Results 1 to 3 of 3

Thread: DIY Step by Step guide - Silvia Boiler Element Replacement

  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2010

    DIY Step by Step guide - Silvia Boiler Element Replacement

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    This is from another thread (here: where I covered my own experience replacing the heating element in a Rancillio Silvia.
    Thought it was worth making it easier to find here.
    Hope you get something out of it and let me know if hit any snags.


    Hi guys,

    Okay sorry this took me a little longer to get around to than expected.
    Custom timber dining table took priority! Another story...

    Bare with me, this will take one more post to get you some good photos to guide you step by step.

    First things first, my Silvia is back in action!
    Second shot I pulled had beautiful full ristretto size head of crema.

    Heres the steps:

    1) Buy a new element from Coffee Parts speak with Pedro if you get stuck.
    NOTE: The o-rings that are recommended from Coffee Parts are, in my experience, inadequate. Theyre too narrow in thickness and sit to loose around the element post screw threads.
    Save yourself some heartache, go to Bunnings or any $2 shop and buy some thicker, snugger fitting rings.
    Mine where from the gardening water section of Bunnings, used in hose connectors, perfect fit!

    It took me 2 goes to get this right, firstly using the smaller o-rings which didnt work and leaked once reassembled.
    I hope I can save you that frustration.

    2) Set aside a nice big water proof work space, this is going to get messy

    NOTE: unplug the power (you never know!), really important, before you touch any cabling or connectors, either label all connectors in a way you understand OR like me just take a couple of really good photos on your digital still.
    This helped me immensely with the reassemble and trouble-shooting

    3) Disassemble your Silvias outer covers, disconnect all connectors on the element alone and remove steam piping:
    - start with the top cup warmer panel, 4 phillips heads
    - Then the back panel, 2 small phillips on the inside top on the black chassis AND one lone phillips at the back base of this rear panel, youll need a long reach phillips for this and dont unscrew all the way! You only need to loosen (slightly bend to get off)
    - Then remove the angled panel on the inside that covers the pump, 2 phillips machine screws with lock washers
    - Remove steam pipe from top of element and rear of steam tap assembly
    - Remove steam tap assembly from chassis, one large collar nut and lock washer
    - Remove the back wash and pump supply clear pipes from the pressure reg attached to the boiler.
    Note: my back-wash pipe didnt want to budge so I just snipe it off and remove the 5mm piece still around the spout, theres plenty of length in the pipe so dont worry if you cant get it off cleanly.

    - Last part, take the front cover off, you do this from the back of the chassis through the access holes in said chassis, theres a hidden single phillips that screws down into the group head assembly, do this from above with your long-reach phillips
    Note: I didnt unplug the front cables from the switches or element o lamp, I just gently lay them over the top of the machine to the back, so theyre out of the way
    - I did however take off the two top thermostats; beige and blue, as they get in the way of the next parts and you dont want to damage them. They have thermal conductive paste under them so keep them clean and free from debris.

    4) Now remove the boiler: this is a series of allen bolts around the perimeter, careful of the 2 earth wires under the far right hand bolt that you dont shear them off, gently gently
    There may be a little gasket sealant (or gasket maker loctite call it) between the boiler and the base / group head housing, you may need a little mechanical encouragement eg. flat-head screwdriver to gently pry apart.
    This is when the water will come out, obviously. Try and tilt the machine forwards to make most of the water come out the front and keep it clear of where the 240 goes into the pump at the rear.
    Make sure your main seal o-ring is in good condition, shouldnt have a problem here.

    5) Drill out element
    There are two ways to do this I recommend the second.
    Option A use a drill press, youll need a half-inch, or 12.7mm drill bit. Dont even try using a hand held power drill. Use an angle grinder or dremel to take of the top of the old elements, other wise you have no chance of drilling it through where the old element post are.
    The drill press option is what I did but I think there is a better way. The problem is that youre never going to get it perfectly in the centre of where the old elements are and thats exactly where you need them for the new one.
    My new holes after drilling out the old element were about a 1-1.5 mm off to one side, which doesnt sound like a lot but makes all the difference in the assembly stage.
    Option B, use a milling machine. I know most people wont have one of these, I dont, but every metal fabrication business will and theyll be more than happy to drill it out for $10-20, in the perfect location you need, ie exactly where the old element posts came through.
    Keep in mind were talking two things here, a) $300 replacement boiler cost for a genuine Silvia part b) ongoing maintenance, youll never have to do the above again, an element replacement will be a breeze, somewhat

    6) Once youve drilled out the old element, whichever way you feel comfortable, youll need to do some dremel work. (I opted for the $39 Ozito flavour from Bunnings, works a treat!)

    Check in the inside top face for brass forging imperfections, there were a few on mine and had to smooth off with the blunt grinding nib tool.
    Less is more here as the larger o-ring will absorb most of the tolerances on the inside face. Its really just anything obvious that will cause an issue in sealing. Make sure you dont gouge the inside face or youll spend hours resurfacing to a flat plane, again not something you want to do, trust me!

    Heres the fiddly part. The new element posts dont clear the outside top of the boiler by very much at all, barely enough to the start of the thread if at all.
    So the answer to this is more dremel work! Get your collar nut for the new element post and place it where it will screw down, mark around it, thats the area youll need to shave off the top of the boiler so youll be able to get the nut started on the post thread.

    I went down about 1.5 mm on both sides, this was enough to get the thread started.
    Once you can get the nuts started on the element posts then youre ready for reassembly.

    NEW thought: Just realised the perfect no-fuss way to get around all this dremel work is to have the metal fab place take the surface down for you to accommodate the collar nut, job done, nice and clean!

    7) Reassembly
    Best to use a little Gasket Maker / sealer (I used the Loctite variety, the Red colored one as this withstands temps to 300c for consistent periods).
    Use it sparingly yet consistent on the collar flange of the new element posts that will sit on the inside, I went over the to of the o-ring after it was in place, gotta move quick this stuff forms a skin quickly.
    Insert new element, and screw on collar nuts. The key with o-rings is that they never need over-tightening, only go till the element is in firmly, but never all the way, take a look inside he boiler to make sure the o-rings havent popped out the side after over-tightening.
    My dad was an engineer and I remember him telling me years ago that an o-ring achieves maximum effectiveness at 25% crush. Wise words.

    Apply some more gasket sealant to the base of the boiler hosing, over the top of the main seal o-ring is fine, again sparingly.
    Reattach the boiler with the allen bolts, always tighten these kind of assemblies in opposite matches. Meaning start with any bolt, then the next bolt goes to the opposite hole, then pick the half point between these two around the circumference and repeat, start with loose tightens until all bolts are in and then tighten down in same order.
    This is the same basic principle as heads on engines or studs on a car wheel etc.
    Its all about distributing stresses to minimise potential cracking, warping or uneven stresses.

    8) Reattach covers in reverse order as above and reattached connectors, hope you took goo photos!
    Keep the rear panels off at this stage as you want to pressure test before completely reassembling.
    Make sure youre running an RCD (safety cut-out) on your power board! Stand back, plug in your machine and fill up your water tank.
    Pop the filler pipes into the tank off to the side of the machine, turn it on and draw water into the boiler using the hot water mode, have a cup handy at the steam nozzle.
    Fill the boiler right up so theres no more air in it.
    Wait for the unit to come to temp, youre looking to see if the thermostat turns off after the element has heated.
    If it does youre half-way home.
    Next, the pressure test, either use a blank porter filter or keep the steam nozzle closed.
    Run the hot-water mode again for about 10 seconds. This should cause the machine to back-wash cycle will put the new element / boiler combo through its paces at maximum pressure.

    No leaks? Youre home free!

    See some leaks around the new element posts? Shut everything down. Mark which side it leaks from and disassemble. Youll need to chase down why thats leaking and whether its the o-ring, facia imperfections or something else.

    If you had no leaks, the unit comes to temperature and you get piping hot water out the steam nozzle then congratulations youve just saved yourself $200 or so.
    Most importantly you are a DIY god! At least thats how I felt.

    Hope this guide was useful. And apologies if I rambled a bit too much.

    Photos posted back soon!


    PS. My handle is Digitalcoffee because Im a digital creative director, I work in advertising and Im a self confessedcoffee snob.

  2. #2
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2011

    Re: DIY Step by Step guide - Silvia Boiler Element Replacement

    Just carried out the same job on my own machine yesterday. Worked a treat except for a small leak. Thanks for the pathfinding effort and posting

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2009

    Re: DIY Step by Step guide - Silvia Boiler Element Replacement

    Ok, im all for replacing things myself, and even fabricating parts to make them work better.
    But in this case, it seems a bit strange to have to tear apart the sealed boiler to put a new element in when you can simply buy a new boiler for about $70 extra from Jetblack (

Similar Threads

  1. Step by Step Guide - Install PID in a Silvia.
    By WSullivan in forum Brewing Equipment - Midrange ($500-$1500)
    Replies: 43
    Last Post: 29th October 2013, 04:27 PM
  2. 2009 Rancilio Silvia - backflushing? yes? not? how to step by step?
    By acid_rider in forum Brewing Equipment - Midrange ($500-$1500)
    Replies: 9
    Last Post: 27th June 2010, 05:18 PM
  3. How to PID a Rancilio Silvia - A Step by Step Guide
    By WSullivan in forum Brewing Equipment - Midrange ($500-$1500)
    Replies: 25
    Last Post: 1st July 2009, 05:45 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts