Gaggia Orione restoration

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#1: Post by Paul_Pratt »

Time for my first machine rebuild for years. Life at Cafelat has been far more complicated that it should have been but now we are back on track and I may be able to squeeze this in over the next few months.

I'm a sucker for the more boxy 60's and 70's styling. Don't get me wrong, I love the sexy curves of the 50's but I am equally as fond of the younger machines.

So here we have a 1969 Gaggia Orione with a lovely square shape. The original seller's pic.

And now the work side with the distinctive group design and offset lever.

So basically that is usually all you have to go on in terms of condition. I usually just make sure that most of the original parts are there, on this machine there is just one knob missing for the cupwarmer.

Now at this stage there is a lesson to be learned by us all. This innocent little machine is not quite as simple and innocent as it would appear. I will update later, but suffice to say that this machine has never been touched in 42 years. Great for us collectors but it makes rebuilding at total nightmare.

I am writing this a few days into the rebuild so I know what I have uncovered and hopefully this thread will help HB'ers not go down this road, or if you do, I hope I can make your future rebuilds a bit easier.

More to come.

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#2: Post by gyro »

Hi Paul,

Looks cool. Hope you are pulling it apart somewhere warm inside, its a bit chilly outside today, for HK anyway!

Cheers, Chris

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Paul_Pratt (original poster)

#3: Post by Paul_Pratt (original poster) »

Hi Chris. Yes this is at my office inside, a bit breezy outside today in Sai Kung.

Right so this is my basic plan with this and usually all machines.

Initial inspection
Basic dismantling of some parts so I can plan on a spare parts order
Complete stripdown
Acid cleaning of all boilers and pipes
Strip and repaint the frame and some outer panels
Re-chrome parts (and refinish before rechroming)
Repolish or satin brush steel panels
Put back together (and swear a lot, pull hair out, cry...)

So hear was my initial inspection after unpacking it for the first time. The main objective is to make sure I have not bought a lemon and also to be able to start to put together a parts order. A rebuild can grind to a halt if you don't have the parts on hand and sometimes they take ages to track down - so I like to start hunting for them as quickly as possible. The outside panels did not last long at all as they were quickly taken off. But they were all in good shape and the steel panels were decent, but scratched.

So there she is the naked Gaggia. A fairly functional square box frame and it must weigh even in this state 50kg. I'll weigh the group later but I think it is easily over 10kg. The machine has 1 steam wand opertaed by the large bakelite knob. It also has 2 levers which work the manual boiler fill and the hot water spout. The pressure gauge is also original and looks in good condition.

The pressure safety valve is the original "wobbler weight". The original portafilter is there but not shown in the photo although there an E61 group in there.... :?

Oh please excuse the mess :D the rest of my office & warehouse is chock full of cafelat orders so I was banished to my little workshop. I tidied up yesterday though.

As you can see it was a gas machine, the elements are in there but had not been wired up. The original main switch is there as well, also unused. The frame has some rust but really the only place that is pretty bad is the gas burner assembly, they always rust.

The boiler has a large end plate that is fixed in place with 10 hex head M10 bolts by the looks of it. Of course none of these fasteners are stainless steel so we can be fairly sure that will be rusted in place They also look like the factory originals, as do the element bolts and the group bolts. I did a quick resistance check on the elements and they were spot on for the voltage and wattage - more on those later in the rebuild.

There's a nice view of the frame and the boiler end plate. The frame is quite agricultural but of course since it takes the weight of the lever it needs to be thick and strong. That's scale coming through the gasket as well. You can see the condition on the inside is far worse than the outside.

Here's the other end of the boiler with the tubes for the steam and the sight glass. You can also see the burner assembly and pressure regulator.

Ok last one for now is the enormous lever group. The lever arm has been taken off.

All in all I am happy with the machine, but a little surprised that the inside condition is so bad. The great news is that it looks totally original and untouched since leaving the factory.

More tomorrow.

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Paul_Pratt (original poster)

#4: Post by Paul_Pratt (original poster) »

This should more or less bring me up to date.

I am basically still on a fact finding mission to determine what parts I need to order. In particular I need to have a look at the group, the boiler end plate and the heating element gasket. The steam valves are fairly standard so I think I should have stock for those on hand anyway.

The group spring assembly basically unscrews from the main group body once you loosen the 2 set screws (aka grub screws). It was a bit stuck but came away in the end.

And here we are peering down the group body.

I had a real struggle to get the group off of the boiler. It should have been a case of undoing the 4 nuts that hold it to the boiler flange but even after removing them it was really stuck. I tried heating it, using a rubber mallet etc..and it still would not budge. I assumed the 40 year old gasket was glueing it all together. Paul in NZ reckoned the 4 studs were rusty inside and were grabbing onto the group. So I used a thin chisel and was able to just get it into the gasket from the boiler side of the group. Once I made sure it was in the gasket (and not in the brass) I gave it a whack and the group moved off the studs a fraction. Then it was just a case of slowly working my way around the gasket and the group eventually came off.

Once the group was off I was then able to get the boiler out, having already taken the pipes off. Here is a picture of the boiler flange and Paul was correct, the studs were rusty. They had expanded and were gripping the inside of the group flange.

As you can see one of the studs came out using the double nut technique but sadly the other 3 were so badly gone with no threads left, the last option is drilling them out. More on that later.

I was still itching to have a look at the lever group so I had to make a spring compressor. In the past I used some very large g-clamps. But I decided to make a better one. Pics coming later...

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Paul_Pratt (original poster)

#5: Post by Paul_Pratt (original poster) »

Jumping back just a few hours before I removed the boiler, here it was during dismantling. The first photo below shows the really bad news.

Of the 10 endplate bolts only 1 came out. The other 9 all sheered off. In hindsight I should have taken a break after the 1st one snapped to have a think about what to do but I just ploughed on and snapped them all in a row. To be fair I did try heating them and with an impact gun and they didn't budge. So it was inevitable that I would be drilling them out no matter what.

Bad sadly the element studs are also rusted in place. There are still some threads on those studs so I may have a chance of removing them but I am 99% sure they will also need to be drilled out.

So to recap there are 3 group flange studs to drill out, 9 boiler end plate studs to drill out and 6 element studs to drill out. I don't mind the odd one to drill out but 18 is ridiculous!

Here's the wobbler weight safety valve.

Making a spring compressor

I always find after having this kind of set back to do something fun to keep your spirits up. So I had a little fun building a spring compressor. It cost about $3 to make and worked perfectly.

I used 2 pieces of MDF board, the board was quite thick around 15mm and I pulled it from an old packing crate. Laying the 2 pieces on top of each other I then drilled 4 holes through them and on one of the pieces I drilled a large hole in the centre - this will enable me to undo the top bolt that holds the spring assembly together. I then cut 4 x 40cm lengths of M10 studding and used plenty of M10 nuts and washers. The washers are very important as they spread the load of the nut on the board.

To be safe I doubled up the nuts at on the bottom to secure the studding in place.

Then it was just a case of putting the spring assembly in it and then tightening each corner a little at a time.

Here's the spring assembly in the compressor. This photo was taken afterwards as I forgot to take a real photo at the time so you get the idea.

And here is the spring, having been safely removed. Once you tighten the compressor down the top nut will poke out the top of the wood. You can then undo it from the shaft and then slowly unwind the compressor again.

So right now the boiler and the pipes are in a citric acid bath. I have a large tank that I built that has a thermostat to keep it hot and it has a 3kw heating element. The tank has a lid and it stays hot for quite a while.

That is up to date. Now I need to think about those 18 studs that need to be drilled out....


#6: Post by Paul »

cool to see your progress. like the descale tank. i've been meaning to jig up a heated one for ages.

gr - that spring looks good eh?

good luck with the boiler studs. i did the same thing recently with an americano. ended up paying a local engineer for 4 hrs to remedy it for me.

Are you going to install a modern safety valve and vac breaker?

LMWDP #084

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Paul_Pratt (original poster)

#7: Post by Paul_Pratt (original poster) »

Hi Paul,

Yes the group is in really good condition, it is quite weird. The chrome on the group body is flawless and as you say the spring looks new.

I wish I could find someone to do the studs but I'll do it myself. I will replace the wobbler weight with a real safety valve and a pressure switch and put the old buts away somewhere safe.

No work on it today though.


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Paul_Pratt (original poster)

#8: Post by Paul_Pratt (original poster) »

A day of mixed fortunes drilling the studs out.

As the title says it was a day that started well, hit a brickwall in the middle but ended up on a high. To recap I was attempting to drill out the rusty broken studs in 3 places; the group flange on the boiler, the element studs on the endplate and the 9 studs in the boiler.

So I started off with the group flange on the boiler.

Here I used an old bumper tamper with some teflon tape to bung up the hole, to stop the metal chips from going into the boiler. So the first job was to cut off the studs using an angle grinder. I ended up with this.

You can see in the photo that I had already centre punched the stud trying to get as dead on centre as I could. The success of successfully drilling out and retapping these studs depends largely on the accuracy of the drilling. For the pilot hole I used a centre drill. Normally these are used in the tailstock of a lathe but I thought I may as well use them here. The centre drills are very strong stubby drill bits used for starting pilot holes as they do no flex or wander when you drill.

A quick word about drill bits. Buy the best drill bits you can afford. In general those cheapie chinese bits are absolute crap for any kind of metal work. The cutting angles are all wrong and they break far too easily. A good drill bit will eat through steel and last much longer.

So far so good. I was feeling confident. That was when I let my guard down and started to get distracted and took out the stupid screw extractors (aka easy outs). I should have known better. The only people who tell you that screw extractors work are screw extractor salespeople. :x

I thought I would try and see if the stud would budge with a screw extractor.

To cut a long story short the extractor bit snapped in the hole. It is your worst nightmare when doing this. Screw extractors may be brittle and snap quite easily but they are next to impossible to drill out. After I had stopped weeping......I successfully drilled and tapped the other 2 holes.

I have a plan on how to salvage the stud with the embedded extractor bit inside.

That was lunch. I had better fortune after lunch and I will update later but I'm still annoyed at myself for trying the short cut route of using the screw extractors.

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Paul_Pratt (original poster)

#9: Post by Paul_Pratt (original poster) »

I decided the leave the stud with the screw extractor bit inside for another day. So I started to remove the old gasket from the boiler flange and also remove the broken studs that hold the element into the boiler end plate.

But first is the boiler flange gasket. It started out being a right pain. No matter where I poked around I could not get in and under the gasket. Once you get under the gasket you will find that they usually come out in pieces. Eventually I got a sharp chisel under and was able to work my way around.

Here it is half way through chipping it away. The most important part of this is not to gouge any deep scratches into the flange otherwise it will make life difficult for sealing later.

By the way I am removing this underwater or at least under a running tap just in case the gasket has any nasties inside.

Eventually it was all clean, leaving just the rusted out studs which will be done another day. You will note that the boiler is still dirty inside, it will go back into the acid bath again now.

Ok so now it was time to tackle the 6 rusted studs that hold the element into the end plate. Here they are...

I briefly tried to unscrew them, I thought one last go using the double nut technique but they didn't move at all. So drilling was the only option. Thankfully this one would be a bit easier because the end plate is flat and easy to hold in place.

So it was the same routine as before. I used the angle grinder to cut the studs off, then dressed them up with a file, centre punched in the centre, then drilled a pilot hole using my centre drills. Here is the progess after doing my first hole, which was 4mm.

In the last post I mentioned about using good quality drill bits. This time I tried a different bit, I used one of my step drill bits as they are very sharp and make mincemeat of these rusty bolts. So I used the step drill up to about 6mm. After that I then put a 7mm bit into my drill press and accurately drilled them out to 7mm ready for the M8 tap. The benefit with this is you make sure the hole is straight and true, much better than by hand.

So now it was time to tap the new M8 hole. By far the best way to do this is to use the drill press to start the tapping - but obviously the drill press is not powered up. I set the plate under the drill and then secured it in place (not shown in the photo). With one hand you pull the drill lever so the tap goes down into the hole, with the other you hand you turn the drill chuck clockwise so that it starts to tap into the hole. After a few turns you can loosen the chuck and take out the tap and endplate.

The point of using the drill press to start the threads is to make sure they are straight and true. After that you retire to the workbench and finish tapping by hand. Remember use plenty of cutting fluid to protect the tap and you also "must break the chips" I like to do half turn clockwise followed by half a turn back to break the chip.

So here is the first hole successfully drilled and tapped, testing with a new M8 stud.

And eventually I got to this....

It took about an hour from start to finish and I was VERY pleased with the result. So on that note I finished for the day. I'll explain more about how I dressed up the end plate tomorrow.

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#10: Post by JohnB. »

Paul_Pratt wrote:I briefly tried to unscrew them, I thought one last go using the double nut technique but they didn't move at all. So drilling was the only option.
No vice grips? Oxy acetylene torch? I would consider heating the ends of the studs until they turn red most of the way down, letting them cool, soaking with a good penetrating oil & unscrewing using vice grips a better option then cutting/drilling/tapping. This should be done on any severely rusted stud before you attempt to remove it to avoid dealing with snapped off studs.