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Thread: Risks buying Silvia second hand?

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    Risks buying Silvia second hand?

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi,

    After any thoughts, advise, or tips on what I need to consider/factor in here.

    I currently have a Breville Ikon, and not a lot of spare cash, but am open to an upgrade if a good deal comes my way.* The Silvia is probably the logical next step, and I have my eye on one on that sight that I dare not name ;)

    What Im wondering is:
    - Whether the Silvia is a substantial upgrade from the Ikon?* I assume so, but my experience is extremely limited, so confirmation from anyone familiar with both would be fantastic!
    - Are there inherent risks in buying an older Silvia?* Trying to confirm exact age, but prob around 10 yrs?* I get the impression theyre built to last, but buying s/h you have to take the sellers word re: the care and maintenance its received over its life (and seller may not necessarily be 100% upfront on this).
    -* What could be potential health issues with the machine, and are any terminal?

    Any other input/advice/other welcomed!

    Damien

  2. #2
    brett230873
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    Re: Risks buying an older second hand Silvia?

    Jump over to Coffeeco Alan Frews site and read through some of his old newsletters. There is a good one there on trouble shooting so you can hit the ground running. Good luck, they are a robust beastie but remember to run water through the group after steaming to refill the boiler.

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    Re: Risks buying Silvia second hand?

    Quote Originally Posted by 6E7E6978783E3F3C343B3F0C0 link=1309353436/1#1 date=1309353877
    Good luck, they are a robust beastie but remember to run water through the group after steaming to refill the boiler.
    Thanks Brett.* Am I correct in saying that the boiler can be damaged if its not refilled?* If so, is replacement potentially required, and is this difficult and/or expensive to fix?

  4. #4
    brett230873
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    Re: Risks buying Silvia second hand?

    Youll potentially blow your element if you let the boiler run dry by not refilling after steaming. My red thermal cut-out switch had to be reset once so I suppose I was lucky. Replacing the boiler/element in a machine of that age will be expensive (in the hundreds) and a right royal pain. You merely need to set a proceedure of flushing water though your group to clean (portafilter wiggle) afte,r steaming our milk.

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    Re: Risks buying Silvia second hand?

    Thanks again Brett.

    So, provided the machine is currently in working condition, heating water and steaming etc, is it safe to assume that there is not currently any damage sustained to the boiler/element?* If it has been abused and poorly maintained will this be immediately obvious?*

    I will try to check the machine out before committing to buy, but being from a regional area (not near the machine), this is not overly practical.* Obviously I intend to take good care of her if she does happen to come my way, but I cant undo anything thats been done to the machine in the past!*

    I guess Im just nervous about forking out the $ for a dud, or finding out it needs expensive repairs/maintenance that I cant finance.* And curious as to whether pre-existing issues will be immediately obvious.*

    I did find the article on coffeeco that I believe you were referring to, so IF I get a chance to view the machine before bidding, Ill certainly have some ideas on what tests can be run.

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    Re: Risks buying Silvia second hand?

    Hi Damienh7,
    One thing to look out for is rust. The worst part is behind the drip tray.
    There is a horizontal join between the "back bone" and the base, check this spot for bubbled & "crunchy" paint.
    I dissasembled my 1yo baby last night and found some on mine.
    Anyhow, its a top machine.
    Good luck.
    Dan.

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    Re: Risks buying Silvia second hand?

    risks from a 2nd hand single boiler:
    1) the previous owner hasnt run the water through correctly and damaged the element.
    2) you may want to descale/backflush it
    3) as with all used machines the grouphead seal may be worn.

  8. #8
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    Re: Risks buying Silvia second hand?

    Quote Originally Posted by 7C7B687B6C7F797B757770791E0 link=1309353436/6#6 date=1309396605
    risks from a 2nd hand single boiler:
    1) the previous owner hasnt run the water through correctly and damaged the element.
    2) you may want to descale/backflush it
    3) as with all used machines the grouphead seal may be worn.
    Thanks Beverageking... I assume #1 would be the most serious and costly issue of the three to address.* Any quick simple means of confirming a damaged element?

    And thanks to Dan for your input too... apppreciate it!

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    Re: Risks buying Silvia second hand?

    Geez fellas,

    so much discussion over such a simple issue.

    Damien, in terms of risks:
    a) if the machine is intangible and therefore cant be demonstrated to you in person, dont go there unless you are a just a very trusting soul.

    b) if the machine can be demonstrated to be working as it should, in front of you, then there is only the issue of a mutually acceptable price.

    c) Stuff like possible scale or whether someone might not have reprimed the boiler after steam use some time in the past is effectively irrelevant, the machine either works or it doesnt :)

    d) yes you will be able to see the rust if it is there, or you will be able to see that someone has treated it but otherwise same as C) irrelevant...go directly to i) does it work and ii) the price?

    Fin :)

    Attilio
    very first CS site sponsor.

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    Re: Risks buying Silvia second hand?

    Thanks Attilio... a nice, clear explanation for me.* I am by nature quite trusting, but Im trying to tee up an inspection of the machine.* Provided it is functioning as it should, I will assume no terminal issues "under the hood", and determine my pricing limit, and take it from there.

    Thanks also to everyone elses input too!

    Now that weve cleared that up, to direct conversation back to the other aspect of my query: being that I have a boiler machine currently, should I expect a significant step up in performance from another single boiler machine?* Or is the difference more down to build quality and life expenctancy?* Im expecting both, but just want to be sure Im not expecting more than I should....

  11. #11
    Senior Member dr.a.j.pickering's Avatar
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    Re: Risks buying Silvia second hand?

    The ikon is not a bad machine you might expend a lot of effort just for an improved looking appliance

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    Re: Risks buying Silvia second hand?

    Quote Originally Posted by 5E48145B1450144A5359515F4853545D3A0 link=1309353436/10#10 date=1309405660
    The ikon is not a bad machine you might expend a lot of effort just for an improved looking appliance
    Ok... not necessarily the answer I was expecting, but it is what Im wanting to confirm, I suppose!

    P.S. what if I quite like the look of the Ikon?* :-?

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    Re: Risks buying Silvia second hand?

    I think the Silvia would be a fair upgrade from the Ikon. The group and 58mm pf on the Silvia are far better quality and I dont think the Ikon has a 3 way valve. There are a few obvious advantages the Silvia has. A really shallow drip tray may not be one.

    You should get better coffee from the Silvia then the Ikon, though you might be better spending the extra $ on a grinder if you are using the em0480.

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    Re: Risks buying Silvia second hand?

    Quote Originally Posted by 4D70747460190 link=1309353436/12#12 date=1309413130
    The group and 58mm pf on the Silvia are far better quality and I dont think the Ikon has a 3 way valve.
    Two good points...* My search for a new machine started primarily because I decided I really want a machine that has a "proper" 58mm pf.* Is that a silly thing to say?* :D

    Quote Originally Posted by 4D70747460190 link=1309353436/12#12 date=1309413130
    You should get better coffee from the Silvia then the Ikon, though you might be better spending the extra $ on a grinder if you are using the em0480.
    I had already been contemplating upgrading to the Smart grinder.* The Silvia may benefit moreso than the Ikon from an ever bigger step up (i.e. go for a better grinder than the Smart Grinder), but I just dont have the money to play with at this point for that to be an option.* From what Ive read, you have to spend quite a lot more to get a significantly better grinder than the Breville, anyway.

  15. #15
    Senior Member dr.a.j.pickering's Avatar
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    Re: Risks buying Silvia second hand?

    I think you may be surprised how much of an improvement the smart grinder is over the em0480, why dont you do it stepwise up grade the grinder first see how much better the coffee is and if still looking for more improvment (which by the way you will as you now have upgradeitis) and then look around at the machine options.

    The silva will need a better grinder than em0480 to improve on the ikons performance anyway

  16. #16
    Senior Member dr.a.j.pickering's Avatar
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    Re: Risks buying Silvia second hand?

    Quote Originally Posted by 1E232727334A0 link=1309353436/12#12 date=1309413130
    I think the Silvia would be a fair upgrade from the Ikon.* The group and 58mm pf on the Silvia are far better quality and I dont think the Ikon has a 3 way valve.* There are a few obvious advantages the Silvia has.* A really shallow drip tray may not be one.
    but what difference do those make at this level, the 58mm pf is only convenient to use other accessories upgrades

  17. #17
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    Re: Risks buying Silvia second hand?

    btw there are lots of gaggia classics that come up on that site! and they are boom proof and have the 58mm pf and better drip try

    mine is over 10 years old and going strong

  18. #18
    Senior Member dr.a.j.pickering's Avatar
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    Re: Risks buying Silvia second hand?

    sorry
    Quote Originally Posted by 2A3C602F6024603E272D252B3C2720294E0 link=1309353436/16#16 date=1309494077
    boom proof
    bomb

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    Re: Risks buying Silvia second hand?

    Quote Originally Posted by 2B3D612E6125613F262C242A3D2621284F0 link=1309353436/16#16 date=1309494077
    btw there are lots of gaggia classics that come up on that site! and they are boom proof and have the 58mm pf and better drip try

    mine is over 10 years old and going strong
    Thanks for all the input, Doc.

    I had considered the Classic, and noticed it too had the 58mm pf (not that this is priority #1, of course).** Cant remember where (perhaps the site recommended to me early on in this topic), but it was described as a machine to "learn on it for a couple of years, then offload it before it starts to develop issues", or something to that effect, which put me off buying one second hand. I think the boiler material and construction is a key difference.

    The sheer number of users/recommenders of the Silvia indicates its a pretty safe bet.* While I have the chance to pick up one at a good price I figure Ill give it strong consideration... the grinder upgrade will come either way in the not too distant future.

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    Re: Risks buying Silvia second hand?

    Quote Originally Posted by 34227E317E3A7E2039333B3522393E37500 link=1309353436/15#15 date=1309493927
    58mm pf is only convenient to use other accessories upgrades
    I might be wrong, but Id imagine that changing the surface area diameter, and therefore depth of basket/grinds would have an impact on the extraction... Considering 58mm is the standard, Im going to take a wild stab and guess that any difference in the cup (if there is any) is NOT going to be in the favour of the smaller diameter pfs!

    Thanks again for your thoughts.

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    Re: Risks buying Silvia second hand?

    I am not familiar with the Ikon but I understand it uses domestic size coffee filters.

    Moving to a machine that uses 58 mm / commercial size coffee filters if nothing else, results in wet coffee being brewed with commercial size portion / dose of grinds and results in a better wet coffee, or a wet coffee more approaching one made with commercial size equipment...that which a domestic type machine would otherwise never be able to do simply because the dose of grinds is smaller per cup of coffee.....

    After that yes, you can in addition, buy various accessories for standard 58mm group handles and filters that you cannot get for domestic size equipment....

    I just took a look at an internet photo of an Ikon. Looks pretty much like a small end domestic to me but someone please correct me if I am wrong and I will happily retract. If so, the difference in quality in the coffee produced between the Ikon and the Silvia, in the hands of a competent home barista, will be like chalk and cheese and I know which one I would Druther* ;)

    I also of course have the advantage of being a direct importer of the Silvia Damien, so if you want to talk and buy a new one then I will be happy to talk back...off line.

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    Re: Risks buying Silvia second hand?

    Quote Originally Posted by 62742867286C28766F656D63746F6861060 link=1309353436/15#15 date=1309493927
    but what difference do those make at this level, the 58mm pf is only convenient to use other accessories upgrades
    The quality of the pf and group head is the point. Pick up the pf on the Ikon and compare it to the Silvia and the Ikon pf will feel like a kids toy. That difference in construction quality would go for most aspects of the machine.

    Quote Originally Posted by 526F6B6B7F060 link=1309353436/12#12 date=1309413130
    I think the Silvia would be a fair upgrade from the Ikon. The group and 58mm pf on the Silvia are far better quality and I dont think the Ikon has a 3 way valve. There are a few obvious advantages the Silvia has. A really shallow drip tray may not be one.

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    Re: Risks buying Silvia second hand?

    Quote Originally Posted by 6F5B4C5A41766A464F4F4C4C290 link=1309353436/20#20 date=1309498750
    I just took a look at an internet photo of an Ikon. Looks pretty much like a small end domestic to me but someone please correct me if I am wrong and I will happily retract.
    You are correct, however unlike many offerings in and around its class, it is boiler rather than thermoblock.* From what Ive read, some experienced and knowledgeable CSers familiar with it seem to think it an ok unit, particularly for the money - this is advice I based my purchase on.

    On a good day I can get pretty good results, but Ive made the assumption that a machine such as the Silvia will provide two key things:
    -* Improved consistency in the cup
    -* Longevity (life of the machine, due to build quality)
    edit: and probably add better steam as a third... my wife and I currently drink milk based drinks almost exclusively.

    Alas budget doesnt allow me to consider new at this stage, but I do appreciate the offer.

  24. #24
    Senior Member dr.a.j.pickering's Avatar
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    Re: Risks buying Silvia second hand?

    Quote Originally Posted by 5F5A56525E55530C3B0 link=1309353436/18#18 date=1309495178
    but it was described as a machine to "learn on it for a couple of years, then offload it before it starts to develop issues"
    not sure were this is from many CSs using classics well over 10 years old

    Dont get me wrong if I was offered a free silva or a free classic I would go for the silva.

    Just a note of caution there are lot of threads about silva mods etc to try to improve it consistency.

    It is without a doubt a class leader but will you see the level of improvement you want to see for the investment? after all, the hype(?) associated with the silva means second hand prices are high

    Steam is still an issue on silva especially with the old steam wand and requires temp surfing which something that I think you can do on the ikon as it a boiler machine.

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    Re: Risks buying Silvia second hand?

    Anyone that wants to improve from any "regular" domestic machine (read here one that uses smaller filters than commercial size), has to start somewhere and may I suggest that "somewhere" is at the very minimum, with another domestic machine that does use regular commercial filters. There are less than a handful and both the gaggia and silvia are in that category.

    Why commercial size (or 58mm filters)? Because they are bigger than regular domestic size and give you a coffee with more coffee oils disolved per ml of brewing water, resulting in coffee with greater body if nothing else, and approaching commercial style.

    It is only my opinion but just the difference in the resulting brew, between a silvia and the multitude of lesser domestics on the market with their smaller filters, lighter overall weight and lesser ease and convenience of use, is deserving of the upgrade.

    All silvias including early models work just fine and dont *need* mods to work well. There is a difference between wanting to mod, and needing to mod, and the best pid I know of is inside everyones head.

    If you had to choose between any silvia and any gaggia (domestic) you would be mad not to take the silvia even if for no other reason than the corrosion and blockage problems associated with machines that employ aluminium boilers. I understand the new gaggias may (or may not) have stainless steel liners, but certianly all the older models did not. Further, only an individual can decide whether they are happy to drink the coffee made with a machine that uses an aluminium boiler even when it is working properly.

    Yes used silvia prices are high, but you can also surmise that it is justifiably so.

    I have never found steam to be an issue with any silvia except if the machine was faulty, and I also had no problem with the original non ball jointed steam arm although its short length could be described as being inconvenient in use. Silvia has a bigger steam capacity than any other regular domestic, notwithstanding it is really only meant to be used to steam enough milk for 2 std cappuccino (say 600ml jug) after which the boiler should be reprimed before the next operation lest the water level is run down to a point where the element blows. Yes it will do more without repriming, but the operator takes the risk in the event of a blown element.

    All machines require "temperature surfing" so I cant see how that becomes any more of an "issue" with silvia.

    All of this is said with absolutely no commercial interest at all as Damien says he is not going to buy a new machine...the question being, is he going to end up with a "better" machine with noticeable difference and therefore a worthwhile "upgrade"....others may disagree but I think....yes.

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  26. #26
    Senior Member dr.a.j.pickering's Avatar
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    Re: Risks buying Silvia second hand?

    Quote Originally Posted by 536770667D4A567A73737070150 link=1309353436/24#24 date=1309566165
    I have never found steam to be an issue with any silvia
    Quote Originally Posted by 536770667D4A567A73737070150 link=1309353436/24#24 date=1309566165
    except
    ....
    Quote Originally Posted by 536770667D4A567A73737070150 link=1309353436/24#24 date=1309566165
    water level is run down to a point where the element blows
    The silva is an excellent machine (and I lust after my brother-in-laws)but I was just trying to say its not magic and god shots and latte art dont just come with spending the extra cash (as with all upgrades).*

    my main point was a good grinder will make more of a difference

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    Re: Risks buying Silvia second hand?

    Wrt running the water level down increasing the possibility of blowing elements: This is the same as with any domestic machine with boiler instead of thermoblock and is not restricted to the Silvia & Gaggia. Its not a "steam issue" or an equipment issue...its what happens when operators dont take due care ie do not use the proper established technique when operating coffee machines that have boilers and that dont have an auto fill function....ergo, it is an "operator issue".

    Yes in total agreement, the good result doesnt come through just buying the machine, the operator has to work for it, and the good thing about doing that is that once an operator has mastered the Silvia ( and even the Gaggia), they are very well prepared to taking the next (and more expensive) step to owning
    a good semi commercial HX machine and making even better coffee

    Rgdz,
    Attilio

  28. #28
    Senior Member GregWormald's Avatar
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    Re: Risks buying Silvia second hand?

    Honestly Damien, I think that the Silvia is only half a step up from the Ikon.

    Having had both an Ikon and the La San Marco equivalent of the Silvia, the best way to increase the quality of your coffee would be to upgrade the grinder.

    Silvia and Ikon are both small, single boiler machines--and have many of the same advantages and disadvantages as each other. The smaller portafilter and baskets of the Ikon make only a small difference in the extraction. Some high-end machines also run baskets at a smaller diameter than 58mm and the reviews indicate that these are often an advantage and more forgiving of less-than-perfect technique. The Ikon baskets are reasonably deep.

    The next class of machine, IMO, up from the Ikon would be an E61 head, single boiler such as the Diadema or Vibiemme. These give better temperature stability, better steam, and have larger boilers. Their boilers still have to be manually re-filled after steaming.

    Greg

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    Re: Risks buying Silvia second hand?

    Thanks to all for your input.*

    I have an admission to make, I was actually looking at an Audrey, not a Silvia.* Might sound silly, but I didnt want to draw attention to the fact that one was going cheap on ebay if I could help it, and from what Ive read, theyre near on identical internals to the Silvia.* I thought that the older incarnation may go unrecognised to a degree (it was also poorly listed/advertised).

    I did bid, but only to a fairly lowly level, and missed out with it going for around $150.* Pretty cheap I reckon, and hopefully the winning bidder gets good service out of it, but based on the advice of those familiar with both the Ikon and Silvia (ergo Audrey), I felt no real inclination to get into a bidding war to secure it.

    Based on the favourable comparisons between the Ikon and Silvia, Ive decided that Ill aim to upgrade my grinder first... that way I should get some short term gains with the Ikon, and be better placed to get the best out of my next machine, whatever that may be.

    Thanks again for everyones input.

    Damien



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