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Who else does their own alignment?

Grant 302

basic and well known psychic
I can't see paying for adjustments that I can do on my own. Many alignment shops aren't comfortable doing custom specs...and I wouldn't trust them to get results down to 1/64" or better. Mechanically, the adjustments are easy. The only tools needed are 7/8" and 13mm open ends and a pair of pliers for the boot clamp. I don't even lift the car since I can reach everything.

For toe, I stopped using the strings on jackstands method and just use 2x4s, a level, tape measure and a laser pointer. Strings take longer to setup between adjustments, and getting results better than 1/16" is tedious. I've considered getting toe plates, but I think most do not avoid the lower tire bulge.

For camber, I used to use the level and tape measure. Now I use a digital angle finder that measures to .1 degree...because I'm lazy and it's good enough for me!

http://www.harborfreight.com/16-inch-digital-angle-level-65451.html

Anybody else do their own?
 
Grant 302 said:
I can't see paying for adjustments that I can do on my own. Many alignment shops aren't comfortable doing custom specs...and I wouldn't trust them to get results down to 1/64" or better.
Tell me about it. I went to a couple of shops and they wouldn't do a custom alignment. I had a FR/SVT/Roush Ford dealer do mine and they charged me $180! :eek: I've since found a shop that will do a custom alignment for $60 but if it's easy to do I'm willing to learn.
 
Firestone tire dealer near my house has a lifetime alignment deal, it is like $150 last I checked but always on sale for $120. They had one decent tech, the rest were monkeys. They will do anything from basic alignment to full adjustable suspension alignment for the same price, and they will do it as often as you want with no charge once you have paid for the lifetime one. On my Evo, I had then do the alignment before and after every track day since I ran more camber on the track and some toe. YMMV but my experience with it has been great.

However, I have been meaning to learn how to do it, one of the NASA instructors said he would teach me but he has been busy the last couple events.
 
This may sound stupid, but I never even considered doing this myself. I would be interested in a how-to for anyone enterprising enough. I'm sure there are some online already, which I'll search for some time.
 
I did my Caster and Camber using the Max Motorsports gauge -- it was pretty easy:

http://www.maximummotorsports.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=192

However the 16" Digital angle looks like a lower cost solution. About to start on Toe -- off to do some research on the most effective approach.
 

Grant 302

basic and well known psychic
Black KR said:
I did my Caster and Camber using the Max Motorsports gauge -- it was pretty easy:

http://www.maximummotorsports.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=192

However the 16" Digital angle looks like a lower cost solution. About to start on Toe -- off to do some research on the most effective approach.

I thought about getting that once, but at $60, I can get the same accuracy with a level and tape or digital calipers.

I'll take some pictures next time I make an adjustment or measurement. I don't think I could describe what I do for toe without pictures.

The string/fishingline methods are pretty common online if you search. And the one laser pointer how-to I found is nothing like what I'm doing.
 

Sesshomurai

I think the general issue is not making the mechanical adjustments but rather measuring everything precisely which requires a special machine for accuracy.
Unless there's a homebrew way to get fractional degree accuracies.

Me personally, I can't even use a tape measure without a 1/4" margin of error. lol
 

Grant 302

basic and well known psychic
darreng505 said:
I think the general issue is not making the mechanical adjustments but rather measuring everything precisely which requires a special machine for accuracy.
Unless there's a homebrew way to get fractional degree accuracies.

Me personally, I can't even use a tape measure without a 1/4" margin of error. lol

;D Might not be able to help at 1/4" tape reading error...but if you can get to 1/8" on a tape or level, then I'd say my method would get you to about a 1/16" or 1/32" accuracy for toe.

ArizonaGT said:
Grant 302 said:
And the one laser pointer how-to I found is nothing like what I'm doing.

So how's about you do a write-up and set us all straight?

Once I can get to taking some pictures of the process. It's easy, but I'm not smart enough to explain clearly without pictures. I'm sure I'll miss something if I don't walk through and actually do everything.
 

Grant 302

basic and well known psychic
DIY - DRAFT

Okay...here it goes...this is a draft...so let me know if there's anything confusing or wrong or if you have questions...

DIY Toe Measurement

Tools required:
Laser pointer
Tape measure
Level
2x4 material, one piece should be around 2'
Blue tape (or marker)

Center steering wheel and roll car forward at least two feet to pre-load the front suspension. (I didn't really center the wheel when I pulled in today)

Measure front track width - outer tire edge at 5" or 7" high at front and rear.

Choosing 5" or 7" depends on the sidewall height and aspect ratio. You might need to choose a taller height if you are doing a truck. These heights are arbitrary and I use them because they fit the 2x4 nominal dimensions. For 5" high I use one 2x4 laid flat on the ground and the other on the short edge (1.5" + 3.5"). For 7" I stack the two on top of each other on the narrow edge (3.5" + 3.5"). Mark or tape above the top of the board edge where it touches the sidewall. Leave these marks in place, and make the same marks on the other side of the car.

Marking for 5" high measurements:
8165471953_8a0b65c191.jpg

Measure the distance between the front and rear sets of marks. I use a level to set the 0 end of the tape and then read the other side with the level.

Setting the 0 end of the tape:
8165471927_3d96a5e836.jpg

Taking the front axle outer track measurement:
8165508190_79bfed9e54.jpg

I got 72 3/4" rear and 72 11/16" front, so I would expect my total toe to end up between 0" and 1/8" in. (1/16" over 15" marks would be less than 1/8" for the 27.2" tire)

This tape measurement isn't very precise and doesn't need to be, but the difference should give a rough idea of your total toe. Try to make these measurements good to 1/16", and your results should be better than +/- 1/64". Average the two and use it as your front axle outer track width. For this example, that's 72 23/32"

Measure rear outer track width - outer tire edge at 5" or 7" high (use the same height as you did for the front axle). Again, I use a level to set the 0 end of the tape and then read the other side with the level.

Setting the 0 end of the tape:
8165509836_e3126572cd.jpg

Taking the rear axle outer track measurement:
8165510632_9c93a166b8.jpg

I got 73 5/8"

Take the difference between the front and rear track width and divide by 2. This is the offset of the 0 toe laser target.

(73 5/8" - 72 23/32")/2 = 29/64"

If your front track is narrower, then set the laser target in front of the tire and put the 0 mark inboard of the outer tire edge by this offset. Do the opposite if your outer front track is wider than the rear.

Measure and record the distance between the target and the center of the front axle. I got 101" Divide this by your tire diameter. On our mustangs, this should be about 4. I got 3.71. This is the multiplier for your target readings. So 1/16" toe will read as a bit under 1/4" from '0' on your target.

I'm using a tape as my target, using 3" as my 0 mark, offset 29/64" inboard of the tire face aligned by the red level behind the tape:
8165479287_e3a8d85316.jpg

Tape your laser pointer to the edge of a 2x4 and stack it at the height of your tire measurements. Turn it on and point it toward the target and adjust/slide it left to right until the beam is touching the front tire's front and rear marks and hitting the target at the rear tire.

8165480101_55a2c0c64e.jpg
8165818627_8d49653693.jpg
8165898982_c1fe13fd59.jpg

Reading 11/16" outboard... divided by 3.71 is 0.185"...or about 3/16" toe in for the passenger side:
8165847136_182235eacd.jpg

Record and repeat for the other side of the car.

Reading 9/16" inboard ... divided by 3.71 is 0.151" ... or just less than 5/32" toe out for the driver side:
8165865453_1248e20393.jpg

Total toe measurement 3/16" + -5/32" = 1/32" toe in.

I wanted to confirm that the steering wheel was just cocked. Also wanted to time what a remeasure would take.

Rolled the car back and forth 2 feet and centered the steering.

Set everything up again and without needing to take track width measurements again:
8167722991_406bf39249.jpg

Passenger side reading +1/8" on the tape or about 1/64" toe in:
8167758610_a56aed8304.jpg

Driver side reading +3/32" on the tape or <1/64" toe in:
8167741853_9858150d36.jpg

This confirms the previous measurement of 1/32" total toe with a total of about 3/128". Now I wouldn't start saying that I can get results down to 1/128"...but someone with a better/tighter laser pointer could probably do it. Total remeasure time was about 8 minutes including rolling the car back and forth. I'm never going back to the strings...or paying for another alignment again.




Making Toe Adjustments

Tools required:
7/8" open end or crescent
13mm open end or crescent
channel locks or pliers

I've found that I can do this with the car on the ground, but lift the front end if you aren't familiar with these parts.

Remove the clamp from the steering rack boot and slide it off the rubber and leave it over the tie rod.

Loosen the 7/8" lock nut. The ball joint will rotate a little before the nut loosens. If you are shortening the tie rod length, the ball joint will rotate again before the tie rod moves. Only the rotation relative to the ball joint matters. 1 flat (1/6 turn) makes about 1/16" toe adjustment. I've made adjustments as small as 1/2 a flat. Tighten the lock nut and replace the clamp on the rubber boot.

Based on the second set of measurements above, if I wanted total toe to be zero I would bump the passenger side tie rod 1/2 flat (or 1/12 turn) out. I would bump the driver side just under a half flat. Less than 1/32" total toe is close enough for me and I'm just going to leave it.

After your adjustments are made, drive the car around and repeat the measurement.
 

Grant 302

basic and well known psychic
Highpower11 said:
Thanks Grant 302 for the detailed write up! I think this is doable and I will tackle this over the winter.

askjeffro said:
It will be a while before I can play with this, but thank you for the write up!

I'm glad someone is willing to try it! Definitely let me know if you guys have any questions about what I wrote.
 
Really great write up!

Measured mine using this method today and it worked really well. I used the same approach but wanted to measure about half way up the wheel, so I bolted together 4 pieces of aluminum angle. I also used blue tape on the floor to mark the vertical using a level as Grant described:

IMG_17_zpsed8529b6.jpg

Then I used a short piece of the angle supported by two axle stands for the laser pointer -- used a clamp to secure the pointer and depress the laser button -- the second clamp is just for balance to stop the angle twisting:

IMG_18_zps3d9cf544.jpg

Rest of the process was the same as above. Line up the laser across the middle of the wheel (in my case):

IMG_19_zpscac9c00f.jpg

Then finally I used the angle on the rear wheel to measure toe in:

IMG_20_zps23a97894.jpg

You can see the blue laser dot.

I measured the LS Track difference as 1 3/4" with Stock Wheels and Tires, and my laser target was 1 1/2", so with a difference of 1/4" I had 1/16" of Toe in.
 
Wow, it's really great to see what people have devised here. I'll have to decide if this is better than what I use. Really old school, but I've just used a set of strings for years and years on multiple cars, including track cars. It's cheap, just two pieces of 1/2 electrical conduit, 4 jackstands and some thin gauge string. Sounds too easy to work, but the key is to make sure it is close to parallel and you're in calm air. I have to admit it takes some fusing to set up and I've tripped over it more than once, but it's good for measurements within 1/2 mm or .020", measuring on the wheel rim (I use a mickey meters measured tape). I use a Smartcamber to check camber. It always hurts me to see some guy in a nice street rod or customer driving down the road dog tracking and he doesn't even realize this is something you an get right in the garage as a DIY. Benefit of this method is you can align front and rear. Not an issue with Boss and the solid axle which is assumed to be in the right place, you can align only the front. However, I have other cars with IRS, so I can get all 4 wheels pointed where I want them. Once you learn how much to turn on the tie rods (I count the flats on the jam nuts) you can adjust toe at the track after you set camber without measuring.

Has anyone done a post about weight balancing their car?
 
My Boss has only had one very short track adventure so I have left it bone stock. But I am an advid road racer, restorer, mechanic of vintage race cars. My hobby is bringing old race cars back from the dead. For all of you that are getting sucked in to how much fun it is to understand, improve, or maintain a hot rod or track car I have starter advice. Frist pursue your curiosity and do not try to absorb all advice or publications completelyin one sitting. It comes in stages. I do not feel a new project succesfull unless I have learned something new doing it. Buy the two primer BIBLES OF CARS. Carroll Smiths's Prepare to win and Nuts Bolts and Fasteners. They are very old publications but rock solid even today. Pegusus Racing and any good online book store have them. Do not get bogged down trying to learn every thing read the area's you are interested in when you are ready go back and learn more. Alignment is well covered in chapter ten of Prepared to Win, again do not try to absorb it all just the basics that you understand in the first pass. as you tinker and learn you can read it again . Knowlege leads to more questions.
I would love to help a track addict like me to learn how to do it on the cheap and well.
Bruce [email protected] Buy the first book first and read chapter ten
 
I do my own on my M3 race car, the adjustments are easy to get to and it's easy to adjust everything.

I prefer toe plates, way easier that method described above and at $75 for the plates and 2 tape measures you can measure very easily. I find the biggest pain when doing toe is which way to turn the flats, it took me awhile to figure that one out.

I also do the string method to get the car laid out before the adjustments, this is the worst part and always takes 2 people, major PITA. I wish there was an easier way....

So what are all alignment specs for the Boss??
 

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