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My Silvia tried to kill me.... well kindof.

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  • My Silvia tried to kill me.... well kindof.

    I have a Rancilio Silvia which i bought at the start of Feb '11 and its all been going fine until now. Yesterday however it blew up (pic in next post)


    Whatever caused the contact to melt and fuse onto the boiler terminal also caused a decent shock through the group head to the portafilter and then me. Thankfully no injuries done.


    Machine is now out of warranty, but im trying to figure out whether or not the problem is a once off, or somethign more wide spread. Its not PID'd, and yesterday was the first time i had taken the cover off (been meaning to PID it for about a year now).

    The big question is why that contact, and why not any of the others. Was it merely the weak link in the chain, or just the first sign of a systematic problem?

    Anyone else seen that before?

  • #2
    Pic here courtesy of the mail server not working atm, and 5post limit:

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    • #3
      Wow...

      Take it back to whoever it was purchased from and get them to check or have it checked and repaired or replaced.

      A live machine could easily have killed you. Warranty or not it needs to be investigated and I would suspect that the selling outlet will have the daylights scared out of them when they hear what happened.

      Comment


      • #4
        My Silvia tried to kill me.... well kindof.

        Living in Melbourne now, but having bought it while I was living in Sydney makes it kind of hard to take it back in person.
        That said when I contacted the retailer they seemed relatively nonplussed about it all.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by iamtakai View Post

          The big question is why that contact, and why not any of the others. Was it merely the weak link in the chain, or just the first sign of a systematic problem?

          Anyone else seen that before?
          I haven't seen it in a coffee machine, but I have seen similar things in other equipment. It is often caused by a loose connection. There is poor contact between the male and female terminals, causing a resistive joint, which gets hot. Over time it gets progressively worse and eventually melts the insulation which may then carbonize and become conductive, thus putting live voltage where it should not be.

          It can POSSIBLY be fixed by simply replacing the connector on the yellow wire and cleaning the male terminal on the boiler.

          BUT ( Big But ) It should be checked by a Tech or a Sparky to ensure that it was just a bad connection, and not a symptom of a deeper problem e.g. the boiler element is faulty and drawing excessive current. Should also check that there is no remaining path between live terminals and the boiler.

          The machine's earthing should also be checked/tested, because if it was all properly earthed, I don't think you should have been shocked.

          So it is possible (even probable) that any halfway decent appliance tech or sparks could fix the problem fairly easily, and it should not be terribly expensive if you can find one who charges fair rates.

          Cheers, Leo.

          Comment


          • #6
            My Silvia tried to kill me.... well kindof.

            Pretty sure it's a nylon insulator , so roughly 200deg burn point. A resistive link there would make some sense, and i assumed that was what it was but wanted less influenced feedback. But the question is why at that link. It is the link between the light and boiler, but I havnt checked to see what order it is all hooked up in yet.

            I have checked the grounding on the group and boiler and all seems to be fine. The other problem is that the hard nylon insulators makes it almost impossible to check how secure the other connections are.

            Will have to have a closer look tonight.

            Comment


            • #7
              Isnt that the main power lead to the heater element ?
              I wouldnt be surprised if your heating element hasnt burned out and consequently shorted out to the boiler through the water,
              Excess current draw from the short would have melted the terminal .

              Comment


              • #8
                Why that link ??? If it only feeds a low wattage light, I would be puzzled too, but in the pic the failed connector appears to be the switched active to the boiler element, which would mean high current. So if that female connector was loose and did not grip the male spade terminal firmly, you could get the scenario above. If all the other connectors in the circuit were tight, as they should be, then yes, the loose one would be the proverbial weak link.

                However, as blend52 has pointed out, and I mentioned above, there could be an underlying problem causing higher than normal current which in turn found that weak link.

                To check the other connectors, I would simply unplug and re-plug them and judge by feel whether they are loose or tight.

                Cheers, Leo.
                Last edited by leograyson; 19 October 2012, 04:44 PM. Reason: correction

                Comment


                • #9
                  Yeah, you are right. In my quick first assessment i missed that it links back to the ?thermostat? on the top, which seems to be linked active to the steam button, so its the high temp thermostat.

                  Someone else pointed out via PM that it shoudl have tripped the earth leakage breaker if it was leaking to earth. Unfortunately our house doesnt have an ELCB, so that doesnt help. When i do power it up again ill use the ELCB extension lead from the garage to see if thats the case.

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                  • #10
                    Go and get it tested by a decent repairer and make sure they test it properly for earth leakage. when you get the machine back it should have been tested and tagged as safe if it hasn't been report them to energy safe victoria.

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                    • #11
                      Well so far so good, tested for earth continuity, none found, have now replaced the crimp connector with a standard crimp on insulated one, and testing it with an RCD as well.

                      Currently it has gone through 2-3 heat cycles fine.

                      Oh yeah, the boiler is working, ~77deg on the IR thermometer at peak.

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                      • #12
                        As you received a shock via the portafilter it seems unlikely that this is simply a loose termination arcing and causing the connector to overheat.
                        It would also seem unlikely that the terminal came in contact with the case but if it did there would be clear evidence of an arcing point on the case that you could see.
                        If the wire is going to the heating element, (I am not familiar with this machine so assuming from notes above #7, it certainly looks like the end of the heating element), it could be that the element is faulty and at some point inside the element it is shorting to outside sheath causing excess current to flow. Depending on where within the element there is a fault would depend on the load created in the fault condition as part of the element will be in the circuit. The fault could well be intermittent and probably temperature dependent so get it checked by someone who has the correct test equipment to determine if there is a breakdown inside the element

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                        • #13
                          Actually pretty sure the conductivity through to the casing of the boiler was from a big long blob of carbonised nylon which was contacting both the boiler casing and the terminal. It looks to have been flash severed at some point, and its probable that i didnt actually get a full 240v (certainly didnt feel like it, had that before).

                          Certainly none of the rest of the machine is showing any residual current, just ground connectivity.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            My Silvia tried to kill me.... well kindof.

                            Sorry to sound like the fun police but you should really have an RCD ( ELCB) installed to cover all your household GPOs.
                            Your incident could have easily ended much much worse.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I do have an RCD for all household GPOs, and the garage GPOs.... at the house i own, 800km away. Unfortunately i cant dictate the same for a house im renting, and even then only for a year.

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