Getting to know the Rancilio Silvia

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.
hiphead

#1: Post by hiphead »

hi folks,

i've been poring over these pages in preparation for getting a new (to me) rancilio silvia purchased on ebay. it got delivered today, and i had to rush home to unpack and check it all out. took a long lunch so i could hopefully, get it sufficiently heated and to pull a test shot. being a relative newbie, my previous machine had a pressurized filter and i was used to "crema" with nearly every shot.

two questions. first, the portafilter twists well past 90 degrees relative to the front of the machine and when hitting brew button some steam escapes from (seemingly) from above the pf. is that a bad gasket?

second, i'm not surprised but got no crema from the first shot. when i looked at the puck the top of it was "disrupted" is the best description i can come up with. looked like a hard rain had fallen on it. this covered probably 3/4 of the top of the puck. por que?

thanks again for all of you being there.

dan

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Psyd

#2: Post by Psyd »

hiphead wrote: two questions. first, the portafilter twists well past 90 degrees relative to the front of the machine and when hitting brew button some steam escapes from (seemingly) from above the pf. is that a bad gasket?
Could be, could be that Silvia is a bit of a maso. Give her a good twist. I usually have to grab her around the back and close with the other hand a bit. A new gasket would probably be wise, but a good, firm lock-in should do til it arrives. If it's a new Silvia, that's a whole different story.
hiphead wrote:second, i'm not surprised but got no crema from the first shot. when i looked at the puck the top of it was "disrupted" is the best description i can come up with. looked like a hard rain had fallen on it. this covered probably 3/4 of the top of the puck. por que?
Hmmm, Grinder? Beans? Weather? Grind? Dose? It sounds like an underdosed-underground shot to me, but without far more particulars, it's hard to tell.

In your 'poring over this site', of course, you've read the numerous posts suggesting that the grinder makes the shot, the espresso machine just pumps the hot water through it, or some variation of the above, and that the beans aren't really going to give you great results if they've been out of the roaster for over a fortnight?
Espresso Sniper
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HB
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#3: Post by HB »

Psyd wrote:Could be, could be that Silvia is a bit of a maso. Give her a good twist. I usually have to grab her around the back and close with the other hand a bit.
We're still talking about espresso equipment, right? :lol: Seriously, I've noticed an influx of new Silvia/Rocky owners the last couple weeks and the membership has offered lots of suggestions: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. Check them out.
Dan Kehn

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Psyd

#4: Post by Psyd »

Psyd wrote:Could be, could be that Silvia is a bit of a maso. Give her a good twist. I usually have to grab her around the back and close with the other hand a bit.
HB wrote:We're still talking about espresso equipment, right? :lol:
Some people understand ft/lbs of torque, some understand the difference between 'firm', and 'arduous'. Most folk kinda get the Maso reference as enough to be serious, but no quite enough to break stuff.
I find that there are things that I can't do without the owner showing me, because I am uncomfortable applying as much energy as required to get it done without that explanation, for fear of breaking parts off. (Guess how I discovered that trait...)
Locking in the PF on Miss Silvia requires more energy than one would intuit that it would. But I didn't want the guy to get all 'up to a roof-top with a scope' about it... ; >
Espresso Sniper
One Shot, One Kill

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hiphead

#5: Post by hiphead »

Could be, could be that Silvia is a bit of a maso. Give her a good twist. I usually have to grab her around the back and close with the other hand a bit.
too funny, psyd! like i said, i've been poring over so many sites about espresso, but mostly coffeegeeks and here, and some of the more hard core stuff people say and do in search of the "god shot", it doesn't surprise me that grabbing her around back, and giving her a good twist with my free hand is part and parcel of the trip! :P

i ordered a new pf gasket. given the machine's age (has a sticker for rancilio per caffe vs a badge), i figured it couldn't hurt, also a new shower screen, cleaning kit and descaler from espressoparts. i'd run some water through without the pf and noticed the water was dribbling only from a couple areas of the screen. i'd tried to pull the screen to clean it but couldn't remove the screw holding it in. i'm waiting till my new parts and such come in before getting drastic with it, and it looks like i have a little time before it gets here, so i thought i'd post that info also, and see if anyone had any tips for pulling that screw.

issues with the screen aside, and being a major newbie with a "real" espresso machine, i'm actually getting some decent shots now. the night after posting the original question, i of course dashed home and got right at it, and was giddy after getting halfway decent crema after (only) three sinkers after reading all the recent posts from new silvia owners. i have struggled a bit with getting the right grind. i have been choking the old girl several times, partly too fine a grind i think, and partly over tamping. i'm struggling with not over diagnosing before resolving my funky screen and pf gasket issues.

i got one of the kitchen aid proline $99 deals and do not have any of the grind inconsistencies a few have mentioned here. i even took a couple of sample grinds to a friend's coffee shop and he ran them through his la marzocco with excellent results. i'd been grinding at around 7 to 7.5 and was choking on fresh fresh beans, under extracting some on 7-10 day old beans. i did the "espresso" adjustment per the manual, and now grinding fresh beans (New Guinea Plantation from Uncommon Grounds, my friend's shop), at 6.5 to 7 and getting decent extraction and crema (that holds up well while i wait for her to come up to frothing temp). not so great that it holds the sugar for a second when i'm fixing a breve for my girlfriend though.

so, besides buying a mazzer or a macap, black leather cover, whips, or chains, any screw removal tips, or comments/questions regarding the theories i've come up with?

thanks to those of you who responded so quickly over the holidays!

peace,

dan

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jesawdy

#6: Post by jesawdy »

hiphead wrote:so, besides buying a mazzer or a macap, black leather cover, whips, or chains, any screw removal tips, or comments/questions regarding the theories i've come up with?
Dan-

You'll need a "stubby" screwdriver to get a good angle on the showerscreen screw. You may also end up resorting to laying it on it's back/side or even upside down if you have to get real drastic on it. If you've got some backflush detergent enroute, you may want to backflush a few times and let it set to soften stuff up in the showerscreen and around the screw... but I would hope that coffee oils and residues would not have locked the screw up.

Depending on the condition of the showerscreen, your replacement may not be better. I ordered a new one for my Silvia when I bought it used... I didn't like the dispersion design and just kept the stock after a soaking and cleaning.
Jeff Sawdy

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Compass Coffee
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#7: Post by Compass Coffee »

First time I removed Silvia's group screen screw needed to use boo-koo force to keep the screwdriver in the screw slot and turn it with plyers! Screen wise never needed to replace it in 3&1/2 years use, now an additional 13 months with her new owner. Gasket wise plan on annually if you have her on much. Since it's a Silvia sticker definitely older model (like mine was) and highly likely gasket rather hard. But even with new gasket Silvia takes much more force to lock in PF than say an E61 group.
Mike McGinness, Head Bean (Owner/Roast Master)
http://www.CompassCoffeeRoasting.com

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Psyd

#8: Post by Psyd »

Compass Coffee wrote:First time I removed Silvia's group screen screw needed to use boo-koo force to keep the screwdriver in the screw slot and turn it with plyers! Screen wise never needed to replace it in 3&1/2 years use, now an additional 13 months with her new owner.
So, to the screw. These just suck, and there is all there is to it. It takes way too much force for the size of the screw head, and I never plan to remove mine until I have a replacement to hand. The way to get away with it is to find a socket-wrench styled hex driver (to turn standard screw driver bits, like you'd find for cordless drills and such) and get a standard (flathead for the harry-homeowner) tip that fits the screw well. I think it's a number one, don't quote me. Get the tip seated well, and put your fist between the back of the ratchet and the drip tray. As you clench your fist under the ratchet, start to turn the screw. Lefty-loosey, righty-tighty, don't mix 'em. Upside down is the opposite, if you look at it right side up. I mean, well, don't screw it up... Turn the handle away from the steam arm side and toward the steam and water and brew switches side.

As to the screen, the local heroes will grab the thing in a pair of needle noses and hold it over a gas stove until it begins to turn orangey-red. Burns the oil build-up right off the thing. Cool, scrub, and re-insert.
I haven't seen a screen that needs to be treated that drastically yet, myself, but they say it saves the worst of them. I might consider having a spare on hand before I tried it, though, too.

With the caveat that I've never done it, and that I'm not responsible if you brand yourself, these guys keep Tucson's pro machines humming right along, and seem to know their stuff. If you're getting a new one anyhoo, give it a try.
Espresso Sniper
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mrgnomer

#9: Post by mrgnomer »

First time trying to get the screw loose I was spinning the machine around with a stubby slotted and a pair of pliers. They must have some guy with a pneumatic gun putting them on at the factory. Make sure you turn the right way :wink: Once it's off don't crank it back on. I think since the Silvia's showerscreen edge is over the grouphead gasket lots of crud can find its way behind it. After cranking it off the first time I could use a butter knife to loosen it and unscrew by hand to clean the showerscreen weekly. It needs regular cleaning.
Kirk
LMWDP #116

Harrison

#10: Post by Harrison »

I just experienced a frustrating time getting my shower screen out.....

Shame on me for not cleaning it more often.

Anyways, a craftsman stubby was just spinning and starting to shred the slot on the screw. Even using both hands to exert force upwards so it wouldn't slip out....

I eventually got two pieces of 3/4" plywood to span across the drip tray, grabbed my flat pry-bar, and exerted some serious prying force on the bottom of the screwdriver to keep it in the slot - I had to have my wife hold the entire machine to resist my prying force....

Then I used a crescent wrench to turn the screwdriver.

It finally broke-free, and I now realize why it was so tenacious....

The screen was adhered to the bottom of the brew-group head... soaking it overnight in Cleancaffe didn't touch it. I also tried hydrogen peroxide to no avail (over-the-counter is too weak. I'll get 17% from work and update on this.......) Until then, I think I'll try the fiery meteor trick over my gas cooktop tomorrow. I suppose I should turn on the cooktop fan, huh?

Glad to have found the group - looking forward to spending many more wakeless hours reading about the innuendos of making a tasty drink that will keep me from falling asleep.......
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