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Topic: Gaggia Achille quit; espresso newbie in severe withdrawal (27 msgs / 758 lines)
1) From: Rudy Ramsey
Well, with a great headstart (courtesy of Dr. Crema), and two weeks of
better espresso than I've ever had outside my kitchen, I'm pretty hooked.
According to Murphy's Law, that must mean...
...my new Gaggia Achille stopped working yesterday. The power light comes
on, but the heater doesn't heat, the boiler doesn't boil, and the ready
light obviously doesn't light. :-(
I first thought this would be no problem, as this should mean that the
heat-protect relay was activated, and I would only need to reset it.
However, when I press that switch (whether or not the machine is plugged in
and, if so, whether or not the power is switched on), nothing happens.
There's no movement of the reset switch, no click, no change in behavior.
A second problem -- which may or may not be an additional symptom -- is that
when I inverted the machine to drain the boiler, the sight glass turned
opaque white. I've seen something in a Gaggia FAQ (for another machine)
about a particular tube turning which, but I don't know the cause. I've used
only distilled water in the boiler, and only mineral water in the reservoir.
I'm pretty sure sight glasses are supposed to stay clear; in this condition,
I can't see the boiler water level at all.
Anyway, Murphy's currently leading, 2-0, but I'm hoping to get back into the
game. I have a call into Importika, the U.S. importer who provides support
for Gaggia in the U.S., but didn't get a return call today, so I guess I'll
have to wait til Monday.
How long does the hand tremor last. ;-)
Rudy

2) From: Les
Rudy,
That is simply horrible news!
Les
On 3/23/07, Rudy Ramsey  wrote:
<Snip>

3) From: Leo Zick
This is a multipart message in MIME format.
Which. what? Which indicates scale? Seems early to see scale already, but
maybe the mineral water is too hard?  Maybe the distilled water in the
boiler isn't allowing the water level sensor (if this machine has one) to
sense the ionization so it knows that there is water in the machine?
"I've seen something in a Gaggia FAQ (for another machine)
about a particular tube turning which, but I don't know the cause."
On 3/23/07, Rudy Ramsey  wrote: 
Well, with a great headstart (courtesy of Dr. Crema), and two weeks of
better espresso than I've ever had outside my kitchen, I'm pretty hooked. 
According to Murphy's Law, that must mean...
...my new Gaggia Achille stopped working yesterday. The power light comes
on, but the heater doesn't heat, the boiler doesn't boil, and the ready
light obviously doesn't light. :-( 
I first thought this would be no problem, as this should mean that the
heat-protect relay was activated, and I would only need to reset it.
However, when I press that switch (whether or not the machine is plugged in 
and, if so, whether or not the power is switched on), nothing happens.
There's no movement of the reset switch, no click, no change in behavior.
A second problem -- which may or may not be an additional symptom -- is that
when I inverted the machine to drain the boiler, the sight glass turned
opaque white. I've seen something in a Gaggia FAQ (for another machine)
about a particular tube turning which, but I don't know the cause. I've used
only distilled water in the boiler, and only mineral water in the reservoir.
I'm pretty sure sight glasses are supposed to stay clear; in this condition,
I can't see the boiler water level at all.
Anyway, Murphy's currently leading, 2-0, but I'm hoping to get back into the
game. I have a call into Importika, the U.S. importer who provides support
for Gaggia in the U.S., but didn't get a return call today, so I guess I'll 
have to wait til Monday.
How long does the hand tremor last. ;-)
Rudy

4) From: Rudy Ramsey
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
Leo said,
 >> Which. what? Which indicates scale? Seems early to see scale already,
but maybe the mineral water is too hard?  Maybe the distilled water in the
boiler isn't allowing the water level sensor (if this machine has one) to
sense the ionization so it knows that there is water in the machine?
"I've seen something in a Gaggia FAQ (for another machine)
about a particular tube turning which, but I don't know the cause."
I don't think this is supposed to be about scale. Here's the text from the
Gaggia Semi-Auto FAQ:
    5.      One of the hoses in the water reservoir turned white.
         The hose on the right in the reservoir will turn white, as it
returns heated water 
          from the boiler to the reservoir.
I don't quite get that, but it wouldn't seem to apply to my Hx machine,
anyway. I'm a little bit afraid that my machine may have contracted a major
illness, but we'll see.
And, to address one particular comment, the mineral water can't really be
doing it, since it never gets into the boiler of this Hx machine. I'm not
quite sure what "mineral water" is, anyway. There are actually several sorts
of water available here that seem to be of that general class. Artesian
water, spring water, mineral water, ...
If anyone has any suggestions, I'd be most grateful. I'm not blaming the
machine (which is/has-been/will-be *wonderful*). Mechanical failures can
occur in any machine, particularly early in their lives. That's what
warranties are for. I do hope that it won't take too long to sort it all
out, and that either my machine is completely repairable with no lingering
after-effects, or I'll get a replacement machine. Time will tell all.
Ah, well, I needed to learn how all these roasted espresso blends taste as
brewed coffee, anyway, didn't I. ;-)
Rudy

5) From: Brian Kamnetz
On 3/24/07, Rudy Ramsey  wrote:
<Snip>
Rudy,
Maybe it would be a good time to learn how all those roasted espresso blends
taste when brewed in a moka pot.... It's not espresso, but in my opinion
it's much closer to the espresso end of the spectrum than it is to the
brewed coffee end. You might really like moka pot coffee.
Brian

6) From: Rudy Ramsey
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
Brian said,
 
<Snip>
blends taste when brewed in a moka pot.... It's not espresso, but in my
opinion it's much closer to the espresso end of the spectrum than it is to
the brewed coffee end. You might really like moka pot coffee. 
 
Well, I don't have a moka pot, but I do have a Krups Moka Brew, and it's
quite possible that I might get some interesting results by trying these
coffees out there. Thanks for the suggestion. I hadn't even thought of it. I
normally make brewed coffee in an Aeropress.
 
Rudy

7) From: Brian Kamnetz
On 3/24/07, Rudy Ramsey  wrote:
<Snip>
Rudy,
Yes, sounds like the unfortunate condition of your espresso machine is at
the same time a good opportunity for you to experiment with the KMB. As you
probably know, it is a favorite extraction method of some list members, and
if you are interested, there will be fairly extensive discussions of the KMB
in the list archives. I have a couple KMBs and like them, but it seems to be
quite commonly reported that the KMB works best with full or nearly full
batches, while I usually need much less than that, so I tend to use my
stove-top moka pots.
I'd be interested in hearing about your KMB results.
Brian

8) From: Rudy Ramsey
I got a call back from Sally, at Importika, today. They're the importers for
Gaggia in the U.S., and they provide the warranty service. She had discussed
my report about the sight glass turning white with a service technician,
whose response was, "oh, he's just seeing steam". Since that didn't match my
description at all, she asked me to shoot some digital photos of the sight
glass to send to her. As long as I was doing that, I thought I would post
them, and a more detailed description, and see if any of this rings a bell
with any of you.
Here's the more detailed description of my problem(s):
 
The primary problem is/was that the boiler stopped working altogether. The
power light comes on, but there's no indication that the heater heats, that
the boiler boils, or that the ready light lights. :-)
My initial assumption was that the heat-protect circuit was engaged.
However, when I attempt to press the reset switch (visible through the large
hole near the center of the bottom, and with appearance similar to the end
of a little red tube with a recessed center), nothing happens. There is no
apparent movement of the switch, whether I use a paper clip to press its
center or something larger to press against the edge. There is no click, and
no change of behavior. I've tried all this with the unit unplugged, plugged
in but not turned on, and turned on (power light illuminated).
It occurred to me that I should check the condition of the water in the
boiler, so I removed the fill plug at the top of the boiler, and inverted
the unit. The water came out white, leaving white spots wherever it
splashed. The sight glass turned a fairly bright, fairly opaque white, as if
it were painted on the inside with opaque white paint.
Obviously, this is a problem, too, since the unit really can't be used
safely if you can't see the water level, and I certainly cannot see the
water through the opaque white layer. But I mention it mainly for its
possible value in diagnosing the main problem.
The photos...are really an attempt to show the condition of the sight glass,
for whatever diagnostic value that may have. There are four photos, as
follows:
1. Distant shot with flash, to show color.
2. Same shot with no flash, to show opacity.
3. Close up with flash, to show color (I'm holding a sheet of bright white
inkjet paper at the left, for comparison).
4. Close up with no flash, and with flashlight held behind the sight glass,
to show opacity.
For what it's worth, I have used only distilled water in the boiler, only
mineral water in the reservoir, and have absolutely never turned the machine
on with the water level outside the min-max limits.
And here's where you'll find the photos:
 http://www.sendpix.com/albums/07032716/xlpoeda43k/ 
All insights gratefully received. :-)
 
Rudy

9) From: Les
Rudy,
You are too nice of a guy!  Being in "the business", customer service should
reign supreme.  I saw how you babied your machine and it was very clear to
me that you had read the manual and were following the instructions.
Personally, with that low of mileage I would demand that a replacement be
sent immediately, with the two BROWN truck drivers waving at each other as
your new machine heads for Denver and your old one heads for Importika.  As
far as I am concerned, you can tell Importika, that you have a worldwide
distributor of espresso tampers watching to see how they handle your claim.
If they don't handle it quickly and to your satisfaction, the Gaggia Achille
goes on my black (or should I say white, WOW is that white!) list.  It
really burns me up that they are jerking you around like this.  Anything
mechanical can go wrong, that shouldn't be the issue, but when you pay over
a grand for a machine you should be taken care of.  I would contact the
people you bought it from too.  You can tell the technician that your tamper
manufacturer is seeing steam too!  I am really steamed that they are not
taking good care of you.
Les
On 3/27/07, Rudy Ramsey  wrote:
<Snip>

10) From: Larry Johnson
I should just sit quiet, since I don't own nor have any experience with any
espresso machine. That said; I think you're getting a new Gaggia (under
warranty, of course). I would say, from your description of the sequence of
events and from your excellent photos that this cannot be from your water. I
don't care if you were dipping it out of a puddle in your front yard, that
ain't scale or sediment in that sight glass.
I think (and I could be wrong...but I don't think so) that something inside
the Gaggia boiler melted/dissolved into the water, causing the original
failure, then painting your sight glass. Could be something from the factory
or something from your home (missing any plaster from anywhere near the
machine?). It might be something that belongs somewhere in the assembly (not
the boiler) or a completely foreign object, like something from the a
worker's lunch.  I don't know, but I'll be hard to convince that, whatever
it is, it came in with your water.
Kind of a long post for someone who doesn't know beans about espresso
makers, huh? That's just the kind of guy I am.
Good luck with it, BTW. I hate it when my gizmos get sick.
On 3/27/07, Rudy Ramsey  wrote:
<Snip>
-- 
Larry J
If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please
bring me some coffee.
  - Abraham Lincoln

11) From: Les
Rudy,
Now for some humor!  I thought I taught you to make lattes and cappos by
steaming the milk on the right side of the machine, not the left side?  Tell
the technician that you understood that water went in the top for espresso
and milk went in the bottom for making cappos.
On a more serious note, having had a number of machines apart in the last
couple of years, I think that your heating element burned out.
Les
On 3/27/07, Larry Johnson  wrote:
<Snip>

12) From: Michael Dhabolt
Rudy,
Les wrote:
<Snip>
I agree with Les.  The sediment in the sight glass would support - either
poor water quality (already discussed and agreed that this is a non-starter)
or a heating element with a ruptured tube which allowed the filler (between
the nichrome element and the outer tube) into the boiler water.
Mike (just plain)

13) From: Rudy Ramsey
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
Les said,
 
<Snip>
I may have given the wrong impression. They certainly weren't (as far as I
know) being evasive or trying to deny responsibility for the main problem
(though they haven't yet said what they intend to do about it). They were
just giving Sally their reaction to my description of the secondary symptom,
the white sight glass. She felt they would take it seriously with some
photos, so I sent them.
 
BTW, I've also spoken with Brian, of Espresso Parts (where I bought the
machine), and he made it clear that Importika is the right place to take my
problem, but he'll absolutely stand behind the product if they fail to
satisfy me. He wasn't being evasive either, as far as I could tell -- he
just felt that they were the appropriate first point of attack, since they
have the warranty responsibility, and more specific experience servicing
Gaggia machines.
 
I will say that if it's a burned-out heating element, with strange materials
thus distributed throughout the works, then I believe a total machine
replacement is the right fix. I don't think I would ever have full
confidence in the machine after just a replacement of the heating element.
Indeed, I'm not sure it would even be safe to use.
 
Rudy 

14) From: Les
Rudy,
  The first words out of their mouths should have been, we will send you a
new one.  You have not even had this machine a month yet!
Les
On 3/27/07, Robert Yoder  wrote:
<Snip>
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<Snip>
om,
<Snip>
my
<Snip>
y
<Snip>
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<Snip>
.
<Snip>
you
<Snip> homeroast mailing list
<Snip>

15) From: Bob
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
I say give the supplier(s) a chance. If they replaced every machine for =
every complaint received we would have no more anything. Rudy himself =
says he's satisfied w/ the pace so far. I have no doubt that a new lever =
will be on its way shortly, after viewing the pics.
VegasBob

16) From: Karl Harder
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
RE: White deposits
A while back, I bought a Melitta Clarity on eBay.
After many brews, I decided to use it to heat water for the Aeropress.  =
After a few cycles of heating bottled Water (Arrowhead (Southern CA.)) I =
noticed a white substance in the filter.  It was white and soft to the =
touch and had no apparent taste as far as I could tell.  The texture was =
firm, but very soft.  Used the Melitta Clarity  today for some Aeropress =
Hue Hue Tenago and it was great... white solids in the filter, and all.
I am curious about the cause of the solids, but don't worry about them =
till I find out that they are hazardous OR affect the taste of the brew. =
 Using a Swiss Gold filter with a brown paper filter in the Melitta =
Clarity .
PS
I did not buy a Krups Espresso machine ($10.00 dollars) at the local =
swapmeet because of the same deposits in the water tank even though it =
looked brand new.
karl
PS  VERY interested if you have an insight as to the causes, Origins, or =
concerns about the deposits.  Never noticed the deposits when just =
brewing drip coffee with a filter.  Brew coffee , throw the grounds into =
the compost pile - Drink coffee
My guess is that the white paste is to Aluminum as rust is to =
Iron.....HEAVY on the guess
If there is enough interest, I will take a sample to the state approved =
Chemical Lab at the company I retired from and ask them to give me an =
origin/analysis
(technically I can not do that, but it's not what you know, but WHO you =
know)
karl

17) From: Floyd Lozano
i've never had any soft white firm sediment in any filter out from any
appliance I've used to heat water.  Personally, I wouldn't use any appliance
that started kicking out mystery substance at me.  Starting to wonder if you
guys have kids - check the Crayola box for a missing white crayon!
-F
On 3/28/07, Karl Harder  wrote:
<Snip>

18) From: Rudy Ramsey
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
Well, here's an update on my ailing machine. After reviewing my photos,
Sally and the folks at Importika agree with the fine diagnosticians here on
the list that the heating element burned out. They're replacing the machine
with a new one. Sally said "in your case, a picture was worth a thousand
words."
 
They have an interesting way of doing this. They send a return authorization
number and have Federal Express email me a return shipping label. When they
see by the tracking system that the box is in transit, they send the new
machine. I guess that's one way of insuring that Les's guys in brown will
have an opportunity to wave at each other somewhere along the route.
 
I'm guessing that that will still add several days, what we me getting
shipping materials, packing it up, getting it to Fedex, Fedex getting it
logged, Importika noticing it, etc. So I asked if there's an even faster way
if I provide my credit-card number as security, and they agreed to go ahead
and ship the machine immediately. :-)
 
It's a good thing, too, because the hand tremors still haven't stopped. I
guess there really is something to this "dark side" stuff, huh? ;-)
 
Sally did mention that heating elements can burn out if the unit is turned
on with no water in the boiler. That's clear, but I've absolutely never done
that. They're not questioning my statement to this effect, but I'm wondering
if they can't verify that by the melt patterns, or something. Anyone know?
I'd prefer to be fully vindicated, if possible :-)
 
Rudy

19) From: Les
That is good news.
Les
On 3/28/07, Rudy Ramsey  wrote:
<Snip>

20) From: Leo Zick
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
Fedex, and Les's guys in brown.. i dont see the corrolation  
From: Rudy Ramsey [mailto:rudy] 
Sent: Wednesday, March 28, 2007 11:50 AM
To: homeroast
Subject: RE: +Gaggia Achille quit; espresso newbie in severe withdrawal
Well, here's an update on my ailing machine. After reviewing my photos,
Sally and the folks at Importika agree with the fine diagnosticians here on
the list that the heating element burned out. They're replacing the machine
with a new one. Sally said "in your case, a picture was worth a thousand
words."
 
They have an interesting way of doing this. They send a return authorization
number and have Federal Express email me a return shipping label. When they
see by the tracking system that the box is in transit, they send the new
machine. I guess that's one way of insuring that Les's guys in brown will
have an opportunity to wave at each other somewhere along the route.
 
I'm guessing that that will still add several days, what we me getting
shipping materials, packing it up, getting it to Fedex, Fedex getting it
logged, Importika noticing it, etc. So I asked if there's an even faster way
if I provide my credit-card number as security, and they agreed to go ahead
and ship the machine immediately. :-)
 
It's a good thing, too, because the hand tremors still haven't stopped. I
guess there really is something to this "dark side" stuff, huh? ;-)
 
Sally did mention that heating elements can burn out if the unit is turned
on with no water in the boiler. That's clear, but I've absolutely never done
that. They're not questioning my statement to this effect, but I'm wondering
if they can't verify that by the melt patterns, or something. Anyone know?
I'd prefer to be fully vindicated, if possible :-)
 
Rudy

21) From: Rudy Ramsey
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
Well, I was thinking figuratively. Yeah, that's it. :-)  
From: homeroast-admin
[mailto:homeroast-admin] On Behalf Of Leo Zick
Sent: Wednesday, March 28, 2007 11:18 AM
To: homeroast
Subject: RE: +Gaggia Achille quit; espresso newbie in severe withdrawal
Fedex, and Les's guys in brown.. i dont see the corrolation

22) From: Leo Zick
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
Is Les your UPS driver?  
From: Rudy Ramsey [mailto:rudy] 
Sent: Wednesday, March 28, 2007 1:23 PM
To: homeroast
Subject: RE: +Gaggia Achille quit; espresso newbie in severe withdrawal
Well, I was thinking figuratively. Yeah, that's it. :-)  
From: homeroast-admin
[mailto:homeroast-admin] On Behalf Of Leo Zick
Sent: Wednesday, March 28, 2007 11:18 AM
To: homeroast
Subject: RE: +Gaggia Achille quit; espresso newbie in severe withdrawal
Fedex, and Les's guys in brown.. i dont see the corrolation

23) From: Brian Kamnetz
Leo,
From Les's post earlier in this thread:
"Personally, with that low of mileage I would demand that a replacement be
sent immediately, with the two BROWN truck drivers waving at each other as
your new machine heads for Denver and your old one heads for Importika."
Brian
On 3/28/07, Leo Zick  wrote:
<Snip>

24) From: Leo Zick
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
ah, it all makes sense now  
From: Brian Kamnetz [mailto:bkamnetz] 
Sent: Wednesday, March 28, 2007 3:08 PM
To: homeroast
Subject: Re: +Gaggia Achille quit; espresso newbie in severe withdrawal
Leo,
From Les's post earlier in this thread:
"Personally, with that low of mileage I would demand that a replacement be
sent immediately, with the two BROWN truck drivers waving at each other as
your new machine heads for Denver and your old one heads for Importika."
Brian
 
On 3/28/07, Leo Zick  wrote: 
Is Les your UPS driver?  
From: Rudy Ramsey [mailto:rudy] 
Sent: Wednesday, March 28, 2007 1:23 PM
To: homeroast
Subject: RE: +Gaggia Achille quit; espresso newbie in severe withdrawal
Well, I was thinking figuratively. Yeah, that's it. :-)  
From: homeroast-admin
[mailto:homeroast-admin] On Behalf Of Leo Zick
Sent: Wednesday, March 28, 2007 11:18 AM
To: homeroast
Subject: RE: +Gaggia Achille quit; espresso newbie in severe withdrawal
Fedex, and Les's guys in brown.. i dont see the corrolation

25) From: Justin Marquez
On 3/28/07, Rudy Ramsey  wrote:
<Snip>
In this case, worth about a thousand bucks!
Safe Journeys and Sweet Music
Justin Marquez (CYPRESS, TX)

26) From: Rudy Ramsey
Justin said,
<Snip>
<Snip>
I guess so. I'll give my camera a special thank-you polishing when I get
home today. :-)
Rudy

27) From: Rudy Ramsey
The replacement unit is now enroute, scheduled for delivery 4/3/2007. I
believe I first contacted them last Friday, which is five days ago. That's
actually quite good support, IMO. :-)
I held my hands up close to the message, and they're not shaking so badly
now. ;-)
Rudy


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