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Thread: Silvia v1... worth the effort?

  1. #1
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    Silvia v1... worth the effort?

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

    Long time browser, first time poster.

    I've recently been given for freea V1 Silvia along with a Rocky grinder by a mate at work. He had upgraded since he thought the Silvia had blown the boiler (had been replaced once in its life already) as it was no longer heating. I got it home and checked the thermostats etc with my multimeter and everything looked ok. Also checked the thermostat reset switch and that didnt seem to need anything either. So, I filled it up, powered it on and purged it, then let it heat... and it did! So it doesn't seem like the boiler element has gone after all.

    However, when running water through it I was getting water leaking out of the bottom - looks like the seal on the silicon tubing connected to the OPV is pumping out water. I also found that when I tried a backflush the grouphead leaked fairly significantly. In addition the frame under the driptray has a fair amount of rust. So my plan was to scrape out the rust and sand it back, treat it with deruster and prime it, and fix it up with some black enamel paint to sort out the rust issue (since its not on show it doesnt matter too much how it looks). Then give the rest of the machine a bit of TLC - replace the gaskets on the grouphead and boiler, take the boiler out and give it a proper descale, apply teflon tape to all the screw connectors to give them a proper seal.


    My question is - is it worth it on a machine this age? Given the boiler doesn't seem to have gone it shouldn't be too costly an exercise so I'm keen to at least try, but could this be the start of a slippery slope? Is there any other maintenance I should be considering adding to the list as well? Or any other checks that I should be doing.

    As for the rocky - aside from taking it apart and giving the burrs a clean, and then running some grindz through it - anything else I should be doing? Its got a bit of a funky smell to it as it is...


    To give some context:
    I'm certainly an appreciator of good coffee and those who do it well. I currently use a Nespresso machine with a "proper" steam wand (please dont shoot me down!) for the convenience factor for everyone else in the household, though the coffee pods are always made fresh by myself using good coffee ground at the time using a SmartGrinder. I'm pretty happy with the results and would rate it better than the coffee I get from friends using mainstream consumer espresso machines - Id put this down the coffee/operator though Usually 2 double miky coffees made daily, double that at weekends.

    I've often wanted to get into a more serious setup though and considering that this would be a decent way to try it out without laying out a wad of cash. I don't want to set myself up for failure though by having a machine that isn't operating as it should resulting in poor coffee. Since I've never owner a silvia before I don't have a benchmark of how a well performing machine should be operating! If the project was a success and became our usual coffee machine and it then subsequently died I'd be able to justify a real upgrade...

  2. #2
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Welcome "jibos"....

    I reckon mate, for the price, you can't really go wrong. The Silvias, especially the early ones, are fully serviceable units with parts not being all that expensive. I'd get into it...

    Heaps of info about them to be found using Google regarding use, maintenance, rebuilding, etc.... An excellent machine to learn on and then maybe hang on to even if you do upgrade later on, using it as a travel away machine.

    Mal.
    TC likes this.

  3. #3
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    I agree with Dimma. For the price of a group seal and a bit of Teflon, and a bit of your time, your will have a bulletproof machine that there's no reason won't last another 15 years.

  4. #4
    Senior Member artman's Avatar
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    Yep as above. If it's only costing you your time and some small parts, go for it. A great way to learn how machines work and enjoy the fruits of your labour. They are a great, simple machine, will last a long time and produce a great brew.

    You could also fit a PID as an upgrade and further tweak if you fancy going that way at some stage.

    Re the grinder, I would just take out the burr / carriers and clean/wipe everything. They are pretty simple devises. If it's a doser, you can give that a good clean too. If the burrs are blunt you could get a new set pretty cheap and it will last for years. More than likely they are still serviceable as they last a long time.

    Cheers

  5. #5
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    With the rust, guessing it is just the black frame that is rusting, you can buy a new one from an Australian parts supplier for around 80 bucks, as i am about to get one for mine at this price. I have a tiny exterior rust fragment, but I'm a perfectionist and it really p1sses me off. There's a shipment arriving from Rancilio Italy in June. Be careful as some vendors are gouging more than double this for this part.

    The other thing you could do is take the existing frame to a blaster/and powder coater, I rang one very well known parts supplier in Sydney (not sure if they are CS sponsors or not so don't want to mention name in case I'm censored), and they gave me their powder coater details down the road. The problem here is it is a small job, so if you really wanted to save cash and do it on a budget, you could organise one or more CSers to drop their rusted frames down there to do all as one job. I'm sure you'd get plenty of takers as this is a well known problem.

  6. #6
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    Thanks all, some really useful advice. While its looking cheap in keen to give it a go. Adding a PID down the line is definitely something that appears to me... Since the boiler seems to be working ok I wont replace it just yet. I'll pull it out and check to see what its condition is on the inside though. Its not the greatest condition on the outside though, a little tarnished and the bolts are starting to rust too.




    I also noticed the water thermostat is also a little loose - though not sure that really matters.

    The frame rust is a more than superficial, and at its worst around the hole under the group head I can break bits off that enlarge that hole.



    I'd imagine its beyond sandblasting and powdercoating. Pyrmontboy - where can you get a frame for $80? Ive only found it for $100 more than that so far (the pricegougers you mentioned). If I get the machine working as well as I hope then swapping the frame seems like a definite possiblity.

  7. #7
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    That's a decent a mount of rust. I just saw their banner flash up on this site so I guess its okay to mention them - coffee a-roma, best price hands down out of all the quotes I got from sponsors and non-sponsors.

    85 bucks sorry, I just checked the email. The only issue is that as a lot of Silvia owners know the frames aren't primed properly at the factory, and the problem will re-occur. But with some precautionary measures I think the rust can be avoided or at least put off.

    Good on you for trying to fix it and not chucking it out, when you do see it restored on the counter top it will be a very rewarding sight.

  8. #8
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    I don't like dodgy work, but maybe you could touch up the frame to some working condition. For a quick fix to limit further rust, I would clean the rust off with a wire brush and any loose paint. Then spray or paint cold gal on the bare metal. Then cover with a black enamel paint to dress it up if required.

    The cold gal should provide some galvanic rust prevention. Not perfection, but working for $12+ bucks.

  9. #9
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    Good suggestion metho. A wirewheel, plastibond and coldgal spray before a lick of semigloss enamel would have it looking fine.

    If you replace the bouler cap head screws placing some anti seize on them is a good move as well.

  10. #10
    Senior Member magnafunk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jibos View Post
    He had upgraded since he thought the Silvia had blown the boiler
    Sounds to me like a classic case of finding an excuse to upgrade! Good luck, the Silvia is a lot of fun to own. At times I consider breaking mine out so I can reclaim a bit of bench space from the Cimbali.

  11. #11
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    Sorry, hadn't seen there was more updates to this thread! I think your right about the upgrade excuse . And the suggestions made were roughly along the lines of what I planned to tidy up the frame a little.

    However, I think my project has ended before it began! As I pointed out there was some rust on the bolts too... On two of the bolts the rust was significant enough that the hex hole just rounded out immediately making them impossible to remove... I tried to use a screw extractor too but that just broke ( I think I must have used it at a slight angle - unfortunately there isn't really any Clarence to get a straight shot down at the bolts.) As a last result I even tried using my dremel to cut a flat screwdriver slot across the bolt head. I thought I was on to a winner there but trying to turn the bolts with the screwdriver just broke the bolt heads.

    Anyway, I'm out of ideas... can't justify replacing the boiler and group assembly to get this thing going.

  12. #12
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    You can't drill those suckers out ?

  13. #13
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    I'll probably give it a go since I dont have anything to lose - I need to get an extension drill bit so I can get to them straight on. Am I not likely to ruin the threads of the boiler/bottom plate doing that? I'm not with the machine now and can't picture it - is the boiler threaded?
    I also thought about cutting the heads straight off horizontally and see i I can lift the boiler off, giving me enough exposure then to try and get the remainder out some other way.

    Edit: Obviously the boiler holes are not threaded so I should be able to cut the heads off and see if I can lift the boiler off. If that doesnt work I can then still try drill them out (carefully)
    Last edited by jibos; 22nd May 2015 at 08:03 AM.

  14. #14
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    Success! I had to use a proper angle grinder in the end and cut the tops of the bolts off, and then i could seperate the boiler from the group assembly. what remained of the bolts could be unscrewed fairly easily with a pair of pliars. Pretty certain I didn't come compromise anything seal related in any way.

    Now onto the cleaning and repairing the frame before trying to reassemble everything

    Another question... Anyone know if I can just put the whole boiler in descaler? Or do I need to keep the terminals on top clear of the solution?

  15. #15
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Persistence always wins in the end....

    Mal.

  16. #16
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    Never wet the heating elements. If wet they can cause earth leakage triggering RCD (Safety Switch).

    Apart from that I would get replacement boiler o-ring. Consider the use of a food safe RTV silicone gasket maker outside of the o-ring. Permatex High-Temp Red RTV Silicone Gasket in the US is certified against the US NSF/ANSI Std. 51 (National Sanitation Foundation - Food Equipment Materials). See http://www.devcon.com/userfiles/file...1_high_rez.pdf.

    Best of luck.

  17. #17
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    How's this coming along? Love these overhaul war stories..... keep the updates coming!

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    Hopefully I will be able to do a bit more this weekend - that's when I plan to start on the frame itself.

    Ive been a bit strapped for time this week. The boiler is now descaled and clean, and I had a hard go at cleaning the grouphead too, it was pretty gross. I forgot to take pictures but it looked like this guys: Rancilio Silvia Rebuild Archives - mjoneill.com. Underneath the showerscreen and group seal was a lovely thick black colour too. I've cleaned most of it, but some of the grime is a bit hard to get to and clean out with an abrasive cloth. Its not scale so descaling doesn't really help me with this bit but I think I've done enough.

    After that, I have all new seals/gaskets, new bolts etc ready to go, so hopefully won't take too long once I've done the frame, bar any other issues cropping up.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by jibos View Post
    I've cleaned most of it, but some of the grime is a bit hard to get to and clean out with an abrasive cloth. Its not scale so descaling doesn't really help me with this bit but I think I've done enough.
    Generally, soaking the bits in coffee machine cleaner for a couple of days will do a pretty good job of stripping that off.

  20. #20
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    So I wire-wheeled and sanded the rust down on the frame and treated it with a healthy application of rust converter, and followed it up with priming and a couple of coats of black satin enamel paint... Not perfect but looks way better than it did before, and should resist further deterioration for a while.

    IMG_20150603_060805.jpg

    I had another go at the group head too and cut a strip of green scouring pad to fit the group head which made it much easier to get in and give it a good scrub...

    IMG_20150603_063140.jpg

    Now to get on with re-assembly and fixing all those seals and screwthreads!

  21. #21
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    Good to see your progress on this

  22. #22
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    So I got round to reassembling today! Ive used teflon tape and threadlocker on all the water junctions, as well as some RTV Red gasket maker on the main boiler seal.

    It mostly looks all good and tight, with the exception of the seal between the boiler and the brass connector to the OPV. I guess I'll have to take it apart again (which means taking everything else apart too) and re-do it.

    I also saw the solenoid was dripping a "decent" amount when running water through it. I took that apart too and cleaned it thoroughly, but given my inexperience with this machine I wanted to ask what normal behaviour should be? If I run water through the group head, then as soon as I turn it off the solenoid dumps some water. Ive taken a video to show what I mean... I'm guessing its normal, but slightly more water than I expected to be dumped every time I guess.

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/0688cfbysj...50332.mp4?dl=0


    Also - thanks for everyones advice and encouragement on this project for a novice

  23. #23
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    I can't see the video at work, but very normal for the solenoid to dump a decent amount water into the drip tray every time you turn off the brew switch.

  24. #24
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    Good to see progress. I hope you are happy with your handy work. I hate seeing the current disposable society and planned obsolescence from manufacturers. Best of luck with the machine and hopefully great coffee too.
    pyrmontboy200 likes this.

  25. #25
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    Thanks! I'm the same, I hate the consumable mentality of most products now, especially for something like this where this is so much more life left in it. I'm pretty happy with my handiwork, its a far sight better than it was!

    And I'm done! I redid that seal and now everything looks tight. 20 minute test and no leaks or drips anywhere, hot hot water coming out in all the right places

    Panels are back on, and now sitting on the kitchen bench waiting for the lessons to begin...
    Dimal and pyrmontboy200 like this.

  26. #26
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    Have a pat on the back then, well done. Well worth the effort and like others I hate the waste mentality, you have directly countered it, enjoy. That water after switch off is normal, pressure relief. Go for it!
    pyrmontboy200 likes this.

  27. #27
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    Love seeing the progress on this, some finished pictures would be awesome! Yay for re-cycling!

  28. #28
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    As requested!


    Frame condition before:
    IMG_20150517_174541.jpg


    Frame condition after:
    IMG_20150605_172125.jpg



    Boiler cleaned and components put back together, plumbing partially finished:
    IMG_20150605_112431.jpg


    Plumbing done and electrics redone:
    IMG_20150605_172134.jpg


    And finished!
    IMG_20150605_191613.jpg
    Dimal, metho and DaveD like this.

  29. #29
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    Great job all round! I have a v1 Silvia which has been going strong for 10yrs. Only basic maintenance done and never needed element or major parts fixed. One useful upgrade I've done is replace the thin/fragile plastic pipe from the pump to boiler with a braided item from a site sponsor. cost $25 and well worth it. You've inspired me to consider a full overhaul of Miss Silvia!



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