Rancilio Silvia Noise Reduction Project

The Rancilio Silvia has a vibratory pump. The principal advantage for a home machine is that the vibratory pump develops pressure quickly and is relatively compact. The principal disadvantage - significant vibration and noise. The engine of the vibratory pump is an electromagnetic coil attached to a fluid piston. The coil moves back and forth when energized with alternating current - in just the same manner as a loudspeaker coil. This drives the piston back and forth - pushing water through a one way check valve to pressurize the boiler with water.

Rancilio Silvia - Vibratory Pump Installation
You can see in the photo that the pump is supported by two rubber mounts designed to allow the pump to move laterally and offset the vibration of the piston motion. These mounts are 12 years old, and have partially collapsed under the weight of the stainless braided discharge hose.

I did a fair bit of research online before coming up with my noise reduction strategy:
  • Improve the pump installation and correct the collapsed rubber mounts;
  • Add vibration damping material (Dynamat or Noico) to as much accessible sheet metal as possible;
  • Add cushioning to the drip tray and drip grille to reduce rattling. 

Pump Installation Upgrade

Let's start with the pump installation. I was into the repair project before I realized that I should replace the pump rubber mounts, so I wasn't able to get replacement parts in time. So - I reversed the mounts to try to correct the sagging, and I added some closed cell foam underneath the pump to help support it from sagging under the mounts.

Vibratory Pump Installation Upgrades - Reversed collapsed rubber mounts, added closed cell foam under pump
I made sure to install the discharge hose in such a way to ensure it wasn't touching any of the metal panels of the machine, to help avoid transmission of vibration to the sheet metal. I also corrected the leak in the stainless steel 90 degree fitting at the pump outlet.

Vibration Damping

The next tactic was to install vibration damping sheet to as much of the accessible sheet metal on the machine, with the aim of reducing vibration transmission. A common brand name for vibration damping material is Dynamat. I ended up using Noico sheets - just because I found a format and quantity online which was well suited to the size of the Rancilio project. One thing I checked was the operating temperature of the Noico sheet - it's rated to 210F (about 98C).

I was careful to avoid placing this material too close to the boiler or group head components, and I insulated the boiler to help reduce the temperature within the front case.

I was also installing a PID controller, so I had to disassemble the machine anyway. I did the PID installation at the same time as the vibration damping sheet installation, saving time.

I installed damping sheet on the following components:
  • Main frame - side columns and base
  • Rear cover
  • Front cover
  • Pump cover
  • Top cover
Sound damping sheet installation underneath base

Sound damping sheet installation front cover

Sound damping sheet installation main frame around pump

Sound damping sheet installation pump cover

Sound damping sheet installation pump cover
I used a 2" rubber ink roller to roll out the damping sheet, and make sure there were no gaps in the adhesive or air bubbles under the sheet.

Sound damping sheet installation rear cover

Sound damping sheet installation top cover. Note installation of strips only to allow heat to warm top cover to keep cup heating function.

Sound damping sheet installation - with front and rear covers and pump cover installed. 

Conclusion

So - what's the net result of the noise control work? A fairly noticeable improvement in noise control. One problem however - the drip tray grate still rattles during a shot - so I added some cushioning to reduce the impact of the rattle since it wasn't practical to add sound damping material to the grate.
The machine runs quite quietly now and I can make coffee in the kitchen directly below the master bedroom, without waking up my significant other. Worth the effort? Definitely!

Sources and Links

I hope you found this post useful. Feel free to ask questions in the comments section below. I answer all questions. If you're interested, you can help support this site by using the following links to Amazon.com in the United States. My go-to place for genuine Rancilio Silvia parts in Canada is Espressotec.com.

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4 comments:

  1. About how much insulation did you end up using? Anything you'd differently if you were to do it again in the future?

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    Replies
    1. I probably used about 5 square feet of the insulation. It definitely reduced rattling and noise when using the machine, adds a little bit of weight and makes the machine feel more robust. The pump still makes a bit more noise than I would like - but I don't get in trouble for making coffee at 5:30 am anymore - so it must have helped. I wouldn't do anything different with the insulation. Happy with how it turned out. The PID was definitely the best upgrade - always knowing water / steam temperature is a game changer.

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    2. I just had some sound deadening show up today and my PID should be here in the next week or so. Thanks for the guide my dude, helpful to know other people have both thought of and done this stuff before.

      Another mod I've seen during my research was some extra plastic piping wrapped over the solenoid to make sure the excess water gets into the drip tray only since some people end up dealing with rust behind that bottom panel. Shows up here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1MTD442tNow&t=403s) at around 00:05:30.

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    3. Have you tried adding som insulation band like the kind used in windows at the lips for holding in the topplate, i imagine it would help quite a lot

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