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Silvia V1 upgrades - which are worth the $?

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  • Silvia V1 upgrades - which are worth the $?

    Hi all,

    I've just picked up a really well looked after v1 Silvia. So far, so good, but just after opinions from those with experience with these machines, and all the upgrades/mod's that are possible, to see which you think are worth the $ - keeping in mind that you can get a new v3 for around the $500 mark these days (or so I've read!), so it's hardly worth spending a whole lot of money on the v1 to try and get it up to v3 specs.

    With that in mind, just as an example, I'm not sure I could justify the steam wand upgrade at around $150. This machine will likely just be another stepping stone until I decide whether to sink a more significant amount of $ into my coffee equipment - I wasn't really looking, but came across this machine for around $200, and I couldn't pass it up!

    The sorts of things I know are possible, and seem cheap enough, are things like changing over the thermostat's (which I believe are set differently in later models), gronking, changing over the shower screen screw. Also unsure about whether to look at the OPV?

    Anyway, over to owners and former owners of the earlier Silvia's - interested to hear what you guys think are the most significant (and cost effective) tweaks to be made to improve the machine.

    Cheers,
    Damien

  • #2
    From what I read around, the Silvia is similar to the Gaggia Classic in terms of function and capability, so you may want to look at installing a PID rather than buggering around with new thermostats - you can DIY a PID for $40 all up.

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    • #3
      Thanks for the input guys... @Dragunov21, where did you source the parts to PID for $40? PID is obviously one thing that would make life easier, and produce more consistent results, and if it could be done for < $50 then makes more sense than gronking, IMO.

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      • #4
        evilBay with a K-type thermocouple I'd guess...

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        • #5
          nothing wrong with a K-type, as long as you don't expect the temperature to read out accurately (but will read out consistently).

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          • #6
            For the benefit of anyone else interested, searching "A Set Dual Digital PID Temperature Controller OMRON relay & 25A SSR & K Sensor" will provide a couple of likely results.

            You can just use the existing thermostat like a screw terminal if you like, otherwise search for "Brass Standoff Spacer M4 Male x M4 Female 10mm" for something you can drill a hole down the centre of to mount your thermocouple bead.

            Originally posted by Hildy View Post
            nothing wrong with a K-type, as long as you don't expect the temperature to read out accurately (but will read out consistently).
            You only need consistency, because you won't necessarily be setting your PID to the brew temp you desire regardless due to the lack of thermal stability of the group/boiler.

            The PID I currently use (not the one suggested above) is a relay-only output, operating much like a fine-band thermostat, so I have it set to 108°C. It peaks at 122-123° when the group is all warmed up so when I see it peak that high I open the steam valve to drop temp to 107 and I start a pull as soon as the element kicks in. This provides a 60ml shot starting at 94-95°C with a ΔT of 1-2° from start to finish as measured at the shower screen with a calibrated Fluke 52 (it usually rises half a degree then drops 0.5-1.5).

            Unfortunately, after a quick flush to clear the shower screen, it takes a bit longer to stabilise than it takes me to weigh/grind/prep a new shot, but that's the nature of the beast.

            With genuine PID (pulse-width-modulated output) control I'm not sure how closely the boiler temp would match the actual brew temp, but either way the offset isn't too concerning unless you want to apply your variables to other machines.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Hildy View Post
              nothing wrong with a K-type, as long as you don't expect the temperature to read out accurately (but will read out consistently).
              True, K-types are at least very consistent, I still prefer my T-Types though

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              • #8
                I'm using a K-type for gronking. I'm pouring shots at 100 but I haven't correlated this to actual brew temperature yet.

                the k-type I use for roast logging is definitely overreading - my 1st and 2nd crack temperatures are a good 10-15 degrees higher than what most people publish. but as long as I can consistently get the same roast profile I'll be happy.

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                • #9
                  Hi Damien,

                  I've got a V2 Silvia and found that upgrading your regular Rancilio basket to a Synesso double ridgeless, or VST basket makes a fairly significant difference for a smallish outlay. They allow you to pack in a few more grams of coffee per double shot giving you a fuller, 'bigger' flavour. If you get a 'ridgeless' basket you will need to get a stronger spring to hold it in place in your portafilter. Cost you around $25-30 for basket and spring.

                  All the best with your Silvia!

                  Paul

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by steiny555 View Post
                    Hi Damien,

                    I've got a V2 Silvia and found that upgrading your regular Rancilio basket to a Synesso double ridgeless, or VST basket makes a fairly significant difference for a smallish outlay. They allow you to pack in a few more grams of coffee per double shot giving you a fuller, 'bigger' flavour. If you get a 'ridgeless' basket you will need to get a stronger spring to hold it in place in your portafilter. Cost you around $25-30 for basket and spring.

                    All the best with your Silvia!

                    Paul
                    You can gronk, PID, nekid or PF, at the end of the day Paul's suggestion " upgrading your regular Rancilio basket to a Synesso double ridgeless, or VST basket" is the easiest to do and will also have the biggest positive affect on coffee quality, along with learning how to use the machine as it came, out of the box.

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                    • #11
                      You guys are the best, thanks

                      By the sounds of it, upgrading to the better basket, and gronking will come in at less than $50 total outlay, so this might be a good place to start. I like the idea of gronking for the minimal outlay, and easy install, to be able to see what the boiler temp is doing, and help improve my consistency.

                      Cheers,
                      Damien

                      P.S. any clear winner out of the VST and Synesso, or both similarly good for the same sorta money?

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by damienh7 View Post
                        You guys are the best, thanks

                        By the sounds of it, upgrading to the better basket, and gronking will come in at less than $50 total outlay, so this might be a good place to start. I like the idea of gronking for the minimal outlay, and easy install, to be able to see what the boiler temp is doing, and help improve my consistency.

                        Cheers,
                        Damien

                        P.S. any clear winner out of the VST and Synesso, or both similarly good for the same sorta money?
                        Just to put the cat among the pigeons Damien, I use these baskets Talk Coffee &mdash; Precision filter basket 58mm- Espresso parts from Chris at Talk Coffee, excellent baskets at reasonable price.

                        Tried the VST and found them a little finicky, much prefer those from Espresso Parts.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Yelta View Post
                          Just to put the cat among the pigeons Damien, I use these baskets Talk Coffee — Precision filter basket 58mm- Espresso parts from Chris at Talk Coffee, excellent baskets at reasonable price.

                          Tried the VST and found them a little finicky, much prefer those from Espresso Parts.
                          Appears no-one disagrees too strongly... no replies to argue the merits of the other brands yet

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                          • #14
                            Best improvement I did to my Silvia was the Auber PID.

                            Simple to do and cheap.

                            Digital temperature read out is OK for knowing what's going on, but a PID will not only tell you that, it will also regulate to the desired temperature.

                            Bigger baskets I like, but overdosing may not be to everyone's taste. Literally.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Yelta View Post
                              Just to put the cat among the pigeons Damien, I use these baskets Talk Coffee &mdash; Precision filter basket 58mm- Espresso parts from Chris at Talk Coffee, excellent baskets at reasonable price.
                              I started using this double basket from Talk Coffee a few days ago- already the results seem a lot better than the standard basket, which I had been using for a long time already. I haven't tried any other baskets yet but I am very happy so far with the improvement from this one (plus the price is a lot less than for a VST)- I'm sure my results will improve even more as I get more experience with it. Should definitely have purchased a replacement basket earlier in retrospect

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