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Thread: Busted Silvia... little help?

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    Busted Silvia... little help?

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

    I took Miss Silvia on a family holdiay in January. She was doing great until the kettle and toaster were on at the same time and tripped the safety switch. Once the switch was reset, Little Miss slowly cooled down and wouldnt get hot again. I was hoping that it was just the safety thermostat that had come on, but when I opened her up the little red button hadnt popped out.

    Ive read quite a few forums to see if anyones had the same problem, and there are a few out there. Typically the problem seems to be the thermostats, which apparently you check with a multimeter. Im really hoping that it isnt the heating element, because that would be a bit pricey to fix. I did read somewhere that if the element is gone then white powdery stuff will come out with a blank shot.

    My multimeter off ebay arrived today, but Ive got no idea how to use it to check if the thermostats are ok. Ive done some googling, but to no avail. Can anyone help me please?

    Thx,
    Adrian

  2. #2
    Senior Member robusto's Avatar
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    Re: Busted Silvia... little help?

    Triping your (home power supply?) safety switch is done when an appliance leaks electricity to earth -- very very dangerous and potentially fatal were it not for the safety switch.

    Make sure your machine is disconnected from the wall socket before using your multimeter.

    If you set your multimeter to read ohms, and place the red and black probes on the heating element terminals, it should read virtually zero, indicating no break in the element.



  3. #3
    Senior Member robusto's Avatar
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    Re: Busted Silvia... little help?

    Sorry, Adrian, I was called away before finishing the post.

    When you re-set the safety switch, and tried to use the coffee machine again, did it trip? Maybe its the kettle which is at fault.

    If its the machine, once again, make sure the machine is unplugged from the power point before using your multi-meter.

    The element gets power via the on/off switch to the thermostat to the element.

    The thermostat wil only allow power to flow if the water is cold enough, so simply placing your probes across it wont tell you much.

    To see if theres a leakage to earth: place one probe on any metal part of the machine, and another on the switch terminal from the power cable (have the switch on but disconnected from the power pointl)

    If you get a zero reading from the multimeter, thats very bad news and you should take it to a repairer.

    Zero readings on the ohms setting mean zero resistance which mean no break in electricity flow. If thats the case from this test, electricity will flow straight to the case when switched on and thats lethal to touch.

    If you feel you dont understand the processes, best to skip all this and
    take a shortcut to the repairman.

    Hope this helps,
    Robusto

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    Re: Busted Silvia... little help?

    Thanks Robusto, thats v. helpful.

    I dont think theres a problem with the machine leaking to earth. I might have lead you astray by saying it was a safety switch - perhaps it was just a resettable fuse that got overloaded? I thought all those sorts of things were called safety switches.

    Im fairly confident, b/c I did have the machine running immediately afterwards without it tripping again, plus I tried it again when I got home with no problems (apart from the heating up of course).

    I tried to get a reading off the switch as you suggested, but couldnt get anything at all off the wires going into it (the multimeter just showed 1). I did get a resistance off the power wire to the boiler though.

    In the other forum I read about a guy with the same problem, Im pretty sure he said that he checked the continuity of the thermostats and that they were no good. Do you know how I can do this? Does the machine need to be plugged in?

    Cheers,
    Adrian

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    Senior Member Lovey's Avatar
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    Re: Busted Silvia... little help?

    Gday Adrian,
    I apologise if the following instructions sounds overly simplistic, but I dont know your level of sparky skills. :)

    Make sure that you disconnect the power cord before doing any of the following, no live testing. ;)
    Set your mulitmeter to a low ohms range.

    Looking at the top of the boiler youll see the 2 thermostats at the front of the boiler. Remove the wires from one of the thermostats (spade connectors) and then put one of the multimeter probes on each of the lugs on the thermostat. *You should get a very low reading, nearly zero. Replace the wires and then repeat the process for the other thermostat. With both readings being nearly zero, you can rule the thermostats out. If the reading is 1 on either thermostat, ( I assume that you have a digital multimeter) this means that particular thermostat is cactus. If both are OK, then onto the next step.
    Youll see the heater element connections on either side at the top middle area of the boiler. Remove the connectors from the boiler and put the multimeter probes on each lug of the element. You should get a reading of about 50 ohms. Again, a reading of 1 this time indicates that the element is cactus.
    Heres a link to the circuit diagram http://www.quiknet.com/frcn/Coffee/silviawire.html
    Hope this helps,
    Steve.

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    Senior Member robusto's Avatar
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    Re: Busted Silvia... little help?

    You could also try this site on re-setting tripped overheating thermostat:


    http://www.terrystockdale.com/coffee...ing_silvia.php


    Robusto

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    Re: Busted Silvia... little help?

    Thanks guys.

    So this is bad then? :(



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    Re: Busted Silvia... little help?

    Spewing! *:-[

    I always think tronics stuff is all smoke and mirrors and leave it to the experts. But even I can see that 1 is not the answer wanted.

    ..the computer says "nooo". Cough.

  9. #9
    Senior Member robusto's Avatar
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    Re: Busted Silvia... little help?

    I gather you tried to re-set the overheating switch (the little red one on the side of the boiler just under the left-hand thermostat).

    But unfortunately, "1" means a break in the circuit -- in this case, the heating element.

    But before you write it off, touch the two probes together to make sure you get a zero reading -- that shows the meter and setting is ok.


    Robusto

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    A_M
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    Re: Busted Silvia... little help?

    I you guys mean well, but FFS a little information is a killer when playing with electrons and the paths they travel.

    GET a sparky and may be he can teach you but do not go inside it with the POWER on. If you do your in breach of every Electricty Act there is...

    AM

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    Re: Busted Silvia... little help?

    Quote Originally Posted by AngerManagement link=1141116117/0#9 date=1141465479
    I you guys mean well, but FFS *a little information is a killer when playing with *electrons ....*do not go inside it with the POWER on. *
    AM
    all very true, its also what each of the guys offering advice said before anything else.

    It does make me wince a time some of the advice Ive seen offered on other forums, eg *take the back off your CRT monitor to adjust focus pots, even with power disconnected those things have enough capacitance to blow you across the room if you short the wrong bits

  12. #12
    Senior Member robusto's Avatar
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    Re: Busted Silvia... little help?

    Absolutely correct. Which is why, if you read back through this post, cautionary advice has been given: TURN OFF POWER and unplug first and if you are not comfortable dont do it.

    Robusto


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    A_M
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    Re: Busted Silvia... little help?

    Do not want to get too far off topic, but even working on it with no power is only HALF the problem.. Problem is that this part is the Safe half.

    1: Pluging it in and turning it on, with out having had it tested is in breach of the LAW, and
    2: This is when you plug it in, turn it on and KILL yourself or someone else.

    Please be careful... Been there done that, it is Not good and I do not wish the experience on any one!

    PS. Safety switches do not cover you when your the load between Active and Netural.

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    Re: Busted Silvia... little help?

    Thanks for the warning AngerMan.

    So does anyone know where I can go in Sydney (preferably inner city) to get her fixed? From what I read on Terry Stockdales site, this repair is going to be beyond an amatuer like myself.

    Do any of the sponsors do repairs?

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    Re: Busted Silvia... little help?

    Dang,

    After doing some searching I can see that the whole boiler is going to have to be replaced. After about 2000 they started welding the heating element into the boiler (presumably to stop the common leaking problem). That will up the price a bit.

    I checked 1st-line and they only have the 110v version ($86US). coffeeparts.com.au dont list it on their site (as far as I can see) but Ill e-mail them and see if they can get it.

    Any tips on where I can buy a new boiler?

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    Re: Busted Silvia... little help?

    Quote Originally Posted by adrian_lovell link=1141116117/0#14 date=1141801814
    Any tips on where I can buy a new boiler?
    Many of the site sponsors seem to stock silvias and might have spare parts. If not, coffeeparts.com and mocopan are probably worth contacting.

    Hope that helps,

    Luca

  17. #17
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Re: Busted Silvia... little help?

    Quote Originally Posted by adrian_lovell link=1141116117/0#14 date=1141801814
    Dang,

    After doing some searching I can see that the whole boiler is going to have to be replaced. After about 2000 they started welding the heating element into the boiler (presumably to stop the common leaking problem). That will up the price a bit.

    I checked 1st-line and they only have the 110v version ($86US). coffeeparts.com.au dont list it on their site (as far as I can see) but Ill e-mail them and see if they can get it.

    Any tips on where I can buy a new boiler?
    Wow,

    Thats really nasty. I wouldnt have thought that a company like Rancilio would pull a crappy trick like that to overcome a leaking problem :o. Can the boiler be split as per the original Adrian? If it can, Im sure an enterprising machinist could remove the original element for you and then machine the appropriate countersunk holes underneath so that you could fit a standard replacement element and seals.

    Ive had my boiler apart a couple times for one thing or another, even stripped down completely in one instance and never had leaking problems after re-assembly. Im sure this could be overcome for a lot less grief than having to replace the entire boiler every time an element bites the dust. But anyway, if you have to go down that route then as Luca says, one of our sponsors will probably be able to help and failing that, the importers Moccopan(Cerebos) should be able to help you; you can find them here...... http://tinyurl.com/o4xok. Just scan down the page and youll see several phone contact numbers for various States,

    Cheers,
    Mal.

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    Re: Busted Silvia... little help?

    Thanks guys.

    I just heard back from Mocopan:

    The cost of a new boiler is $182.10 plus GST and $3.47 plus GST for a new
    boiler seal. Postage is $13.50 plus GST.

    You are able to bring the machine to us to service in either Seven Hills in
    Sydney or Preston in Melbourne. Our fee is $15.00 plus GST per 15 minutes.
    We do not do call outs for domestic equipment.
    My goodness. That comes to $218.98 even if I do all the work myself :o.

    There must be another way of getting a replacement... surely?

    Mal, I like your thinking re modifying the boiler, but I dont really know anyone whod be capable of that sort of work.

  19. #19
    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Re: Busted Silvia... little help?

    Can the boiler be split as per the original Adrian? If it can, Im sure an enterprising machinist could remove the original element for you and then machine the appropriate countersunk holes underneath so that you could fit a standard replacement element and seals.
    Are the boiler walls thick enough and made from a suitable material that you can tap it for the screws and have enough threads present so that the screws dont immediately strip when torqued down or even worse, are blown out when the boiler comes up too pressure? :-?

    Emulating a geyser in your kitchen is usually not a good thing. :-[

    Java "Trys to avoid being up close and personal with a geyser" phile

  20. #20
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    Re: Busted Silvia... little help?

    Hi Java,

    I would hate to think that Rancilio would go down the route of installing boilers that are only barely able to handle the pressures required. In this instance, they wouldnt be allowed to import them into Australia because of minimum requirements required by federal regulations for pressure vessels, which an espresso machines boiler certainly qualifies.

    Makes you wonder though, if Rancilio are starting to introduce this type of manufacturing creed into their flagship domestic machine, maybe the pressure is starting to be applied by companies manufacturing in Asia? Very interesting, no?

    Mal.

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    Re: Busted Silvia... little help?

    Before you go spending too many hundreds of dollars, try calling Barazi (a site sponsor). At one time they mentioned the boiler replacement cost and it was far cheaper than wht you listed. However, it wasnt a quote and I havent gone back asking for a new boiler (its on the cards though). If they quote you a price ove $200, then Id think about what Mal suggested. It will be more footwork to find an engineering shop, but they should be able to drill out the old elements and fit an element meant for either the Mokita (or similar) or the Faema Family element that coffeeparts sell ($80). I happen to have both an old Silvia boiler and an old Faema Fimily element, so could check the dimensions. If it fits, then youll just have to drill out the old elment and machine a flat surface on the inside of the boiler around the holes for the o-ring seal. Then the Faema Family element will just bolt in (the nuts are included and the o-rings are just a few dollars). I refitted the element in my Faema and it has been resurrected without any leaks. *A machine shop will have that job done for you in an hour at a cost probably no more than $50 and then if you ever blow another element, youll be able to get a replacement at 1/3 of the price of a new boiler.

    Anyway, thats what I would do and what I will be doing with my old Silvia boiler, which is just too good to throw away.

    I hope that helps a bit, and good luck.

    Mark.

  22. #22
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Re: Busted Silvia... little help?

    Well said Sparky [smiley=thumbsup.gif],

    What I shouldve said in the first place ;),

    Mal.

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    Senior Member robusto's Avatar
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    Re: Busted Silvia... little help?

    Its an unfortunate dilema to face -- for the sake of a heating element you have to spend a third of the cost of the entire machine to fix the problem.

    If you go down the repair path as sugested above, and the replacement element terminals are wider or narrower than Silvias, you or the engineering shop will have to drill out the old terminals, weld the holes, and drill new holes to fit the new element. Depending on how long youve had the machine... you may want to consider whether its really time for a new one.

    Robusto

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    Re: Busted Silvia... little help?

    Ive had a check of the Silvia element vs the Faema Family replacement element from coffeeparts. The Faema element is about 3mm wider. With the threaded section, that would just fit in as a replacement element for the Silvia by offsetting the drill by 3mm.

    So it might be worth going this route, but it is not without risk due to the slightly different spacing. So I cant recommend this as a safe way of proceeding. But if it can be made to work it will be cheaper in the end. Thats the way Id go, but then I have a machine shop on tap and a dead Silvia boiler and dead Faema element, so it will cost me nothing to try.

    Sorry I cant be of more help.

    Good luck.

    Mark.

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    Re: Busted Silvia... little help?

    Thanks again guys.

    Rethreading the boiler sounds a bit too risky for me. Im going to try and source a new one from overseas (still waiting on return e-mails) but Ill post again if I find something. If it drags on too long I might just have to bite the bullet and pay the $220.

    Were a low income family at the moment (my wife and I are students), so upgrading the machine isnt really an option. Id love to go to a Brewtus or Giotto, but no can do.

  26. #26
    Senior Member robusto's Avatar
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    Re: Busted Silvia... little help?

    Most unfortunate.-- maybe you can get the older style removeable element boiler from surplus stocks overseas.

    Let us all know what happens, as it is a road some of us may one day have to travel too.


    Good luck,
    Robusto

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    Re: Busted Silvia... little help?

    Adrian,

    Tripped over this web site today:

    http://www.espressotec.com/umpartsRancilio.asp

    They list a 110V boiler at 99.50 CAD (Canadian) and a 230V coversion kit which has a boiler, 3 way valve and pump for $275 CAD. So they might be able to sell a 230V on its own. Worth a look if you havent already found one.

    Cheers,

    Matt

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    Re: Busted Silvia... little help?

    Hey Matt,

    Thanks for that. I actually e-mailed them last week and still no reply. Ill follow up with them though. Ive had 2 quotes for $220+ in Australia so far, so hopefully someone o/s will be able to supply one.

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    Re: Busted Silvia... little help?

    Just a follow up to finish this thread.

    Silvia is now back in action. I was unable to source a boiler from overseas. After e-mailing at least 5 online stores, I only had replies from a couple. To be honest, I was surprised by the lack of response. Some seemingly large shops just didnt get back to me.

    So I ended up ordering the boiler from Moccopan. I got the old boiler out ok, but ran into problems getting the new one in. I didnt really have the right tools for the job, so I had to get them to put it back together for me. All up the cost was ~$270.

    Heres some pics I took when it was apart...




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    Re: Busted Silvia... little help?

    Scary stuff Adrian, Ive owned *a silvia and had nothing but positive experiences with it but your unfortunate experience would cause me thought before recommending one *to anyone else.

    I dont think its that difficult to blow an element and I certainly dont think the replacement cost should be close to 50% of the total machine price.

    I had to replace an element on one of my cimbalis and it only cost $80, this is on a machine with a sticker price of over $3k, but I hate to imagine what it would cost to replace the boiler :(

    Sheesh... *welding elements into the boiler to stop leaks *:o *How can every other boiler manufacturer manage replaceable elements??

  31. #31
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Re: Busted Silvia... little help?

    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Youre spot on there Mauricem,

    Its hard to imagine a how such a high profile company as Rancilio would pull such an el-cheapo trick >:(....

    For what its worth Adrian, now that you have a "spare" ;) Boiler, it might now be worth your while to test out a couple of machine/engineering shops in your neighbourhood to see if they can remove the old element and drill out, etc to suit an element that is more easily acquired. The Mokita uses an almost identical element and can be obtained relatively easily, along with new seals, nuts, etc so that might be one alternative.

    Dont give up on the old one yet, it just might be able to get you out of hot water ;D sometime in the future,

    Cheers,
    Mal.



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