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Rancilio Sylvia - Getting hot water, but no steam
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Discussions > Espresso > Espresso Mods > Rancilio Sylvia...  
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JGG
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JGG
Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 1,385
Location: Kentucky, US
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: PID Silvia; PID Alexia
Grinder: Mazzer SJ
Roaster: Hottop D w/HTC+TC4C
Posted Sat Jul 9, 2011, 4:17am
Subject: Re: Rancilio Sylvia - Getting hot water, but no steam
 

arcady Said:

Both before and after I did this the main orange light next to the power switch never went out even after being on for over an hour.

Posted July 8, 2011 link

Uh-oh. Not good news. The orange light tells you when the heating element is receiving power. If the light is on, then that usually means your thermostats and switches are OK.

If the light never turns off AND the boiler does not reach steaming temperature, then it's likely your heater is dying.  Depending on the age of the machine, you probably will need a new boiler.

You might also try resetting the safety thermostat, but I doubt that is the problem since it sounds like your boiler is at least heating up a little?

Jim
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frcn
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Posted Sat Jul 9, 2011, 6:18am
Subject: Re: Rancilio Sylvia - Getting hot water, but no steam
 

I agree with Jim at this point, but I do not think I have ever heard of a heating element failing in this way. They usually either work or fail completely. In this case, I would suspect that the brew temperature is well below normal.

Is the machine plugged into a GFI-protected outlet? Experience would say, no, and if it was, I would also suspect it would trip the protection immediately upon turning Silvia on.

Replacing the boiler in Silvia is not terribly difficult for a person comfortable working with hand tools (if you can rebuild a carburetor, you can replace a Silvia Boiler.  What's a carburetor? ..  err... never mind). The boiler itself is not real expensive, but the labor will probably double the cost (or more).

 
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arcady
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arcady
Joined: 21 May 2003
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Location: San Francisco
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia
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Drip: Does a French Press count?...
Roaster: iRoast II
Posted Sat Jul 9, 2011, 8:34am
Subject: Re: Rancilio Sylvia - Getting hot water, but no steam
 

Plugged it into a GFI-plug and turning the machine on immediately trips the GFI breaker.

The thermostat reset is in - and in fact about 2 days before the unit broke I had to go in there and push it back in (more than likely related to its failure now). I had to do the same about 2 years back (roughly speaking).

When I brew espresso and use hot water function - the water is hot. But I haven't yet tested -how- hot with a thermometer. Its hot to touch and steams - seeming as hot as shots of espresso. The last shot of espresso I made had very good crema, not much of the light crema, more a dark caramel. What temp should that be coming out at?

(I'm thinking of holding the thermometer under the outlet to see how hot it is, since it will cool quite a bit the moment it hits the cup (assuming that unless I heat my cup to the point of shattering the ceramic, its still going to be the colder item, and if I -did- somehow heat it that high, it would just end up heating up the coffee... burning my hand, and ruining the cup... and make people wonder why I was cooking a cup on my stove... :) ).

Found one local guy (SF Bay Area) who does repairs of Rancilios, and also about to call the merchant I bought it from ages ago, who's in New York, as he does repairs as well (just dreading the shipping charge and wait time that would entail if I had to send it that far).

Sounds like we've most likely hit the end of my competency to repair it on my own.
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awongmd
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Roaster: Gene Cafe
Posted Sat Jul 9, 2011, 12:27pm
Subject: Re: Rancilio Sylvia - Getting hot water, but no steam
 

Just call chris coffee in Monday, they will talk you through the trouble shooting and ship you a part to install yourself.

When I was at your house I remember talking to you about that orange light,  it should come on and then go off when steam temp is reached.  I thought we saw it turn off.

You have single boiler setup so heater should heat to espresso temp when steam is not switched on then to steam temp when steam turned on.  You can brew a shot and even without a thermometer you can tell if it is hot.  If you can get a normal espresso temp shot then I would think heating element is OK and problem would lie somewhere in the steam circuit or thermostat.  

Even if you have to ship to Chris it is not too expensive.  

Given the tripping of gfci and the reset of the switch I would look in there make sure there are no shorts or melted wires.  I dont understand the gfci test unless there is a short.
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frcn
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frcn
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Posted Sat Jul 9, 2011, 3:45pm
Subject: Re: Rancilio Sylvia - Getting hot water, but no steam
 

arcady Said:

Plugged it into a GFI-plug and turning the machine on immediately trips the GFI breaker..

Posted July 9, 2011 link

That is the evidence that the heating element is faulty (and the machine may be unsafe to operate, if not now, soon).

 
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awongmd
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Joined: 15 Apr 2003
Posts: 3
Location: Gig Harbor, WA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Spaziale S1
Grinder: Mazzer Mini
Drip: French Press
Roaster: Gene Cafe
Posted Sat Jul 9, 2011, 9:17pm
Subject: Re: Rancilio Sylvia - Getting hot water, but no steam
 

http://www.espressoparts.com/RancilioSilviaParts
These guys are backordered

Not sure about these guys.  Stock status not listed. Click Here (espressocare.com)
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arcady
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arcady
Joined: 21 May 2003
Posts: 21
Location: San Francisco
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia
Grinder: Rancilio Rocky
Drip: Does a French Press count?...
Roaster: iRoast II
Posted Tue Jul 19, 2011, 9:54pm
Subject: Re: Rancilio Sylvia - Getting hot water, but no steam
 

Progress report: :D

Got a new heating element, and took apart the machine today.

Inside the old heating element there was a huge deposit of white crud on top of black charcoal like sand. Looking at the coils in the old element, a few coilings up and along the side I saw the white line of a crack (and tracked along it with an unfolded paperclip to confirm that yes - it was a hole in my heating element.

The white crud seemed very similar to the stuff I'd found on the top of the last 'shot' I'd made before noticing a problem (which I had the sense not to drink - what is that stuff anyway?)

I've got some pictures on my camera that I need to upload. And the next step will be rebuilding everything. With it open at the moment, I'm taking the opportunity to clean out as much of the innards as I can get to.
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JGG
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JGG
Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 1,385
Location: Kentucky, US
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: PID Silvia; PID Alexia
Grinder: Mazzer SJ
Roaster: Hottop D w/HTC+TC4C
Posted Wed Jul 20, 2011, 3:07pm
Subject: Re: Rancilio Sylvia - Getting hot water, but no steam
 

The white crud is the mineral insulation around the nichrome wire in the heating element. When the crud starts to show up, it is a dead giveaway that a heating element is failing.

Jim
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CraigA
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Espresso: PID/PressureMod 2001...
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Posted Wed Jul 20, 2011, 3:43pm
Subject: Re: Rancilio Sylvia - Getting hot water, but no steam
 

awongmd Said:

Not sure about these guys.  Stock status not listed. Click Here (espressocare.com)

Posted July 9, 2011 link

Hi Antonio, I just checked stock by adding the boiler to a shopping cart., & Stefano's Espresso Care has the stock.

 
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http://www.facebook.com/craig.andrews.169
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arcady
Senior Member
arcady
Joined: 21 May 2003
Posts: 21
Location: San Francisco
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia
Grinder: Rancilio Rocky
Drip: Does a French Press count?...
Roaster: iRoast II
Posted Sat Aug 20, 2011, 11:27am
Subject: Re: Rancilio Sylvia - Getting hot water, but no steam
 

Other things kept me from getting this finished until this morning.

But I've finally just put the lid on the machine and ran a bunch of water through it testing things out. Everything seems to work.

Now I've got to roast some beans and get back to enjoying my coffee.

Thank you to everyone who helped in the topic here.
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