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Fixing espresso machine: swap pump of Rancilio Silvia [Extreme Cyborging]

Cite this article:
Wolf Schweitzer: Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Fixing espresso machine: swap pump of Rancilio Silvia [Extreme Cyborging]; published August 24, 2019, 08:57; URL: https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=10055.

BibTeX: @MISC{schweitzer_wolf_1569086019, author = {Wolf Schweitzer}, title = {{Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Fixing espresso machine: swap pump of Rancilio Silvia [Extreme Cyborging]}}, month = {August},year = {2019}, url = {https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=10055}}


While our contemporary circus directors keep fighting with true elephants (Catch-22s: should one hammer with an iLimb? [link] - should one exhibit defect iLimb gloves under use in public? [link]), I used true and established technology [TRS Jaws - link] and fixed my coffee machine by replacing its pump.

While a new coffee machine (the same model but new) would cost me around 800 USD and while a repair by a company or specialist would cost me maybe around 400 USD, the replacement pump that I got via eBay from Bulgaria was 34,90 USD, with shipping 13 USD. Furthermore, the new pump was better - a more solid build, quieter. In addition, I did not have to suffer absence of the machine for more than about half an hour.

So while I do understand why people prefer to chose their prosthetic hand devices for their suitability for posing with them [link], I would propose to anyone that there might be a possibly more meaningful life beyond that.

There are a few tricks one has to know in order to get here. First, I googled it, and watched all the videos, read all the web instructions and remembered the details. Then, obviously the coffee machine must be unplugged to begin with, and it helps to have it cooled down. After that, I removed the top cover. There, all screws come out and the cover comes off. Then, the rear part of the case needs to be removed - and while it seems to never be stated anywhere explicitly, no screw should be removed entirely for that step. All three screws - two obvious ones at the top of the machine sitting midways of both sides that hold the back frame in position, and the bottom screw that is reached through the slit of the sloping metal cover of the pump (that dark bent piece) - should ONLY be loosened, but not screwed out entirely. That becomes obvious from carefully examining the shape of the metal back part and its bent and slotted edges. Then one can wiggle the back part of the case out and only AFTER that, the black bent metal comes off after removing its two screws.

Then, the following can be accessed (see image) where I took the picture already halfway underway with removing the old pump. The new one has more brass than plastic parts and it is considerably quieter. Also my Rancilio Silvia is tweaked as it has some extra electronics - but that should not take away from the innocent joy of replacing a pump and having a good coffee afterwards.

This repair required countless bimanual grips and holds, pushes and pulls, and it is certainly fraught with risk - parts could fall, and there also is a considerable risk of collateral damage if one looks at the device as I photographed it. So you really want to approach this from a zero error tolerance angle1.

The important or more critical steps that I considered were:

  • before removing the old pump, mark on the new pump which cable plug goes where. I had a white and a brown cable, so I marked the respective connectors on the new pump with a W and a B using a  water proof pen
  • pulling off connectors from the old pump that is still in place was very easy and required not even a tool, could be done manually
  • unscrewing the hexagonal connector piece of the metallic tube using a wrench #13 required extra careful nudging to avoid any damages - and only with the right type of force would that come lose
  • the plastic connector that was connected at the right side of the pump had to be pulled off VERY carefully, the photo was made already after I had removed that
  • the angled metal connector had to be screwed out of the plastic part of the pump using a vice; to get there I first left it in place and carefully removed it with the pump from the machine
  • after pump replacement and connecting all tubes and cables, test for tightness and see that there are no tube leaks

Having sufficient prior experience with fixing or improving modern consumer devices and other things, with using tools, materials and parts [such as an old iPod], helps.

Sorry the valve was not entirely closed when I played around after pump replacement ... there is no drip once that is closed all the way. Never mind.

Disclaimer: I only report that I did this myself and how I went about it. I do NOT suggest anyone, particularly you, do this alone or at home or anywhere else. Please take your machines to the repair shop or buy a new one.

Footnotes

  1. The prosthetic industries and their representatives, ambassadors and key users, by and large, particularly in context with prosthetic arms, do not understand zero error tolerance. There is no indication that anyone there "gets" it which is why otherwise you see virtually no consumer device repair tips and in particular, no espresso machine repair tips, by arm amputees wearing a prosthetic arm. That's just not there, it is a terra incognita. Maybe, filling a social role as a disabled person well precludes taking such dramatic steps such as fixing a coffee machine?
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