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Isomac Giada – cleaned and repaired [Updated]

A little over 2 weeks ago i got my hands on another little project. I’ve been interested in the inner workings of espressomachines for a while now and i was looking for an easy machine to start tinkering with, preferably with as little electronics as possible. I found one on eBay that fit the bill and needed some work.

Intro

The seller on eBay mentioned a broken heatingelement as the problem and that he/she couldn’t find a replacement because the manufacturer didn’t have spares anymore. When buying machines that need parts replaced it’s always best to check if you actually have a source for those parts before committing to a job you have no way of finishing. I knew there were still parts being sold for this machine, even heatingelements.

Disassembly

The machine was decently packaged and shipped but it wasn’t all that clean. Not so bad but i still had to see what was actually wrong with it. When i first plugged it in and switched the machine on my entire kitchen was suddenly blacked out. Alrighty, electrical problem it is. I opened up the machine and started unplugging things to narrow down the problem, which eventually ended up being the heatingelement like the seller mentioned.

To get to the heatingelement i had to get rid of all the wiring, switches, lights, the pump plus tubes and remove the steamvalve. Once that was all out you’re left with pretty much an empty chassis and a grouphead / boilerunit. Once that unit was removed from the chassis i removed the top half of the boiler and found quite a lot of calcium deposits just moving about. Considering the fact that it was probably used with unfiltered water it wasn’t a big surprise.

Testing the heatingelement

Once the top half of the boiler was out i could easily get to the heating element. I removed the heatingelement and used a multimeter to test give it a quick test to see why it insisted on blacking out the kitchen. It turned out it didn’t just conduct electricity from one connector to another (which is normal) but also from either connector to the housing, which shorts out the circuit and causes a dark kitchen.

Cleaning

Obviously the machine needed a thorough cleaning and some parts had to be replaced. I placed an order for all the parts i needed and started cleaning. I put the brass and other unchromed parts in a citric acid solution (see “Descaling a La Pavoni Professional” for more info) and put the portafilter, steamwand and several other parts (including some of the Astoria grinder i’m restoring) in Pully Caff, a coffee grease remover that doesn’t affect chrome. The chassis was thoroughly cleaned as well and the outer part of the grouphead was polished as well.

Once the new grouphead seal and heatingelement came in the grouphead / boiler unit was reassembled. The o-rings in for the steamvalve were both replaced for new ones as well and the whole unit was then mounted back into the chassis. The pump was reinstalled and the hoses were re-attached.

Once all the mechanical parts were back in the chassis it was time to test if my documentation of the wiring had been sufficient. It’s healthy habit to take as many notes and pictures as you can as finding electrical schematics for your particular project might be quite hard and they might even differ from revision to revision. In the end i took enough pictures and notes and putting the “extensive” amount of electronics and wires back into the chassis was a piece of cake. The original powercable however looked a little worn and tired too, so replacing it with a new one seemed like the reasonable thing to do.

Conclusion

The Isomac Giada has now been restored to work as new and look as good. This machine was an easy intro for me as to how these machines actually work and i’m exited to find a new patient, whatever make and model that might be. This machine will be sold to someone who hopefully will take good care of it.

Pulling a shot

[Update] A buyer asked me for shotcharacteristics so i pulled a few shots to dial in my Mazzer and took some pictures. These pictures are from the last shot and show a very nice crema and nice rich color. The shot itself didn’t differ too much in taste compared to shots pulled on my La Pavoni Professional. I used 10 grams of Quijote Kaffee‘s “Oh Harvey” blend (my favorite by far). Obviously i haven’t fine tuned the grinder or figured out the optimal fill amount for the single (or double) basket, but that’d be next to impossible within 2 or 3 shots. I’m quite happy with the results however.

Worksheet

  • New heatingelement
  • New portafilter seal
  • New steamvalve seals
  • New powercable
  • Full descaling
  • Full cleaning

20 Comments

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  • naiib says:

    Hoi Sebastiaan,

    Verkoop je het apparaat nog?

    Groetjes,

    Najib

  • Ben says:

    Hoi Sebastiaan,

    Vraagje: is de ring in het groephoofd (bij de piston) ook te vervangen zonder de hele boiler uit elkaar te halen? Ik vermoed dat de oude er wel uit kan met een beetje wrikken, maar krijg ik de nieuwe er wel in?

    Alvast Bedankt!

    Groeten,

    Ben

    (translated into english for all to read)
    Question: is it possible to replace the grouphead seal without taking the entire boiler apart? I think i can get the old one out with a bit of prying, but will i be able to get the new one in?

    • Sebastiaan says:

      Die rubber in de grouphead is DIK en harder geworden over de jaren heen. Je kan die er heel misschien wel uitkrijgen met wat wrikken maar je bent waarschijnlijk daar dan langer mee bezig dan dat je de boiler losmaakt. Je hoeft de boiler zelf niet open te maken om die rubber eraf te krijgen, je kunt de aluminium manchet er apart af halen en dan is ‘t vervangen van die rubber vrij eenvoudig. Daar zit ook direct het volgende probleem van ‘t eruit proberen te wrikken van die oude (harde) ring, je loopt een groot risico die gegoten aluminium manchet te beschadigen / breken.

      Mocht je er zelf liever niet aan beginnen dan is ‘t ook altijd mogelijk om ‘t apparaat aan te leveren en dan vervang ik die wel voor je tegen een kleine vergoeding 😉

      English:
      The rubber seal in the grouphead is quite big and probably hardened over time. It might be possible to just pry it out but i’m quite sure it’ll take you a lot longer than just disassembling the machine and replacing the seal properly. To replace that particular seal you don’t have to disassemble the boiler itself, the seal is located beneath the boiler inside the aluminum portafilter mount, which can be taken off separately. You also risk damaging / breaking the brittle cast aluminum portafilter mount by prying the old seal out.

      If you’d rather not take on this task yourself you can always deliver the machine to me and i’ll replace that seal for you for a small fee 😉

  • Ben says:

    Thanks Sebastiaan! (I’ll just answer in English).

    I wasn’t able to take the aluminium portafilter mount of of the boiler head, it seems like it is stuck somehow.. Is there a way to make it come loose? I could email you a photo if that helps..

    Thanks a lot!

    • Sebastiaan says:

      You can post a link to your photo in a comment here, or send me an email: contact me

      Every now and then coffeegrease will somewhat fuse the mount to the boiler but that should come loose with a slight tap. However if you tap it too hard you risk opening up the boiler itself (as that is held together by the same four bolts that keep the portafiltermount on the boiler). Should that happen you will have to replace the boilerseal. Then again, you do get to clean the inside of the boiler, you’ll be surprised what kind of scaledeposits you can find in those things.

  • Ben says:

    Thanks for the comment! I tried giving it a slap, but it won’t come loose. Even when using a hammer (subtly) it stays attached. Do you maybe have a solution? Here is a link to a photo: https://www.dropbox.com/s/ijlioq07a9y9rvw/IMG_4008.JPG

    • Sebastiaan says:

      That should’ve come off by now, but those black spots look like heavy coffee grease build up. Try soaking it overnight in a solution of water and dish soap. Or, if you have some, try some coffee grease cleaner like PullyCaff instead of the dish soap. Don’t drop it in citric acid though, the boiler part can handle it but you would have to re-polish the portafilter mount as that will turn cloudy within minutes.

  • Ben says:

    Ok I tried soaking it in water and dish soap: no succes. Then tried another tip I got from a espresso machine repairman, soaking it in kruipolie (penetrating oil?) for 24 hours. Did that, still stuck… It’s very weird that this thing is stuck like this. Do you maybe have another solution left?

    • Sebastiaan says:

      That thing should’ve been off by now. Weird. But after penetrating oil be sure to clean it thoroughly, I can’t see how anyone could suggest that kind of chemical in a food prep area…

      Do you have any PullyCaff? An actual coffee grease remover would probably help but honestly I think I’d be brute forcing it by now, not that I ever had one stuck this hard…

      • Ben says:

        Well, that’s interesting. The guy who suggested it is a professional mechanic in that field… After a few days of soaking in the oil it is still stuck. I don’t have any PullyCaf at the moment. Interesting thing is the guy who suggested the oil said not to use coffee grease remover as it would damage the aluminium… Kind of biased at the moment. Brute force is probably the only option left now, though I don’t want to damage the thing…

        • Sebastiaan says:

          The thing is, penetrating oil *might* work, but it’s a strong chemical and far from food safe. PullyCaff does affect aluminum that’s why in combination with aluminum it’s kind of a last resort. If you don’t feel safe / comfortable “brute forcing” it yourself, box it up and send it to me. Contact me via my contact page.

  • Gunnar says:

    Hello Sebastiaan, I have the same problem ( kitchen into darkness) So I was wondering where you get the new heating en rubbers. And how much they are.
    By the way good work!
    Gunnar

    • Sebastiaan says:

      Thanks 🙂 the heating element (depending on model) costs either €29.15 or €29.16. You will also need the two heating element seals which cost €1.86 each (two needed). To get to the element you will have to open the boiler and therefor you also need to replace the boiler seal, €3.11. It’s not terribly hard or complicated but it does take a bit of time. I get my parts mostly from [url=http://www.espressoxxl.de]EspressoXXL.de[/url] in Germany.

  • Jeroen says:

    Dank voor deze blog, vond hem ca 1 jaar geleden, terwijl ik op zoek was naar een 2e hands giada. Deze van marktplaats geplukt want door jouw heldere omschrijving niet ‘bang’ ermee aan de slag te gaan, mocht het een miskoop blijken.
    Vandaag de lekkende piston rubber vervangen en dan gelijk ook de boilerring. Van binnen was de boiler eigenlijk schoon, op een hoop losliggend kalkachtig spul.
    Groet,
    Jeroen

  • Reinier says:

    Dank voor deze pagina, heeft er voor gezorgd dat ik de mijne heb ‘durven’ openen en zelf de ring etc. te vervangen.
    Reinier

  • Maki says:

    hi! great write-up and i need your help.. mu steam knob broke(!) and i need to replace the metal pin that holds it, pictured here: http://imgur.com/Cgo3HJ7

    any tips how should it be removed?
    regards

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