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Buying a used Silvia+Rocky combo for $400 - worthwhile?
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Buying a used...  
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jweis
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Joined: 14 Aug 2012
Posts: 3
Location: Jerusalem
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Tue Aug 14, 2012, 6:15am
Subject: Buying a used Silvia+Rocky combo for $400 - worthwhile?
 

Hey guys, new here. Until now I've been using a moka pot with a Hario hand grinder, and it's been ok - but I have the option now of purchasing a Rancilio Rocky+Silvia combo for $400. It's one year old, and I have no idea how it's been cared for by the owner (although I assume the worst).

What do you guys think? Is it problematic buying a used machine without knowing how it's been cared for? (worried about things like lime, scale, etc). Or is one year not so bad, and with some descaling the machine will likely be OK?

Also, is this a really good price on a year-old Silvia+Rocky?

Good combo for an espresso-noob (with a passion for espresso :) at this price??

Thanks!
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calblacksmith
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calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,864
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
Grinder: Azkoyen Capriccio, Major
Vac Pot: 40s era Silex
Drip: Msl. Com. brewers
Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Tue Aug 14, 2012, 6:36am
Subject: Re: Buying a used Silvia+Rocky combo for $400 - worthwhile?
 

If well cared for, a used Sylvia can be a good value. Rocky has had better days and he has been passed by time but he can still do a fair job. The biggest issue is the steps, you are, very often, wanting to grind between the steps. If you stay with the hobby, you will want to upgrade from the Rocky but as a pair, if in good shape, that is a pretty good deal.

I don't think Sylvia is worth the price new but you are basically paying $250 for the Sylvia and $150 for the Rocky if you assume that you are paying fair price for the Rocky. At that price, Sylvia is a good value, again depending on condition.

If it works but is only scaled, that is a good deal. If the heater is shorting into the water in the boiler, then it is over priced when you take into account the cost of a new boiler half and the other parts in a rebuild.

If it is connected to a GFI outlet and it does not blow the safety GFI, then most likely the heater is OK. If you do not have a GFI outlet, take the top off the machine and then remove the wires from the heater element, check with an Ohm meter or continuity checker between the heater connections and the boiler shell (with water in the boiler) if you do not get a connection, all is well.

Descaling is not a big deal and most owners don't even know it is supposed to be done.

If possible, take some coffee and make some espresso with the machine and grinder, this will tell you more than you can get from us! If it pulls a good shot and the heater is OK, the rest is minor.

 
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Wayne P.
Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!

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frcn
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frcn
Joined: 23 Dec 2001
Posts: 3,427
Location: Northern California
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Vibiemme Domobar Double
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Vac Pot: Hario, 2 Cory pots, 1 Cory...
Drip: Behmor Brazen, Bunn A10 mod...
Roaster: computer controlled Hottop,...
Posted Tue Aug 14, 2012, 6:38am
Subject: Re: Buying a used Silvia+Rocky combo for $400 - worthwhile?
 

If it works, that sounds like a good deal to me. Look at it this way. A new Rocky is "around" $350. Worst case there is likely that all it might need is new burrs (depending on usage, maybe not event that). So it's like getting the Silvia for free.

If the Silvia is working OK, you could run it with reverse osmosis water for a while which would gently decrease any scaling in the boiler is such exists. Worst case there, you may need a new boiler half so long as it isn't leaking.

Let it heat up on steam setting. Open and close the steam valve and see how it feels. If it seals before "bottoming out" then it has probably been physically treated OK.

 
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jweis
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Joined: 14 Aug 2012
Posts: 3
Location: Jerusalem
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Tue Aug 14, 2012, 8:26am
Subject: Re: Buying a used Silvia+Rocky combo for $400 - worthwhile?
 

Not sure what bottoming out means, but I guess I'll try the steam valve and make sure it works smoothly. I'm glad descaling is not a big issue.

Regarding testing the heating element - is it easy to remove the wires from the heater element? Sounds like a daunting task for a noob. Can you describe it a bit or not really?

Thanks for both of your 2 cents, they are much appreciated!
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Coffeenoobie
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Posted Tue Aug 14, 2012, 9:04am
Subject: Re: Buying a used Silvia+Rocky combo for $400 - worthwhile?
 

Most people only descale once or twice a year unless the water is very very hard.  You know the water where you are, so you can judge if the machine has only missed one descale.  If so, then assuming you can pull a shot on it (i.e. it heats and pushes water) then it sounds like a good buy to me.

 
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frcn
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frcn
Joined: 23 Dec 2001
Posts: 3,427
Location: Northern California
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Vibiemme Domobar Double
Grinder: Mazzer Kony, Baratza...
Vac Pot: Hario, 2 Cory pots, 1 Cory...
Drip: Behmor Brazen, Bunn A10 mod...
Roaster: computer controlled Hottop,...
Posted Tue Aug 14, 2012, 9:10am
Subject: Re: Buying a used Silvia+Rocky combo for $400 - worthwhile?
 

"Bottoming out" - When the vale has been repeatedly over-tightened, the seal gasket becomes worn and compressed and when the valve is closed by turning the knob it stops with a distinct feel and it cannot turn any further. When the seal is still good and spongy, it stops the flow of steam with a soft feel to the knob, and you could turn the knob further, but you don't have to.

Everything that callblacksmith said concerning the heating element and GFCI is spot on. If there isn't one available, it is a small crapshoot.

remove the portafilter and look up into the group (bring a mirror) and see if that area looks clean. If you can remove the shower screen and check the group and behind the shower screen. That will tell a lot about the condition of the rest of the machine in terms of the maintenance it has received. If anything looks questionable, you are still free to barter the price down accordingly, or just say, "thank you," and walk away..

 
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jweis
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Joined: 14 Aug 2012
Posts: 3
Location: Jerusalem
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Tue Aug 14, 2012, 9:12am
Subject: Re: Buying a used Silvia+Rocky combo for $400 - worthwhile?
 

brilliant, thank you so much. Great advice.
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emradguy
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emradguy
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Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
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Posted Tue Aug 14, 2012, 9:31am
Subject: Re: Buying a used Silvia+Rocky combo for $400 - worthwhile?
 

The advice you got from Wayne (calblacksmith) and Randy (frcn) is perfect.  If I were looking for similar info, those would be the two guys I'd most want to hear from.  

Having had a Silvia/Rocky combo myself, I would agree that if both are working, you're getting a good deal.  I also agree, you will likely want to upgrade from the Rocky in the future (probably both to be fully truthful).  You didn't say if the Silvia has a PID or not.  It's also important...if it does, the deal is that much better.  If it doesn't, you might want to consider adding one in the future.

Having owned a Silvia, I'm personally less concerned about scale, given it's only a year old.  I went a couple of years with mine before ever doing a proper descale.  It's an easy process, though....and you could certainly do it...but as said before, I'd make sure it works properly before buying it.

 
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Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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calblacksmith
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calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,864
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
Grinder: Azkoyen Capriccio, Major
Vac Pot: 40s era Silex
Drip: Msl. Com. brewers
Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Tue Aug 14, 2012, 11:23am
Subject: Re: Buying a used Silvia+Rocky combo for $400 - worthwhile?
 

The connection of the wires to the heating element are just slip on connectors, there is a piece of sheet metal (cup warmer) that you need to remove and once it is off, the top of the boiler is right in front of you. Slip off both connectors from the element to isolate it from the rest of the machine and check between either connector and the shell of the boiler. If you get a connection, the shell of the heating element has been melted and even if the machine heats up, the top half of the boiler will need to be replaced.

This is often not a problem, I just mention it to prevent a shock later if you check now. A Single Boiler Dual Use machine needs to have the boiler filled after each time you either pull a shot or steam milk, this is not an automatic operation and you must remember to do it every time. If you forget and the water level is too low, you run the risk of melting the copper shell that isolates the electrical element from the water. It is a potentially dangerous condition to a user if there is a connection between the heater and the rest of the machine. Most often, there is no problem but it is the most expensive problem that the machine could have and there is no outward sign (other than possibly a white color to the water (part of the insulation around the heater element disolving into the water)) that there is a problem.

Randy is correct that it is a GFCI, not a GFI but I am an old dog and I am too old to learn new tricks, I have been calling it a GFI for too many years LOL! Anyway, if there is one, it will tell you if the element has an issue or not. To see what I am talking about, please look at the thread I did on a Sylvia rebuild, pics showing just what a defective heater looks like and what the inside of the boiler can look like without proper maint.

http://coffeegeek.com/forums/espresso/machinemods/547829

 
In real life, my name is
Wayne P.
Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!

Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
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IndianaBrewer
Senior Member


Joined: 12 Oct 2012
Posts: 15
Location: Indianapolis
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia
Grinder: Rancilio Rocky Doserless
Drip: Cusinart Grind and Brew
Posted Sat Nov 3, 2012, 9:05pm
Subject: Re: Buying a used Silvia+Rocky combo for $400 - worthwhile?
 

That sounds like a great value if they are both working properly.  I would suggest PID'ing the silvia.  While I have only had experience with a PID'd version, the temperature control is an excellent feature.  Happy brewing.
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