Front end alignment tools questions

Caddylackn

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I decided to purchase my own front end alignment tools to check toe in, camber, and caster. I am budgeting around $200- $250. I have three cars to do, so should pay for itself.

I have come to three choices, and would appreciate any input from people that have knowledge in this area.

1. This alignment set on Jegs: Fast Trax I like that it is all analog, seems like a reputable company and they have a good video on how to use. Jegs has a good return policy if I can't get it to work right.
2. This one on Amazon Tenhulzen Made in USA and seems pretty accurate with good reviews.
3. Make my own alignment jig with 2" steel tubing that attaches to the wheel lugs similar to #1 above. Use my iphone for a level using a level app. I have seen videos of similar set ups on youtube. Seems pretty straight forward if you know what you are doing.

I am going to make my own turning stands. I saw a cool video of using 2 cheap dollar store pizza pans and non stick cooking spray between them. Seems like it worked pretty good in the video. I can measure and paint angle degrees on the edges of the pans to get the correct degree for doing caster.
 

5one9

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String, straight edges, angle gauge, and tape measure here.
 

Darius

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For whatever its worth:

I watched the video of the first option and pretty much understood "what and how."

The second option was less user friendly, at least for me. While the first one was understandable right off the top, I never got the hang of the second option - (could be the limits of an old cluttered mind).

The third option, "make your own," strikes my fancy - both for it's simplicity and expected lower cost (you own the phone).

Finally, our phones, if new enough, can damn near get up and dance - more or less. I won't try to recall the exact number of levels out in the garage, but there are cheap ones and expensive ones, 7 or 8 of them. At one point while fabricating a new transmission/transfer case mount the majority were in use, one place of another. Finally, I remembered the "level function" of the cell phone. It was fast, accurate and easy to use. It and a high dollar digital torpedo because the ones most used. Just sayin.

Your mileage may vary,

bro. d
 

Caddylackn

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Well, I have 3 or 4 cars I want to do, and I want repeatability and a one man operation. The cadillac can be done with the string and the angle gauge method, since realistically I will never drive this enough to cause irregular wear on the brand new tires if I am off a little bit. For my daily drivers, I want accuracy, tires are expensive. I want to make my own, but making one that fits the bolt pattern of all my vehicles may be too time consuming. I also want the ability to zero level it since my garage floor has a 1-2% slope for drainage and my driveway is worse. I do have a magnetic angle gauge, I will see if I can zero it on my garage floor and accurately read 1/2 degrees.

The accuracy of the iphone measuring app is incredible, but finding a way to securely mount it to the wheel without any play may be challenging. I don't think i can use magnets since it may mess up the phone. Maybe find a cheap iphone case and epoxy it to an old caliper of the same bolt pattern, then bolt the modified caliper over the wheel studs protruding from the wheel? Lay the iphone down on the garage floor, then zero it, then snap into the phone case mounted to the wheel? I can add or subtract 90 degrees with the app so it is reading the degrees off of vertical, for camber and caster.
 

Caddylackn

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I read some of the reviews of both of those units above, and one reviewer had the most important comment. Any type of measuring device that measures toe in, needs to do so with the car on stands and the tires off the car. Otherwise there is no way to adjust the toe in without pulling the wheel, adjusting it, then putting on the wheel again to check. My car sits too low to turn the adjuster with the car on the ground and wheel on.

So I decided I needed one that works with the tires off the car and on jack stands or blocks.

I decided to make my own, similar to the Fast Trax one that uses the bubbles and mounts to the face of the wheel.
Mine bolts to the brake drum using 4 of the lugs as a guide to get it straight and tight to the drum face. The arms for measuring toe in are fixed. I made one for each wheel. I put slots in for measuring. I will get a picture of it up when it is finished.

Instead of the arm that sticks out 90 degrees from the face of the wheel which holds the bubbles for measuring, I am making a flat support bracket/platform that will hold my iphone flat. The bracket has to be exactly 90 degrees to the face of the brake drum. Right now, the arm is just tacked into place until I can adjust it to perfect 90 degrees and straightness before I weld her up. The iphone works most accurately measuring when placed flat on a surface. With the app, it will show the degrees of turning of the phone on a flat surface, so it is perfect for measuring caster.

For adjusting camber and caster, the full weight of the car has to be on the suspension and the suspension at normal ride height. I can easily do that by just lowering the brake drums onto 8 - 10" blocks of wood. I will make some simple turning plates using the pizza plates from the dollar store. I can adjust for level on the brake drum by rotating the drum then tightening the brakes with the adjuster wheel so it doesn't slip.
 

48Austin

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I decided to purchase my own front end alignment tools to check toe in, camber, and caster. I am budgeting around $200- $250. I have three cars to do,
Depending on the cars they are. The Cad, ok. Others may also need rear adjustments. Alignments aren't just for the front on a lot of cars since the early eighties.
 

5one9

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I have done front and rear on my 2007 Magnum SRT8 with strings, angle gauges, tape measure, etc. it regularly exceeds 120mph. I spent the money saved on Cadillac engine parts. An alignment shop couldn’t have done a better job especially considering the talent that they hire.
 

kzhurley

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I have done front and rear on my 2007 Magnum SRT8 with strings, angle gauges, tape measure, etc. it regularly exceeds 120mph. I spent the money saved on Cadillac engine parts. An alignment shop couldn’t have done a better job especially considering the talent that they hire.
My truck has been to the same alignment shop 3 times on their dime without any success.. I was hoping they'd get it good by accident eventually. I did the string and tape measure and angle gauge deal in my busted up concrete driveway and it's good as its ever been.
 

Caddylackn

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I built a wrench to turn the eccentric cone spacer on the spindle to adjust wheel camber with the tire on. I copied the one in the Factree Cadillac Manual. I should be able to turn the nut with the wheels on the car and the full weight of the car on the ground. Mine is not forged steel but since the eccentric cone was just apart, its clean and greased so it should turn easily if I back off the nut on the upper ball joint and give it a tap from below.

wrench 1.jpg

It looks like there is enough clearance to have the wheel on the car and the car on the ground.
wrench 3.jpg

The open end wrench size is 1-3/8" and can only be 3/16" thick at the nut to fit without messing up the rubber ball joint cover.

Its welded onto a 2-1/2" long 3/8" extension. Its ugly, but I hope it works.
 

48Austin

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This is the tool you need to adjust caster with the strut rod. Blue Point YA130. 1613776491055.png 1613776491055.png 1613776586434.png 1613776586434.png 1613776681444.png 1613776491055.png 1613776586434.png 1613776681444.png These are on ebay for 10 to 15 bucks. These are pix of mine. For '76 and older Cads, '70 and older Chebie, '61/'63 Tempest/Le Mans and others.
 

48Austin

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I built a wrench to turn the eccentric cone spacer on the spindle to adjust wheel camber with the tire on. I copied the one in the Factree Cadillac Manual. I should be able to turn the nut with the wheels on the car and the full weight of the car on the ground. Mine is not forged steel but since the eccentric cone was just apart, its clean and greased so it should turn easily if I back off the nut on the upper ball joint and give it a tap from below.

View attachment 25703

It looks like there is enough clearance to have the wheel on the car and the car on the ground.
View attachment 25704

The open end wrench size is 1-3/8" and can only be 3/16" thick at the nut to fit without messing up the rubber ball joint cover.

Its welded onto a 2-1/2" long 3/8" extension. Its ugly, but I hope it works.
Corn hole also made a wrench for this.
I have done front and rear on my 2007 Magnum SRT8 with strings, angle gauges, tape measure, etc. it regularly exceeds 120mph. I spent the money saved on Cadillac engine parts. An alignment shop couldn’t have done a better job especially considering the talent that they hire.
That's the problem. The kids and dolts they hire. Justflats, Turdyear, and Scrotumstone won't pay somebody that knows shit from Shineola. [The Jerk]
 
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Caddylackn

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I got the front end aligned.

Here are the tools, I made.
The camber/caster tool bolts onto the drum and not the wheel, so I made some wheel turn platforms out of Dollar store pizza pans with +15 and -15 degree marks so I could check camber and caster with full weight on the suspension. That worked really good, very little friction. I could turn the steering + or - 15 degrees with just my hands grabbing the cradle with full weight of the car on them, sitting on blocks. That was a real time saver for setting caster.

IMG_1888.JPG

I was hoping that the existing holes in the steel square tubing would work out, but the studs were too short, so I had to cut a section out in order to attach lug nuts. The iphone sits in the cradle. You have to tilt the set up like shown above to measure toe in, since the tape measure would hit the tie rod if the cradle was level. There is another piece of steel the same length for the other wheel that holds the tape measure end in slots, see below.

IMG_1890.JPG The iphone cradle is 90 degrees from the face of the drum, as measured from the face of the bearing housing with the bearing grease cover removed. I couldn't get a picture of the setup with the phone, since the phone is my camera. The iphone degree measuring app works good, but it measures in x axis degrees and y axis degrees, so you have to keep track on which one you should be measuring. Also, if it reads negative degrees you have to figure out if it means positive camber or caster or negative camber or caster. I had to draw a simple figure to figure it out.

My stock specs say -1.0 degree caster, but that is stupid; no car should have negative caster, you want positive caster for speed stability so I put it at 0.5 degree positive caster for both.
Left wheel has 0.2 degree positive camber and right wheel says 0.5 degree positive camber. I just realized I did it backwards (right side is supposed to be 0.25 degree less than left) so I will need to fix that by making right side 0 degrees. The toe in already measured 1/4" and that is within spec, so that saved me a wrestling match with the tie rod adjusters.

I must have done this at least three times before I could repeatable results for measuring caster. Yes, it would have been faster and cheaper to buy the measuring kit above. My time and the steel was free.

One problem I had, is when I installed the cone eccentrics on the spindles, I did not notice if both were installed with the cone offset towards the rear of the car. You could have the same camber on each side but a different caster if one of the cones is offset towards the rear and the other offset toward the front of the car. I noticed that setting caster with the strut rod, I had one that was in the middle of the end adjustment threads and one near the end of travel, or a full inch longer. I figured out that the drivers side cone eccentric must have been eccentric toward the front of the car, requiring a ton more adjustment of the strut rod to push the suspension back to get the caster back where it should be. So I backed everything off and adjusted camber by turning the eccentric cone so it increased, then started to decrease then matched the other side. I was then able to adjust caster and be more closer to the same setting as the other side. The factory manual did say to make sure both cones were eccentric towards the rear of the car.
 
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