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DIY Alignment - what basic equipment do I need?


07SGT5687

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Trying to learn;

 

1. How to do my own alignment work

2. What basic equipment do I need to do it as inexpensively as possible?

 

Seems like the few times I've had it done elsewhere, they always had the car on corner scales... those look spendy from what I can tell. Are they 100% necessary. Just trying to see if it's in the budget (and in my intelligence range) to do this on my own... since I insist on messing with suspension so much!

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the maximum motor sports camber guage works excellent and is budget friendly. as for the toe setting i have a homemade setup i use with good tape measure

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the maximum motor sports camber guage works excellent and is budget friendly. as for the toe setting i have a homemade setup i use with good tape measure

 

 

I use the same thing we used in ASA, ARCA, NASCAR Busch Grand National and Winston Cup...a length of string.

 

I have turnplates to allow me to adjust toe without having to pull the car back/forward every time between stringing it but you don't have to have them.

 

I just looked at a Longacre (or Rebco, same thing, just different logo) Caster/Camber gauge and they're not that expensive. I found a used on on the So. CO QMA site for $65 bucks.

 

 

Phill

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I have turnplates to allow me to adjust toe without having to pull the car back/forward every time between stringing it but you don't have to have them.

 

I just looked at a Longacre (or Rebco, same thing, just different logo) Caster/Camber gauge and they're not that expensive. I found a used on on the So. CO QMA site for $65 bucks.

 

 

Mind shooting me a link to the turnplates you recommend and to that used caster/camber gauge?

 

Thanks, JR

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Also, when it comes to the string method... am I assuming the procedure is something like this?

 

1. Run (2) strings down the side of each car, uniformly distanced from each side of the car (finding a good equal reference point on each side).

2. Center Steering Wheel

3. Measure string-to-front-of-wheel and string-to-back-wheel on each side.

4. Adjust tie rod accordingly to desired R and L toe settings?

 

If so, how to I translate those numbers to degrees toe? I mean, if I get say, 4mm off center as my toe setting, what does that equal as far as degrees? I'm no math whiz, but I guess it could be roughly calculated by the distance (mm presumably) from dead center and the radius of the wheel, in essence giving a pretty close distance of circumference of wheel travel and then converted to degrees... something like that? Or is there a quicker/easier way.... cuz I'd prefer that!

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Toe isn't measured in degrees, it's simply 0 toe for equidistant front/rear, or generally 1/8" or 1/16" toe in for the front being slightly toed in.

 

Toe out has some benefit for autox, but no good for street or high speed.

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Toe isn't measured in degrees, it's simply 0 toe for equidistant front/rear, or generally 1/8" or 1/16" toe in for the front being slightly toed in.

 

Toe out has some benefit for autox, but no good for street or high speed.

 

Since we are on the subject, do you know what linkage and components I need to convert my power steering into a manual setup on my '65? I was thinking DYI in my driveway, then sending it to an alignment shop. While I have it apart, I was also thinking of relocating the A-arm, Shelby style. Can it be done with the engine still bolted in? My car is my DD, but I am not afraid of not having to muscle the steering, I can use the workout! I figured since you put together a vintage car, you might be able to give me some info. Of coarse, if any one else knows as well, by all means please chime in.

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Pretty sure you only need to change the center link and then use a manual steering box. You may want to look at opentrackerracingproducts.com too, he sells rollerized idler arms that make manual steering a lil easier...

 

I did my shelby/arning drop with a bare engine bay, but I really don't see why you couldn't do it with the engine in place, as long as you can get to the bolts it's not a hard modification to do. I did the standard drop, but there are UCA's that allow for more drop if you are so inclined. Not sure how much you know, but it doesn't lower the car, it only changes the camber curve in a GOOD way :)

 

Also consider street or track's strut rods, they make setting caster a lot easier!

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Mounting the UCA 1" lower is the standard, you can drop it further, but performance gains are prob not noticeable on the street, and you need custom UCA's with angled ball joints to keep things from binding.

 

That open tracker racing has templates for drilling holes, as do several other vendors. It's a pretty simple process.

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One more tip: if you are going to be buying UCA's too, and doing the 1" drop, consider global west's "plus 3" arms, they give you 3 degrees of caster by moving the upper ball joint rearwards slightly, and I REALLY wish I had bought them! You only can add so much caster with the strut rods before binding, so having 3 degrees to start would be sweet!

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Mind shooting me a link to the turnplates you recommend and to that used caster/camber gauge?

Thanks, JR

 

I have a set of Tanner turn plates:

 

406-57200.jpg

 

URL: http://www.jegs.com/p/Tanner-Racing-Products/Tanner-Racing-Products-Turn-Plates/1936259/10002/-1

 

At $600 a set, they're not something the typical home/garage mechanic is going to have. I have them left over from our Racing days.

 

I also have a set of Rebco 12" x 12" scales (Longacre shown, SAME product/different name/logo):

441-72582.jpg

 

They are also left over from racing.

 

That's about ALL I have left though.

 

Sure do wish I would'a kept more (seeing the prices now!).

 

 

Phill

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I've not heard/read that rim size matters, but could be wrong.

 

The basics that I see and have tried are:

 

Autox: zero toe or 1/8 to 1/16" toe out

 

street/open track: 1/8 to 1/16" toe in

 

I'm still a newbie though, so take it with a grain of salt :)

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I've not heard/read that rim size matters, but could be wrong.

The basics that I see and have tried are:

Autox: zero toe or 1/8 to 1/16" toe out

street/open track: 1/8 to 1/16" toe in

I'm still a newbie though, so take it with a grain of salt :)

 

Toe is to compensate for the (rolling) resistance the front tires have, to push back on the suspension and get the tires to 0 toe while driving.

 

That's why a typical street car has a slight toe IN, so the tires will be perfectly parallel once underway (the resistance pushes the tires back to take out the slight slack in the tie rod ends, steering knuckles, etc. etc. etc.

 

Therefor, if you have WIDER tires or more grip (lower air pressure, softer rubber, etc.) you would want to run more toe-in than if you have the OEM recommended tires.

 

Skinny tires (drag race style) would require less toe.

 

Rim/tire DIA. isn't relevant. Rim/tire WIDTH is.

 

Having said that, if I correctly recall the GT500 specs for toe are zero (0) degrees. Pretty easy to convert that to inches, since it's ZERO.

 

When I raced on dirt tracks I'd use toe as a tuning tool. You can make a car turn better by setting the toe OUT due to the Ackerman effect. That and you don't worry about tire wear on; A. a race car and; B. on the dirt. On asphalt, toe can be a major wear measurement AND can create poor handling (typically, "twitchy").

 

On a street driven Mustang, I'd be running 0d toe to a MAX of 1/8" toe-in, if that.

 

 

Phill

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Right!

 

Which reminds me that you sorta need to think about deflection as well when setting it up, like on the vintage stang with stock strut rods you will get more flex in the system that MAY need to be compensated for.

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BTW, i assume all these suggestions must be performed on a perfectly level floor no? That's a problem for me too... CO ground moves and my garage floor is not level.

yes you need to be on a level surface for camber readings.

One more tip: if you are going to be buying UCA's too, and doing the 1" drop, consider global west's "plus 3" arms, they give you 3 degrees of caster by moving the upper ball joint rearwards slightly, and I REALLY wish I had bought them! You only can add so much caster with the strut rods before binding, so having 3 degrees to start would be sweet!

65/66 are different than 67-70 because the strut rods are not adjustable for caster on 65/66.But you can buy aftermarket struts for a 65/66 that are adjustable.As far as a 67/70 goes -you can add a 1/8" shim on the UCA in the front to kick back the UCA and gain caster ( it keeps you from hitting the fender lip in front ) As far as early cars go you can use a Pro-Motorsports negative wedge kit to correct the UBJ to prevent it from binding after lowering/relocating . Rim diameter doesn't matter NOR does rim width UNLESS you have altered the offset (from original)which causes a change in scrub radius. Front wheel drive cars use toe-out specs verses rear wheel drive cars commonly call for toe-in . Early Mustangs/Shelbys have negative offset wheels while the new ones run a positive offset . Camber selections are based off of tire compounds and sidewall (aspect ratio) heights. PM me if you need more .
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I've not heard/read that rim size matters, but could be wrong.

Rim/tire DIA. isn't relevant. Rim/tire WIDTH is.

 

While I understand that the actual rim diameter doesn't affect the handling, I have to think that is DOES affect what 1/8" of a toe setting would result in. Simply that if you are selecting the outside front and rear edges of the rim to take measurements, that 1/8" measurement of tow - for example - on an 18" rim (9" radius), will actually be more toe setting that 1/8" tow on a 20" rim (10" radius). Albeit what might be a negligible amount. My math isn't good enough to determine how much of a difference that would result in on the actually toe angle.

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But if the measuring point is on the rim (I assume) , then the tire profile doesn't matter... if the measuring point is 1" forward, the end of that angle of toe is MORE toe. Not sure if I'm articulating myself well... (or know WTH I'm talking about for that matter)... but here's a quick sketch that might articulate better what I'm talking about. It's not to scale so it's exaggerated, but ultimately, 1/8" of toe (from center) measured at the 9"radius versus 1/8" measured at the 10" radius, results in a different actual toe angle. Not?

 

null.jpg

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Picture / drawing is wrong ! Start at the center point of the tire contact patch and draw out from both directions ( it's an X pattern )Toe is measured as a difference in distance from the outside diameter of tire/wheel combo of one side of the axle to the other side on the same axle at the axle centerline with the wheels pointed straight ahead. (ie; draw a chalk line on the center of the tread on both front tires then measure the distance between the 2 in the front side then go to the back side of the tires and measure ) the difference in the 2 distances is "toe" if the distance on the front side is graeter than the backside then you have "toe out" or if you have a greater distance on the back side than the front side you have "toe in" if both distances are equal you have "zero toe" . The angle stays the same because the distance from the center point to the outside diameter in the front is just as far away from the center point as it is on the back .

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Picture / drawing is wrong ! Start at the center point of the tire contact patch and draw out from both directions ( it's an X pattern )Toe is measured as a difference in distance from the outside diameter of tire/wheel combo of one side of the axle to the other side on the same axle at the axle centerline with the wheels pointed straight ahead. (ie; draw a chalk line on the center of the tread on both front tires then measure the distance between the 2 in the front side then go to the back side of the tires and measure ) the difference in the 2 distances is "toe" if the distance on the front side is graeter than the backside then you have "toe out" or if you have a greater distance on the back side than the front side you have "toe in" if both distances are equal you have "zero toe" . The angle stays the same because the distance from the center point to the outside diameter in the front is just as far away from the center point as it is on the back .

 

 

 

Ok, that was admittedly a bad representation... I DO get what zero toe, toe in and toe out are... my fundamental disconnect right now is how to physically measure it. All things being said, it seems simplest to set your car to ZERO Toe first and then adjust from there... or at least that seems like a valid exercise for someone in my learning position.

 

So if I determine with the string method that my car, with a perfectly straight steering wheel, is at absolute Zero Toe, to create 1/8" toe out...

 

a} I adjust the tie rods on both front wheels OUT, so that the front outside edge of the rim being 1/8" out from ZERO toe, thus making the rear outside edge of the rim 1/8" in from ZERO toe? Essentially providing for a difference from front to back of 1/4"?

 

OR

 

b} I adjust the tie rods on both front wheels OUT, so that the front outside edge of the rim being 1/16" out from ZERO toe, thus making the rear outside edge of the rim 1/16" in from ZERO toe? Essentially providing for a difference from front to back of 1/8"?

 

OR

 

c) something else, that I'm completely not grasping...

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Picture / drawing is wrong ! Start at the center point of the tire contact patch and draw out from both directions

 

 

Yep, you beat me to the punch.

 

Technically, you use the CENTER line of the tire, not the OS or IS edge.

 

All of the LASER alignment machines I've used shoot a line off of the center/spindle so tire diameter won't change toe measurements.

 

 

Phill

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Even using the centerline, overall diameter does technically have an affect on the toe measurement... 1/8" in on a 25" tire is more degrees toe than the same measurement on a 28" tire. I think it's splitting hairs though as it's not enough to really matter IMO.

 

One thing I like about toe plates is that it's a consistent measurement point.

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