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DIY Rancilio Silvia V3 wand conversion to "burnless"

Postby jonny on Tue Jan 24, 2012 2:53 pm

Ever wanted a burnless wand? Own a V3? Well here is how to put one together for just a couple dollars.

Materials:
Silvia V3 wand (or similar, other wands will be different but I'm sure it is possible with others)
5/32" teflon tube. (about 24" to be safe. you'll only use 8" but it's good to have extra incase you mess up) http://www.mcmaster.com/#tubing/=fxv44q
1/8" inner diameter by 1/4" outer diameter o-rings (6 from the hardware store plumbing section or mcmaster)

Tools:
1/4" drill bit
flat head screwdriver or any similar device to press an o-ring into a groove
A sharp knife. Preferably something small so that you can use your thumb on the piece to guide the blade. Scissors or the like are not recommended since they can crush the tube and leave high spots on the ends of the cut.

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The first step is the hairiest. Bore out the opening in the swivel ball to 1/4" diameter with a depth of about 1/8" (DO NOT DRILL ALL THE WAY IN! ONLY 1/8 OF AN INCH DEEP!) which will allow the 1/16" thick o-ring to sit in there nicely. I accomplished this with a hand drill and patience but a drill press with a vise would be best. Don't forget to deburr the cut with a file or sand paper or larger drill bit etc. or else it will chew up the teflon gasket that sits above the ball

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Next, thread the teflon tube through the top and out the tip. There may be some bumps inside so it might take some persuading and "jimmying" to get it through.

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Once the tube is threaded and about 1/2" is sticking out the tip, slide 5 o-rings over the tip side of the teflon tube. The tube should be about flush with the last o-ring. Cut off or push the excess back through the wand until it looks like this:

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You can put the wand tip back on now to make sure it fits properly. The idea is to get a seal between the end of the teflon tube and the inside floor of the steam tip so that steam only flows through the teflon tube and immediately out the tip. The extra o-rings are just used as spacers to compress the last o-ring snuggly against the inside floor of the steam tip.
Next, thread an o-ring over the teflon tube on the ball end of the wand. Use a screwdriver or similar tool to press the o-ring into the 1/4" bore we made. It should be below the surface of the ball and nice and snug.

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Then using your sharp knife, Start cutting the excess tube off flush or slightly below the swivel ball. I like to start the cut and then make my way around the tube keeping the blade perpendicular to the tubes circular cross section. This ensures a nice clean cut with no burrs or kinks, but if your knife is sharp enough, you should not have a problem gently cutting straight through maybe with some sawing motion.

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Now your done! Re-install on the machine and test it out by holding on to the lower half with your bare hand and expelling steam for about 30 seconds. The wand should slowly get warm through this interval but not burning hot. If it starts to get hot immediately, something isn't sealing properly and you will have to go back and diagnose to make sure everything is seated properly. Once everything is functioning properly, you will have a wand that won't bite you when you graze it, it will wipe off cleanly (I love this aspect!), minimal steam coasting will occur, and this mod may actually improve steaming performance (at least it did on my '83 Livietta)! If you decide it doesn't work how you want it to or performance declines, everything can be reversed except the counterbore in the swivel ball and everything should then function as it did prior to the mod. All in all, this mod cost me about $4.

Note: If you are using a different wand, the concepts should be similar if not the same, but sizes and quantities may vary, and that will be up to you to decide upon. When I started the mod, I bought a few different sizes of tube and o-rings to determine what would work best. I'd suggest the same for a different wand, but for reference the inside diameter of the V3 wand is 3/16" in which a 5/32" teflon tube worked best. I tried a 3/16" tube but I could not get it all the way through. I also tried an 1/8" tube but it was too small for my liking.
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Postby Ross Leidy on Thu Jan 26, 2012 10:10 am

Jonny - very nice DIY! I may have to give this a try since I can't seem to find an aftermarket burnless wand for my CMA/Laurentis. Thanks for providing the instructions.
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Postby mhoy on Fri Jan 27, 2012 12:53 pm

Very clever, didn't know that's how a no burn wand worked. Makes total sense. Not ready to drill out my Elektra T1 steam wand though....

Mark
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Postby Beezer on Fri Jan 27, 2012 3:21 pm

Very clever and clean modification.

I actually prefer the "burn-me" wands to the no-burn wands, and I put a burn-me wand on my new Duetto after trying the no-burn wand. It just seems a lot easier to get good microfoam with the burn-me wand for some reason.

It occurred to me that you could convert a no-burn wand to a burn wand by simply pulling out the Teflon tube from the inside of the wand. Sort of the reverse of the process you're describing. Then you'd just have to put a rubber cover on the outside of the wand and you'd have a regular wand.
Lock and load!
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Postby jonny on Sat Jan 28, 2012 1:01 am

Thanks guys. Yes, I was not certain that this mod would be permanent for me thinking that it would decrease performance, but for this particular wand, with this particular tip, on my particular machine, performance increased. This was not a perceived result but a welcome one all the same. It was interesting to find out that a burnless wand out performed a burn-me wand on one machine when it was opposite for most others just like how 4 hole tips are great on some machines but awful on others (generally small boilers). For some unapparent reason, the steam seems to come out with greater force now with the modded version of the wand, even after lowering the boiler pressure to a measly .8 bar! I'm getting the microfoam I've been looking for now. I don't mean to boast, but I am no beginner to milk steaming, so I knew after a couple months, when I should have adapted to the machine and wand, it wasn't just me.

I don't like posting these "show-off" photos but for demonstration purposes, here is my first successful attempt at this design in my wife's 6 ouncer. You can see a few tiny bubbles, but nothing unacceptable. Texture is superb; results are easy and repeatable.
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