My Gaggia Classic developed a problem – the coffee holder (properly called the sieve) got stuck. It took me days of episodic attempts to get it off – annoying everyone in the office with bashing and cursing it. Suction cups, my first “inspired” idea, were useless. I finally wielded a meaty screwdriver and loosened it.
I decided it was time to get to the root of the problem and strip off the mount, get everything clean. Easier said than done. Fortunately, as usual, there are some good YouTube videos to help out. I could remove the “shower head” quite easily. The rear face was burnt with coffee gunk, which back-propagates from the basket, but then reached the point where I had given up before. The distributor head was totally welded in place. I gave it a good scrub with the wire brush. A well-tended unit should simply fall off (they say). If not, insert needle-nose pliers into the two bolt holes and loosen it by rotating. No chance, and I stopped before destroying a nice pair of pliers!
The next tip worked. Gently screw some longer bolts into the holes, which should in the end prise the distributor head free. I could find one M5 bolt that was long enough so I worked on each hole in series. Dreading to think what was going on behind the distributor head, I wound the longer bolt further and further inside. Some terrifying creaking and a few slips of the allen wrench later, some water leaked back through the hole, and I knew I was nearly there. Removing the bolt allowed me to lever off the distributor with the meaty screwdriver. 4 of the 5 holes and most of the back were clogged with gunk.
A good go with the screwdriver and the wire brush and some descaler removed almost all of the scaled up coffee residue.
Resolving to backflush and clean my machine more regularly, I reassembled, rinsed the machine about 10 times and finally, in the mid afternoon, enjoyed my first espresso from the Gaggia since Christmas.