Wheel Alignment Tools - FFCars.com : Factory Five Racing Discussion Forum

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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-20-2017, 05:59 PM Thread Starter
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Wheel Alignment Tools

I've been reading up on front end wheel alignment and all the various combinations for all the types of driving that the cars are used. I have these numbers I got elsewhere on this forum for a street rod type driving with PS and PB (.5* neg. Camber...7*to 8* pos. castor...3/32" toe in) and I have no issue with it. However my question is, where do you get this done? I haven't found much regarding how or by who, you are getting this done. Are you are doing it yourself? If so, what tools are you using? Are you simply going to front end or tire shop and let them do it? I'm not above doing this myself However there are a load of different brands and ways to do this. Some look to be a bit difficult or at least confusing to me how to go about it or is it simpler to let someone else do this task.

Buck

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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-20-2017, 06:53 PM
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I prefer to do it myself. But I have all the tools, and quite a bit of practice. If you're building a street car, You really only need to get this done once every few years. I wouldn't be afraid to find a local alignment shop and get it done once and forget it.

If you're going to be racing, then you'll want to do frequent alignments, and alignment spec checks. In that case, it's better to do it yourself. You'll save time and money in the long run.

If you have IRS, it can be a long and expensive process getting it done in a shop. I'd do that myself.

If you buy your own tools, the Fastrax is popular because it's relatively inexpensive, easy to use, accurate, and repeatable. There's lots of threads on this and the other board to give you specific instructions.

Also, be sure to check bump steer while you're at it.


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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-20-2017, 08:48 PM
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I also use a Fastrax. Easy to do, but takes a little time.
You can use toe plates (I think $75 will get you a set) or the string method. String, jack stands and a ruler are cheap. I also like to square up to the frame and get my steering wheel centered. Centering the wheel is easy if you have splines, and a PITA with a pyramid connector.

I have a 3-link, so easy peasy. I helped with an old style IRS, not so easy. All doable at home though. You built a car! You can do it!

The only thing you are getting at a professional shop is that there machine is faster. Unless you find a shop that sets up race cars, they are going to give you "close enough". I'll bet you will be more careful with your own car. When they do a production car there is a range. Machine shows green......done.

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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-20-2017, 09:11 PM
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I bought the tools to do it myself. Glad I did. I got the car somewhat done and it was aligned by a shop. Well after buying the tools and checking things out it was not even close. I spent a good 10 hours with the front and IRS rear getting it all set up correctly. The track width was even off. If you built it you can certainly do the alignment.

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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-20-2017, 09:26 PM Thread Starter
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I guess I should add that I have an 8.8 4 link and I bought the car last year. However, I noticed a ball joint had backed all the way out and it scared the crap outa me. I got it back in but have decided to replace with QA1 ball joints and new Energy Suspension boots. I know the eye can be tricked but after getting the ball joint back in I swear both front wheels are Toe out. So I was thinking of maybe buying the tools. The car runs great and still handles good but after installing the new Ball joints I wanted to check everything. If the alignment is all over the place I'll probably run it into a shop. I have been looking at the Longacre tools but will check out the Fastrax.

Buck
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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-20-2017, 09:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Cowan View Post
Also, be sure to check bump steer while you're at it.
Hi Bob. How do you check bump steer?

Thanks.

Wade

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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-20-2017, 09:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Buck8one2 View Post
I've been reading up on front end wheel alignment and all the various combinations for all the types of driving that the cars are used. I have these numbers I got elsewhere on this forum for a street rod type driving with PS and PB (.5* neg. Camber...7*to 8* pos. castor...3/32" toe in) and I have no issue with it. However my question is, where do you get this done? I haven't found much regarding how or by who, you are getting this done. Are you are doing it yourself? If so, what tools are you using? Are you simply going to front end or tire shop and let them do it? I'm not above doing this myself However there are a load of different brands and ways to do this. Some look to be a bit difficult or at least confusing to me how to go about it or is it simpler to let someone else do this task.

Buck
I have bought the Fastraxx to do my alignment in the spring, so no experience yet. I take my 2008 Corvette to the local Ford dealership because the alignment guy there will align the car to the specs that I give him. He gives me a printout of what the alignment numbers are before he does the alignment and then a printout after he has done the alignment. He lets me come in the shop and shows me what he is doing. And the great think is they charge me for a regular alignment ($79). So, if you can find a shop that will align to your specs, that may be an option.

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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-21-2017, 05:11 AM
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But steer is a change in toe as the tire moves up and down through it's range. You can buy a lot of tools that you can use to measure it with. But I'm kinda cheap, so I made my own.

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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-21-2017, 12:10 PM
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Bob's solution is the best but it's expensive. This is a $35 version.
Bump steer.
For the rest i go to Longacre;
Longacre Caster Camber Gauge 78273
My attachment;


Longacre Toe Bar 79622
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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-22-2017, 01:59 PM
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I totally agree. If you build your own car, you can do your own alignment. I used a Joe's Racing Equipment bubble gauge for caster and camber. Worked great. For toe, I initially tried the string procedure, but the car was all over the road...SCARY! From my snowmobile days, I would use some long(5ft.) pieces of channel secured to the skis to accurately set the toe. For my car, I clamped a 2"x3" x 5' length of aluminum channel to each wheel. Upon taking a measurement, it was toed in 3/4" (no wonder it was all over the place). I set my toe at 1/16",went for a drive and it was perfect! Look ma, no hands, even when braking! Initial turn in is slightly apparent but not at all aggressive. After 1000 kms, tread wear is nice and uniform with no scalloping. My ride is now a blast to drive.
Good luck on your adventure.

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post #11 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-25-2017, 03:30 AM Thread Starter
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Update. After a few days obsessing over alignment tools, I finally settled on the Tenhulzen tools and placed the order today. They say they can do toe, caster, and camber, all in a set of flat plates. Time to wait.
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post #12 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-25-2017, 11:36 AM
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Please keep us posted on how you like them.

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post #13 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-25-2017, 12:39 PM
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Please keep us posted on how you like them.
Indeed; please post a follow up review. Thanks,


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post #14 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-25-2017, 04:25 PM Thread Starter
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Indeed; please post a follow up review. Thanks,


John
Will do!
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post #15 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-26-2017, 12:27 AM
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No, everyday alignment shops cant really tune our suspensions properly. I still believe this is the best way to go if you aren't racing and changing settings. I spent $125 for the job, the tech asked what settings I wanted and he dialed them in.

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I had mine done on one 2 yrs ago and I wasn't as consistent as I thought my job with FasTrax was.

I just finished my upgrade to Gordon's control arms and I got it road worthy with a friends bubble gauge. I seem to consistently read -1 3/4 camber and +7 caster and trying for -1 1/16 toe in. I will be taking my car to the shop with the Hunter machine, on a warm day, and will report back.

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post #16 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-06-2017, 07:11 PM Thread Starter
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Alignment tools (Tenhulzen Update)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Buck8one2 View Post
Update. After a few days obsessing over alignment tools, I finally settled on the Tenhulzen tools and placed the order today. They say they can do toe, caster, and camber, all in a set of flat plates. Time to wait.
Okay, I ordered directly from Tenhulzen and they arrived a few days later on Friday. Two things I need to mention first, the plates appear to be water cut then sanded to give a brushed look which left a very fine burr on all edges. Anal as I am, I had to smooth of all the edges to remove the burr, secondly, these plates along with the standoffs are not going to take much of a beating so they need to be handled more like an instrument then a garage tool. Other then that the plates are well thought out and nicely made. There are adjustable standoffs for locating dependent on wheel size and not the tire. The included tape measurers are easy to read and have 32nd marks the full 12 feet. The digital readout angle bit has magnets to hold it in place. Measuring Toe and Camber are straight forward, however Castor is a bit over my head and only made sense after a bit of bumbling through the process BUT it does work if the directions at followed. I still can't explain why it works but the best I can say is that you measure the difference between camber angles with the wheel turned in and then out times 2 and result is the Castor angle. Simple design and measures all three major alignment measurements in one simple set of tools. Oh and to make the wheels turn easily I used one gallon Ziploc Freezer bags with a bit of grease inside, one for each wheel, worked like a charm.
The link below has videos and written directions on how this works and does a much better job too.

WWW.alignmentinstructions.com

Now if it would only make the adjustments for me, I'd say this is the best tool ever.

Buck
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post #17 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-06-2017, 10:28 PM
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Caster can be calculated by measuring the change in camber, when the wheel is turned by the same amount (usually 20 degrees) in both directions. 3 dimensional geometry is used to come up with the formula. If 20 degrees is used, 1.43 is multiplied by the total change in camber, to get the caster. Multiplying by 2 means that the wheels are only turned 14.3 degrees.

http://www.disco3.co.uk/gallery/albu...ent%5B1%5D.pdf

After viewing the caster video, all I can say is that it can't be very accurate to eyeball the start and finish angles, instead of using a grease plate. If the angle is not measured accurately, then the caster will not be accurate either.

I did the same thing with a piece of aluminum angle cut to the same length as the rim diameter, with my $40 digital level taped to it.

I made grease plates from pieces of particle board and some clear plexiglass from home depot. The boards are marked with accurate 20 degree lines, from two corners along the same edge. The edge of the board is positioned parallel to the edge of the plexiglass to start and the wheel turned until the edge of the plexiglass is parallel to the 20 degree line. The angle error should not exceed 1 degree, if done carefully. If in doubt, repeat 2-3 limes to be sure you get the same result.


Last edited by daveS53; 02-07-2017 at 01:30 PM.
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post #18 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-08-2017, 03:42 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by daveS53 View Post

The edge of the board is positioned parallel to the edge of the plexiglass to start and the wheel turned until the edge of the plexiglass is parallel to the 20 degree line. The angle error should not exceed 1 degree, if done carefully. If in doubt, repeat 2-3 limes to be sure you get the same result.

Dave

I'm not trying to troll for an argument here, but I do not understand how the Tenhulzen method is any less accurate then your grease plate method. You are aligning (eyeball) to the straight edge then aligning (eyeball) to the 20* lines, whereas the Tenhulzen aligns (eyeball) thru an accurate CNC cut slot. I do agree that several readings should be done to assure repeatable results.
Please excuse me if I have stuck my foot in my backend, it is only because I am very new to the alignment procedures.

Buck
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post #19 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-08-2017, 05:08 PM
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I bring my car to my Son-in-Law's shop, and give him the specs I want!

I base the set-up on the car the spindles came from, and then input the desired targets on the machine.

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post #20 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-08-2017, 05:26 PM Thread Starter
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Chepsk8, You are lucky to have him and his equipment available. I'm up here in the N GA mountains and no one I trust to do this, but I have no problem learning to do things as I need to. Retired, plenty of time and enough money to pay for new toys. Astronomy is another money pit I enjoy.

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post #21 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-08-2017, 05:28 PM
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The inaccuracy in the Tenhulzen method comes from the distance that the two lines are apart and whatever you've laid on the floor is not likely to present a really sharp line. Looking down through a slot invites a large amount of angularity error.

With the grease plate method you are NOT eyeballing the angle. Use a precision machinist's rule and carefully measure the distance between the edge of the plexiglass and the drawn line, at both ends. When the edge of the plexiglass is the same distance from the line at both ends, you have an accurate 20 degree angle. Use the .01 inch decimal graduations on the rule, not the fractional graduations. I got repeatability within the + or - .1 degree accuracy of my digital level, but still took three readings for each wheel.

Last edited by daveS53; 02-08-2017 at 05:34 PM.
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post #22 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-08-2017, 07:02 PM Thread Starter
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Dave

I see your point, thanks for the explanation. My results have been repeatable so I'm sticking with it for now.

Buck
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post #23 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-09-2017, 03:54 AM Thread Starter
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Update to the Tenhulzen alignment tools. I've been taking my time to learn the Tenhulzen tools and have to say they work and I have been able to get accurate and repeatable readings. I finished alignment today and have .5 Neg camber both sides, 3.1* Pos castor driver side and 3.3* Pos. P. side, and 1/8" total toe in. I was very happy with the results.
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post #24 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-09-2017, 12:28 PM
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I used to worry about getting the angle exact but I am no longer concerned. I have found that, as you guess at how much to make the next adjustment, and then measure and re-measure, you do so many caster sweeps that any inaccuracies are taken care of just because of the number of repeats.. Also the readings change slightly if you have not been tightening the jam nuts and then do tighten them. So I always do a couple of extra sweeps at the end.

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post #25 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-09-2017, 02:37 PM Thread Starter
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I agree with you Craig, everything works out in the averages. Over the course of 5 days I've done about 10-12 Castor sweeps and you get pretty good at aligning the edge inside of the slot. I also painted a white line down the edge of the plate that you put on the ground. Gray aluminum against gray concrete was tough and after painting a white line it was much easier.

Buck
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post #26 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-09-2017, 04:54 PM
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Here is mine, laser level (with angle gage) and homemade wheel contacts. Calibrated to a tolerance and consistency of 1/16" at 30', good enough for toe. The digital angle gage reads to 0.1 degree and appears to be accurate/repeatable to 0.2 degrees, good enough for camber.



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