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Thread: DIY Wheel Alignment / Camber. A how-to guide.

  1. #1
    Regular Nige's Avatar
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    Spent some time sorting out the wheel alignment now the top mounts, Lower ball joints and wheel bearings have all been replaced.

    I used what is known as the `string` method, its surprisingly accurate..

    First, I started with a roll of SEA FISHING SHOCK LEADER, its strong fishing line, I bought 50m in Fluorescent Red off Ebay for £2.75 delivered.

    Start by making sure the steering wheel is pointing straight ahead, if this is moved or off centre, you will end up with the wheel not dead ahead when the car is driving straight. !!

    Your method may vary slightly, but the basic theory is the same. I have some pieces of stone laying around which were ideal, you need something moveable but heavy enough to stay in place.

    Start by having a pile of blocks at each corner of the car, now run a length of line down each side of the car, approximately parallel and then ties round each pile of blocks, slide the blocks apart to tighten the line and move up and down so the line runs level with the car hub


    Now, the IMPORTANT PART, much easier with a helper. You want to ensure the lines are parallel down each side of the car, so measure the distance between the lines


    In my case, it was 1.714m (this really doesnt matter)


    Now do the same at the front of the car


    Again, 1.714m


    You now know the lines are parallel to each other, but they also need to be parallel to the sides of the car. Shown as NOT being parallel to the car below:


    To check, you measure the Hub > Line distance.

    Front drivers side. I measured from that raised part on the wheel centre to the line. Just over 63mm


    Now the same on the nearside front, I adjusted the blocks at each side, to move the line so the front measurement was the same.

    Rear Drivers side, 69mm from wheel to line


    Rear passenger side, 69mm wheel to hub.


    Lines parallel to the car with Hub measurements shown.


    TAKE TIME DOING THE ABOVE STEPS. If you rush it, there is not point continuing. You Need to keep measuring the distance from the wheels centres to the line and the distance between the lines to ensure the Lines are parallel to EACH OTHER AND the lines are parallel to the car.

    You now have to lines running down the side of the car, if you move these, you need to start again !


    I started with the rear wheels. I wanted to check the wheels were both pointing forwards. The reason I checked this is that I fitted the rear beam and there is play in the mounting bolts to allow beam alignment adjustment.

    It does NOT matter which point on the wheels you pick, but you MUST keep using the same point for every wheel. It ensures consistency and stops silly errors creeping in.

    Rear Passenger side, front edge to line : 51mm


    Rear Passenger side, rear edge to line : 53mm


    Rear Drivers side, front edge to line : 51.5mm


    Rear Drivers side, rear edge to line : 52mm


    What this means is that in my case, the rear wheels were slightly toeing out and the passenger side more than the drivers.. Wheel angle greatly exaggerated below to show what I mean.


    I loosened the rear beam mounts and adjusted the beam until the measurements were equal at each side.
    I ended up with the distance from the front edge of the wheels being as close to the rear edge as my adjustment allowed. I still have slight toe out at the rear, probably due to a slightly bent rear beam, but as I`ve had this for 18 months and found the handling to be fine, I`m leaving it.


    Next step was to move onto the front wheels. I turned the car around and re set the parallel lines, so the measurements may not tie in with the ones above.

    Front wheel measurement in progress


    Front Drivers side, rear edge : 46mm


    Front Drivers side, Front edge : 57mm


    I took measurements for the Front Passenger side too, they were 52mm and 46mm.

    This meant I had huge Toe IN. This was not suprising, I`d had all the suspension apart when replacing most of the components, I would not expect someone checking a car that hadn`t had major works to be this far out.


    To adjust the tracking, loosen the Tie rod locking nut


    Move the nut sufficiently down the tie rod so it does not impede adjustment


    Fit suitable spanner and adjust the tracking. In my case, you would push the rear of the wheel outwards, therefore bringing the front in.


    I was after zero toe, I had run this before and liked the handling on track.

    Measuring the front wheels


    Front edge of the Drivers front wheel : 41mm


    Rear edge of the Drivers front wheel : 41mm


    Front wheels after adjusting both sides. Zero toe (parallel)


    Final check of all 4 wheels to ensure nothing had moved.


    I took the car for a test drive and there was NO crabbing or off centre positioning of the steering wheel required.

    This method may SOUND simplistic and not very accurate, but you will be surprised how you can spot even the tiniest adjustments with a steel rule and fishing line...

  2. #2
    Regular Nige's Avatar
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    Next step was Camber Adjustment.

    As I didn`t own a camber gauge, I decided to make one. I`ve read loads of text guides, but no comprehensive photo guide, so I thought I`d make one ;)

    I used 30mm Steel Angle as I had several bits laying around. I wanted to be able to use the gauge on varying sized wheels, so I cut a slot into the angle with a 1mm slitting disk


    Drilled the ends and ended up with a nice slot (it will become obvious why later...)


    Cut a shorter length and tack welded it to the longer length. Checked for square then welded properly


    I then welded 2 150mm long pieces at 90 degrees to the long length. The distance between them being around 573mm


    I then drilled 2 holes on the short length at equal distances from the centre. These are where the bolts will go that sit onto the wheel. I then added another bolt into the `slot`. Position the bolts so all 3 sit on the flat part of the wheel. The `slot` means the top bolt can be moved, allowing the use of the gauge on varying diameter wheels.


    With the gauge on a FLAT surface, I quickly set it up using a spirit level, adjusting each bolt until every check was level, then I locked the nuts.


    A 150mm steel rule was fitted onto the bottom `arm`


    A large headed bolt fitted 573mm above the steel rule was secured to the top `arm`


    I then used some of the Shock Leader fluorescent fishing line, tied a loop at the top and an old socket on the bottom to act as a weight.


    I held the gauge against a vertical surface and let the line hang until still


    Ensure the line JUST clears the steel rule, this makes it easy to read, but means the line is not catching on the rule, affecting the reading.


    The steel rule needs to be adjusted so the line passes through the 100mm point, here it is at 97mm


    Move the steel rule left / right, I made oversized holes to allow adjustment. Your gauge is now `zeroed`. I checked against several vertical surfaces, walls and doors to check it was accurate, every one showed `zero`


    Do NOT adjust the bolts / steel rule, these are now set for vertical.

    I secured the gauge to a wheel using a small ratchet I had handy


    When I had setup the camber before, I`d used a digital gauge and set it to -1.3 Degrees.

    Using this method, 1mm is 0.1degrees, so 10mm is 1 degree.

    My gauge showed - 12.5mm, (- 1.25 degrees) I`d say thats pretty near to the -1.3 I set it to with the Digital gauge !


    Adjusting camber on a MK2 Golf is easy, I loosened the strut mounting bolts.


    Adjusted the camber to the maximum I could get, - 2.05 degrees (20.5mm)


    Repeated for the other side and now have -2 degrees on each side :thumb: This method may appear crude, but the accuracy is high. So long as the gauge is `zeroed` correctly, the resulting camber measurements are very accurate .

    If you adjust the camber AFTER the toe, if you re-check the toe it will probably be out.

    Camber first, toe after!

    If you add negative camber the track will read more 'toe out'

  3. #3
    in awe of your technical ability Nige - great write up as usual and really useful guide for people to do this themselves.
    Duncan

  4. #4
    Great write up Nige , just one thing, if you adjust the camber AFTER the toe, if you re-check the toe it will probably be out.

    Camber first, toe after! :thumb:

    If you add negative camber the track will read more 'toe out'

    (applies to cars with mcpherson strut arrangement)

  5. #5
    Regular Nige's Avatar
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    Yep, good point Gary :thumb:

  6. #6
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    Top class guide.

    :thumb:

    Something I'm going to be doing in a few months, after my rear sub-frame has been off and polybushed. I was looking into buying set-up gauges, this should save a bit of cash, so huge thanks for doing the thinking and research on this!
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  7. #7
    Regular Floyd's Avatar
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    I' amazed as always Nige :blink: :thumb:

    You forgot the first part of the instruction: first build a pit :whistle:
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  8. #8
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    Fantastic, thanks for posting it up. :thumb:
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  9. #9
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    Just had a quick overview, looks like I've been using this "kind" of method for several times, I'll try to add my tips and advice later on, there are a few pointers to make it more easy. Good working in posting it all up , I never have as I couldn't be arsed.

    Pointers:

    1. You need to determine the perfect box around the car to do this right, this you do with plunge bobs hanging off suspension points, determing the middle of the car and extending that line..more to follow.

    2. As the wheels need to move to be able to adjust the Toe, use two wooden linolieum plates with oil sandwiched in between, this makes for a good plateu. Just be carefull the car doesn't slip off, so caution adviced.

    3. You can use a cheap yet very effective camber-inclanation gauge for doing the camber which is digitally precise AND calibratable to the surface you're working on. More to follow...

    4. Plunge bobs, axle stands, machinist rule, red-cord..more to follow

    5. Pipe, clamps, concrete tiles..more to follow...

    6. P.S. , another way of setting toe is measureing distance between front wheels using the ropes as reference of parralellness, this way you don't set individual toe but total-toe which is what your aiming for, but both methods should work. More to follow...drunk...late at night...

    7 Another P.S. , the T-bar you made may be inaccurate as the rim flange is not always flat (like my curbe-stoned one, thanks AF + Wet) so I use a just a big metal piece and put it on the sides of the tires that are symmetrical enough to be highly accurate. Especially whne your rimzzzz are a bit f00ked.
    Everybody is entitled to my opinion.

  10. #10
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    nice one Nige :thumb:

    rgds "MADDOG"

  11. #11
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    All I can say is bloody hell, Nige :o
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  12. #12
    Regular Nige's Avatar
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    Its not difficult guys :fish:

    I`ve read plenty reports about what to do, but like a lot of things, its much easier once you`ve done it yourself. A few diagrams and photos should make it so anyone could do it if they had the patience. As I said, the accuracy is very high, the camber gauge (if set correctly) is accurate to 0.05 degrees :o

    As The Vee mentioned though, if your wheel is buckled, that will affect the reading, so it would probably be sensible to set it up, then move the car so the wheel turns and put the gauge on again, just to double check.

    I`ve seen this method used where they fasten a bar to the front and back of the car. The lines are then fastened to those bars., as in the photo below.



    That allows the car to be moved forwards and backwards to let the suspension settle after adjustment, without the need to re align the lines down the sides of the car, but I just rolled the car back and forth, then did a quick re-check to ensure the lines were still parallel to the car :thumb:

    I suppose the next step would be to make the bars similar to the photo, but for how long it takes to setup, i`m not bothering.

  13. #13
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    Originally posted by Nige@Oct 19 2008, 08:26 PM
    As I didn`t own a camber gauge, I decided to make one.
    This matter of fact statement easily sums up the difference between Nige and mere mortals.
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    Good stuff Nige, I've seen my brother in law using similar methods for DIY setting up of his Mk1 Golf before and it gives very good results. Never done mine to be honest as it always seems to drive ok, probably could do with setting up though so might break out the string and steel rule at some point in the near future :thumb:
    Too many cars...

  15. #15
    Great article Nige :thumb:

    I too have used this method successfully :D
    Someone may have already used your signature but its ok, if its a good one there's probably some more mileage in it...


    As the good man Rory O pointed out.... Northloop,"it's a nasty habit, but there are worse!!"

  16. #16
    Regular JamesW's Avatar
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    this needs to be stuck somewhere for all to see!
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  17. #17
    Bloody hell Nige, you really need to get out more :thumb:

    Great work and well worth pinning me thinks :thumb:
    I'm arresting you for murdering my car you dyke digging tosspot

  18. #18
    Regular Nige's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Gary Kinghorn@Oct 21 2008, 08:42 PM
    Bloody hell Nige, you really need to get out more :thumb:
    Thanks for that. :fish:

  19. #19
    Originally posted by Nige@Oct 21 2008, 09:08 PM
    Thanks for that. :fish:
    :lol: :lol:
    I'm arresting you for murdering my car you dyke digging tosspot

  20. #20
    Nige, couple of pointers:

    Before statring ensure the steering wheel is centre to the rack travel (this only applies to cars where the column is not master splined, i.e. the wheel can be fitted anywhere). This is for two reasons: to ensure the track rod lengths are equal, and to ensure the phasing of the column universal joints is correct (they can speed up or slow down the effective steering ratio depending on their angles). You do this by turning the steering onto full lock in each direction and checking the steering wheel is turned to the same angle (symetrically).

    You should check wheel base length before starting by measuring between the wheel centres on each side. This ensures longitudinal subframe alignment.

    You should double check a lateral reference form the body when setting the wire spacing, this ensures the lateral subframe alignment, i.e. they are centred.

    Camber and toe affect each other, to get a true reading you need to flip between them. Camber is affected less by toe than the other way around.

  21. #21
    Regular Jim Cameron's Avatar
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    And weight the car appropriately, otherwise all the measurements are out when you get in.

    Credit to you Nige. I'm not surprised that this way is working for you. I've also used this technique. It can be accurate, but when you are adjusting a complete setup where you are seeking to control accurately camber, castor and toe you must roll the car and bump compress after every adjustment to allow it to settle. And remeasure, again. For the sheer time and effort involved, for me, going to a proper live alignment rig is utterly worth the expense.

    An hour on one is about £50 quid in the UK. You'll get more done than 3 hours of measuring, and more accurately too. At the Ring - Schirmers, TTE and others can do the same thing, and are more likely to get it right sooner than by self experimentation.
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  22. #22
    Regular Nige's Avatar
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    Thanks Dave / Jim :thumb:

    Yep, agree 100% with your points :thumb: The measurements from the body to the lines is a very good point.

    Jim, I have phoned EVERY garage I can think of within sensible range and the cheapest I can get a full 4-wheel alignment with camber is £120, which was why I did it myself. I wouldn`t mind paying £50, but £120 is just silly.

    This method is pretty accurate, i`d like to get it on a live rig to see how near I got it, but not at that price !!

  23. #23
    Regular Jim Cameron's Avatar
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    Get your arse down here for the weekend then. £50 quid alignment and beer :thumb:
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  24. #24
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    If you just want a check to see how accurate it is, next time you're down south, call into Wheels In Motion in Chesham. I'm sure Tony would do a quick check and printout of it's current setup without adjustments for not much (he used to charge £30 or so for the check and then £20 per adjustment required).
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  25. #25
    Originally posted by Jim Cameron@Oct 22 2008, 09:38 AM
    At the Ring - Schirmers, TTE and others can do the same thing, and are more likely to get it right sooner than by self experimentation.
    To be honest with you Jim i've seen this very method used at T Schirmers, also at BS Motorsport (porsche specialist) And Triple eight used this method on the btcc cars a while back (can't speak for currently as Sunny doesn't work there now) ;)

    Personally i wouldn't use TTE since he MUGGED Tom knight :jerk: (at least Dick Turpin wore a freakin mask)

    It's easy to pick holes but fair play to Nige, half the fun is finding a way to succeed with these things :thumb:
    Someone may have already used your signature but its ok, if its a good one there's probably some more mileage in it...


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  26. #26
    Regular Floyd's Avatar
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    Doesn't Steve Gill have all the gear to do this? :whistle:
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  27. #27
    thank you for posting this, i did used to wonder how people done their own tracking.

  28. #28
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    A few things should be noted to bitch around;

    1. Track width differences

    If the car has different track widths. If you follow the way Nige setts his paralellness of the line, you need to determine distance from Hub to Line on the back and front seperatly. However I still prefer using a center line (explained later).



    For instance;

    Front: Rope to Left tire = 5 mm 5 = Right tire to Rope: Front
    Rear: Rope to Left tire = 7 mm 7 = Right tire to Rope: Rear

    2. Use of Axle stands and some pipe

    It is much easier to use axle stands and some pipe for tying the ropes down.



    Go to a hardware shop and buy some thing plumbers piping of 2M wide as it doesn't flex. Now you can put 4 axle stand around the car. Take your pipes and make 2 small slits in each pipe symetricly. For instance 10cm from each end. This way your ropes will always be parallel to each other. The use of jackstands makes height setting easier and is handyer than bricks and such.

    3. The accurate way to determine perfect parallelness

    To get the "box" around your car perfectly paralell is done by ceating a centre line.



    The center line is ceated by taking the exact middle of the car. How do we measure this?

    Using plunge bob's, masking tape, pen and ruler;



    We lift the car. Than using the suspension pivot points (like the pivot point of the lower trailing arm) we determine the middle. We take the plunge bob and hang it of the suspension pivot-point. The plunge bob points to a point on the floor, we put some masking tape on the point and with our pen EXACTLY mark where the point of the p-bob is pointing, this has to be mm precise.

    So now we have 2 points on the floor. We measure the distance between them, lets say 100cm, so the exact middle is at 50cm. We mark the 50cm point our ruler shows. Now we take a plunge bob and hang it above this middle-point we just made, when the plung bob lines up with the point, than the part where the bob is supended on the car is the front (or rear) end's middle point of the car. We mark this point with red paint or yellow bright paint that doesn't wipe off.

    We do the same for the rear. Now we have 2 middle points where we can draw a line to and aft creating a 'middle-line'. So we take our 2 plunge bobs and suspend them on each end's middle point.

    Now we take a rope and create a line thru the middle of the car. The rope has to touch both wires (on which the bobs hang) and when it does, you have just made a perfect middle line that is always parallel to the chassis.

    3.5 Continued

    Now we have 'a' box around the car (jack stands, pipe and 2 ropes by the sides) and a middle line, we are going to set the box parallel.

    First we measure the middle of the pipe between the jack stands, which is 100cm if you bought a 2m pipe and we mark this middle. Than we take a socket or some weight and hang that of that middle so we again have a line hanging down. This we do on both front and rear.

    Now we move our pipe left/right to match the centre line so the rope going from the middle of the pipe is alinged with the centre line.

    Note that the axle stands should also be symettrical from each other for practibility however not persť. I just measure distance from a-stand front to tire and set the other one the same.

    4. Setting camber

    I set camber using a digital camber inc. gauge that is used to measure the angle of golf clubs or angle-saws, its cheap and works well. I'll see if I can get a pic and sell ad from. I got mine from eBay. keywords : inclanation gauge You can calibrate it to unlevel ground as well as that of a pit-box.

    5. The car should be standing on bricks or tiles or something as the wheel needs its full weight for camber and toe to be at static position.

    However you will be turning the tires to set toe, so I used 2 linolieum boards under the wheel with oil sandwiched in between, the upper board slides easyliy over the lower so now you have a nice plateau.
    Everybody is entitled to my opinion.

  29. #29
    Top marks Nige with some useful little bits thrown in by everyone else. :thumb: This has to be one of THE most useful DIY threads on here! :o

    Definitely going to be making up some of this kit over the winter for next season.
    Thanks again Nige, it all takes time and effort to put these guides together....cheers. :thumb: :thumb: :thumb:
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  30. #30
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    Originally posted by Darran@Oct 20 2008, 09:37 AM
    This matter of fact statement easily sums up the difference between Nige and mere mortals.
    LMFAO - so true.

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  31. #31
    For the flush amongst you you can buy a "kit" which includes the bars front/rear plus a fishing-string equivalent ;-)

    SmartRacing in the US make one, imported by exe-tc in the UK:

    http://www.exe-tc.co.uk/product_images/NEW...SIS%20SETUP.pdf

    when I nipped down to exe-tc for new coilovers they used this to set it all up.

    I was told

    Ride-Heights first
    Camber/Castor second
    Toe last

    took them a fair while on the evo because at the rear the same bolts that adjusted toe also influence camber so you spend time chasing numbers back and forth.

    The advantage of the "on-car kit" is that you can roll the car back and forth between steps to ensure any changes you make are taken up by the suspension before moving on.

    Quality write-up though. Camber gauges aint cheap :-)

  32. #32
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    i am amazed, and respect due nige... i'm lovin the home made rig. and doing it cause you love it is great, but i just paid £51 to have all 4 wheels aligned.. how much are the rigs they use? not that they look any where near as cool as yours mate!

    sorry id didn't say good bye the other day i played with armco heading towards the 3km sign, hence the wheel alignment.

    i want a garage
    don't confuse me with someone who washes their car...

  33. #33
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    just o note the tvr boys did camber the toe in..

    do you run extra camber for the ring..?
    don't confuse me with someone who washes their car...

  34. #34
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    /Added some picturz on Page 2
    Everybody is entitled to my opinion.

  35. #35
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    ....

    Great DIY thread! :veryhappy:



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  36. #36
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    Why is the person in the lower photo measuring the middle of the wheel? He needs to measure the Toe and Heel of the wheel and note the difference to get the Toe-measurement.
    Everybody is entitled to my opinion.

  37. #37
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    Originally posted by The-Vee@May 3 2010, 11:19 AM
    Why is the person in the lower photo measuring the middle of the wheel? He needs to measure the Toe and Heel of the wheel and note the difference to get the Toe-measurement.
    He is getting his "box" square measuring off the centre of the wheels, since the centre of the wheels is the same on both front and rear axle, the lines will be parallel :)

    After that you just do as the OP did and measure the toe and heel of the wheel to get the amount of toe :)
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  38. #38
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    Ohw that way, well that's an other way of doing it. He basically aligns the wheels to the wheels. When you do it the way I posted, you align the wheels to the chassis, so you eliminate the chances of crabbing.
    Everybody is entitled to my opinion.

  39. #39
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    This guide is great and I am going to give it it a try.

    Couple of Q's, how do you hold the steering wheel still for the alignment? The 573mm distance on the camber gauge is this from the bolt centre to steel rule centre?

    Any chance of sorting the photos into the correct order? They seem to have become jumbled!

  40. #40
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    Garv, I`ve modified this method a bit since posting this guide, I use a method similar to on the Mini, where the bars are suspended from the car, is means you can roll it back and forth between adjustments to settle the suspension, without having to keep re-alignining it on the car, I`ll update the guide soon.

    For camber, don`t make a gauge like I did. The apps available on smart phones are perfectly adequate. I found my daughters IPod, when it had a spirit level app installed was accurate to within 0.1 Degrees

  41. #41
    Regular Joel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Garv View Post
    Couple of Q's, how do you hold the steering wheel still for the alignment? The 573mm distance on the camber gauge is this from the bolt centre to steel rule centre?
    Garv, I use a couple of equal length pieces of wood to keep my wheel dead straight whilst setting tracking. I also ballast the drivers seat and footwell with concrete blocks to simulate my weight being in the car.

    I think you're right about the 573 mm - just simple trigonometry to measure 1 degree as 10 linear mm.

    Check out this thread for more DIY alignment tips:http://www.northloop.co.uk/forum/sho...p?34294-Camber



    If the whole world was filled with just animals and David Attenborough, it would be a beautiful place. Unfortunately, it's been overrun by 7.7-billion assholes.

  42. #42
    Regular Garv's Avatar
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    Thanks for the advice guys. Much appreciated :)

  43. #43
    Regular Nige's Avatar
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    If you don`t have a smart phone, one of these, mentioned by `The Vee` earlier in the thread could be ideal.
    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Digital-In...item2a14f336ad


    £19 delivered.

  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nige View Post
    decided to spend a little bit of time improving the `string` alignment method. You may remember reading it easlier in the thread, using blocks to secure the lines


    Had 2 lengths of bar, lined them up and marked `slots` on each one in exactly the same place.

    Bent some flat bar and drilled some mounting holes in one end and welded on a slightly larger diameter bit of tube on the other


    Secured the front brackets and one tube to the front slam panel


    And the back one onto the inside of the rear of the car


    Secured the fishing line to the tube (hindsight and i`d have used square section, as the tube `untwists`, but I only had tube handy). Aligned the line to the centre of the `slots` I made


    The assembly is then still aligned by measuring from the centre hub of the wheel to the line, font and rear, but by simply moving the bars left or right, this is much easier to setup.

    Then, the measurements to the wheel front and rear edge are done as before.

    The beauty of this is that the car can be rolled forwards and back after adjustment to allow the suspension to settle, but still keeps the fishing lines parallel, without requiring re-adjustment everytime, it is also much easier to initially setup, the bars can be moved tiny amounts and I found it took a couple of minutes to setup the lines parallel to the car and then get measuring :D

    I`ve since tweaked this again but its essentially the same.

    I`ve recently replaced the rear beam, front suspension, hubs, wishbones and steering rack. I set it up aiming for -3 Degrees camber, 0 Toe and equal toe at the rear so I had no Thrust angle.

    Once done, I took it to a local 4-wheel alignment place for a check.

    They put the car on the machine and these were the results, without ANY changes from my DIY settings.


    If I can now do it pretty quickly and the printout speaks for itself, this method, when done properly is very accurate.

  45. #45
    This calculator is very useful:

    https://www.robrobinette.com/DIYAlignmentCalculator.htm

    It means that so long as your strings are parallel to each other, they needn't be parallel to the car centre line.


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