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Topic: trouble with Miss Sylvia (14 msgs / 497 lines)
1) From: TINK1969
Good Morning All,
 
I am hoping a fellow Miss Sylvia user can help me troubleshoot.  For  the 
past week or so all I can get are blonde gushers with 2 ounces in 12  seconds.  A 
tighter grind only makes water spill over the portafilter,  looser grind also 
not helping.  I have tried pulling shots at various  intervals, trying 
everything from when the light first goes on to when it goes  out and everything in 
between.  
I guess I better go pull out my old Solis SL90, sigh, somehow my  husband 
doesn't think this is a good reason to upgrade.
Thank you!
Kim
 

2) From: Les
Sounds like a blown gasket to me.
Les
On 11/10/06, TINK1969  wrote:
<Snip>

3) From: Brett Mason
You might try reducing your load, but with the finely ground - and tamp it
well...  Please indicate if this helps...
Brett
On 11/10/06, TINK1969  wrote:
<Snip>
-- 
Cheers,
Bretthttp://homeroast.freeservers.com

4) From: TINK1969
Les,
 
Would that be the group head gasket or the boiler gasket?  
 
Thank you,
Kim

5) From: Sandy Andina
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Kim,
	When you say "tighter" or "looser" are you referring to fineness of  
grind or force of tamp? The grind should feel like very fine sugar-- 
not quite powdery but ever so slightly still granular; when you  
"dose", let the grinds fall gently into a dome shape over the top of  
the portafilter--"updosing" is the term.  Do not apply any pressure  
while "dosing" or "distributing." "Distribute" by gently tapping the  
rim with a straightedge before sweeping off the excess, using NO  
pressure. Then take your tamper--what are you using to tamp?--and  
tamp first lightly, then tap the rim once very lightly to knock the  
grinds sticking to the sides into the center, then tamp straight down  
firmly to create the puck (30# force--use a bathroom scale to see  
what that feels like). Then "polish' the surface by gently spinning  
the tamper--on the level, without tilting it--a couple of revolutions  
applying NO pressure. When you are done the top of the puck should be  
about level with the top of the tamper (assuming you are using a  
standard cast-metal barista tamper--with a Thor there should be a  
little less than 1/4" of clearance between the basket rim and the  
surface of the puck).
	If you are still getting gushers (assuming you have ground  
IMMEDIATELY before dosing into the portafilter and the beans are less  
than 10-14 days old), then go one click (or hashmark on a stepless  
grinder) finer till you get a shot you like. You think you might use  
too much coffee going this slowly, but you probably won't use any  
less seesawing in larger increments of fineness/coarseness.  Don't  
vary the tamp once you've mastered what 30# feels like.   If you find  
you are getting spillage, make sure that your grouphead, gasket,  
baskets and portafilter are scrupulously clean--grounds adhering to  
the gasket will keep you from getting a tight seal, and water will  
leak out all around the portafilter. You want to be able to lock the  
handle in to as close to the red dot on the grouphead as you can get  
it (I've never been able to get past the red dot with Silvia, the way  
I can get past center with Livia).
	You should be able to pull better shots on Silvia than with the  
Solis SL90 (which I was going to get till a good pal on both this and  
the pen collector lists set me straight). But Silvia is a bit finicky  
and takes some getting used to, especially if you've been using a  
machine with a crema enhancer.  If you need to "upgrade," you need to  
upgrade your *grinder* (I apologize if you are using a really good  
one), not your machine.  You should be able to pull okay shots on it  
with a Solis Maestro Plus or Capresso Infinity, but you need to step  
up to something better to get consistently good ones.
On Nov 10, 2006, at 8:30 AM, TINK1969 wrote:
<Snip>
Sandy
www.sandyandina.com
www.sass-music.com
--Apple-Mail-104-188087150
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Kim, 	When you =
say "tighter" or "looser" are you referring to fineness of grind or =
force of tamp? The grind should feel like very fine sugar--not quite =
powdery but ever so slightly still granular; when you "dose", let the =
grinds fall gently into a dome shape over the top of the =
portafilter--"updosing" is the term.  Do not apply any pressure while =
"dosing" or "distributing." "Distribute" by gently tapping the rim =
with a straightedge before sweeping off the excess, using NO pressure. =
Then take your tamper--what are you using to tamp?--and tamp first =
lightly, then tap the rim once very lightly to knock the grinds sticking =
to the sides into the center, then tamp straight down firmly to create =
the puck (30# force--use a bathroom scale to see what that feels like). =
Then "polish' the surface by gently spinning the tamper--on the level, =
without tilting it--a couple of revolutions applying NO pressure. When =
you are done the top of the puck should be about level with the top of =
the tamper (assuming you are using a standard cast-metal barista =
tamper--with a Thor there should be a little less than 1/4" of clearance =
between the basket rim and the surface of the puck).	If you =
are still getting gushers (assuming you have ground IMMEDIATELY before =
dosing into the portafilter and the beans are less than 10-14 days old), =
then go one click (or hashmark on a stepless grinder) finer till you get =
a shot you like. You think you might use too much coffee going this =
slowly, but you probably won't use any less seesawing in larger =
increments of fineness/coarseness.  Don't vary the tamp once you've =
mastered what 30# feels like.   If you find you are getting =
spillage, make sure that your grouphead, gasket, baskets and portafilter =
are scrupulously clean--grounds adhering to the gasket will keep you =
from getting a tight seal, and water will leak out all around the =
portafilter. You want to be able to lock the handle in to as close to =
the red dot on the grouphead as you can get it (I've never been able to =
get past the red dot with Silvia, the way I can get past center with =
Livia).	You should be able to pull better =
shots on Silvia than with the Solis SL90 (which I was going to get till =
a good pal on both this and the pen collector lists set me straight). =
But Silvia is a bit finicky and takes some getting used to, especially =
if you've been using a machine with a crema enhancer.  If you need to =
"upgrade," you need to upgrade your *grinder* (I apologize if you are =
using a really good one), not your machine.  You should be able to =
pull okay shots on it with a Solis Maestro Plus or Capresso Infinity, =
but you need to step up to something better to get consistently good =
ones.
On Nov 10, 2006, at 8:30 AM, TINK1969 wrote:
= Good Morning All,   I am hoping a fellow = Miss Sylvia user can help me troubleshoot.  For the past week or so = all I can get are blonde gushers with 2 ounces in 12 seconds.  A = tighter grind only makes water spill over the portafilter, looser grind = also not helping.  I have tried pulling shots at various intervals, = trying everything from when the light first goes on to when it goes out = and everything in between.  I guess I better go pull out = my old Solis SL90, sigh, somehow my husband doesn't think this is a = good reason to upgrade. Thank you! Kim =   Sandywww.sass-music.com
= = --Apple-Mail-104-188087150--

6) From: Sandy Andina
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If I may jump in, that'd be the grouphead gasket.  But assuming it's  
not too old (the gasket shouldn't "blow" before 8-1 months, unless  
you leave Silvia on 24/7 with the PF locked in place between  
sessions), I would try a grouphead brush (even a clean toothbrush)  
and scrub like crazy to make sure the gasket is clear of any grounds  
that could affect the ability to get a good tight seal.  It could  
even be something as simple as giving the portafilter edges and  
"ears" a quick swipe before locking in--even a little ground coffee  
on the rim and ears can impair the seal!
On Nov 10, 2006, at 10:39 AM, TINK1969 wrote:
<Snip>
Sandy
www.sandyandina.com
www.sass-music.com
--Apple-Mail-107-188565780
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If I may jump in, that'd be the =
grouphead gasket.  But assuming it's not too old (the gasket shouldn't =
"blow" before 8-1 months, unless you leave Silvia on 24/7 with the PF =
locked in place between sessions), I would try a grouphead brush (even a =
clean toothbrush) and scrub like crazy to make sure the gasket is clear =
of any grounds that could affect the ability to get a good tight seal.  =
It could even be something as simple as giving the portafilter edges and =
"ears" a quick swipe before locking in--even a little ground coffee on =
the rim and ears can impair the seal!
On Nov 10, 2006, at =
10:39 AM, TINK1969 =
wrote:
Les,   Would that be the group = head gasket or the boiler gasket?    Thank = you, Kim Sandywww.sass-music.com
= = --Apple-Mail-107-188565780--

7) From: Les
I would go with Sandy's advice.  The group gasket should last at least a
year.  A good cleaning may be all Miss Silvia needs.
Les
On 11/10/06, Sandy Andina  wrote:
<Snip>

8) From: Sandy Andina
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And don't forget to rinse and then wipe the shower screen AND the  
groove containing the gasket with a clean non-linty dishtowel (those  
flour sack bartender's cloths are great) after EVERY shot you pull!   
A good tight seal is key.
On Nov 10, 2006, at 11:31 AM, Les wrote:
<Snip>
Sandy
www.sandyandina.com
www.sass-music.com
--Apple-Mail-110-189339188
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And don't forget to rinse and =
then wipe the shower screen AND the groove containing the gasket with a =
clean non-linty dishtowel (those flour sack bartender's cloths are =
great) after EVERY shot you pull!  A good tight seal is =
key.
On Nov 10, 2006, at 11:31 AM, Les wrote:
I = would go with Sandy's advice.  The group gasket should last at least a = year.  A good cleaning may be all Miss Silvia needs. =   Les Sandywww.sass-music.com
= = --Apple-Mail-110-189339188--

9) From: TINK1969
It is a used machine (manufactured in '99 I think) and was in storage for  
awhile before I got it.  I had replaced the old group head gasket but it  was 
with one that was given to me with the machine and wasn't very pliable. So  it 
could easily be the gasket.  That would be a really easy fix. I  also gave it 
all a good scrubbing and ran clean caf through  it.    I have the machine on a 
timer and it is on for a couple of  hours in the morning and afternoon.  I do 
keep the portafilter loosely in  the group head so it gets hot along with the 
machine.  Is that a no  no?  I was getting great shots until about a week ago. 
 I am going to order the new gasket and keep my fingers crossed.
In case this doesn't work does anyone know of a local repair service in the  
Hampton Roads area of Virgina?
 
Thanks again!
Kim

10) From: TINK1969
Thank you Brett.  I gave it a try but without luck.  I think  something on 
the machine is fatigued and needs replacing.
Kim

11) From: raymanowen
OK, you didn't say, but the first thing that happened out of the ordinary
was- "...water spill over the portafilter". Yes, Yes- Les is right. The
gasket is history.
I don't have a Silvia yet, and you don't know what additional problems you
might discover when you replace the gasket. Tell your husband that you
absolutely need to upgrade from mediocrity or waste good coffee beans. I can
help. 
Serious hint- when you replace the gasket with one of the Two Spares you are
going to order, be astute about cleaning the surface of the gasket after
every shot:
   1. Pull a shot-
   2. Knock out the grounds-
   3. Swab out the group diffuser screen, gasket and PF bayonet grooves,
   using a tool made out of a white piece of terrycloth and an old toothbrush-
   4. Run the pump long enough to put a few cc's of water through the
   group-
   5. Repeat #3, 4 until the terrycloth swab comes out speckless.
I know it's a pain, but any coffee you clean out this way won't be sitting
there to spoil subsequent shots or deform the gasket surface to force a
leak.
Cheers -RayO, aka Opa!
-- 
"When the theme hits the bass, I dance the Jig!" - -Virgil Fox at the Mighty
Wichita (ex- NYC Paramount) WurliTzer- 1976

12) From: TINK1969
Actually, the first problem was a few seconds into the pour I got a gush of  
blonde foam, filling my 3oz. cup in about 12 seconds.  I thought maybe the  
beans needed more rest but that didn't help, neither did changing type of  
beans.  I tried a finer grind to slow things, that was when the water  overflow 
happened.  Backed of the grind, no overflow but now matter what I  get the gush 
of blonde foam.  I am really picky about cleaning it, often  seems that 
cleaning in between shots take longer than the grinding, tamping, and  brewing.
Sylvia was doing great for a couple of months and now, for about the past  
week, no matter what I have tried, nothing but foam.  It almost seems like  I am 
getting a burst of air or steam part way into the pull.  Maybe a  thermostat 
gone bad?  
 
Kim

13) From: Sandy Andina
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Could be the pressurestat.  Sounds like too high a pump pressure.  
Call Caffe West/Baratza in Oregon--unfortunately, I lost their number  
or URL.  They service Rancilio or Pasquini in North America (since  
you aren't the warranty holder, it wouldn't be free) and might be  
able to troubleshoot over the phone.
On Nov 10, 2006, at 12:44 PM, TINK1969 wrote:
<Snip>
Sandy
www.sandyandina.com
www.sass-music.com
--Apple-Mail-116-194457209
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Could be the pressurestat.  =
Sounds like too high a pump pressure. Call Caffe West/Baratza in =
Oregon--unfortunately, I lost their number or URL.  They service =
Rancilio or Pasquini in North America (since you aren't the warranty =
holder, it wouldn't be free) and might be able to troubleshoot over the =
phone.  
On Nov 10, 2006, at 12:44 PM, TINK1969 wrote:
= Actually, the first problem was a few seconds into the pour I got a = gush of blonde foam, filling my 3oz. cup in about 12 seconds.  I = thought maybe the beans needed more rest but that didn't help, neither = did changing type of beans.  I tried a finer grind to slow things, = that was when the water overflow happened.  Backed of the grind, no = overflow but now matter what I get the gush of blonde foam.  I am = really picky about cleaning it, often seems that cleaning in between = shots take longer than the grinding, tamping, and brewing. = Sylvia was doing great for a couple of months and now, for about = the past week, no matter what I have tried, nothing but foam.  It = almost seems like I am getting a burst of air or steam part way into the = pull.  Maybe a thermostat gone bad?    = Kim Sandywww.sass-music.com
= = --Apple-Mail-116-194457209--

14) From: Vince Doss
http://www.sweetmarias.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?ScreenOD&Product_CodeP07This has rubber bristles and cleans the gasket nicely. I use this and
the other steel bristle "toothbrush" style to clean the screen.http://www.sweetmarias.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?ScreenOD&Product_CodeP08On 11/10/06, raymanowen  wrote:
<Snip>
-- 
At some point between French and fire, it really doesn't matter much
what the "origin character" of the coffee was...
Tom Owens - Sweet Marias


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