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DIY Alignment/Corner Balance ?

I remember I while back some one posting about DIY alignments.
I can't find it with a search. Any one remember who it was ?

It seems it would be expensive to get started. But no one close can do it right. The best/closest place is R/S in Portland. 1200 mile round trip. Not real practical for little adjustments.
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Cary
77 Carrera RS w/3.2 #59
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Old 08-02-2002, 04:23 AM
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For home CB, get yourself one of these:



They run about $150. You need to learn proper technique to use it. I've had one for a year or so and really like it.

Due to total frustration with alignment shops, I have been looking for ways to do this myself too. SmartRacing has some nice tools for this purpose, but they are spendy.

You can make your own tools. Here is a description for toe and camber that comes from rennlist. I haven't tried it yet but it sounds like it would work well.

- for the toe gauge, you use a 1/2" or 3/4" diameter length of conduit,the length of which must at least span the width of the car. I drilled one end to accommodate a through bolt ( laterally) , that sticks out on both sides... so when this is placed on the ground, it won't roll around. Place this conduit on the ground just in front of the tires, going across the car. Now ( the scary part!), push a "short" thumbtack on the front face of the tire tread(obviously on a tread block so as not to puncture the tire!)..let's call this the 9 o'clock position as you view the driver's side tire, for example. Do this for both front tires. Now, place a plumb-bob ( with string) over the shaft of the thumb tack and drop down until the plumb-bob touches the conduit. Mark this with a fine point pen. Take your time until the bob settles down. Do it again for the other tire. You now have a starting measuremen!
t between the front face of both front tires. Without removing the thumbtack(s), roll the car backwards such that the thumbtack moves up-and-over until it is located at the backside of the tire ( 3 0'clock position on driver's side). Repeat the plumb-bob measurement. Ideally, the *total* dimension on the backside should be a small amount greater than the front measurement ( say... greater by 1/16" or slightly more), to establish "slight" amount of toe-in. If not correct, you must adjust the toe and center the steering wheel per normal methods.
- Camber gauge. This can be plain-and-simple, for one rim size ( the example I cite is for a 16" wheel)...but a friend saw my device and went further to make an adjustable unit for various rim diameters. Your call. Anyway, I started out by selecting a 24" long carpenters water level made out of aluminum, like an "I" beam. Mine had three levels. Held vertically, you would see a "top" level, a "bottom" level, and one in the middle at 90 degrees from these two. Somwhere near the bottom ( held vertically), drill the aluminum frame of this level, to mount a threaded rod ( 6-32 works well)that projects about 3-4 inches from the "I" beam flange of the main frame. To better understand orientation, this rod projects out "to the right" ( say), as you view the water levels. Fasten it by lock nuts so it can't move . About 17" ( actually 425 mm) above this point ( for a 16" wheel) , drill another hole in the "I" beam frame of the unit, but tap the hole with a 6-32 thread tap. Fasten a s!
et of lock nuts to "zero" the same projection as the bottom rod, but do not to allow it to project out less than this amount. However, *do* allow it to thread "out". With this, you can place the vertical water level against the rim ( touching the rim with both the upper and lower rods...necessary for body clearance), and with equal rod projections top and bottom, you would have both the top and bottom levels centered. ( Check this against a known plumb surface). If you have negative camber, you would need to thread "out" a certain number of turns of the upper rod... to re-establish a plumb condition. The neat thing is that you know the distance between the rods, and you know that with a 6-32 rod, there are 32 rotations to each inch of travel. Using "inverse tangent" trigonometry, you can easily measure camber to within 0.1 degree accuracy. I made a chart that easily converts "number of turns" of the upper rod, to equivalant degrees ( assuming the 425 mm distance between the !
rods for a 16" wheel stays the same). I checked this against the $200 electronic devices and found equivalent accuracy. Caveat: search out a good water level, and use one where the water miniscus ( bubble) doesn't quite touch both lines when centered. This helps view the plumb condition with better viewing accuracy.
Hope this makes sense,,....and hope it can help someone. -



Caster is a another story. You can buy a magentic tool that measures camber and caster. They come up on ebay from time to time.

The problem is that front camber/caster are adjusted with the same same bolts at the head of the strut tower. Move one and you are sure to move the other. If you don't have tools to read them at the same time, this will make life difficult.

This I see as the key obstacle to the home alignment.
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Old 08-02-2002, 07:18 AM
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chuck

that thing in the picture is for corner balance? and it work well?where are they available from?

i enjoyed your great write up on the alignment. its so simple when you know how.
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Old 08-02-2002, 10:20 AM
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Check out this thread regarding the alignment. I outlined a process which I've used myself. I'd do the corner weights first using the tool pictured above and then do the alignment. Some folks point out that adjusting the camber will change the cornerweights, but I found that it was negligable when I did it so I wouldn't worry about it.

Unfortunately doing the cornerweights on a Porsche 911 is a PIA since you need to dis-assemble the rear suspension every time you make an adjustment (another reason to do it before the alignement!). You will need to work out a system to get the rear spring plates off and on. I found on my car that the rubber would get sticky and grip the mounting pretty hard. I would put a little lithium grease on the rubber bushings which seemed to help. I'm not sure if that is kosher with the purists or not (Forgive me Warren if I've done wrong! ), but it worked for me. After that it winds up being a little like a game of Battleship. A little long - a little short. Keep track of your changes and the results and you will zero in on the right settings.

When doing the alignment, I also found it useful to mark the back side (or inside) of the camber and toe adjusters with an arrow pointing to the offset. This made it a lot easier to track what was happening and zero in the right adjustment.

Good Luck!
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Old 08-02-2002, 11:02 AM
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cary..only 66 hits on this in 7 hours..I think because most guys here don't want anything to do w/wheel alignment..and Chuck.we had the time to discuss "thrust angle" when doing a home alignment at Thunderhill.I didn't bring it up/hate to sound boring...anyway, this is what I use for hard info...Ray Scruggs sells a booklet, "Home Alignment for Porsche 911"..no phone #, only an address.. 20-A Scenic Ave., San Rafael, Calif., 94101..costs about $10..and I also use "Hitman" alignment package w/scopes, etc ..costs about $150 1-716-381-0728..it got a big write up in Hot Rod Mag. awhile ago..
The Ray Scruggs booklet is about the string method, which is easy..the "Hitman" needs between 25 and 50 ft. to aim your targets..the caster needs about 8 ft to the side of the 911.I check the finished alignment with a temp probe/thats another story..
The "thrust angle" is how square the wheels are to each other..ie if you looked at wheel tracks in fresh snow does the rear wheels follow exactly the front track..this is important when you have rear wheel alignment/adjustment..a good number is 1/10 degree if I remember correctly
what is interesting is that a perfectly flat platform for the wheels will enable a ride height/rake to be made/that's another story..this should be done before starting the alignment, IMO..I put my human body weight in driver seat and use 3/4 tank of fuel..I made 4 platforms in my itty bitty home garage out of cement w/a steel plate and used a 1/2in clear tube to exactly level each platform to each other..then your camber is made on these platforms using a bubble.....
......been doing this for a few sets of tires..I don't use factory numbers for my act. I think the factory numbers are for the routine street driver..the temp gauge confirms the alignment..and perfectly wearing tires gives me confidence in my work..I'll try to post the platforms.I think I explained my act clearly/some times not sure.......Ron



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Old 08-02-2002, 11:30 AM
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Chuck takes corner bal. more seriously than me..I do the fender act..but I made sure the fender height was accurate for my needs by matching the fender height against the Workshop Manual instructions for height that uses the center or springs , etc........Ron
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Old 08-02-2002, 07:00 PM
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Ron and Chuck thanks for the help. I think I'm going to proceed.

I'm specing a 20' * 20' perfectly flat area in my new shop. Just for suspension work.

Ron I'll order the book this weekend. But I'm still going to chat with the guys at Smart Racing. I'm a little concerned about how long it will take each time. Sounds like the first time, will be an entire weekend project.
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77 Carrera RS w/3.2 #59
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Old 08-02-2002, 07:19 PM
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Cary...get everything that makes you relax..your first alignment is a learning experience, no question..it takes more time to set the ride height than do an alignment..and once the alignment is set a recheck is no problem after 5k miles..I like the platforms because I can reach under the car, especially the rear, to make adjustments without jacking it up... I got the Ray Scruggs booklet a while ago, so if a problem getting yours you know what to do...and you can make a wood/steel removable set of platforms..adjust the platform height with the clear tube of water, not a bubble level...the tire temp probe to check alignment to your settings is relaxing.........Ron
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Old 08-02-2002, 07:46 PM
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cary, also check out a book called "How to make your car handle"

it outlines the alignment procedure pretty well
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Old 08-03-2002, 03:39 AM
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Chuck, how does the scale work ? I look at the picture and I'm missing something.

Ron, you said 25 to 50 feet to line up the HitMan. Can you explain that a little.

After thinking that I'd need to speed $1000 on scales that I wouldn't use much. I smiling already.

To preface this a little. I'm just getting in Auto Crossing. So I know that I'll be tinkering. And to spend $50 plus everytime I adjust something. Plus they don't know what they are doing. I had to help them thru the first toe check. My options are limited.

My kids are getting into it too. 14 year old rides with me. Eleven year old turned 12 last week and he informed his brother he gets to ride next weekend.

I take a quick trip to the store in the P-Car with my 10 year old daughter. I look over and she has a death grip on the door handle. Dad asks, "What are you doing ?". I'm practicing, Robert ( 14 year old ) told me how you have to hold on. Dad smiles.

So I think it will be money and time well spent.

I know someone will ask. Why race with kids in the car ? You'll never win.
This is Montana. Only about 20 cars at each event in Missoula. The problem being, that because I'm Euro a delivered car I'm in F-Prepared ( not counting my short gears ). But the regional hot shoe runs F-Prepared. Gutted 240z. So I race against myself. And the other P-cars that are in the stock classes.
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77 Carrera RS w/3.2 #59
73 914S 2.0 AG
73 914 1.7 Driver ( daily driver, under complete rustoration )
74 914 2.0, 71 914 Tub, 74 914 2.0 Tub + 73 914 donor

Last edited by cary; 08-04-2002 at 07:13 AM..
Old 08-04-2002, 06:55 AM
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The black bar slips into the hole on the scale. It acts as a lever arm.

Using the scale requires two people.

First, you must do this on a level surface. Use Ron's water in tube technique to find level. Place shims (floor tiles work great) as needed to get all four tire pads level. Mark your tire pads on the floor because you will be moving the car.

The "finger" of the scale is placed on the lip of the rim (I prefer to put it in the hub). It is very important to place it in the same position each time you measure, if you move in or out it will change the reading. Works best if the wheel has a little lip to help you position the finger. Unprotected that finger will scratch your wheels, so you need to fashion a pad to protect it. Or do as I do and put the finger in the wheel hub instead.

Person #1 will press down on the lever to lift the tire off the ground. It is critically important that the tool be perfectly level the instant the tire lifts. The scale has a bubble level built in to facilitate this. It may be necessary to put a shim under the scale to achieve level at the time of tire lift. Achieving level takes focus, person #1 should be watching the bubble level and lifting, nothing else.

Person #2 will determine when the tire lifts and take the reading. Do this by putting a piece of paper under the tire. Pull gently on the paper while person #1 lifts. When the paper moves, the tire is off the ground and the reading is taken.

It takes a few tries to get this all to work smoothly, but once you get it you will be able to achieve repeatable measures. I like to see measures repeat within 10lbs. And I take three measures at each corner to make sure they are good.



Each time you make an adjustment to corner weight, drive the car around the block to get the suspension settled. Then measure again.
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Old 08-04-2002, 07:21 AM
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cary...."explain that"..well the scope/target set-up are not expensive..so you need to set up targets at a distance to make up for lack of precision scopes..but you check accuracy of "HitMan" scopes by sighting in target , then flip scope 180deg. to see if the scope targets the same on the target. if not then you adjust scope till the scope hits the same both ways..a perfectly level floor is not necessary, only relatively/some what flat surface is only required..a parking lot type surface is more than enough ...
corner weight...well, if you have a flat/very level surface/platform and you use the fender top distance and compare readings for all 4 readings against the Factory Workshop Man height specs and the Manual's METHOD of measuring height this will give you a great idea on how accurate your fender measurments are..sometimes the body flexes or bushings wear, etc. So I figure if it's good enough for Porsche I can't be that far off in corner balance..I have the Manual, but no scanner..so it will be slow mail if needed........Ron
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Old 08-04-2002, 07:29 AM
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Thanks Chuck, now I get it.

Ron, I couldn't figure out the 25 to 50 feet in your 1 1/2 car shop. After you said flip over. I got it.

I found the old post too. Used "alignment_string". Thanks. I'll re-read everything and start accumulating tools.
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77 Carrera RS w/3.2 #59
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74 914 2.0, 71 914 Tub, 74 914 2.0 Tub + 73 914 donor

Last edited by cary; 08-04-2002 at 09:21 AM..
Old 08-04-2002, 09:15 AM
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I borrowed one of those wheell-jackscales, and was frustrated to no end because I was clueless on how to use it. I didn't have an assistant, either, which didn't help.

Out of frustration, I ordered a set of Rug'les scales, they should be here next week. For S&G, I wanna check the Rug'les numbers against the jack-scale numbers.

I have a web app I'm working on for doing the calculations. It calculates the same old way, but gives you a visual representation of the weight balance. This app is why I'm trying to find good 911 line drawing elevations.

http://vintagebus.com/cgi-bin/balance.cgi

You can even save your data by bookmarking the URL, or post/send the link with your data. (not secure, but who cares?)
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Old 08-04-2002, 11:49 AM
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Thom.....your a good one...............Ron
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Old 08-04-2002, 12:03 PM
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FYI - If you are doing corner weights, the 4 tires need to be on level surfaces. The area's in between the tires is irrelevant (as you can see in the garage pictures above), but the surfaces of the 4 pads must be level to each other. If they are not level, you will throw all of the corner weight measurements off and you will end up dialing in some wedge to the car. The best way to get a level surface short of designing it in is to use some pieces of lenolium as shims and shim the area where each tire will sit to level. Mark the location of each shimmed area and the shims used in each area so that you can set it up quickly again in the future.
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Old 08-05-2002, 03:38 AM
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Ron,
You can have the correct ride heights and the weights can be way off. I am not saying that yours are but that it is possible.
My weights were off by 100 lbs. but the ride height were correct. The car did pull to the right very badly which is how I knew something was wrong. I did mine with a borrowed digital setup (4 scales hooked up to a digital read out) and it was a pain in the ass. I can not imagine doing it with less technology.
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Old 08-05-2002, 03:23 PM
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Blown..I didn't mean to give the impression that corner weighing is not an advantage..I was only trying to explain my perception of factory ride height measuring technique vs fender measuring..and with my 911 the car tracked straight as an arrow/not saying it's perfect/saying no problem...and I did say "I can't be that far off in corner balance"..would you agree?? It's good that you posted what to do if there is a problem..I'm not clear on how you measured ride height??? And you said "digital"..is that because of "ease of use" or accuracy?? ..................Ron
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Old 08-05-2002, 03:50 PM
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Ron,
I measured the fender openings. I do think that if your car doesn't pull then it might be close enough. I also think that we are driving one of the nicest cars in the world and I like my car to be set up to within factory specs. And you don't know that the corners are within specs without weighing. I used a digital setup because that is what my friend has. I was just saying that I think I would find it very hard to use a single scale. I got my corners within 7 lbs. It made a huge difference
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Old 08-05-2002, 06:00 PM
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