Miss Sylvia Maintenance
Thursday, Nov 21 2013
Our Rancilio Miss Sylvia Espresso machine is almost 9 years old. We’ve done nothing but use it to make coffee/espresso since new. It started leaking from the joint where the boiler/heating element meets the group. Also, the group head gasket has never been replaced. I’ve read that some owners change that gasket every year or two. It’s time.
Parts are easy to get and relatively inexpensive. At least inexpensive when compared to the current cost of the machine. These are the two gaskets that I hope, once installed, will make the machine as good as new.
The second picture is a reference to what wire goes where when it comes time for re-assembly. I am also marking each connector as it is removed. Some of the insulators are quite brittle and crumbled in my hand. New insulators can be purchased, but I’m going to using heat shrink tubing to insulate the connectors. I’ve plenty on hand.
I removed the back case and the shield to get better access to the screws that hold the boiler to the group. I started loosening the 6 screws that attach the boiler/heating unit. Five loosened, one broke. OK, that complicates things a bit.
I disconnected the plumbing from boiler and removed the remaining screws. Most of them were starting to corrode where moisture could get to them due to the leaking gasket. All will be replaced.
Once the boiler came off I was glad to see that there wasn’t much scale or other hard water deposits. I’d seen some horror pictures of what could be found in the boiler on line. Using filtered water when running the machine probably helped.
It was easier to remove the group head from the body of the machine and use a dremel tool to remove the center of the old group head gasket than to work with the group head in place. The gasket was that hard. Eventually I could get a pick under the gasket and pull the remains out of the group head. More time with the pick was needed to clean up the parts of the gasket that stuck to the brass. Once clean I installed the new gasket.
I drilled through the center of the broken screw, using the broken head as a guide. That was followed by a trip to the store to pick up the extractor and some replacment screws. The extractors I had on hand were too big. I used the extractor to remove the broken screw and verified that the threads weren’t damaged.
I attached the front cover back only to have to take it off again. I needed the space with the cover off to get to all of the mounting hardware. I put the new boiler gasket in its slot in the group then installed the heating unit. I tightened the retaining screws in a criss cross manner.
Once the boiler was installed I re-attached the line to the pump and the hard copper line to the steam wand. That was followed by wiring and putting most of the case back together. I left the top off so I could look for leaks during testing.
Testing showed a slight drip where the pump attaches to the boiler. I pulled power from the unit and tightened the fittin a little bit. No more leak. Then I noticed that the boiler wasn’t getting hot. Oops! I forgot to hook up the electrical connection to the over temperature thermostat. It was acting as if the thermostat had tripped. Once all the wiring was connected the unit was ready for opperation. The last step was to install the top pannel.
Done. Time consuming but not all that hard. I’ll change the group head gasket a bit earlier next time.