID is well trained I'm getting about 4 deg temp swing but that is apparently close to ideal for many situations anyway (apparently many HX machines try and recreate this swing even though they could offer greater stability).

All that remains is to thank the many people who helped me along the way - in no particular order:

@ratty giving me amazingly detailed advice about many niggles - particularly with the DIY bits that I struggled with.

@RossD for being a sounding board for my perpetual indecision.

@Uncletits and @Mulligrub for contributing to the thread and encouraging me to try this project and ask for help where needed.

@DarkShadow for some great discussions on getting the most for your money in the coffee game!

@Gilly for encouragement, tips and for the walnut steam knob upgrade pictured (available here).

@MrShades for helpful advice on my questions about reversing the installation of the PID (and helping convince me to keep the 2003!) Despite the pain of repairing the broken weld (earlier in the thread), the additional sturdiness you feel when locking the PF is worth it alone!

@FairRecycler for supporting me with the installation of what can only be described as a phenomenal piece of kit. I think a GC with the added utility of the Boostbox represents by far the best value for money you can get without spending a huge amount on equipment. The video instructions were a huge help with the fiddly bits but if you are methodical and follow the instructions properly, it is all totally doable.

I also picked up a few of @MildredM's towels which are great (one with the Gaggia logo is in the corner of the pic - at least the label is!)

All in all I feel like I invoked the power of the forum to get me to the point I am which I'm really happy with!

Unfortunately I cracked one of the steam wands (hairline near the nozzle) so I stole the one from the spare machine. This does present a good excuse to order a V3 from Ferrari as they offer a tube kit which seems like it eliminates the difficulties of making the standard V3 fit to the copper tube. I would probably stick with the V2 if not for the breakage as the actual steaming gains are probably marginal - but hey, it's easier to clean and that is in keeping with 'the Ultimate Build!'.

As an added bonus, when the pump is dimmed to lower pressures, it is super quiet!

I will post new pics with the V3 wand and additional walnut detailing when it's ready. Oh and there is the small matter of finishing the restoration of the (now stock) 2013 unit!

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Edited by Zatogato
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