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Need to repair my Rancilio Silvia

Postby freddosega on Wed Feb 23, 2011 3:57 pm

Hello you fine people,

I am in need of some help with my Rancilio Silvia espresso machine. It's over 10 years old, has been well maintained and cleaned over the years. Recently I noticed the pulls for my espresso have been terribly slow and the coffee has come out very badly. No crema, or a negligible amount - and it takes well over a minute to complete. I cleaned the shower head - in and out - but this has not helped. I even tried tamping less and using a slightly coarser grind.

If I can repair this myself great - but I wonder if anyone has any advice as to where to find a good repair facility in the Ann Arbor or Detroit area.

And just to be clear, the steam function on the machine works as good as new - so that can be out of the equation. Any advice would be great.
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Postby jlhsupport on Wed Feb 23, 2011 4:05 pm

Hi Chris and welcome!

When you say it has been cleaned and maintained, do you also mean to say that you have regularly descaled the boiler and backflushed the brew group and solenoid valve?
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Postby BruceB on Wed Feb 23, 2011 6:17 pm

Just for clarity and as a new Silvia owner, when you talk of back flushing the brewgroup and the solenoid, is that two separate operations or one that everyone refers to as back flushing.

And at the risk of hijacking the thread; how long a life can you expect a Silvia to have with careful ownership (regular cleaning and backflushing).
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Postby erics on Wed Feb 23, 2011 7:03 pm

If I can repair this myself, great!

Exclamation added and you can. Do a search on this site for Silvia OPV or go here and read how the OPV functions - http://www.espressomyespresso.com/ . I suspect that your OPV is stuck partially open and the tell-tale sign of this would be a relatively large flow of water back to the reservoir when you brew or even just flush. Normally the flow back is ZERO when you just flush.
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Postby jlhsupport on Wed Feb 23, 2011 9:42 pm

Just for clarity and as a new Silvia owner, when you talk of back flushing the brewgroup and the solenoid, is that two separate operations or one that everyone refers to as back flushing.

Backflushing takes care of both parts. I just sometimes write things a bit more detailed than perhaps necessary.
...how long a life can you expect a Silvia to have with careful ownership (regular cleaning and backflushing).


The sky's really the limit on a well-built machine like the Silvia and many others. I would also throw using proper water quality in the mix as a way to maximize machine life. Descaling does remove limescale build-up, but until then, minerals cake onto parts like rock, and that obviously can't be good for anything.
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Postby Randy G. on Wed Feb 23, 2011 10:19 pm

Low flow on a single-boiler machine is usually one of these:
- coffee deposits in brew path from improper or ineffective (or non-existent) backflushing over time. This would result is a laboring sound from pump and/or higher than normal flow back through the bypass hose into the reservoir.
- blocked or dirty 3-way valve. One this assembly gets that dirty it can allow water to flow into the drip tray instead of the through the shower screen.
- scale buildup in boiler or brewpath. This could block the flow of water to the coffee. This would result is a laboring sound from pump and/or higher than normal flow back through the bypass hose into the reservoir.
- bit of loose scale. Chunks of scale which dislodge can block the path of water flow and can get stuck in the pressure relief valve causing it to stay partially open. This would result is a laboring sound from pump and/or higher than normal flow back through the bypass hose into the reservoir.
- debris in pump. bits of crud can build up over time in the pump.
- crimped hose
- bad pump
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Postby freddosega on Thu Feb 24, 2011 1:39 am

Dear all,

Thanks so much for your responses. It has been a while since I did the backflush - so I have some work to do. I'll let you know how it goes.
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Postby Randy G. on Thu Feb 24, 2011 2:01 am

freddosega wrote:... It has been a while since I did the backflush.

Then since you are having problems, I suggest following this webpage:
http://memweb.newsguy.com/~jenkins/silvia/
It shows the disassembly procedure for the 3-way. I suggest disassembly and cleaning of the parts by soaking in a hot bath of backflush detergent and a scrubbing.
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Postby freddosega on Thu Feb 24, 2011 3:31 pm

Thanks Randy,
Is this a suggestion to clean it up without doing the backflush? Or is it an additional procedure you are recommending?
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Postby Randy G. on Thu Feb 24, 2011 5:29 pm

First disassemble and clean 3-way parts. Reassemble then do backflush with blind filter. The performance of the 3-way (the buildup of pressure with brew function on as indicated by the laboring sounds of the pump, and then the "whooosh" when turning brew function off) will verify the proper operation of the 3-way.
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