I see this topic has petered out (unintentional pun) a bit over the last few months, but I figured I would chime in as I've just gotten my Vario back from Baratza and have some potentially interesting news for Vario owners. Actually, I had so many things I wanted to say about this thread so far that I don't really know where to start.. I'll try not to ramble *too* much, hah.
Anyway, this is a bit of an FYI for all those interested in the "new" parts for the Vario, and the TLDR is that aside from the new metal grind chamber and threaded upper burr carrier, it looks like they have upgraded the motor/driveshaft/gear as well with better parts.
So, to preface, while I was communicating back and forth with their support about a gearbox problem with my Sette 270wi (which they sent me a free OOW replacement for, btw) I ended up chatting about the problems I had with my Vario that led me to buy the Sette and relegate the Vario to a backup grinder. For the record, I've had the Vario for *9ish years* now so it's one of the original 885 models. I've been very happy with it, though like many others have mentioned, I have always had trouble with consistency when I needed to adjust the grind more than say a few micros tighter. More on that later, maybe. Anyway, they recommended that I send it in, as it seemed like maybe the old plastic grind chamber was the problem, and for the $85 they would upgrade it to the all metal chamber and do whatever else it needed. That sounded like a more than fair deal to me, so I prepared to send it in. I honestly have no idea why, but while I was confirming the details on the service program (which I'm not even supposed to be eligible for, because I'm in Canada) they decided that they would just do it for me, for FREE. I'll try not to fanboy too much here, but over the 9 years that I've had their products, I have never had anything other than AMAZING customer service from these guys. I would not expect this, and I would have been super happy with the customer service even had I paid the $85 to be frank, I'm mean, it's been out of warranty for ever... but I am definitely grateful. So, for the cost of shipping I sent Vario in for some TLC.
I got my Vario back a couple days ago, and as expected, they put in the "new" metal grind chamber, like the one in the Forte, I gather, with the threaded upper burr carrier. They ALSO replaced my steel burrs with a brand new set, replaced the drive belt, drive gear, adjustment rocker, knob, and a foot. But most interestingly, they replaced the motor and pullies. It looks like they have switched away from the old motor with the weird helical gear drive shaft and it now uses a normal shaft with a "D" top that the drive gear slides onto, which seems like a much better system to me.
Its been a long time since I looked at the original drive gear, but it tickles my brain like there's something new about that too. Did it always have the brass sleve? Anyway, this is the top-down view of the main drive gear and the lower burr carrier.
Finally, I figured now that I had all the spiffy new internals and new burrs, I should try out this crazy alignment. I'd seen this and the user experience thread before, but hadn't paid too much notice because I've been very happy with the Sette for my espresso needs (which used to be like 99% of my coffee drinking). I drink a lot more brewed coffee now, at work, so I'm pretty excited to get the Vario set up for that.
I won't go into detail in this already novella length post, but here is how the alignment looked from Baratza. I'd say, not super impressive.
So I tried doing it quick and dirty with minimal tear-down, and by just pushing on the brass spline as a I tightened the chamber down, and that improved things to about a 40% wipe pattern. Then I tried fully dismantling and using the levers for tension. With that method, and spinning the burr by hand, I was able to get a beautiful 100% wipe, and you could even hear the difference in the sound the burrs made on contact when spinning it by hand.
Sadly, I think I left the screws that tighten the chamber down a little too loose, and when I was trying to get the top burr unscrewed a bit later with everything assembled, I felt it shift. When I checked with the marker test, I was back to a 50/50ish wipe, and I didn't want to disassemble it again right then, so I just used two single aluminum foil shims and am currently getting a very good but not perfect wipe.
However, now I know it can be done, so I'll probably try again at some point. Also, the gap under the burrs bug me, so I'm considering my options with that, and will probably reattempt once I've decided what to do there.
Anyway, sorry for the huge post, but I thought someone out there from this thread would be interested in this story! Also, amazing stuff here guys, so big thanks to Peter and Jake G, and others for all their work.