Sunday, August 26, 2012

Just call her Lazarus

Or would that be "Lazara" for a girl?

Our beloved Silvia, our espresso machine, died on Friday evening.

As usual, on Friday I turned on Silvia and gave her a brief priming. That is, I put the portafilter into the group head and turned on the pump for a few seconds. We then let her heat up while we ate supper.

After supper, as usual, I was going to run some hot water into the little espresso cups to preheat them. When I pressed the brew switch nothing happened. No hot water.

Silvia was hot but nothing happened when I pressed the brew switch. There was no light that shows that she's turned on. Did a circuit breaker blow? No, Rocky was on the same outlet and he ran.

Silvia was dead.

One of the reasons to get a machine like Silvia is that she's very serviceable. I didn't panic, she (probably) could be repaired.

I found a YouTube video that showed how to reset the circuit breaker that turns off Silvia's boiler in case it overheats. The problem with that is that the pump is supposed to keep working even if the circuit breaker has turned off the boiler. My problem was more severe but I opened up Silvia to see if the circuit breaker had been tripped.

It hadn't tripped. While I was poking around with the circuit breaker Jerry peeked in. He noticed a wire with burnt insulation. The wire was going to the main power switch. With that wire out of commission Silvia just can't run.

We seem to have discovered the problem.

Now all I needed was a new wire and the connectors. It turned out that my crimper had just the right connector for the power switch and to splice a wire onto Silvia's power cable.

But where is the wire?

I searched around the house and finally found an old power cord. Since the broken wire in Silvia was delivering power I figured the wires in the power cord would be enough to use. I dissected the power cord and it had three separate wires.

I took one of the wires and crimped a spade connector onto one end and crimped the other end onto the wire left in Silvia.

I reassembled Silvia and turned her on. No smoke!

She warmed up and we brewed some espresso. She worked! Just as before! Yay!

After brewing that first batch I opened her up again. The wire wasn't hot. I think we're back in business for another ten years!

I'm confidant that all that was wrong was that there was a rotten wire, not that there is something wrong with Silvia that caused the wire to disintegrate. I'm betting that it had been rotting for years and Friday was just the day it finally ran out of time.

Here's a picture of the wire that I cut out.

Here's my spliced-in wire (from the blue connector up and around to the power switch).

Our happy family, Rocky and Silvia, as good as new!


RetroMag said...

Congratulations,Dr. Chuckbert;, I'm so glad Silvia was just ill, not dead! You're a superb fixer-upper. Mei will be so glad.

Colleen said...

Did Silvia have a near-death experience? (Does Mei drink espresso?) This is why I'm always asking Chuck to come fix my stuff.

Chuckbert said...

No, Mei doesn't drink espresso. But when she visits she's basically in charge of making the stuff. She's such a help in the barista department!

Poss said...

The electric project in 4-H paid off! Mei is espresso.