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Vario: replaced belt and pulley; fine grinding affected


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I replaced my belt and pulley. I always used to single-dose it but was feeling lazy and filled the hopper. Then one day a bean got stuck, stalled the burrs but the motor kept spinning. This melts the nylon pulley and damages the belt.

Bella Barista sold me a new metal pulley but were out of stock on belts so I ordered from vbeltoutlet. You want this product: B113MXL Timing Belt Replacement 113 teeth - 037 (0.37"/9.4mm). I figured out 113 is the number of teeth, MXL is a standard size of teeth, and 9.4mm is close enough to the width of the belt I took off (it's maybe 0.4mm wider but doesn't matter).

Shipping was expensive but I had no backup grinder to hand and things were getting pretty uncivilised fast; my wife may have made herself Nescafe... It looks like an American company but after ordering on 3rd May they finally sent a dispatch email on 8th May and it was being Fedexed from China. I got the belts on 12th May (by which time Bella Barista had pulley + belt kits back in stock; oh well).

Fitted last night following the Baratza video. Not really too difficult once I had the ENGINEER dr-55 Ratchet Screwdriver from Amazon to get at the screws which were not hex screws but flat-head screws, otherwise an allen key would have done.

On reassembly, I could not get it to grind fine at all. I re-calibrated (motor starts to slow down at the equivalent of positon 2Q even though my Vario is old enough to not have the number and letter markings). Even with the motor almost stalling, ground coffee would hardly compress when tamped and was nowhere near fine enough for espresso.

Started taking things apart again. The only thing I noticed was a wobble on the bottom burr, it did not seem centered. I ended up taking the ceramic burr off the metal holder and cleaning everything up. It seems there's some play in how the burr centres on the holder. I tried to get it as central as possible. Much less wobble. Put everything back together.

It's much better. I made ok espresso today. I'm not totally convinced it is as good as it was. Seems the motor labours more than it used to at espresso setting, and something seems off, somehow. Maybe the bottom burr can move around on its mount a bit.

There is a procedure I found on another coffee forum about aligning the burrs but I have not gone that far yet.
Also I realised I did not do the burr whiteboard pen alignment check properly yesterday: I only checked the bottom burr and of course you need to check the top one too.

Anyway I was pretty surprised this relatively simple procedure could have this effect. I don't really believe I managed to knock the bottom burr out of alignment so I'm still not sure what really went on. I'll see how I get on over the next few days and might have more of a play.

The other thing is that while waiting for parts and tools to arrive I ended up spending a lot of time Googling and on YouTube and forums and not-very-long story short, a Ceado E37SD is coming on Tuesday. I'll probably start a thread about that soon.

One thing I found from disassembling the Vario is how much plastic there is. It's a very good grinder, but I can see how it can be less than bullet-proof so the contrast will be fun. I'll probably keep it as a back-up or for doing pour-over depending on how good the Ceado is at that.

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