Mini Gaggia Restoration + Upgrade

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banshee_toys

#1: Post by banshee_toys »

Just finished up a full restoration and upgrade of my Mini Gaggia lever machine. Started as a sight unseen eBay buy, and turned into a fully stripped down rebuild. Upgraded 2nd spring, 110v heating element conversion, as well as a not-so-smart temperature controller.


It's still got some work left to do, like a proper repaint and an on/off switch, but it works great for now.



Here's the original ebay listing. A little pricey for what it was but can't complain as these don't pop up too often.


Had a set of heating elements manufactured in China, which was quite a pain. After several weeks, I had 10 elements, and only 4 worked. So I have a few spares, if someone may want one. (Cat not for sale)


The temperature controller is a w1209 I found on ebay. Hooked up with a SSR and a 110v to 12v converter, it works great. I have it set to 95° C, and it holds temps pretty stable. Not a fancy PID, (they are way too big to fit in the Mini) but this controller just barely fits with a spacer and is good enough for me.



Portafilter is an ebay Nuova Simonelli bottomless that I ground down to fit. Works, but kinda jank.

Luckily for the second spring mod, I found one laying around at work that fit with a little grinding and massaging of the piston and boiler lid. https://www.fastenal.com/product/details/110166727

Any other questions let me know, I'll probably post and update once it's fully completed and possibly some videos of a few shots as well.

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truemagellen

#2: Post by truemagellen »

Just want to say this is incredible work.

danmc

#3: Post by danmc »

Very nice restoration. Inspiring me to move the Mini Gaggia up in my workbench queue.

Dan

banshee_toys (original poster)

#4: Post by banshee_toys (original poster) »

Thanks guys!

It was a lot of fun to work on. For my first lever machine, it's a real treat to use. No longer need to use my Crossland CC1, which will shortly be making it's way to Facebook Marketplace. I have no need for steam, as I really only drink iced lattes or the occasional espresso.

LObin

#5: Post by LObin »

That's really neat!

I have one in quite good condition that I might eventually modify with an extra spring for sure and maybe a PID.

I quite like the design of the Mini Gaggia although for an open boiler with spring lever, the La Peppina is by far my favorite (except for the stupid Zamak metal).

What's your usual input/output on the Mini Gaggia?
Maximum output volume?
LMWDP #592

banshee_toys (original poster)

#6: Post by banshee_toys (original poster) »

Thanks!

The second spring is definitely a must I'd say. I never got to try my Mini without it however, as it was much too filthy and the original element didn't work at all. I'd love to try another spring lever machine, but I like my 58mm basket too much.

I always do 18g in, hold lever down for 10 seconds, and release. It takes another 15-20 seconds for the lever to fully stop. Generally get about 34-36g out, catching a few but not all of the last drips. No double pulls or any fancy technique.

This is with an IMS 18g basket, no paper or puck screen. I may try one in the future, but I think they're too much mess.

LObin

#7: Post by LObin replying to banshee_toys »

36g out is pretty good.

Yeah the single spring setup is a bit weak and produces under-extracted espresso. I find anything between 6-8 bar to be ideal, although depth of the basket seems to have a big effect on the result as well.
The stock Mini Gaggia portafilter (which is absolutely stunning btw!) is quite shallow. I suspect getting a bottomless is just as big as an improvement as the dual spring is :)

I personally use a puck screen with all my lever machines now. They prevent most of the ground migration and keep the shower screen, bottom of the piston, seals and inside bore clean. Those old school shower screen can get pretty clogged up when left unattended for a while. Not going back to cleaning with a needle under a light!

Cheers!
LMWDP #592

Felice
Supporter ♡

#8: Post by Felice »

Wow, that's really nice. I'm stealing all of it. Funny there seem to be multiple mini posts lately, I really enjoy mine as stock 220 (ebay.it purchase) but having finer temp controll would be really nice. I love that the lever clarity. As it is, I get by using Cafe d'arte's Taoromina, which is their darkest espresso (I enjoy all their Italianate blends.)

I'd love to see EVERYTHING, but don't want to be demanding...

Very curious about adding a second spring I stepped away from HB for a bit, I need to search the last bit.
Ok, thanks for the thread.

banshee_toys (original poster)

#9: Post by banshee_toys (original poster) »

I'll probably be tearing it open again soon to finally add in a proper power switch, and replace the second spring. I'll be sure to take some pictures of the interior.

Although the spring I used works well, I didn't realize how weak the zinc coating on it was. It seems to have failed and started corroding, leaking rust into the water. Not healthy. I have another which I've powered coated with an FDA approved high temp powder, and I'll probably look into nickel plating or some other form of protection.

Of course making a new spring out of proper stainless is better, but for some reason it's almost more expensive than having the elements made.

And yes, more Mini talk is great. I adore mine and would love to see others using them as well.

statsman

#10: Post by statsman »

Awesome work!

I am curious about what you had to do to get those heating elements from China. What was the process like?