My portafilter remains clothed in chrome but with some effort and the help of a bench vice I did take the double spout off the bottom - thankfully without breaking anything in the process. Here is what I found after going through this trouble - I now have a more modest version of a naked portafilter. If I hold the portafilter up to a light I see the screen from my basket through the hole - I guess in this small eraser sized hole my portafilter is naked too. When pulling a shot the cone falls through this hole in a single stream, starting thin and dark while gradually increasing in diameter till the hole is almost filled with a light and dark stream.
The results I describe seeing when pulling a shot are very similar (the same perhaps?) to what I see when observing a shot pulled from a chopped portafilter. If my distribution is off I will see the smooth cone collapse and a more violent (but still well contained) stream develops and more often than not depending on whether the cone falls apart early or late in the process the shot will be of lower quality than when the cone stays intact until I end the flow. Spare portafilters for the Gaggia cost over $50 new but they should last a lifetime under normal use. My advice then would be to remove the spout if you want to experiment since it is completely reversible before making a permanent change that you might not care for but would learn that fact after it is too late.
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