Restoring a Gaggia OWC stored 20+ years: Still struggling

Equipment doesn't work? Troubleshooting? If you're handy, members can help.
Spag

#1: Post by Spag »

Hello everyone,

I have the opportunity to give new life to an old Gaggia OWC with the steam knob on the front. It has been in storage for 20+ years. I opened it up and quickly looked at the internals. Everything looks fine. A little rust at the bottom, and minor signs of some sort of leaking / corrosion on the boiler joint area.

I turned it on for a moment and the boiler heats up. I quickly shut it off. The only visible problem so far is the orange indicator light which was broken during storage. Everything else looks OK.

I'll be restoring it. First things first. Should I verify if it operates properly before taking it apart and descaling it? I have no intention to make coffee with it before a full cleaning and restoration, I've seem the inside of a boiler on a neglected Isomac Brio I restored many years ago, it was not a pretty sight. Should I verify if it leaks or if the pump seems to function properly? If so, how do I prime the pump?

I added a few pics of the old white coffee.

Thanks :)




Spag (original poster)

#2: Post by Spag (original poster) »

Hello again,

I took the old Gaggia apart yesterday. It mostly went well, and for a consumer machine of this age, so far everything looks salvageable, except for one issue. One of the 4 hex screws which hold the top and the bottom of the boiler together will not budge. It will not move. I tried with a little too much force. Every other hex screw holding different parts of the grouphead / boiler needed a little more force then anticipated but they eventually gave way. The hex socket on his one screw gave way before the screw unlocked. I stripped the head :cry:





Is there anything I can do to remove this screw without destroying the boiler?

Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks

ira
Team HB

#3: Post by ira »

First put some Kroil or similar on it for a few days to see if it loosens up. Looks like it's in a perfect place to be grabbed with a large vice-grips which should give you the leverage to turn it. I had a very stuck screw like that once. Since it was in a counterbored hole I finally started drilling it out a tiny bit at a time till the head came off. Turned out the threads were fine but someone left a washer off and the head had seized to the surface so the remainder of the bolt came out with my fingers.

SJM

#4: Post by SJM »

A few things that might be useful to note:

The old Gaggia Users Group is now inactive, but there are lots of old threads about the OWC. You might check there http://www.gaggiausersgroup.com/

The OWC has a 3-way solenoid and an adjustable OPV, two things which Gaggia continued in the Classic but discontinued in the New Coffee.

The OWC's boiler was used in only one other similarly short lived Gaggia (the two-switch Coffee). So, be very very very careful with the boiler. Unlike other models of Gaggia, the boiler cannot be sourced unless you can find another OWC, and they aren't all that prevalent in the wild.

Good luck.

Spag (original poster)

#5: Post by Spag (original poster) »

ira wrote:First put some Kroil or similar on it for a few days to see if it loosens up. Looks like it's in a perfect place to be grabbed with a large vice-grips which should give you the leverage to turn it. I had a very stuck screw like that once. Since it was in a counterbored hole I finally started drilling it out a tiny bit at a time till the head came off. Turned out the threads were fine but someone left a washer off and the head had seized to the surface so the remainder of the bolt came out with my fingers.
I totally screwed up on the weekend (pun intended). Now that I look back, I should have thought about using some sort of penetrating oil. I found some Liquid Wrench. I'll let it do its thing until the weekend and see how it goes.

Thanks ira

Spag (original poster)

#6: Post by Spag (original poster) »

SJM wrote:A few things that might be useful to note:

The old Gaggia Users Group is now inactive, but there are lots of old threads about the OWC. You might check there http://www.gaggiausersgroup.com/

The OWC has a 3-way solenoid and an adjustable OPV, two things which Gaggia continued in the Classic but discontinued in the New Coffee.

The OWC's boiler was used in only one other similarly short lived Gaggia (the two-switch Coffee). So, be very very very careful with the boiler. Unlike other models of Gaggia, the boiler cannot be sourced unless you can find another OWC, and they aren't all that prevalent in the wild.

Good luck.
Thanks. I'll be looking at the old Users Group for tips on how to descale and rebuild the old machine. I hope nothing too serious shows up once I take it all apart.

Walkinghispath

#7: Post by Walkinghispath »

I've restored and modded several Coffees (I'm a veteran of the old Gaggia message board). Let me know if you need anything.
Breville BES920XL and KitchenAid Proline (w/mazzer burrs).

User avatar
JR_Germantown

#8: Post by JR_Germantown »

I don't frequent this forum as much lately, but I just noticed this topic today. I see you've already gotten some good advice. I'll try to weigh in as needed. Dittos on what Susan (SJM) said about the boiler, they're unobtanium. The boiler o-ring and group gasket are almost as hard to source.

Jack

Norvin

#9: Post by Norvin »

I posted a restoration thread regarding an early OWC on the old gaggiausersgroup site.
When I had the same problem with a stripped internal hex I cut a slot across the head with two hacksaw blades taped together. A screwdriver, preferably an impact screwdriver, can then be used to turn the head.

Spag (original poster)

#10: Post by Spag (original poster) »

JR_Germantown wrote:I don't frequent this forum as much lately, but I just noticed this topic today. I see you've already gotten some good advice. I'll try to weigh in as needed. Dittos on what Susan (SJM) said about the boiler, they're unobtanium. The boiler o-ring and group gasket are almost as hard to source.

Jack
I did some research on a few sites including the Gaggia user group, and came to the conclusion that I would have to try to salvage as many parts as possible due to the lack of replacement parts.
Walkinghispath wrote:I've restored and modded several Coffees (I'm a veteran of the old Gaggia message board). Let me know if you need anything.
Thanks. I may take you up on that offer :D
Norvin wrote:I posted a restoration thread regarding an early OWC on the old gaggiausersgroup site.
When I had the same problem with a stripped internal hex I cut a slot across the head with two hacksaw blades taped together. A screwdriver, preferably an impact screwdriver, can then be used to turn the head.
Cutting a slot across with a hacksaw is something I hadn't thought about. Thanks for the suggestion.

I'll letting the liquid wrench penetrate for a few more days (not by choice, I've been busy lately planning the remodelling of our bathroom) before trying to remove the last screw keeping the boiler together.