Reviving Miss Silvia: Initial Diagnosis

Well, I bought the espresso machine off my employer when it stopped working. I got a good deal on it, and figured it would be a fun project to undertake fixing it. And at the end, I’d have a working machine and great espresso.

The model is a Rancilio Silvia, and this is what she looks like when she’s all buffed and shiny (actually, the image is of a V2 machine. The machine I have is a V1, and has a slightly different grill over the catch basin):

Photograph of a Rancilio Silvia (version 3) espresso machine.
What a new Rancilio Silvia espresso machine looks like.

The first thing I had to do was diagnose what’s wrong with her. I was expecting to have to replace the boiler, regardless. But when we unplugged it, the machine was still able to pour on. It just produced a tepid pull of espresso with a funky taste to it.

When I got it home, the machine wouldn’t turn on without tripping the GFI outlet. Uh oh. Maybe this was going to be more complicated than I thought.

After a little bit of Google-Fu, I found this dicussion. After disconnecting the wires from the heating element posts, the machine powered on. Since I had planned on replacing the boiler anyways, this doesn’t really change anything for me except that it solves the mystery of why it wouldn’t power on.

I’ll post again when I start ripping things apart. But for now, here’s what the guts of Miss Siliva look like:

Photograph of the internals of a Rancilio Silvia espresso machine
This is what it looks like inside my Rancilio Silvia espresso machine.

Let’s see… electricity, steam, heat & pressure… what could possibly go wrong?

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