Baratza Fortario fail? Slippery calibration & noises don't sound right

Equipment doesn't work? Troubleshooting? If you're handy, members can help.
acodring

#1: Post by acodring »

Hi there,

I got parts this week from Baratza to try and upgrade my Vario. It seemed to go well until I started grinding.

I calibrated to hear the burrs start to touch at 2Q then put it up around 2E and ran a first dose through. It didn't sound entirely happy but it made a nice fluffy pile in the basket. It didn't generate much pressure while pulling the shot, but that's complicated by another issue with my Andreja (thread). It did create one of the 'bloomiest' flows out of the bottomless portafilter I think I've ever seen despite using ~10 day old beans.

I was going to click up the grind a bit to see if I could get a little better pressure and realized it was no longer calibrated properly so I calibrated to 2Q again. Then I took two videos, first with an empty hopper so you can hear what it sounds like as I click into ~2E:
Then another of the actual grind at that setting:
After that it was out of calibration again with the 'touching' sound coming on around 1E.

Parts installed:
  • Forte chamber & new motor plate
  • Forte burr carrier
  • New belt
I ordered the wrong pulley so I've still got the original plastic one. In hindsight it was obvious I didn't have a "D-shaft" on my motor...

I'll tear it down again tomorrow and see if there's something obviously wrong. I haven't found videos yet showing how to replace the lever arms and whatever the thing is called that actually levers the lower burr carrier up and down. It seemed to be straightforward to remove it from the old motor plate and transfer to the new, but maybe I am missing a trick there.

I'll also check belt tension again as that could explain nasty noise (but not the slippery calibration).

If I don't sort it out tomorrow I'll try Baratza support Monday. They've been great.

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baldheadracing
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#2: Post by baldheadracing »

Eek. Do you have steel or ceramic burrs?
What I'm interested in is my worst espresso being fantastic - James Hoffmann

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acodring (original poster)

#3: Post by acodring (original poster) »

I kept the ceramics in, although I did get a set of steels for future experiments.

PS I didn't explicitly say it in original post - if anyone can diagnose what's wrong please let me know!

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baldheadracing
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#4: Post by baldheadracing » replying to acodring »

The burrs should not need to be used below the touch point with the Forte grind chamber when the burrs are aligned. Going below that just forces the burrs to be jammed against each other ... so something has to give, and the adjusters slipping is better than something else breaking.

If you have to adjust finer to 2E when the touch point is 2Q, then the grinder will benefit from (more) alignment. Have you done the marker test?
What I'm interested in is my worst espresso being fantastic - James Hoffmann

acodring (original poster)

#5: Post by acodring (original poster) »

baldheadracing wrote:The burrs should not need to be used below the touch point with the Forte grind chamber when the burrs are aligned. Going below that just forces the burrs to be jammed against each other ... so something has to give, and the adjusters slipping is better than something else breaking. If you have to adjust finer to 2E when the touch point is 2Q, then the grinder will benefit from (more) alignment. Have you done the marker test?
Well, you've just undone many years of ignorance. Thank you.
I've struggled for so long to get normal pressures from my Andreja I've been clicking up and up with the micro lever and ended up thinking it was normal to be tighter than the touch point.

I did the marker test a couple of times today while rebuilding. My eyes aren't good at discerning the marker on the dark ceramics, but I think I got it lined up well after the second try.

I'll start over in the morning and hope I haven't done permanent damage.

Any guesses if I can save it by readjusting the two external calibration points, or should I just open it all up again and redo the alignment process?

If you calibrate to a 2Q touch point, where do you typically start when you're dialing in beans?

Thanks again!

pcrussell50

#6: Post by pcrussell50 »

If you've had your Vario for a while and especially if you've had it apart, make sure your lever shims are in place and in the proper location. Without them, the adjustment arms can click out of position/move while grinding. It's a super easy, basic maintenance and inspection and procedure for all Varios.
-Peter
LMWDP #553

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baldheadracing
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#7: Post by baldheadracing »

I'd suggest repeating the marker test before taking the machine apart again. Keep in mind that each burr can be mounted in three different positions, so that's six marker tests to determine which orientation is best before shimming ... also, the upper burr mount threads have to be meticulously clean. Ridiculously clean. A few coffee grounds stuck in the threads - or under a burr - will affect alignment. (That drives me crazy!)

About your prior experiences - going finer than the touch point is sometimes needed with the Vario chamber as its material can stretch more than the Forte chamber.

For touch point, I have the steel burrs, and have the grinder to touch at macro 1, micro at the mid-point. That's the Forte BG touch point (or that used to be the spec). I use the Vario for roasts lighter than traditional espresso, so I have to grind finer. I keep the macro at 2, and just move the micro. I suspect that the ceramic burrs/darker roasts will want coarser settings, but I'm guessing as I haven't used the ceramic burrs for years. However, I wouldn't suggest switching to the steels until you get your espresso machine sorted. The steel burrs can be tricky to dial in with some coffees.

The choice of touch point is arbitrary, but I think that the underlying idea is to be able to do normal adjustments for espresso without having to change the macro setting. I also occasionally grind for pourover, and I need to go to 10 macro for some recipes/methods, so I want the touch point closer to 1 to get coarser at 10.

Also, my Vario's adjuster arms are worn so sometimes the micro arm will slip coarser during a grind. If your does that, then I use small paper clip-thingies binder clips to keep the arms from moving:

What I'm interested in is my worst espresso being fantastic - James Hoffmann

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pcrussell50

#8: Post by pcrussell50 »

baldheadracing wrote: Also, my Vario's adjuster arms are worn so sometimes the micro arm will slip coarser during a grind. If your does that, then I use small paper clip-thingies to keep the arms from moving
Interesting... I bought my Vario in summer 2009, so 11 1/2 years and my arms only ever slip IF one of the shims has fallen out or slipped out of position. Have you checked your shims as per the Baratza factory video in the post above? It's easy and quick to do. The shims keep the "clickers" more firmly in detent.

-Peter
LMWDP #553

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baldheadracing
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#9: Post by baldheadracing »

pcrussell50 wrote:Interesting... I bought my Vario in summer 2009, so 11 1/2 years and my arms only ever slip IF one of the shims has fallen out or slipped out of position. Have you checked your shims as per the Baratza factory video in the post above? It's easy and quick to do. The shims keep the "clickers" more firmly in detent
Yup, I've shimmed a few times over the years. My experience has been that the shims worked fine ... until the adjuster started slipping again - which did only happen rarely. However, that was with the ceramic burrs, or for only pourover grinding with the steel burrs.

When I went with the Alicorn w/steel burrs and I started using the Vario for espresso with hard, light-roasted beans, the micro adjuster started slipping. I shimmed (when Baratza refurb'd/installed the Forte chamber, my shims disappeared). A couple weeks later, I noticed that the micro adjuster was again slipping. Shimmed again, etc. The micro adjuster was slipping about every 10 shots. Then I remembered this fix using binder clips that I first saw posted by @fransg if I remember correctly. Now the adjustment levers cannot slip :) .
What I'm interested in is my worst espresso being fantastic - James Hoffmann

pcrussell50

#10: Post by pcrussell50 »

baldheadracing wrote: When I went with the Alicorn w/steel burrs and I started using the Vario for espresso with hard, light-roasted beans, the micro adjuster started slipping. I shimmed (when Baratza refurb'd/installed the Forte chamber, my shims disappeared). A couple weeks later, I noticed that the micro adjuster was again slipping. Shimmed again, etc. The micro adjuster was slipping about every 10 shots. Then I remembered this fix using binder clips that I first saw posted by @fransg if I remember correctly. Now the adjustment levers cannot slip :) .
Great testimonial. Since I sold my Monoliths and have been relying more on my Forte'fied Vario as well, I am going to have to start keeping a tighter watch for slippage.

-Peter
LMWDP #553