Despite various warning labels and advice from manufacturers, sometimes it’s better to ignore official advice and just dive in, especially if something has stopped working altogether. Gaggia coffee machines of this vintage are well supported by various online parts suppliers, so when your machine stops making the perfect brew, the chances are that it can be sorted out with a little know-how…
I couldn’t resist a reference to one of my favourite childhood programs…
Make and model: Gaggia Milady Coffee Machine
Fault reported: No coffee/ blocked group head
Cost of replacement: £300 (approx.)
Manufacturer support: 3/10
Cost of parts: £0, inc. carriage
Hours spent on repair: 1 hour
Hours spent on finding parts: 0 hours
Tools needed: Screwdrivers, spanner, pliers, drill, tap set
Sundry items: Silicone spray, WD-40, water safe silicone lube, cleaning materials
Repair difficulty: 4/10
Cups of tea: X 2 (and one coffee for testing purposes)
Biscuits: None (Ice Cream X 1)
Someone got in touch to see if I could repair their much loved Gaggia Milady, after receiving some unhelpful advice from the UK distributor. A new Gaggia had already been purchased, but the owner was missing the ‘solidness’ of his original machine and wanted it back working again.
Fault reported: Heater working, pump running, no water at all at the group head, therefore no coffee.
Opening the machine’s lid reveals lots of cables and pipes, so if you’re attempting this repair yourself, I recommend making notes and taking photos, carefully marking the location of all the positions.
I suspected a blockage from the boiler to the group head, as sometimes happens with older machines, as scale builds up on the inside. In cases like this, de-scaler is usually no good and more drastic action is required.
Removing the boiler on this model is similar to many other Gaggia machines, the only variant differences usually being cosmetic. Just four screws usually hold the boiler to the cabinet. I suspected that there was a blockage between the boiler area and valve to group head ‘jet’ and in order to access it, a few layers of metal work needed to be removed.
Just one screw holds the strainer, but removing the head involves removing two bolts, which secure two halves of the group head. The trouble is that over the years, corrosion makes the two halves ‘weld’ together and the only way to split them is to use a little ingenuity. Fortunately, there are four water holes in the head which make ideal leverage points and with a small M5 tap, those holes become anchor points for the two bolts holding the head together. Winding those bolts into the new threaded holes forces the two halves apart…
…Revealing the brass valve base. Using a 10mm spanner releases the valve’s spring and valve rubber. In this case, it was full of scale and debris. A thorough clean using WD40, wire brushes and wire wool and the group head was ready for reassembly.
All surfaces scrubbed, all rubber seals cleaned and treated to some water-safe lubricant, the group head back together, the boiler was ready to be re-installed into the machine. After some careful re-plumbing and re-connecting, the machine was ready for testing.
Just one more job. Make the coffee for Milady!
Another machine dodges the tip with only a small tin of elbow grease used. F.A.B!