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Silvia v1... worth the effort?

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  • Silvia v1... worth the effort?

    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
    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.



    • #3
      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
        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.



        • #5
          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
            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
              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
                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
                  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
                    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
                      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
                        You can't drill those suckers out ?


                        • #13
                          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; 22 May 2015, 09:03 AM.


                          • #14
                            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
                              Persistence always wins in the end....