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rws
11-01-2013, 07:23 PM
Or do you have to go and pay for the expensive machine they bought?

aostling
11-01-2013, 07:31 PM
Cars haven't needed aligning for years. That expensive machine was depreciated to zero long ago.

sasquatch
11-01-2013, 07:33 PM
Yes,, go and pay to get it aligned. Front end alignment here runs around $80.00.
Well worth getting done ,, on that expensive machine you mention.
Can't imagine anyone trying to do their own alignment, except maybe setting toe-in, but even that is a dice toss, unless you have an old antique car.

JRouche
11-01-2013, 07:51 PM
Or do you have to go and pay for the expensive machine they bought?

Yup. You can align your front end. As long as you have the correct inexpensive tools. I made some tools just for the purpose. Here it is.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v366/Jrouche/Steves%20Nova/Suspension%20alignment%20tool/h.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/user/Jrouche/media/Steves%20Nova/Suspension%20alignment%20tool/h.jpg.html)

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v366/Jrouche/Steves%20Nova/Suspension%20alignment%20tool/k.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/user/Jrouche/media/Steves%20Nova/Suspension%20alignment%20tool/k.jpg.html)



Instead of taking up the bandwidth here Ill post a link to a forum I write on that shows the entire build. JR
http://www.stevesnovasite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=1372973#post1372973

chipmaker4130
11-01-2013, 07:58 PM
I suspect Allan is joking, but then my newest vehicle is 1999 so maybe he's not! You can get things sort of 'straight' with a tape measure and vertical level or plumb bob, which would let you drive for a short time without serious handling issues. Problem is, few, if any vehicles are designed to be set up 'straight'. I always thought the 4-wheel alignment thing was a gimmick until I had the back end knocked out of alignment on a little Dodge Stratus and one rear tire wore rapidly in an odd fashion. When I got to looking closer I could actually tell (calibrated eyeball) that wheel was not in line with everything else.

I'd pay the money.

aostling
11-01-2013, 08:18 PM
I suspect Allan is joking ...

Sort of, but I was mainly generalizing from my experience with my last two cars. My 2004 Forester has been on some hard roads, traversed numerous dry washes and scraped off two plastic engine under-guards, but at 197,000 miles the steering is still neutral with no hint of vagueness.

I'd forgotten about alignment shops.

Doozer
11-01-2013, 08:25 PM
Ok, here is the deal...
99% of all alignment places will center the steering wheel,
set the toe, check the camber, and that's it.
They give you this dot matrix printout of the results before
and after their alignment. It always shows toe, camber, and
caster. The morons never turn the wheel and actually measure
the caster, bit there it is on the printout. Yes they think I am
stupid, and most people are. They don't even know what the
swivel plates are for.
Best to learn this stuff for yourself and never be bullshltted again.
The best book I have on the subject is Audel's automotive book
published in 1938. It covers toe, caster, camber, king pin inclination,
anti-dive angle, ackerman angle, bump steer, scrub radius, and a few
others. I have other race car oriented books that go even further.
Knowing about this stuff, you can even spot where the factory
steering linkage has had design compromises to cut costs, even though
it won't steer the car quite right. Many examples of this bad design,
especially in the 70s and 80s, and many lower priced vehicles today.
So if you posses the effort, educate yourself on front end knowledge.
You will realize how good you can make your own alignment with only
a shower curtain rod, an angle finder protractor, and some knowledge.

--Doozer

Luke55
11-01-2013, 08:26 PM
Oh yes we start our new equipment yesterday. $45,000 john bean15000pds scissor lift, automatised computer 3d camera.10 year old boss kid run it.

darryl
11-01-2013, 08:45 PM
I do my own alignments. I use a couple straight 2x4s and a tape measure- and my brain. I've paid for alignments a couple times, and both times the vehicle had a tendency to wander after the alignment. When I'm done, the vehicle handles properly without requiring constant steering correction. If I've just had new tires installed, I pay attention to those little nibs around the OD- if you read those properly you can see if you're using the right air pressure and if there's going to be an abnormal wear problem- related to alignment.

jlevie
11-01-2013, 09:01 PM
This really depends on the vehicle. Those vehicles that only require setting front toe and caster can, with the right equipment, be aligned as a DIY. But other vehicles that have adjustments for the rear wheels need to be placed on an alignment rack. And even in the case of only front wheel adjustments putting the car on an alignment rack makes sense. Damage to the rear suspension, which a rack will reveal, can masquerade as front alignment problems.

I have a race car built from a 1988 BMW 325is that only provides in the stock configuration front adjustments. I always do a a four wheel alignment using strings held in a jig that clamps to the car to pick up errors anywhere.

vpt
11-01-2013, 09:16 PM
I take my vehicles to a buddies shop where I can align them.

Machine is the only way to go if you put any miles on the vehicle. Even if you don't notice, tire wear, handling, and over all control befits from it.

flutedchamber
11-01-2013, 09:16 PM
Let's see. $800, plus tax, mounting and balancing for a set of tires. I'll spend the extra $80 for alignment. I do all my own auto repairs, EXCEPT for tires and alignment.

boslab
11-01-2013, 09:20 PM
Of course you can do alignment yourself, you don't need all that expensive gear, it just makes it easier, no other reason for it, have a look on youtube, its not difficult just time consuming, hence the bells and whistles to speed it up, bet you have an engineers level, thats a magnitude more accurate than the ones on the all singing garage set up!
Anyway its fun, we wouldn't do half the **** we get up to in the shop if it wasn't, want a bolt make one want alignment, get the wd40 out give the bolts a good ol soak and go for it.
Btw a flat floor thats approximately level is required!
Mark

kf2qd
11-01-2013, 09:34 PM
I had a Dodge van that I converted from front drum brakes to Disk Brakes. Had to replace all the front end bushings anyway... The alignment shop made 1 small adjustment. I had the entire front suspension off 2 vehicles and put it back together in my driveway. Pay attention to details and it is really rather easy. My Ford truck was even easier...

darryl
11-01-2013, 09:47 PM
The Land Cruiser was easy- my '73 van not so easy. I had to use a crowbar on that one. Bottomed out harshly a few times and bent a few things :(

winchman
11-02-2013, 12:42 AM
I'd like to see someone do a test on one of those new alignment machines that use the cameras to see how repeatable the results are. The test would be to put the car on the rack, install the thingies on the wheels, take the readings, remove the thingies, remove the car from the rack, then repeat the process, and compare the readings.

It may be accurate as all getout, but if it's not repeatable, it's no good.

ahidley
11-02-2013, 01:29 AM
Sure ya can. How do you think the race car guys do it after a pratice session? They dont go back to their shop 5 states away? No they do it on a flat surface. Longacre is a company that sells stuff just for that. The below link is for a tool that will let you set caster, camber, toe on any front wheel. The only things are that you also need are turnplates. Harbor freight use to sell them really cheap. without turnplates everything will bind up and you'll get skewed readings. But in a pinch you could put a cookie sheet under the front tires and grease them up.
http://www.longacreracing.com/
http://www.longacreracing.com/catalog/catlist.asp?catid=5

Info.... when looking up alignment specs aLWAYS shoot for PREFERED . Prefered is not neccessarly half way between min and max.

kendall
11-02-2013, 02:29 AM
I'm with about half of the responses!
I've been doing alignments myself for the last 20 years, they are very easy to do. As mentioned above, do a search and a lot of results will show up.

One trick for alignments, whether you do them yourself, or pay, is to have the vehicle loaded with your normal load. Especially on smaller vehicles, if your normal load is 3-400 pounds and you align it empty, as soon as it's loaded the alignment changes. 3-400 pounds is only a couple of people, and if you spend a few minutes in a parking lot watching, you can see how much cars 'lean' when the driver jumps in.

rws
11-02-2013, 06:39 AM
My truck is a fairly simple Chevy '02 2wd, so there are no adjustments on the solid rear axle. I'll do some searches for this. Thanks.

beanbag
11-02-2013, 06:45 AM
I attach laser pointers to my wheels to get a very accurate toe alignment. I can't really adjust camber and caster on my car anyway.

Peter S
11-02-2013, 08:21 AM
When I get four new tyres, alignment is free. Proper job, aligns all four wheels

CarlByrns
11-02-2013, 09:26 AM
As a guy who used to get paid to do alignments, the short answer is no, you cannot align a modern car in your driveway. An alignment machine will reveal any hidden chassis damage or worn suspension parts. Strings, tape measures, wood sticks, and a less-than-level surface will not (and really, for what a set of tires cost, why would you trust such crude adjustment methods?). Also, all adjustments have to be made while the suspension is loaded- and there is no access to adjustment points with the car flat on the ground.
Pay the money- some cars with active handling controls or all-wheel drive depend on the tires being aligned.

A.K. Boomer
11-02-2013, 09:53 AM
I don't think Iv ever paid for an alignment - For toe in/out adj. I just look up the track in the owners manual and if it's the same front to rear then I eye-ball the front tires sidewalls to match the rear - if the rear is smaller track as is with many a front wheel drive car then I stick the right size styrofoam blocks onto the rear sidewalls and again eyeball the toe in/toe out and dial it in,
I generally toss in a frog hair of tow in to keep the vehicle stable...

I do all this with the steering wheel deadnuts straight and make the needed adjustments...

as far as camber I generally never have to mess with it - just look at the way the tires are wearing and call it good --- my honda has some pretty radical negative camber right from the factory and all tires are wearing identical - they are oversize hides and wheels width wise and the negative camber really shows on a wider tire...
I could get quite a few more miles out of them if I took some of it out and even increase the fuel efficiency slightly but then my car would not handle like it was glued to the road, im addicted...

I would never do this kind of adjustment on a customers car - As a shop I don't do alignments as im not set up for it - but on my own vehicle I do whatever the hell I want...

still I have many of my customers ask me questions to do with alignments and the most common is this;

"How come my car pulls to one side" when im trying to go straight? do I need an alignment?"

I then ask them - "is it pulling to the right and your having to correct and steer to the left"

then they usually say "why yes how did you know" then I answer "try driving on the opposite side of the road when nobodies around and I mean when you can see for a mile ahead - your most likely experiencing the curvature of the road - they all have a crown built in for drainage, if you do this you will most likely experience the pulling reverses itself, the higher and more boxy of a vehicle you have the more it will be effected, and since we live in an area of allot of two way streets it's most likely what your experiencing - major one way highways can verify this fact depending on what lane your in"

usually get a message on my machine the next day thanking me:)

dian
11-02-2013, 10:16 AM
http://i973.photobucket.com/albums/ae218/romandian/Berufsmatur011_zpsd9d84bb4.jpg (http://s973.photobucket.com/user/romandian/media/Berufsmatur011_zpsd9d84bb4.jpg.html)

http://i973.photobucket.com/albums/ae218/romandian/Berufsmatur012_zps39c84901.jpg (http://s973.photobucket.com/user/romandian/media/Berufsmatur012_zps39c84901.jpg.html)

ironmonger
11-02-2013, 12:35 PM
Ok, here is the deal...
99% of all alignment places will center the steering wheel,
set the toe, check the camber, and that's it.
They give you this dot matrix printout of the results before
and after their alignment. It always shows toe, camber, and
caster. The morons never turn the wheel and actually measure
the caster, bit there it is on the printout. Yes they think I am
stupid, and most people are. They don't even know what the
swivel plates are for.
<<snip>>
--Doozer

Many years ago I did alignments for a chain repair shop. That taught me the basics.

A number of years later I took in my 1972 Econoline for an alignment.
It's a ford truck with forged I beam front suspension. They charged 2.5 times the normal amount for this work. I was ok with that 'cause I knew it need the caster adjusted, and on these you need to bend the I beam to do that.

Imagine my surprise when the printout came back with a caster value dead center in the middle of the factory specs for an aligned vehicle. At that point, and after only 20 minutes, which is about how long it takes to drive the truck in, set it on the rack and attach the alignment heads. I talked to the service manager and explained that while I didn't have problem paying for real work done, I did not appreciate getting hosed by a fake set of readouts. I ended up not having to pay for this 'alignment'. I took it to a frame shop to have it done for real... Lucky I knew what it really took to do this. Thousand of other truck owners most likely did not.

I purchased 3 new Fords after that experience... but not from that dealer.

paul

oLo
11-02-2013, 02:50 PM
(and really, for what a set of tires cost, why would you trust such crude adjustment methods?).

I’m with you. Minor misalignment will cup or scuff or unevenly wear the tread and it’ll take some miles for that to show up. Once it’s occurred, you’d have to shave the tread to restore the tire to round or even-ness across the tread. For the $350-$800 that a set of tires costs today I think it’s penny-wise and pound-foolish to do it in your driveway.

Tilaran
11-02-2013, 05:45 PM
Yes,, go and pay to get it aligned. Front end alignment here runs around $80.00.
Well worth getting done ,, on that expensive machine you mention.
Can't imagine anyone trying to do their own alignment, except maybe setting toe-in, but even that is a dice toss, unless you have an old antique car.
LOL. $18.00 here.

CarlByrns
11-02-2013, 06:01 PM
Ok, here is the deal...
99% of all alignment places will center the steering wheel,
set the toe, check the camber, and that's it.
They give you this dot matrix printout of the results before
and after their alignment. It always shows toe, camber, and
caster. The morons never turn the wheel and actually measure
the caster, bit there it is on the printout. Yes they think I am
stupid, and most people are. They don't even know what the
swivel plates are for.

--Doozer

That is pure bull****. That's not how an alignment machine works.

bruto
11-02-2013, 10:31 PM
Skipping quickly to the end of the thread, I will add that on some vehicles which do not allow caster and camber adjustment, and assuming there is no gross misalignment of the axles, I've had very good luck doing my own toe-in adjustment.

Back in the old days, they would do this by jacking up each front wheel, and rotating the tire against a big piece of chalk to mark the tread. Now in a location that can be arbitrary, you rotate the wheel against a sharp object. Once there were special spring-loaded spike holders for this, but you can just put a nail in a piece of 2x4 and snip the head off. You use this to mark a nice straight line on each tread. Now you put feet on a long wooden rod, with or without actual tape measure attached. The rod must be on feet so that you can guarantee that front and rear measurements are at the same height. If a specific measurement other than "straight" is called for, the height should be at axle height. If you're adjusting to zero or nearly so, it can be arbitrary. Now all you do is set the stick in front of the axle, and mark where the tire lines hit it, and then in the back, and mark again. Adjust toe in and steering centering as the car requires. You can get fancy with the stick, but in a pinch, any stick on a couple of feet will do it. I would add, though, that I've always done it on a fairly level floor, making sure that the wheels were sitting properly on it, and that there was no other wear. This is a job you do when you've just done a repair on a healthy vehicle and have a good idea what needs aligning.

I'd take any complex front end to a reputable alignment shop, the more so if you suspect rear end misalignment, but I've done Jeep Cherokees for years this way, and did my Ford Focus in a borrowed garage in Georgia after a ball joint repair, with no visible or palpable ill effects in subsequent years. When you're doing your own car, you can take the time to check it over and get it right.

A.K. Boomer
11-02-2013, 10:47 PM
I take my vehicles to a buddies shop where I can align them.

Machine is the only way to go if you put any miles on the vehicle. Even if you don't notice, tire wear, handling, and over all control befits from it.


Hey Andy - I do have a problemo, I dropped my car slightly and I think it's rack & pinon unit was already lower than the tie rod ends even before I did this,,,

what this equates to is that when I hit bumps while at speed the car goes toe-out and gets squirrely,
and if your in the triple digits and hit a big negative that then makes the both front wheels dive at the same time it's downright scary, very strange feeling as if the cars wanting to drift off and swap ends... ----------------- do you know of any aftermarket offset tie rod ends that address this problemo's on the old Del-sols???? (or 92 to 95 civics) I would like to get my rack arms level again...

bob308
11-02-2013, 10:52 PM
I did it on te stock cars all the time. then tried it on my truck it worked out ok.

bobw53
11-02-2013, 11:11 PM
I've never paid for, or had an alignment done in my life and I've replaced plenty of front end and rear end components.

Then again, I'm a simple guy, and my vehicles are fairly simple. Home brew tape measure alignment on a solid front axle, 50-70k miles between tires.

Recently bought one of those camber/caster thingamabobs. Pretty sweet. Apparently a '96 Exploder needs a caster adjustment
with a ball joint change. POS!

Biggest problem I've had, beer, helped a friend back in college replace a few tie rod ends... we dialed in a perfect inch of toe out.

In general nobody touches my vehicles, but I'm not against having somebody give you #'s on an alignment, but I also believe that for most
vehicles, its something that can be easily and quickly done at home with carpenter tools. Getting the wheels straight is not rocket science.

dp
11-03-2013, 12:59 AM
In the mid 1960s when I worked as a mechanic on Oldsmobiles I did a lot of front end alignments. For those vehicles for which provisions are made, it is a simple process. I did a lot of 1950s through 1967 GM cars using commercial equipment. The heads had three mirrors and well aligned light sources and targets about 15' ahead of the vehicle. The vehicle was driven onto an elevated platform with turnplates for the front tires. Using reflected light beams, the accuracy at 15' on the target was more than adequate for caster and camber. Toe-in was done with a trammel or the light beams, or both, one serving as a backup for the other.

This weekend has been a miserable windy time in the Pacific Northwet, and there are a lot of downed trees on the roads. I tried but failed to 4x4 over one at Harstine Island today but ended up high centered on the damn thing. After a good Samaritan whacked the log with a chain saw (with electric arcs flying from the trapped power line under it, and some wood wedges and jacks, myself and Harstine Islanders raised the Jeep high enough to get the log slid free and me on my way. Think that might have made the news, in fact. Anyway, after the log experience the steering pulls a bit to the right, so I'll be buying some alignment hardware (about as expensive as an alignment) and fix the problem. Then I'll do my Dodge pickup truck. With the money I save on two alignments I'll buy some new tooling. That is the story I tell my wife and it works :)

Doozer
11-03-2013, 01:48 AM
On the Econoline, you mean to say camber.

--D

Doozer
11-03-2013, 01:51 AM
"That is pure bull****. That's not how an alignment machine works."

Oh really? Then how do you check caster without turning the wheels???

-D

dp
11-03-2013, 01:02 AM
"That is pure bull****. That's not how an alignment machine works."

Oh really? Then how do you check caster without turning the wheels???

-D

In my experience it is impossible to measure caster from the wheel (rim) or spindle without turning the wheels.

CarlByrns
11-03-2013, 06:55 AM
"That is pure bull****. That's not how an alignment machine works."

Oh really? Then how do you check caster without turning the wheels???

-D

You wrote:
>Ok, here is the deal...
>99% of all alignment places will center the steering wheel,
>set the toe, check the camber, and that's it.
>They give you this dot matrix printout of the results before
>and after their alignment. It always shows toe, camber, and
>caster. The morons never turn the wheel and actually measure
>the caster, bit there it is on the printout. Yes they think I am
>stupid, and most people are. They don't even know what the
>swivel plates are for.

- which is crap. Modern (anything built since the Reagan administration) alignment machines work sequentially and won't allow the technician to skip a step. Unless each task is completed there is no printout.

Additionally, every front end and tire shop I know of guarantees their work. It is in their best interest to perform a quality alignment.

Hey, if you want to use the information in a 77 year old book (before independent rear suspension, or indeed independent FRONT suspension, was popular) go right ahead, it's a free country.

Me, I'll spend the $75 to protect my $900 tires.

Doozer
11-03-2013, 09:17 AM
Dude, you are basing all you jack yacking on the premise that you
believe that no electronic alignment machine allows you to skip
caster alignment? Consider the idea that you have not seen it all.

--D

Forestgnome
11-03-2013, 11:14 AM
Fact is, alignments aren't all that critical. I think it's funny how everything is set to such fine measurements, but the suspension deflects and everything changes once you're loaded and on the road. Really most "alignment" problems are due to wear in the components, not alignment. Alignment usually doesn't change unless you whack a pothole hard or hit a curb.

A.K. Boomer
11-03-2013, 11:29 AM
A great test for toe-in toe-out is coming up soon - drive as straight as can be over glare ice on one side of the road while your other tires are on dry pavement,,,

make sure the road is flat and does not have much of a crown,,, if it's your right side that hit's the ice and the car still goes directly straight then all's good - if the car moves to the right then it means you have toe-in, if it darts to the left toe-out.

good ole fashioned hillbilly test methods - they can all add up to not having to waste a bunch of monies and worry about if someone else did their Job right,,,

I get two new tires mounted and balanced and put on my car - come home and two out of four lugs on one wheel are loose, and yeah right - im going to trust someone to do an alignment on my car, no thanks...

I will eye ball the front track to the rear and continue to have great results doing so - always have and always will,,,
as far as camber i will use the old tires as a guide and generally never had to do a thing, as far as castor - I could give a rats arss unless the car was in a major collision...

dian
11-03-2013, 11:46 AM
toe-in: hit the brakes (maximum deceleration without locking). if the front end wanders, andd toe-in. when vehicle is stable, you are the there.

CarlByrns
11-03-2013, 12:13 PM
Not true! Some FWD (Ford Taurus) spec toe-out.

CarlByrns
11-03-2013, 12:26 PM
Dude, you are basing all you jack yacking on the premise that you
believe that no electronic alignment machine allows you to skip
caster alignment? Consider the idea that you have not seen it all.

--D

Troll.

A.K. Boomer
11-03-2013, 12:35 PM
Doozers no troll - the guys for reals...

dave5605
11-03-2013, 12:42 PM
Back in the 70's and 80's I did my own alignments on pickup trucks I owned. Particularly my crew cab dually. Back then it was common for the shops to give you a snow job, no computer printouts and quick and dirty was the norm.

Over the years I've built several race cars for myself and several off road vehicles. Doing your own alignments was/is part of the game and needed for survival. Just another one of your 'tools' in your tool bag of knowledge.

Fast forward to today and I'd agree that for 99% of the passenger cars and light trucks on the road today the modern, professional alignment shops do a adequate job.

I recently did a 4 wheel alignment on a 1986 Corvette I have then took it to one of those places that advertises free alignment checks. It was spot on. Took me the better part of 4 hours to do it myself though.

My garage floor is marked for shims to get the car level and I take advantage of digital and laser levels to do an alignment. However, back in the day, a old fashioned carpenters level, some string, a tape measure, a plumb bob, some scrap lumber and a little math is all you needed to do a adequate job.

Now, I'll admit, trying to understand Ackerman steering and roll centers makes my head hurt.

JRouche
11-03-2013, 01:20 PM
As a guy who used to get paid to do alignments, the short answer is no, you cannot align a modern car in your driveway

LOL!!! Yer wrong :) JR

JRouche
11-03-2013, 01:22 PM
Troll.

Ahhh? Dude. YOU just showed up here all high and mighty and you call Doozer a troll? You need to crawl back in YER cave. JR

CarlByrns
11-03-2013, 01:41 PM
LOL!!! Yer wrong JR
Ahhh? Dude. YOU just showed up here all high and mighty and you call Doozer a troll? You need to crawl back in YER cave. JR

Let's see: 10+ years professional automotive repair experience (including as shop foreman) and licensed New York State Motor Vehicle Inspector.

What's your professional stands-up-in-court experience, dude?

I really shouldn't bother, but it was this 'Doozer' guy would made outrageous claims he can't back up. That, JR, is the definition of a troll.

A.K. Boomer
11-03-2013, 02:17 PM
Let's see: 10+ years professional automotive repair experience (including as shop foreman) and licensed New York State Motor Vehicle Inspector.

What's your professional stands-up-in-court experience, dude?

.

Hmmmm lets see, welp - I was Michigan certified at the age of 17 and that was back in 77 and been doing cars and motorcycles ever since - that would put you nigh on shy of about 26/27 years,,, and that's just me not the Dooz or Willy of any of the other motorheads around here - but hey - who's counting right???:rolleyes:

beanbag
11-03-2013, 02:38 PM
I'm still waiting to hear how those alignment machines can measure caster if they don't turn the wheel.

dp
11-03-2013, 03:11 PM
Hmm - this is getting kind of silly. Any car that has adjustable alignment points that don't require unaffordable specialty handtools can be adjusted at home. The alignment-specific tooling and level environment are the difficult parts as these affect accuracy. Adequate tooling can be purchased that will to a good job including the optics and wheel plates, and a guy with a machine shop can make tooling thanks to affordable lasers and first surface precision mirrors. It isn't rocket science, and anyone that can tram a mill can certainly align wheels. It's all about angles.

goodscrap
11-03-2013, 04:31 PM
It's more than possible to do alignment yourself, given a flat surface and basic tools.

I've done several, and basic procedure is to set parallel strings, fishing line works well, at centre height of the wheels, ballast the vehicle for half normal payload and half a tank of fuel.

Firstly set camber, if required, then do the toe-in/out. Here you have two options, either measure the toe, then roll the car half a wheel revolution and re-measure, then average the results. This way you get rid of any error something like a buckled wheel will bring.

I actually clock the wheels before I start with a dial gauge, and mark them where I have two points 180 degrees apart of the same reading, you will be surprised, most wheels will have around 1/16 to 1/8" runout, and this is quite likely bigger than the toe setting you're trying to apply.

As for the statement that you can't do a modern car without some fancy machine, well what poppycock, how many are reading fancy numbers from bent rims, very few actually mount from datum points like the hub, or hard points in the rim centre, so what nonsense, care is needed however it is measured.

Here is an example similar to the method that I use;
http://wiki.seloc.org/a/Geo_Alignment_Rig_(Home_Made)

I heard of someone having new tyres, the garage claiming the tracking was out and it'd be 20 to rectify it, he said ok then, 15mins later they proclaimed to have done it, the owner said ok can you show me what you've done, they showed him under the car, he asked how they'd moved the seized track rod end, the very same one the owner had spent several hours trying to move the week prior......they offered a full refund and lost a future customer.

Brian

ahidley
11-03-2013, 06:14 PM
Just git the thing-a-ma-job that I posted in my first post and make a holder like pictured here and use turnplates and just follow the directions that come with the thing-a-ma-job. Some one else posted about forces while driving. Thus you should use a spreader bar also to simulate highway speeds but you can do without if in a pinch. You dont have to worry about ackerman, king pin inclination, bump steer, etc. Just worry about CASTER, CAMBER, TOE. And do it in that order.
http://s194.photobucket.com/user/ahidley/media/Alignmenttool_zps6296fce0.jpg.html
http://i194.photobucket.com/albums/z80/ahidley/Alignmenttool_zps6296fce0.jpg (http://s194.photobucket.com/user/ahidley/media/Alignmenttool_zps6296fce0.jpg.html)

boslab
11-03-2013, 06:33 PM
Sort of related but it may inspire, aligning a rolling mill pre laser required the use of a length of piano wire stretched down the middle, on a 7 stand mill it took 3/4 of a mile of wire, and the rolls have to align in every plane, tools of choice, BFH, slogging spanners, miles of shim stock, and an engineers level, plus lots of tea!, or coffee if you prefer, thats hundreds of rolls in 3 planes, time allowed 16 hours including roll changes, hydraulic pipe changes, bearings etc, aligning 2 wheels shouldn't present a problem, just have a go, worst case scenario, you have to go to a garage!
It may be slower than a 4 wheel laser rig but its valuable knowledge.
Mark

CarlByrns
11-03-2013, 07:52 PM
I'm still waiting to hear how those alignment machines can measure caster if they don't turn the wheel.

They can't. But that's not the point.

Doozer said:
>99% of all alignment places will center the steering wheel,
>set the toe, check the camber, and that's it.
>They give you this dot matrix printout of the results before
>and after their alignment. It always shows toe, camber, and
>caster. The morons never turn the wheel and actually measure
>the caster, bit there it is on the printout. Yes they think I am
>stupid, and most people are. They don't even know what the
>swivel plates are for.

That's an unqualified statement that is not only indefensible, it's also an insult to professional mechanics.
If you pull wrenches for a living 'Doozer' just called you a lying cheat.

CarlByrns
11-03-2013, 08:15 PM
Hmmmm lets see, welp - I was Michigan certified at the age of 17 and that was back in 77 and been doing cars and motorcycles ever since - that would put you nigh on shy of about 26/27 years,,, and that's just me not the Dooz or Willy of any of the other motorheads around here - but hey - who's counting right???:rolleyes:

Sigh. One more time:

Doozer said:
>99% of all alignment places will center the steering wheel,
>set the toe, check the camber, and that's it.
>They give you this dot matrix printout of the results before
>and after their alignment. It always shows toe, camber, and
>caster. The morons never turn the wheel and actually measure
>the caster, bit there it is on the printout. Yes they think I am
>stupid, and most people are. They don't even know what the
>swivel plates are for.

That's an unqualified statement that is not only indefensible, it's also an insult to professional mechanics.

I worked for ten plus years (1981-1992) doing mostly heavy engine, brake, and front end work and probably shortened my life in the process. I definitely messed up my hands (nobody wore gloves back then) and breathed in enough clutch and brake dust to reline a ten-wheel dump. That's just the way it was.

If you pull wrenches for a living 'Doozer' just called you a lying cheat.
Maybe you like being called a 'moron' or a ripoff artist. I don't like it when someone calls my integrity into question.

As for the undeserved 'welp' comment, A) the correct spelling is 'whelp' and B) I'm the same age as you.

doctor demo
11-03-2013, 09:38 PM
If you pull wrenches for a living 'Doozer' just called you a lying cheat.
Maybe you like being called a 'moron' or a ripoff artist. I don't like it when someone calls my integrity into question.
.

I don't believe that is exactly what "Doozer" said.
I do know there have been a lot of shops caught on tape with hidden cameras ripping off unsuspecting customers and aired on TV News shows.
I also know that it is a full time job for many government employees to catch these "morons" and "ripoff artists" and there are a lot of them.
If You are part of that group,(the crooks) then I hope You get caught and prosecuted if You are not then Your integrity should be just fine.
If You don't like "when someone calls my integrity into question" don't put your integrity out there to be questioned.

Steve

JRouche
11-03-2013, 10:04 PM
Sort of related but it may inspire, aligning a rolling mill pre laser required the use of a length of piano wire stretched down the middle, on a 7 stand mill it took 3/4 of a mile of wire, and the rolls have to align in every plane, tools of choice, BFH, slogging spanners, miles of shim stock, and an engineers level, plus lots of tea!, or coffee if you prefer, thats hundreds of rolls in 3 planes, time allowed 16 hours including roll changes, hydraulic pipe changes, bearings etc, aligning 2 wheels shouldn't present a problem, just have a go, worst case scenario, you have to go to a garage!
It may be slower than a 4 wheel laser rig but its valuable knowledge.
Mark

I wish there was a "like" button. Until then/ I like. JR

Doozer
11-03-2013, 10:09 PM
Carl-
It is excellent that you take pride in your work.
If you run a quality alignment shop that can be
trusted to go a good job, super awesome, I will
bring my car to you every time I need an adjustment.
Most (my 99% comment) of the places I had
experience with, the alignment guys are too
lazy to care. I worked at an automotive shop
for 4 years in the past, and even the guys there
would only maybe adjust toe, nothing else if
the other camber was somewhere close in the
range. No one seems to care about caster
because they either don't understand what it
is, or they only care how the car handles when
going straight.
Fact is there are so many bad mechanics out
there. Most everyone has more than one story
about a bad experience with one. Most of
Joe Q Public does not know jack about cars.
That is how mechanics and service advisers
get away for charging so much for mediocre
repairs and service. Again, great that you
take pride in your work, but you are in an
industry where mechanics are not paid enough
to have the incentive to care about
doing a good job. The shop charges big $ and
the mechanic gets a good bit less. That holds
true in many industries. Fact of the world.
When I need an alignment, I go to a shop
where 2 guys work there, the owner and
a helper. The owner does most alignments
and has pride in his work because he has a
personal interest in making his customers
satisfied. I can talk to him with technical
terminology of front end dynamics, and he
knows exactly how a front end works.
I know I am getting a good job. He actually
uses the bubble level equipment, like the ones
pictured earlier in this thread. Snap on units,
not that the brand matters. Level vials are
as sensitive as a machine level.
So if you feel that I am disrespecting the
auto mechanics industry, then yes I am.
I have many reasons that formed that
opinion. I have had run ins with lots of
bad wrench jockeys, and only a few good
ones. I don't even know you. You don't
know me. Why the panties in a bunch?
I am an engineer. People generally
do not like engineers because of the
stupid designs that propagate down to
the public every day. Like who was that
engineer that put that heater core behind
the steering wheel, or such likes. Yes it
was some dumb ass engineer. I have worked
with lots of dumb ass engineers in my years.
Lots of bad ones and only a few really good
engineers. I do realize this. I too work in an
industry where not many of us are liked.
I live it, I deal with it, it really does not
bother me. I do my job the best way I can
and I do not worry about the other riff raff.
If you want to get all offended that I was
disrespecting the mechanics trade, go ahead.
But you think you'd be used to it. My trade
gets bashed too. I personally really don't care.

--Doozer

justanengineer
11-03-2013, 10:13 PM
As a guy who used to get paid to do alignments, the short answer is no, you cannot align a modern car in your driveway. An alignment machine will reveal any hidden chassis damage or worn suspension parts. Strings, tape measures, wood sticks, and a less-than-level surface will not (and really, for what a set of tires cost, why would you trust such crude adjustment methods?). Also, all adjustments have to be made while the suspension is loaded- and there is no access to adjustment points with the car flat on the ground.
Pay the money- some cars with active handling controls or all-wheel drive depend on the tires being aligned.

^^^Best answer of a rather comical thread. Ive used alignment equipment both old and new professionally, you cant beat the modern laser systems. Yes, you can do a "rough approximation" in your driveway, but realistically youre lucky if youre in the modern ballpark.

I take my vehicles in to a buddy's shop for an annual alignment, tire rotation (semi-annual actually on those), and tire balance. Alignment alone takes 30 mins - 1 hour and often involves fun things like changing shims (which I dont keep a stock of), not to mention changing or adjusting actual joints. Oddlly enough, I get more miles out a set of tires than anybody I know (100k+), I like to think its bc I maintain things properly, certainly not bc Im easy on them. Also, if you have a car with any real performance, good luck aligning those by hand or by feel. My Firebird has enough camber and wide enough tires that its got a rather heavy steering wheel, it can be out of alignment amazingly far before you will feel it ($1k lesson for me right there).

JRouche
11-03-2013, 11:07 PM
Let's see: 10+ years professional automotive repair experience (including as shop foreman) and licensed New York State Motor Vehicle Inspector.

What's your professional stands-up-in-court experience, dude?

I really shouldn't bother, but it was this 'Doozer' guy would made outrageous claims he can't back up. That, JR, is the definition of a troll.

Ok Carl. I was pissed. You called out one of our long time members as a troll. Doozer is NOT a Troll, I know the diff. I saw you as the Troll being the new member and your insults. After all, trolls dont hang out much, just cause problems.. Doozer has been here longer than a second.

I tried to show that a modern car can be aligned in the home garage but no one commented on the setup. I posted pics and a link. Can you comment on the setup and say it might or NOT work?

Carl. You are the expert here. Look at my alignment jig and turn plates. Should it work? I already know the answer. Just looking for your opinion. JR

strokersix
11-03-2013, 11:09 PM
Several folded up trash bags under the tires make pretty decent turn plates.

I've had pretty good luck with the simple magnetic bubble caster/camber gage ($150 or so) and sighting the rear tire to eyeball toe. Works for me.

A.K. Boomer
11-03-2013, 11:13 PM
If you pull wrenches for a living 'Doozer' just called you a lying cheat.
Maybe you like being called a 'moron' or a ripoff artist. I don't like it when someone calls my integrity into question.

Doozer would know better than to call me a lying cheat...

and he didn't - he does what I do - he gave a percentage exit of 1%, and guess what - that's me :) the fact is is I feel the same way about my trade, and his for that matter, it's really sad when If too busy at the time I can't recommend the people I know and care about their cars to someone else...
It's too bad that even though I do everything myself including sometimes even changing over my own tires with prybars to avoid going to the tire store and then finally biting the bullet - getting it done there and then finding two out of four lugs loose on one wheel -----it's too bad ------ it's too bad that the one and only time I took my car stereo in to get it looked at I not only caught the guy in an $80.00 dallor save his ass lie I then had to end up fixing it myself anyways... it's too bad...
Anyways - pic a profession - hacks in every one of em...
Me and Dooze actually think allot alike - mechanics and engineers are one in the same to a very large degree, and the best engineers are at the very least good mechanics - and the best mechanics are at the very least good engineers...

Which brings the Doozes question of "how can you measure castor without turning the wheels" back into light, I mean - makes sense to me... and isn't that what this entire rebuttal is about??? care to comment on what got you into the hot seat to begin with???





As for the undeserved 'welp' comment, A) the correct spelling is 'whelp' and B)

Welp - lemmie be a tellin yee sunthin bout dis har site - we donn be takin kindly too speelin nerds got dat straight ?


I'm the same age as you.

soooooooooo - hows the shoe sellin bizz bean treatin ya?

CarlByrns
11-03-2013, 11:58 PM
Which brings the Doozes question of "how can you measure castor without turning the wheels" back into light, I mean - makes sense to me... and isn't that what this entire rebuttal is about??? care to comment on what got you into the hot seat to begin with???

It was the comment that 99% of front alignments are snow jobs at best and done by morons at the worst that pisses me off. Those comments, by extension, extend to every mechanic out there.
That's no better than saying every (insert racial slur here) is (insert stereotypical racist remark here).

Every profession (including doctors) has its share of incompetent or criminal practitioners, but tradespeople like mechanics, plumbers, electricians and contractors start every day with the cards stacked against them thanks to instant experts like 'Doozer' who will tell anybody and everybody about how he got screwed on a job he could have done himself with a bit of string and a hammer.

To paraphrase Carroll Smith: anyone who thinks he can do a skilled technical job with limited tools, should warm up by giving themselves a vasectomy.

CarlByrns
11-04-2013, 12:18 AM
I tried to show that a modern car can be aligned in the home garage but no one commented on the setup. I posted pics and a link. Can you comment on the setup and say it might or NOT work?

That looks pretty slick- we used to use bubble-level caster/camber gauges and a trammel bar at the race track (SCCA D-Production, later GT3) but the inverted tee bar beats the trammel bar. Wish we had thought of it.

A couple of years ago, I had an all-access pass for the Sahlens Six Hour event at Watkins Glen. Almost cried when I saw that even the privateers had full-digital portable alignment rigs (some that even doubled as scales) with way better accuracy than we could have dreamed of.

dp
11-04-2013, 12:43 AM
Since the subject of dishonesty has been raised, the last job I held in the auto business was as a service salesman. Had a mechanic that was known to be fast - just a little too fast. I sold a brake inspection and tire balance. He reported brakes were worn, customer agreed to the work. The guy already had the wheels and drums off - he blew the dust out, remounted the wheels, pulled the wheel weights and replaced them with same-size new and parked the car. I know this because I watched him do it. I had another mech pull the wheels and there for all the world to see were the old shoes in worn drums. He got the long walk. It was learned he did the same thing in the wheel alignment pit. He'd put a car on the rack, go down out of sight, have a beer, then back the car out without ever having put a wrench on it. It happens. Don't know what the percentage is and wouldn't guess.

boslab
11-04-2013, 02:53 AM
I have to admit garages in the uk are amongst the least ethical buisnesses in the country, i worked at one for a couple of months inbetween 'real' jobs, last thing i did before leaving was take an alternator off a car as it was primaraly an auto elec shop, the boss gave me a tin of satin black paint spay and told me to clean it and peel the labels, then respray it, which i did, he then applied a new bosch sticker and told me to refit it, i did, he then told me to keep my gob shut to the owner who was getting the bill(it was a blown fuse) i didnt, as soon as he arrived i told the owner to check the alternator by scratching his thumbnail across it, the paint was still fairly soft. That was my last day!, i can quote hundreds of doggy things!
Mark

Willy
11-04-2013, 08:55 AM
The question of, "can you align your vehicle yourself" has already been answered here by several members. Obviously it can be done by anyone that wants to, with various degrees of success and accuracy. As in any other endeavor, the more time and effort one puts into a project, the better the odds of a successful outcome.

In my own case, a while back I purchased a used pickup at a very attractive price knowing that it would require a fair bit of labor and parts in order to turn that chunk of coal into a gem. Along with lots of other work, I replaced a lot of suspension and steering components, knowing full well that an alignment would be necessary afterwords. Especially so after putting what amounted to close to a thousand dollars worth of tires on the truck. I know, sounds like a lot of money for an old truck but you know how it goes, tires, balancing, valve stems, taxes, eco fees, etc., etc.

Anyway, as a rule I like to do as much of my own work as possible but at this point I had to ask myself...is doing my own alignment really going to be cost effective?
Heck I can spend all day doing the research and building just a very rudimentary alignment system and save maybe eighty bucks.
Or I can take it down the road to my good buddy Don who I know will do a good job, and I can spend the day doing something else in the shop that will earn me $250, well minus the $80 I gave to Don.;)

I kind of use that philosophy for most the projects that come up, I know I am capable of just about anything that I really want to tackle. But when you analyze the time and effort one should dedicate to a project vs. the cost of having it done, yeah that cost/benefit ratio thing is usually the deciding factor.

ArkTinkerer
11-04-2013, 11:14 AM
I've been designing those wheel aligners for the last 13 years. Most of the home/shop made aligners here don't take into consideration the runout of the wheel. A good vision aligner, on a good alignment rack, with a good tech will align repeatedly to better than .05 degrees which is better than most cars will hold after rolling off the rack. We have a "rolling master" that is a massive thing with very good bearings to allow us to prove this. A good alignment has to include the rear wheels to compensate for wheel offset and thrust angle. If the tech does a sloppy job and only checks the front end you may not be happy with the result.

That said, for a beater vehicle going around town, the manual methods work well but are a lot slower. For your luxury car or SUV that you spend a lot of time on the highway with, get it done right. If you want to see where it really matters, talk to the guys that drive semi's. Every bit alignment is off affects their tire wear and gas mileage. They are really picky!

A.K. Boomer
11-04-2013, 11:49 AM
My tires go away extremely fast right now, but there's no amount of fine tune aligning that's going to change that - their super gummy and don't last long to begin with plus add the fact that half my drive time is on hairpin Mt. roads and a good portion of that time is spent four wheel drifting around every other turn and it's just one of those "Is what it is" factors...

My tires are wearing perfectly for the condition they are used in, there is no chopped or feathered edges - there was when I got the car but I took care of it with replacing some loose front end parts and doing a simple toe in/toe out alignment,
And like I stated I have a fair amount of negative camber that get's compounded in uneven tread wear due to my tires being extra wide... but like I stated im addicted and that's a price im willing to pay.

What I do have is an incredible priceless piece of mind about far bigger issues than being ever so slightly off with one adjustment or another - which incidentally would be off regardless due to the amount of load all the rubber mounted components are going through when your approaching 1G around a turn,,, (even though I do have aftermarket energy suspension bushings in everything), or whether or not I was in my two seater car when it was aligned - or whether or not im carrying a passenger - Let's get real folks, lets not get too carried away - it's not only not an exact science and never ever will be due to all the variables I can throw at it that will ruin the "perfect proverbial alignment" - it gets to the point of being downright silly when you get to know how the real world works...

I know for a fact I have everything right and tight, I did the work and when Im hanging it out there and putting everything on the line that's incredibly important to me...
Someone else said it that suspension is basically just simple geometry, and there's dozens of ways to dial it in... as has been shown...
The more time you spend with the details the closer you get - I would trust some of these do it yourselfer guys on here more than most alignment shops who have state of the art equipment yet great turn over with kids that don't know there arss from their elbows on what any of it means,,,
for one the guys on here that build their own equipment have an automatic understanding of what their going after to achieve their results - they thereby fall into the category of both engineers and mechanics - the best of both worlds...

It's for reasons like this that I can hop in my car and drive it and know just by feel somethings off,
like the position of my rack unit as compared to my tie rod end mounts...
something a typical alignment guy would not even catch - do all the adjustments and get it spot on, and your still royally screwed when you hit a dip at speed...
yet the piece of paper states everything is ok, NOT,,, suspension is nothing more than simple forms of dynamic geometry,,, constantly changing throughout it's ranges...
something the most advanced "static" state of the art overpriced crap machines leave behind,
having good working theories about every different individual particular suspension system is the key to making the best choices possible.
And using good tools is only half the equation - seat of the pants/common sense/and a general understanding of how each individual system works is the other...

dian
11-04-2013, 01:06 PM
"A good alignment has to include the rear wheels to compensate for wheel offset and thrust angle."

can you tell me, how you would "compensate" for that on a bicycle?

Forestgnome
11-04-2013, 01:41 PM
Several folded up trash bags under the tires make pretty decent turn plates.

I've had pretty good luck with the simple magnetic bubble caster/camber gage ($150 or so) and sighting the rear tire to eyeball toe. Works for me.

Nice tip! I would have never considered trash bags.

The Artful Bodger
11-04-2013, 01:51 PM
Daft I know............ but about 45 years ago we used to check our toe-in by taping tight sheets of newspaper to the smooth garage floor and driving over then, if the paper did not rip the toe in was declared 'OK'.

dp
11-04-2013, 02:49 PM
The newspaper trick is not much less sophisticated than the old Align-A-Matic tool. There's some of those on Ebay. Years ago I used one for aligning small foreign cars that didn't fit on the rack. It was the easiest way I could align my own Fiat Bianchina. Our trammel was even too big.

ArkTinkerer
11-04-2013, 03:05 PM
"A good alignment has to include the rear wheels to compensate for wheel offset and thrust angle."

can you tell me, how you would "compensate" for that on a bicycle?

When doing a proper 4 wheel alignment, if the rear axle is not parallel to the front axle you adjust the wheels relative the to the perpendicular of the average of the rear spindles. When the offsets get too large you can see the vehicle "crab" down the highway. You loose MPG due to the larger wind load. All the tires could wear evenly though. Usually this is the result of a wreck at some point in the vehicles history but it does happen when people do some of the lifted trucks and don't line up the springs/shackles right.

For a bicycle, there are two similar effects. The front spindle is parallel to the rear but offset to the left or right which would make the bike travel at an angle to the frame. If the front is not parallel to the left or right which is really like toe but you just correct the steering in this case since there is really no toe in or out on two wheels.

In a similar vein, you could have the wheels in line but the front tilted out at the top and or back tilted to out at the top (camber) but unless you are making a vehicle for a clown in the circus its probably too close to care about. Closest equivalent to SAI would be the angle of the steering pivot.

Perfection for a bicycle would be both wheels in the same plane.

vpt
11-04-2013, 04:08 PM
When I align cars at my buddies I have the option of using the corner weight system at the same time. This really helps with race cars.


http://img13.imageshack.us/img13/6518/20130411120157.jpg

http://img14.imageshack.us/img14/5586/20130328142347.jpg

We don't piss around, our cars are set up to perform!
http://img843.imageshack.us/img843/1495/frankwidescreen2.jpg

After doing the jobs myself in my garage and then seeing how far off they are when plugged in I will never ever rely on anything but a machine alignment. Like I mentioned earlier, if you want it done 100% right you have to use the right tools for the job.

If it is for a farm truck close is close enough I guess.

vpt
11-04-2013, 04:17 PM
Hey Andy - I do have a problemo, I dropped my car slightly and I think it's rack & pinon unit was already lower than the tie rod ends even before I did this,,,

what this equates to is that when I hit bumps while at speed the car goes toe-out and gets squirrely,
and if your in the triple digits and hit a big negative that then makes the both front wheels dive at the same time it's downright scary, very strange feeling as if the cars wanting to drift off and swap ends... ----------------- do you know of any aftermarket offset tie rod ends that address this problemo's on the old Del-sols???? (or 92 to 95 civics) I would like to get my rack arms level again...


That sucks. What sort of camber kit are you running? Sometimes depending on the camber kit the upper or lower control arm will be slightly relocated causing a problem. If it was my car I would check and see which arm(s) are causing the problem and then see if there is a way to extend or shorten them to compensate, or change the camber kit to a different type if possible.

I am not sure if they make different spindles for the delsol/civics to lower the tie rod arms. Maybe a guy will have to fan some up. :D

dp
11-04-2013, 04:34 PM
When I align cars at my buddies I have the option of using the corner weight system at the same time. This really helps with race cars.

That is a small version of the scales I used to use to weigh commercial jetliners. A 747 takes a lot of scales. They're heavy, too.

vpt
11-04-2013, 05:25 PM
That is a small version of the scales I used to use to weigh commercial jetliners. A 747 takes a lot of scales. They're heavy, too.

I can just imagine! Is there one for each wheel for the aircraft? Are they semi trailers? lol

mike4
11-04-2013, 05:34 PM
I have been reading this novel with interest , but I agree with some of the comments about "wheel alignments done by professionals" , some can get it right but others have no idea of the loads or type of road that the vehicle is operated on.

They can "set " the alignment up for bitumen , and when you hit loose gravel with severe corrugations on corners thats a different story .
Most of the so called pro's dont drive long distances fully loaded , I expect my tyres to wear square;y and uniform . no feathering or scalloping , both of which I get when I have allowed people who assume the can set a vehicle up correctly .

i have had to adjust all of my vehicles myself after observing tyre wear and handling under often adverse conditions .

There are a few good businesses out there but they are hard to find as quite a few are good at the BS and only partially doing any work . but they are very adept at taking you money , the dodgy ones only get one bite and then I either fix the problem myself or actually stand in their shop while they rectify the poorly done work at their expense.

Michael

dp
11-04-2013, 07:57 PM
I can just imagine! Is there one for each wheel for the aircraft? Are they semi trailers? lol

The scales were maybe 3' square with round beams radially mounted in each corner. Those had ball and socket spuds attached. The beams were sandwiched between two large aluminum castings. The upper surface was 5-6 inches off the floor. We had molded epoxy ramps for each scale and there was one scale for each tire except for some nose gear configurations.

The plane would be rolled into a hangar and I'd set out the scales and ramps, run the cabling to the data acquisition unit which in turn was rs232 cabled to a Compaq Lugable computer that traveled with the scales and ramps. The tug pulls the plane up the ramps, we let it stabilize, then off-load the plane. This operation was to help stabilize the scales and crush any crumblies on the hangar floor. It also gave me an opportunity to look for anomalies in the scales that might indicate a low spot, and to set the zero weight point for the platforms. The the plane was put on the scales again, the crew was expected to set the parking brake, and the tug operator removed the tow bar. I then start the data collection from all the scales and set up the software for the aircraft type and configuration (747's have some interesting landing gear options). When all that is completed I have a computed center of gravity point relative to the datum, weight on each wheel, truck, bogie, and strut, and gross empty weight.

One time in a hangar at O'Hare field in Chicago I was weighing a 727 and realized the parking brake had not be set, and that the plane was rolling toward the edge of the scales. Everyone in the hangar had gone on break and by the time I got people back to the hangar the plane rolled backward off the scales and headed backward toward the hangar door. The nose gear was bouncing in long slow arcs which stopped then the tail plane hit the hangar doors. That required all the scales be returned to our plant for inspection and recalibration and lots of repairs to the 727 and the hangar.

On L1011 jets it takes nearly forever for the fuel to stop sloshing around in all the fuel tanks. It shows up on the scales.

boslab
11-04-2013, 08:08 PM
Amusing thought, wonder if they take 747's to the local tyre shop for wheel alignment! Lol, yes sir you need a new bush and we balanced the tyres, do you want them rotated (no pun)
We have an offer on goodyear at the moment.
Mark

A.K. Boomer
11-04-2013, 09:02 PM
One time in a hangar at O'Hare field in Chicago I was weighing a 727 and realized the parking brake had not be set, and that the plane was rolling toward the edge of the scales. Everyone in the hangar had gone on break and by the time I got people back to the hangar the plane rolled backward off the scales and headed backward toward the hangar door. The nose gear was bouncing in long slow arcs which stopped then the tail plane hit the hangar doors. That required all the scales be returned to our plant for inspection and recalibration and lots of repairs to the 727 and the hangar.

On L1011 jets it takes nearly forever for the fuel to stop sloshing around in all the fuel tanks. It shows up on the scales.

DP I know hind sights 20/20 but would not have chucking a bunch of crap under the wheels have helped or eliminated the problemo? like maybe some wheel chocks or somebodies tool box or something - ? after all even planes have to play by the ground rule book of gravity when not in flight so their wheels will stop em if you throw enough crap under them...

A.K. Boomer
11-04-2013, 09:03 PM
double post

A.K. Boomer
11-04-2013, 09:15 PM
That sucks. What sort of camber kit are you running? Sometimes depending on the camber kit the upper or lower control arm will be slightly relocated causing a problem. If it was my car I would check and see which arm(s) are causing the problem and then see if there is a way to extend or shorten them to compensate, or change the camber kit to a different type if possible.

I am not sure if they make different spindles for the delsol/civics to lower the tie rod arms. Maybe a guy will have to fan some up. :D

No camber kit, car is set up box stock with enough as is,,,

Andy, when you lower a car the cars rack or gearbox drops yet the tie rod end mounts by the wheels remain the same height - this makes for the long arms from the inner tie's of the rack unit to the outer T.R.Ends by the wheels no longer level - and in fact under a fair angle, they are designed to run at close to neutral - this way they will have the least effect when the suspension is lifted slightly or compressed,,, having these rack arms already at a negative angle makes for some radical changes when deflected to even more negative - the only way I can see to remedy this situation is to either raise the rack in the cars frame (impossible) or to find some offset tie rod ends that mount high but drop down lower to meet the rack arms and straiten them out... I guess aftermarket hubs that have a lower TR link would do it too at great expense...
Just thought since you were a honda guy you might know of some aftermarket, has to be a very common problem...

A.K. Boomer
11-04-2013, 09:50 PM
I have been reading this novel with interest , but I agree with some of the comments about "wheel alignments done by professionals" , some can get it right but others have no idea of the loads or type of road that the vehicle is operated on.

They can "set " the alignment up for bitumen , and when you hit loose gravel with severe corrugations on corners thats a different story .
Most of the so called pro's dont drive long distances fully loaded , I expect my tyres to wear square;y and uniform . no feathering or scalloping , both of which I get when I have allowed people who assume the can set a vehicle up correctly .

i have had to adjust all of my vehicles myself after observing tyre wear and handling under often adverse conditions .

There are a few good businesses out there but they are hard to find as quite a few are good at the BS and only partially doing any work . but they are very adept at taking you money , the dodgy ones only get one bite and then I either fix the problem myself or actually stand in their shop while they rectify the poorly done work at their expense.

Michael


Very true,,, but the thing is - is that even when "right" it's most likely "not quite"

Again setting up a vehicle while in a "static mode" is not how vehicles operate over 90 percent of the time,,,

on many a front wheel drive car the second you start to apply pressure to the gas pedal the extremely spongy rubber isolated strut bar or similar starts deflecting - when this happens the front wheel actually moves forward some - and when this happens there's one of two results depending on where your tie rod ends are linked to -- the front of the hub or the back, this then determines if your tires are going to nestle in on a little more tow in or tow out than how the vehicle was set up at the alignment shop, it will also slightly mess with castor on most rides too...

So - while many a perfectionist who's had the state of the art wheel alignment done and is driving down the highway thinking about things like sugar plumbs and tooth fairy's and how all is right with the world in never never land --- it's actually not - just an illusion when you find out how the real world works.

boslab
11-05-2013, 01:56 AM
A somewhat related subject is the biggest cause of wheel alignment loss over here, second to street ironware and potholes is... Puddles!, hissing a big puddle with the passenger side wheel ( yes i know we drive on the wrong side!)knackered my alignment recently, live and learn
Mark

dp
11-05-2013, 02:44 AM
on many a front wheel drive car the second you start to apply pressure to the gas pedal the extremely spongy rubber isolated strut bar or similar starts deflecting - when this happens the front wheel actually moves forward some

I worked for Oldsmobile when the Toronado first came out and I was very curious about the steering equipment and how they managed to control the tendency of the front tires to toe in/toe out during power on and braking. They want very much to toe in during acceleration and that 455ci V8 engine was a powerhouse of torque. Combined with the FWD final drive, transmission, and engine weight on the front wheels you have a lot of dynamic forces at work. We started seeing linkage loosening fairly soon on those after the first year. If you jacked one front wheel off the ground and rocked the steering wheel left/right the pitman, cross link, tie rods, and idler links looked like a bungie coupler. There was no way they could decouple from wear, but they sure got loose.

dp
11-05-2013, 02:46 AM
DP I know hind sights 20/20 but would not have chucking a bunch of crap under the wheels have helped or eliminated the problemo? like maybe some wheel chocks or somebodies tool box or something - ? after all even planes have to play by the ground rule book of gravity when not in flight so their wheels will stop em if you throw enough crap under them...

Chocks would have torqued the scales, giving a wrong answer.

lbhsbz
11-05-2013, 03:57 AM
without having read any of the posts...yes...it's perfectly simple to align your own vehicle.

To set the tow, jack the front end up...spin the tires and shoot a white paint stripe on the tread...then take a screwdriver against a sturdy support and scribe a line in your paint stripe. Set the car down, roll it back and forth a few times, pull a tape across the front side and back side of the tires. adjust accordingly.

To set camber, grab a 18x24" carpenters square...point the wheels straight, set the square on the ground and measure between the long end and the bottom of the rim, then the top of the rim, and do some math...you'll figure out your camber angle...

For caster, do the above measurement with the wheels turned 20 to the left and to the right...do some more math.

vpt
11-05-2013, 07:52 AM
No camber kit, car is set up box stock with enough as is,,,

Andy, when you lower a car the cars rack or gearbox drops yet the tie rod end mounts by the wheels remain the same height - this makes for the long arms from the inner tie's of the rack unit to the outer T.R.Ends by the wheels no longer level - and in fact under a fair angle, they are designed to run at close to neutral - this way they will have the least effect when the suspension is lifted slightly or compressed,,, having these rack arms already at a negative angle makes for some radical changes when deflected to even more negative - the only way I can see to remedy this situation is to either raise the rack in the cars frame (impossible) or to find some offset tie rod ends that mount high but drop down lower to meet the rack arms and straiten them out... I guess aftermarket hubs that have a lower TR link would do it too at great expense...
Just thought since you were a honda guy you might know of some aftermarket, has to be a very common problem...



Really the length and point of articulation for tie rod bars should match the upper and lower control arms. Now I know the upper arms are shorter and create that awesome camber when lowered unless you get a correction kit which really just lengthens or off sets the upper arm.

Now it may very well be possible honda has a spindle out there on some car that has a higher mounted tie rod location. I do know some accords had their steering rack buried WAY up in the car which makes me think the TR mount may be higher on the spindle as well. Any sort of off set tie rod would want to twist and bind up.

I wonder how "impossible" it really is to raise the rear sub frame, rack, and rebuild the rear trans mount to accommodate? It would be ALLOT of work but I bet it is possible. Do the lower A-arms connect to the body of the car or the subframe? Yeah it has been quite some time since I looked at the newer civic suspension. lol

vpt
11-05-2013, 08:07 AM
So - while many a perfectionist who's had the state of the art wheel alignment done and is driving down the highway thinking about things like sugar plumbs and tooth fairy's and how all is right with the world in never never land --- it's actually not - just an illusion when you find out how the real world works.


But the majority of travel time is at a cruise not on the gas or off. Plus it does take a little more than just a little throttle input to start compressing or expanding the rubber bushings. All of this movement can be seen while the vehicle is hooked up to the machine when you pull and push on components with your own hands. Just like putting a dial indicator on a lathe chuck and then push and pull on the headstock or bed and watch the indicator move.

Now setting up drag cars they do like to be set up for optimal adjustment while under load. This is more of a guessing game of how far some components will travel while hard on the skinny peddle.

Movement is the reason guys like you and I use poly bushings everywhere. It is simply amazing how a car can be a 100% different animal before and after a complete poly bush install. Any honda I keep for any length of time I go threw and replace all the rubbers with poly. I love the firm, responsive, not all sloppy boat feeling. :D

vpt
11-05-2013, 08:15 AM
without having read any of the posts...yes...it's perfectly simple to align your own vehicle.

To set the tow, jack the front end up...spin the tires and shoot a white paint stripe on the tread...then take a screwdriver against a sturdy support and scribe a line in your paint stripe. Set the car down, roll it back and forth a few times, pull a tape across the front side and back side of the tires. adjust accordingly.

To set camber, grab a 18x24" carpenters square...point the wheels straight, set the square on the ground and measure between the long end and the bottom of the rim, then the top of the rim, and do some math...you'll figure out your camber angle...

For caster, do the above measurement with the wheels turned 20 to the left and to the right...do some more math.



A machine will show a change with as little as 1/25 of a turn on a tie rod collar. Measuring with a ruler you will be LUCKY to get the alignment within 1/16", when it comes to alignments that 1/16" is huge! In machining terms that would equate to trying to get a perfect press fit out of a round bar by measuring with your eyeball.

The question is "Can you align a vehicle without a machine", sure the answer is yes but it won't be right.

A.K. Boomer
11-05-2013, 08:51 AM
Really the length and point of articulation for tie rod bars should match the upper and lower control arms. Now I know the upper arms are shorter and create that awesome camber when lowered unless you get a correction kit which really just lengthens or off sets the upper arm.

All what you just wrote makes good sense - I did not drop my car that much - only about 3/4" up front and maybe 1" in the rear ,,, The car had some pretty good neg. camber right from the factory and yes iv helped it out some by dropping it a little, my upper and lower control arms are still sprung just slightly above neutral - yet the rack and pinon arms are way below neutral - it's actually the worst of both worlds as when compressed more the hub will physically move out slightly - yet the rack arms will suck the T.R. ends in creating excessive toe out as my rod ends connect to the rear of the hub...

It's crazy - never had this problem on my CRX and I dropped it a good inch all the way around... but like you said it must have had the rack arms articulate throughout the entire range to match what's happening with the upper and lower control arms, it was after all a different suspension system...
The thing is - is iv seen offset T.R.Ends on other cars from the factory,,, Just can't remember what they were on, if the taper and threads were the same a guy would have it made,,,
I need to look at one of those books with all the pictures and specs and maybe I can match something up...


Now it may very well be possible honda has a spindle out there on some car that has a higher mounted tie rod location. I do know some accords had their steering rack buried WAY up in the car which makes me think the TR mount may be higher on the spindle as well. Any sort of off set tie rod would want to twist and bind up.
yeah but I need the opposite - my rack is lower than the TREnds mount by a fair margin, I need lower mounted tie rod location on the spindle...
I thought the same thing about the TRends wanting to bind but know I have seen drop down T.R.s that are about the same level as their taper... that would be about perfect for the application, it would change everything...

I wonder how "impossible" it really is to raise the rear sub frame, rack, and rebuild the rear trans mount to accommodate? It would be ALLOT of work but I bet it is possible. Do the lower A-arms connect to the body of the car or the subframe? Yeah it has been quite some time since I looked at the newer civic suspension. lol

It would require cutting into major structure of the subframe at the very least - and then shortening your steering shaft and who knows if you would even have the running clearance for the rack arms on the main frame itself - it's simply not a practical option.
I actually thought of an oversize taper in the hub itself but machining it from the bottom and installing the TR End with an oversize taper sleeve upside down,,, but this is too radical in the other direction,,, plus I don't want to mess with the amount of hub meat for the TR end mount...

what surprises me is I own one of the most highly modified and tinkered with vehicles that was ever in production and I can't find an aftermarket company that addresses this problemo...

It's a very serious issue esp. at speed...

A.K. Boomer
11-05-2013, 09:09 AM
But the majority of travel time is at a cruise not on the gas or off. Plus it does take a little more than just a little throttle input to start compressing or expanding the rubber bushings. All of this movement can be seen while the vehicle is hooked up to the machine when you pull and push on components with your own hands. Just like putting a dial indicator on a lathe chuck and then push and pull on the headstock or bed and watch the indicator move.

"cruising" @ 75mph + takes a fair amount of effort,,, to imagine the effect it has on the spongy stock front end bushings of many a car (which incidentally I can change on most vehicles by 1/4" or so just by pushing with my foot..) think about the car being towed at that speed by it's front hubs,,, Now forget about the lead car creating a draft --- now throw in hills and even 12% grades as in the area's that I live in, what I can tell you is if you think turning a tie rod end collar 1/25th of a turn makes a big difference then think how much of an effect of having both your front wheels moving forward by copious amounts while the rack stays in the same spot does to toe-in tow-out...
now get on the binders when coming down that mountain road, or worse yet use the engine to slow you down like your supposed too - then once again it's all up to the front hubs mounted with "mushbucket" type structure...

As iv stated before - as far as box stock run of the mill vehicles - lets not get too carried away about wheel alignments...





Movement is the reason guys like you and I use poly bushings everywhere. It is simply amazing how a car can be a 100% different animal before and after a complete poly bush install. Any honda I keep for any length of time I go threw and replace all the rubbers with poly. I love the firm, responsive, not all sloppy boat feeling. :D


Yup - my car rides like a brick and I love it. hefty sway bars front and rear - stiff KYB's and energy suspension bushings all the way around to keep it all in check...

vpt
11-05-2013, 09:11 AM
yeah but I need the opposite - my rack is lower than the TREnds mount by a fair margin, I need lower mounted tie rod location on the spindle...
I thought the same thing about the TRends wanting to bind but know I have seen drop down T.R.s that are about the same level as their taper... that would be about perfect for the application, it would change everything...



Sorry, yes I meant lower TR mounts not higher. I was writing before my coffee.

Does that car still have the cast lower A-arm and stamped upper?

A.K. Boomer
11-05-2013, 09:15 AM
Yup right - cast lower and stamped upper...

except in rear - machined 6061 t6 lowers with drilled 3 place increments for rear sway bar mounts...

A.K. Boomer
11-05-2013, 09:29 AM
I worked for Oldsmobile when the Toronado first came out and I was very curious about the steering equipment and how they managed to control the tendency of the front tires to toe in/toe out during power on and braking. They want very much to toe in during acceleration and that 455ci V8 engine was a powerhouse of torque. Combined with the FWD final drive, transmission, and engine weight on the front wheels you have a lot of dynamic forces at work. We started seeing linkage loosening fairly soon on those after the first year. If you jacked one front wheel off the ground and rocked the steering wheel left/right the pitman, cross link, tie rods, and idler links looked like a bungie coupler. There was no way they could decouple from wear, but they sure got loose.


Well put - front wheel drive vehicles throw a whole nuther set of dynamics into the mix, and with a beast like that the amount of beef needed to keep things in check would be incredible - and the loads would be in many directions of all the rubber mounted components simply due to the front wheels wanting to cross each other or separate depending on acceleration or deceleration...

A.K. Boomer
11-05-2013, 09:33 AM
Chocks would have torqued the scales, giving a wrong answer.


was not talking for taking a reading, just for the hail mary of trying to stop the plane after you seen that it was starting to roll.. ?

kendall
11-05-2013, 09:52 AM
"A good alignment has to include the rear wheels to compensate for wheel offset and thrust angle."

can you tell me, how you would "compensate" for that on a bicycle?

On bicycles and motorcycles, you need to adjust the spacers. They both work far better when the wheels ride in the same track. If they can not be adjusted through spacers, you need to adjust the dish on spoke rims by using the spokes. Sometimes it is the frame or rear triangle that's causing the issue, and all you can do is 'bend' it. On swing arms, you can often shim them to make minor adjustments, and make sure bushings are good as well.
Use the old string and rule method to align. String from drop outs to headstock and measure frame to string at various points on both sides. I've seen brand new high quality bicycles that were as much as 3/8 inch off.

I normally 'quick check' front/rear alignment by riding through a water puddle onto dry ground while going straight. Offset will result in either two tracks, or a track wider than the tires if it's not too bad.

The most noticeable result of bikes/motorcycles not being in line is noticed when turning, one direction will will feel sluggish, the other will feel like it's got perfect handling. It 'falls' into the turn when the wheel is to the opposite side, and has to lift when the offset is on the same side as the turn.

EVguru
11-05-2013, 10:07 AM
I've had a number of vehicles go through a full four wheel alignment over the years. They've all driven better and burned less fuel when set up right. I've always been able to watch the procedure and have even been involved on occasion when I wanted something non-standard.

For pure front wheel toe testing, I used to have a pair of boards mounted on linear bearings so they could move sideways. You would position the vehicle so it was just on to the start of each board measure the distance between a line on each board, roll the vehicle forward by one wheel revolution and measure the distance again. Zero toe would give zero change of distance.

dp
11-05-2013, 01:58 PM
was not talking for taking a reading, just for the hail mary of trying to stop the plane after you seen that it was starting to roll.. ?

Ah - I did do that but there was not enough weight on the nose gear and it pushed the chock off the scale. Empty 727's are pretty light up front.

A.K. Boomer
11-05-2013, 04:59 PM
Damn what a helpless nightmare to have to watch that all unfold.. and if you chucked it under one set/side of the rear wheels the plane would have rotated and most likely took even more stuff out...

vpt
11-06-2013, 08:01 AM
Should have brought the toyota tundra in!

A.K. Boomer
11-06-2013, 09:59 AM
There ya go just like the commercial - good solid drivetrain, just don't put any weight in the back of the truck...