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Steve W's Avatar
 
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Thumbs up Draco's $13 Harbor Freight Toe Gauge - thumbs up!!

You know, when I initially saw this thing, I thought it was one of the hokeyest things from Harbor Freight, but I used it for the first time this week and I have to admit, it does the job. Draco for some reason had an extra one, so he dropped it off for me to use.




After having the dealer (who shall remain nameless) replace the right front PASM strut on warranty, I noticed the car kept pulling to the right. Using a Stabila bubble level and digital caliper, I measured the right side camber a half degree positive relative to the left (bastard dealer never did an alignment!! The corner balance settings were also upset - coil over lockrings were not at the same height - good thing I recorded the measurements expecting this incompetence) Instead of taking it back, I just readjusted the right side camber myself, adding the half degree negative camber back. This resulted in a toe out condition (steering rack is on the front side on a 996/997) I used to use the line scribe method to measure toe but it requires you to roll the car back and forth a half wheel revolution while trying to look in a tight wheel well at the scribe markings. This method is more accurate if you think your wheels might be bent to any degree.

Feeling pretty lazy, and pretty confident my wheel are still straight, I pulled out the $13 Harbor Freight toe gauge to do a quick front-rear comparison of the toe difference, and surprisingly it was pretty easy to use and I was able to get accurate enough measurements for government work. No more than 5 minutes aligning the gauge on the backside of the wheels, then flipping it around to the frontside to see the difference. Because there's so little ground clearance below my car, use the gauge with the pointers positioned vertically to get an accurate front vs backside difference across a 19" rim. Spec calls for 6' toe in for street alignment, or 0 for track. Using a online camber/toe calculator here, I get about a 1 mm differential front to rear for 6' angle over 20".

http://www.furybusa.org.uk/camber.php

So setting the gauge around the backside of the front wheels, here's the fixed end of the gauge on the right wheel aligned against the tire pointing to the rear side of the rim:




Here's the oppostie side, left front wheel, rear side. The wing screw is loosened, the gauge slides against the tire and positioned against the tire until the pointer goes to 0.




Flip the gauge around to the frontside of the wheels and compare the gap between the tire and the pointer. I left the pointer at 0 on the gauge and adjusted the toe until the gap you see at the top between the pointer and tire is 1 mm.




Thanks Draco!!

Old 05-02-2009, 12:42 PM
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That is smart. He told me about it but I couldn't imagine until I see pictures. I thought of similar thing but couldn't figure out how to get it around the trunk . I can see this tool works well because the tool is laying low but the measuring points can be at the mid point of the wheel.
I used to use fishing lines. It works for me but I have to admit that it is so hard to get the job done and very time consumming.
Question though, you guys are measuring on the tires wall, not the wheel lips right? How about attaching some small pieces of metal (fixed) at each end/tip of the tool to measure at the wheel lips?
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Old 05-03-2009, 12:41 AM
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Thats a good point.
You could put a little machine screw in each end to touch or measure from the rims instead of the tire sidewall which isn't going to be as accurate.

I am going to get one of these tools.
Sure looks better than going crazy going around and around the car squaring off strings wrapped around jackstands for a half hour...and then you have to do that again after turning a wheel far enough to get your arms under there with 12mm and 19mm wrenchs to adjust the tie rods because you have to move the strings and stands out of the way to do that.
Especially with the staggered offsets on a turbo it is very tedious.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rnln View Post
That is smart. He told me about it but I couldn't imagine until I see pictures. I thought of similar thing but couldn't figure out how to get it around the trunk . I can see this tool works well because the tool is laying low but the measuring points can be at the mid point of the wheel.
I used to use fishing lines. It works for me but I have to admit that it is so hard to get the job done and very time consumming.
Question though, you guys are measuring on the tires wall, not the wheel lips right? How about attaching some small pieces of metal (fixed) at each end/tip of the tool to measure at the wheel lips?
Old 05-03-2009, 07:47 AM
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Steve: Before making adjustments how did you verify that your floor is flat? I use a 6' level and I have a set of 12"x12" aluminum "tiles" in different thicknesses to get the car truly level. I have also used strings, but can certainly see value in having the pictured tool in the garage. Good post!
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Old 05-03-2009, 08:43 AM
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Hmm Pete Z for a "street car" would the Toe be affected much if the floor was slightly un-level? I can see it making a difference on a CB but to just touch up the toe I would not think that critical.

maybe on a race car with all sphericals that would be very sensitive...

That makes me wonder, Has any body ever come up with a way to do a "dynamic alignment".

We spend so much effort to get 1/32" measured in and then when the car is moving all of the forces on the chassis and bushings and tires move everything around?

It would cool if they could come up with a rig you attach to the car that would take the measurements while driving real time to see where its at while the car is in "being loaded".

I guess thats kind of what you do with tire temp probes.
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Last edited by Elombard; 05-03-2009 at 09:07 AM..
Old 05-03-2009, 09:03 AM
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Question

[QUOTE=Steve W;4640549]You know, when I initially saw this thing, I thought it was one of the hokeyest things from Harbor Freight, but I used it for the first time this week and I have to admit, it does the job. Draco for some reason had an extra one, so he dropped it off for me to use.



So setting the gauge around the backside of the front wheels, here's the fixed end of the gauge on the right wheel aligned against the tire pointing to the rear side of the rim:
QUOTE]

When using the fixed end as a starting point on the right wheel, how do you know what the existing toe is on the right wheel?
And how do you incorporate any possible existing toe on the right into setting the toe on the left?
And how does any setting in front fit in with a rear wheel alignment to get the overall 4-wheel alignment?

I am missing something.
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Old 05-03-2009, 09:06 AM
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Here's Porsche Motorsports alignment tools, part# 997.450.351.90 997.450.561/562.90

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Old 05-03-2009, 10:16 AM
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You quite welcome SW

I am glad you didn't throw it away. LOL.

I went to Just Tires to verify the Toe and Camber for FREE. It appears I need to Toe out a little more:

Front

Camber: Left -0.8 Right -0.9 (not bad since I wanted -0.75) Spec is -0.2-+0.2
Caster: Left +5.2 Right +5.6 (again not bad for eye ballin it) Spec is +5.8-+6.3
Toe: Let +0.22 Right +0.21 (again not bad for using the HB tool the first time)

Cross Camber +0.1 (good)
Cross Caster -0.4 (good)
Total Toe +0.42 (Too much Toe In)

Rear

Camber: -1.0 Both Side (Perfect for my "Agressive Street" occasional AutoX/Track use)
Caster: Left +0.15 Right -0.03 (NEED TO ADJUST)

Total Toe +0.12 (within Specs but cock eyed)
Thrust Angle +0.09 ( within Specs, strange)
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Old 05-03-2009, 10:19 AM
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Quote:

When using the fixed end as a starting point on the right wheel, how do you know what the existing toe is on the right wheel?
And how do you incorporate any possible existing toe on the right into setting the toe on the left?
And how does any setting in front fit in with a rear wheel alignment to get the overall 4-wheel alignment?

I am missing something.
This tool is just an estimator rather than a percision tool.

From my understanding, and per Bentley Guide if you turn the wheel to the left and to the right staring from center till stop, you can determine, or estimate if the initial toe is off or not. Of course it will be almost impossible to determine the 1/100th measurements but you will get a good starting point. Adjust if needed then measure Toe.

As you can see on my Just Tires read out my Toe was 0.01 degrees off. Not bad.

Hell if you can, go to Just Tires and get a read out, adjust then have them re-check. Just let them think you will buy tires from them. In my case, I will be.

Hey Pete, Steve used your method to determine the level of the floor of his garage.
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Last edited by DRACO A5OG; 05-03-2009 at 10:32 AM..
Old 05-03-2009, 10:27 AM
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How do you use those?

Are they for any 911 or just a new one?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Verburg View Post
Here's Porsche Motorsports alignment tools, part# 997.450.351.90 997.450.561/562.90
Old 05-03-2009, 10:28 AM
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I bet they mount to the body somewhere and would be chassis specific.
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Old 05-03-2009, 11:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Zimmermann View Post
Steve: Before making adjustments how did you verify that your floor is flat? I use a 6' level and I have a set of 12"x12" aluminum "tiles" in different thicknesses to get the car truly level. I have also used strings, but can certainly see value in having the pictured tool in the garage. Good post!
hmmm, is that why my camber was off? Ok, note to self, shim your car level side to side before measuring camber. Ahh, just kidding. I left out a couple of details, but my garage is actually dead spot level side to side, verified by a trusty 6' Stabila level, flipped both sides for verification (you know the Germans always make good stuff!) otherwise I'd roll the wheels up on magazines or tiles to shimmed to level.

Up next, the DIY Draco Harbor Freight $28 digital Smart Camber gauge!





Quote:
Originally Posted by Gunter View Post
When using the fixed end as a starting point on the right wheel, how do you know what the existing toe is on the right wheel?
And how do you incorporate any possible existing toe on the right into setting the toe on the left?
And how does any setting in front fit in with a rear wheel alignment to get the overall 4-wheel alignment?

I am missing something.
Actually with front toe, there's really not such thing as left toe vs right toe, it's mainly the difference that matters. If one side is adjusted with more toe than the other, the only difference is the steering wheel isn't exactly centered, so you readjust the toe again a little, taking away from one side and giving the same amount to the other until you're happy with the centering of your steering wheel.

Rear toe, that's another story, but the back wheels follow the front. The fronts are dynamic so their settings have no relevance to the rears. Back wheel alignment have thrust angle, which centers where they point relative to the front center of the car, so squaring up strings around the car is better for that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Verburg View Post
Here's Porsche Motorsports alignment tools, part# 997.450.351.90 997.450.561/562.90

That's a sweet setup - I'm not even going to ask what that costs.

Last edited by Steve W; 05-03-2009 at 11:48 AM..
Old 05-03-2009, 11:31 AM
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Had a Question about rear Toe, for us 84-89's.

Bentley recommends loosening the 4 nuts on the plate then adjust the 12MM allen eccentric adjustment bolts for Toe and Camber.

In order to adjust the Toe ONLY, do I need to loosen all 4 nuts or just the Toe Adjustment Lock Nut?

Hey SW, you want borrow my Angle Finder Gauge?
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Old 05-03-2009, 06:31 PM
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for toe only, I think you just have to do the 2 rear nuts/bolts but you also have to play with camber.
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Old 05-04-2009, 01:14 AM
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Quote:
"Actually with front toe, there's really not such thing as left toe vs right toe, it's mainly the difference that matters. If one side is adjusted with more toe than the other, the only difference is the steering wheel isn't exactly centered, so you readjust the toe again a little, taking away from one side and giving the same amount to the other until you're happy with the centering of your steering wheel.

Rear toe, that's another story, but the back wheels follow the front. The fronts are dynamic so their settings have no relevance to the rears. Back wheel alignment have thrust angle, which centers where they point relative to the front center of the car, so squaring up strings around the car is better for that."

Thanks, Steve.

So, level floor along with the above should do it.
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Old 05-04-2009, 07:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elombard View Post
Hmm Pete Z for a "street car" would the Toe be affected much if the floor was slightly un-level? I can see it making a difference on a CB but to just touch up the toe I would not think that critical.

maybe on a race car with all sphericals that would be very sensitive...

That makes me wonder, Has any body ever come up with a way to do a "dynamic alignment".

We spend so much effort to get 1/32" measured in and then when the car is moving all of the forces on the chassis and bushings and tires move everything around?

It would cool if they could come up with a rig you attach to the car that would take the measurements while driving real time to see where its at while the car is in "being loaded".

I guess thats kind of what you do with tire temp probes.
You're probably right about the toe, but I was taught that the car must be on a verified level surface, tires must be inflated to the correct pressures and of the same manufacturer and wear at each axle, before any adjustments are made.

Regarding "rolling" alignment, remember that all of your static settings are made to obtain success while moving. Static alignment is only a starting point on a race car, and those settings provide your base point to work from using the numbers provided by your best friend (as you guessed) - your pyrometer.
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Old 05-04-2009, 08:25 AM
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So any further opinion on loosening the 4 torsion plate nuts to adjust the TOE only?
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Old 05-05-2009, 04:58 PM
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Quote:
So any further opinion on loosening the 4 torsion plate nuts to adjust the TOE only?
You need to loosen the two eccentric bolts to do alignment not the ride height bolts... and play the adjustments against each other to get the alignment where you want it...camber affects toe, etc..

Quote:
but the back wheels follow the front.
Yes but the rear wheels drive the car... which is why you align the car from the rear to the front.. getting the rear correct is tres important so your car doesn't "crab"

Commercial alignment tools like the Hunter System we have start the alignment process at the rear of the car.. get the drive wheels aligned then adjust the fronts..

Before each track outing, we put the car(s) on the rack and give an initial alignment based on data from previous track outings.. i.e. tire temps, pressures, etc..

At the track we adjust alignments using camber plates , the Smart Camber tool.. We have the Laser toe gauge, but have found that the camber plates and tape measure is quicker..
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Old 05-05-2009, 05:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TimT View Post
You need to loosen the two eccentric bolts to do alignment not the ride height bolts... and play the adjustments against each other to get the alignment where you want it...camber affects toe, etc..

Cool, thanks Brother!

So as I understand it, I loosen the nuts on both the Toe and Camber then use 12 MM Allen L Wrench to adjust the Toe then re-adjust the Camber.

Example: If I adjust Toe in the Camber will need to be adjusted a bit negative to compensate, correct?

Now, do I need to remove the lower strut bar to get to that damn Camber eccentric bolt?

TIA
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Old 05-06-2009, 12:47 PM
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You will need to loosen the "pinch bolts" that hold the Control Arm to the spring plate. So I think it is 4 bolts.

One thing I did was turned both rear spring plates to max negative camber (which isnt that much). Then set toe, then back the side off with more camber a bit until it matches the lesser side. If you are not looking for an aggressive alignment that may be too much camber ...At least its one less adjustment.

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Old 05-06-2009, 02:15 PM
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