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Modern alignment tool? Any recommendations?

Posted By: Lugnutz

Modern alignment tool? Any recommendations? - Mon Feb 18 2019 02:34 AM

I hate shelling out money for something like an alignment. I’m considering buying a modern alignment tool and it would pay for itself in no time. At least I’m trying to convince myself that it will.
At $210 the price is hard to beat for a quality tool. I know that I could make a home made YouTube version but I’d rather have a real tool that other folks would have confidence in too.

Here’s what I’m considering. Thoughts?
Tool Website Link

Summit Racing Vendor Link

Hot Rod Magazine Article 2018
Posted By: Hotrod Lincoln

Re: Modern alignment tool? Any recommendations? - Mon Feb 18 2019 03:04 AM

That Rube Goldberg thing is a ripoff. Go on Ebay and look up "magnetic wheel alignment gauge". I've got the Snap-on version that cost a few hundred, but the ones on Ebay for less than 20 bucks will do the same thing my professional-level tool will do. All you need is a level floor and a little puddle of oil to make the tires turn back and forth easily. Make your own slotted toe plates from a piece of sheet aluminum for another 20 or so, and you're good to go.
Jerry
Posted By: Wrenchbender Ret.

Re: Modern alignment tool? Any recommendations? - Mon Feb 18 2019 03:08 AM

The Toe-in tool looks like a good idea. You will need the caster-camber gauge also to do a complete alignment. I have been doing my own alignment for years. It is fun & you can tailor it too your own specs. Saves a lot of hasal & money. I have professional portable system I bought at a sale many years ago. If you are just going to do straight axle jobs you can get by with just the toe-in gauge.
George
Posted By: tclederman

Re: Modern alignment tool? Any recommendations? - Mon Feb 18 2019 05:03 AM

Caster/Camber - $10 shipped

toe-in / tow-out - 46"-74", for $105 shipped

A cheaper, shorter version is available 39" - 60" for middle/inside tire-to-tire on a 47-55st 3100, for $79.59 shipped
Posted By: Lugnutz

Re: Modern alignment tool? Any recommendations? - Mon Feb 18 2019 11:39 AM

I like these options.
Thanks.
I guess I need to read more about the whole process. Measuring and then adjusting things.
I always thought that the weight of the vehicle needed to be on the tires during alignment. Therefore, the $10 magnetic caster/camber tool confuses me.
Posted By: 59 fleet

Re: Modern alignment tool? Any recommendations? - Wed Feb 20 2019 02:45 AM

I don't trust a gage that leans on either the wheel or the tire for toe measurements. I jack up the front, spin the wheel and spray a rattle can white paint stripe on the tire tread while it is spinning. When it dries, I hold a fine sharpie against the white stripe while rotating the tire. This provides a fine line that perfectly aligns with the spinning tires. I have two 1/4 steel plates about 8 x 10 with grease between them to set under each wheel and lower it down. The wheels and suspension finds its road position then I simply measure the different distance between sharpie lines front and back of the tire. You can adjust the tie rods while it is on those greased plates and the wheels move with minimal friction. If you need to check caster the rear wheels should also be on 1/2" tall supports to match the front.
Posted By: Gord&Fran

Re: Modern alignment tool? Any recommendations? - Wed Feb 20 2019 03:33 AM

10 bucks for a caster/camber gauge; can't beat that price.

For toe measurement, you can make a trammel bar from a length of 2x2 and some plywood.
Posted By: 59 fleet

Re: Modern alignment tool? Any recommendations? - Wed Feb 20 2019 03:58 AM

Wouldn't you have to have wheels with slots to use that magnetic camber gage. Maybe OK with a straight axle, but independent suspension will change camber angle when you jack it up. I would want to have the wheels installed and the weight of the vehicle on the suspension.
Posted By: 4100 Fire Truck

Re: Modern alignment tool? Any recommendations? - Wed Feb 20 2019 07:04 PM

I have a Longacre magnetic caster/camber gauge that all of the oval track guys have used for years. They work great, and very well made for $127. Plus it has 20 degree surfaces on it to set the angles for checking caster. Like already mentioned, it is pretty easy to make a trammel bar which allows you to check toe on the middle of the front/rear of the tire. Instead of trying to scribe a line or using tread grooves, I just take a piece of masking tape with a vertical line drawn on it and put it in the middle of each tire tread. Then I roll the car back and forth so I can use the same reference points checking toe with a trammel bar. Very accurate, and repeatable. Pretty easy to see 1/32 of an inch that way.
https://www.amazon.com/Longacre-782...;qid=1550688753&s=gateway&sr=8-4
Posted By: Lugnutz

Re: Modern alignment tool? Any recommendations? - Thu Feb 21 2019 02:30 AM

Originally Posted by 4100 Fire Truck
I have a Longacre magnetic caster/camber gauge that all of the oval track guys have used for years. They work great, and very well made for $127.


4100 Fire Truck,
How is the Longacre gauge different than the $10 ebay version that tclederman referenced above? No doubt it's made from better materials. But does it do the same thing?
Posted By: 4100 Fire Truck

Re: Modern alignment tool? Any recommendations? - Thu Feb 21 2019 05:58 PM

A quality tool you can trust is usually cheaper in the long run. Just the magnetic base make a huge difference. I'm sure this tool can do much more than a $10 paperweight. It doesn't take long to wear off a bunch of expensive rubber if your alignment is off either.

Attached picture IMG_5072.jpg
Posted By: 4100 Fire Truck

Re: Modern alignment tool? Any recommendations? - Fri Feb 22 2019 12:56 AM

Also take note, there are 4 vials on the better gauge instead of just 2 on the cheapies. Plus it has 2 machined 20 degree surfaces which makes it easy to set up with reference marks on the floor, and a straightedge on the gauge for setting caster. You need to turn the wheels back and forth to set caster. Then you set the camber/toe, and rechecked it all again. I think they are worth more than what they sell for.
Posted By: Lugnutz

Re: Modern alignment tool? Any recommendations? - Fri Feb 22 2019 01:26 AM

Thanks for your recommendation. I’m about to convert from front drums to front disc brake with a 2.5” front spindle drop. I anticipate I’ll need to check the alignment once I’m done. There is so much for a novice like me to learn that I’m easily intimidated. However, my goal is to do as much of it as possible. My mantra is, “Hey, if I mess something up, I’ll fix it. It’s a truck, NOT a Ferrari!”
Posted By: Hotrod Lincoln

Re: Modern alignment tool? Any recommendations? - Fri Feb 22 2019 10:20 AM

You need to be aware that the drop spindles will put you into uncharted territory where alignment angles are concerned. The factory specifications will be nothing more than a baseline for a search for alignment settings that actually work. It's more or less a lost cause, however, as the choices usually range from "Bad" to "Not so bad". That's also a good reason to have your own alignment equipment, because although it won't reduce the frustration factor, at least it won't make the alignment shops rich trying to find something that works.
Jerry
Posted By: Lugnutz

Re: Modern alignment tool? Any recommendations? - Fri Feb 22 2019 05:56 PM

I’ve done something dangerous . . . I’ve been thinking about caster, camber & toe all morning and reading about it. That’s pretty dangerous.

I am of the opinion that my 2.5” drop spindles will reduce the caster because the further you move the hub upwards toward the upper ball joint, the less caster you will have (if nothing else changes). Therefore, I will need to reset the caster with the newer drop spindles.

I am of the opinion that toe and camber should be set to factory.
I have stuck my neck out pretty far on this one, since this is all new territory for me.
I’m gonna make a trammel bar and buy that nicer caster/camber gauge too.
Posted By: klhansen

Re: Modern alignment tool? Any recommendations? - Fri Feb 22 2019 06:27 PM

Originally Posted by Lugnutz
I am of the opinion that my 2.5” drop spindles will reduce the caster because the further you move the hub upwards toward the upper ball joint, the less caster you will have (if nothing else changes). Therefore, I will need to reset the caster with the newer drop spindles.

Assuming that the spindle itself is at the same angle to the axis of the ball joints between the standard and drop spindles, the camber (angle that the wheel tilts outward at the top - positive camber) won't change.
But the caster angle will change slightly with drop spindles. But you could calculate the change by using wheelbase and drop. In your case, assuming a 116 inch wheelbase and 2.5 inch drop, the caster would be reduced by just over 1 degree. The longer the wheelbase, the smaller the reduction in caster angle.
On a 1/2 ton pickup, the caster spec was 1 deg, 15' to 2 deg 15', so if you were originally on the high side of the caster spec, you'd be pretty close to out of spec. If you lower the rear by the same 2.5 inches, you'd be back in spec.
Posted By: Lugnutz

Re: Modern alignment tool? Any recommendations? - Fri Feb 22 2019 08:27 PM

Originally Posted by klhansen

But the caster angle will change slightly with drop spindles. But you could calculate the change by using wheelbase and drop. In your case, assuming a 116 inch wheelbase and 2.5 inch drop, the caster would be reduced by just over 1 degree. The longer the wheelbase, the smaller the reduction in caster angle.


I neglected to mention that I will also lower the rear with lowering springs. Therefore the caster change will be nil.
Posted By: klhansen

Re: Modern alignment tool? Any recommendations? - Fri Feb 22 2019 08:30 PM

LOL,
I was editing my post at the same time you were replying. Looks like you'll be good to go. thumbs_up
Posted By: Hotrod Lincoln

Re: Modern alignment tool? Any recommendations? - Fri Feb 22 2019 10:44 PM

Things like scrub radius, Ackerman, and included angle will also change, with no way to adjust back to to a compatible relationship with the other parts. Whether or nor that will make a noticeable difference is debatable.
Jerry
Posted By: Lugnutz

Re: Modern alignment tool? Any recommendations? - Sat Feb 23 2019 01:53 AM

Well, the discussion about tools has changed to a discussion of alignment geometry. Both are interesting topics. So I’m gonna pick this discussion up again in the Driveline Fotum soon.
My 1963 C10 has about 2000 miles on a set of new tires. These are the same tires I had on the truck when I made the 1000 mile round trip to the ODSS Stovebolt Homecoming last April. I see no uneven wear on the tires at all, so I’m gonna assume the alignment is correct. I’m gonna document this current alignment geometry BEFORE I swap to the front disc brake spindles.
Sounds like fun. I like to learn stuff.
Posted By: Lugnutz

Re: Modern alignment tool? Any recommendations? - Sun Feb 24 2019 03:05 PM

Back on the subject of alignment tools - I ordered the Longacre caster/camber tool. It will arrive Wednesday.
My front wheels have the bearing caps and I’m trying to figure out a way to mount that Longacre tool to the wheel. There isn’t a nice flat area for the magnet. Any ideas?

I might end up returning the Longacre tool because I found an app for my iphone that is for measuring caster/camber. The app is $3. Might be worth a try. Anyone else try that iPhone app?
Posted By: 4100 Fire Truck

Re: Modern alignment tool? Any recommendations? - Sun Feb 24 2019 05:28 PM

Originally Posted by Lugnutz
Back on the subject of alignment tools - I ordered the Longacre caster/camber tool. It will arrive Wednesday.
My front wheels have the bearing caps and I’m trying to figure out a way to mount that Longacre tool to the wheel. There isn’t a nice flat area for the magnet. Any ideas?

I might end up returning the Longacre tool because I found an app for my iphone that is for measuring caster/camber. The app is $3. Might be worth a try. Anyone else try that iPhone app?

You are supposed to remove the bearing cap.
Posted By: MNSmith

Re: Modern alignment tool? Any recommendations? - Sun Feb 24 2019 09:30 PM

Yup. Remove the dust cap. It'll sit on the flat area and go over the spindle nut.
Posted By: Hotrod Lincoln

Re: Modern alignment tool? Any recommendations? - Sun Feb 24 2019 09:40 PM

How do you stick the IPhone to the hub? That app was written by M. Maus, I believe.
Jerry
Posted By: 2-Ton

Re: Modern alignment tool? Any recommendations? - Sun Feb 24 2019 10:31 PM

Good one Jerry.
I'm surprised that you knew who wrote it!! eeeek

Back on topic, I know nothing about lining up the front end.
But I am learning.

Don
Posted By: Lugnutz

Re: Modern alignment tool? Any recommendations? - Fri Mar 01 2019 03:56 AM

The Longacre caster/camber alignment tool arrived in the mail yesterday. It is very well-made and is a quality item. I’m going to test it side-by-side with the $3 iphone app that I bought today that will calculate caster and camber. I am also in the process of making a trammel bar. I have figured out a way to attach the iPhone to the hub, but I will not spill the beans just yet. He will have to wait and see.
Posted By: 4100 Fire Truck

Re: Modern alignment tool? Any recommendations? - Sat Mar 02 2019 01:33 PM

I don't know how you are making your trammel bar, but mine was simple to make. I just used a 2x2, and screw a couple sheet metal uprights. I put a strip of masking tape across the edge, and make reference marks on it. Works great.


Attached picture IMG_5134 (1).JPG
Posted By: Hotrod Lincoln

Re: Modern alignment tool? Any recommendations? - Sat Mar 02 2019 09:05 PM

A piece of 1" PVC pipe and a few fittings can be used to make a lightweight, accurate trammel bar. Sand the inside of a T fitting so it can slide along the pipe, attach a pointer to the sliding tee, and make some feet and a rigid upright pointer for one end. Use a setscrew on the sliding pointer to set it, then compare front/rear dimensions from a scribed line near the tread center to get an accurate toe measurement.
Jerry
Posted By: Lugnutz

Re: Modern alignment tool? Any recommendations? - Mon Mar 18 2019 01:34 AM

OK, I went a little overboard with this, but this is how I have fun.
I made my own trammel bar. It was a fun project and it works well and gives very reproducible results.
I hope it meets your approval.

My Trammel Bar Toe Alignment Tool

Jay
Posted By: 4100 Fire Truck

Re: Modern alignment tool? Any recommendations? - Mon Mar 18 2019 11:31 AM

Looks good Lugnutz, and great write up. Just wondering why you made the pointers so long, and angled like that. Maybe could have made them shorter, and come straight vertical off your sliding clamps. Then just bend an angle near the tips of the pointers? It would be more maneuverable that way, especially on a car with little room to work with.
Posted By: Lugnutz

Re: Modern alignment tool? Any recommendations? - Mon Mar 18 2019 11:45 AM

4100,
The bend in the pointer rods allows me to keep the pointer tips up in the air, hands free, while adjusting the sliders. It’s a minor design idea. A perfectly straight rod would not be balanced and would want to fall flat. If my 6’ rod were heavier, as in your design, the pointers could be set vertically and be hands free. The reason for the long rod is so I can set the pointer at the line horizontal to the hub center no matter what size tire it is. Just move the base rod closer or further away from the tires.
Posted By: Lugnutz

Re: Modern alignment tool? Any recommendations? - Wed Mar 20 2019 02:10 AM

I've updated my web page to include Section 2 where I show how I use an iPhone to check wheel camber.
LINK HERE
Jay
Posted By: Hotrod Lincoln

Re: Modern alignment tool? Any recommendations? - Thu Mar 21 2019 12:07 AM

There are dozens of "made in China" magnetic caster/camber gauges available on Ebay for less than $20.00, and a few professional quality ones brand new for less than $100.00. Good "pre-owned" pro quality magnetic gauges are there, also. Any of those options are at least as accurate, if not more so, than a phone app. Now- - - -to measure caster, an accurate way of turning the wheel in and out exactly 20 degrees each way is going to be needed. A set of ball bearing turn plates is going to be a $300.00 or greater investment. An accurate angle move is needed because caster is actually a measurement of the change in camber as the wheel moves through an exact 40-degree arc, 20 in and 20 out.
Jerry
Posted By: 59 fleet

Re: Modern alignment tool? Any recommendations? - Thu Mar 21 2019 01:17 AM

I have always determined toe-in as the measured difference between the front of the tires and the rear of the tires. Have I been doing it wrong?
Posted By: tclederman

Re: Modern alignment tool? Any recommendations? - Thu Mar 21 2019 01:21 AM

That works fine.

http://chevy.oldcarmanualproject.com/shop/1955truck2/55ctsm0308.htm
Posted By: Lugnutz

Re: Modern alignment tool? Any recommendations? - Thu Mar 21 2019 01:41 AM

Originally Posted by 59 fleet
I have always determined toe-in as the measured difference between the front of the tires and the rear of the tires. Have I been doing it wrong?


Here we have a perfect example of ME, thinking I might understand something, when I actually don’t know much at all.

The link shared by tclederman has me thinking that I’ve been wrong about how to calculate toe.
In the link he shared, it looks like I’ve explained it wrong on my website, which I’ll be happy to correct once I have a better understanding.
So for the sake of easy math and discussion, if the front side of the tires are 50” apart and the rear side of the tires are 51” apart, how much toe in does it have?
Posted By: Hotrod Lincoln

Re: Modern alignment tool? Any recommendations? - Thu Mar 21 2019 02:03 AM

"Pigeon-toed!" The most accurate way to measure toe is to scribe a line around the center of the tread and use a tram bar to measure the front and rear dimensions. Anything else, other than maybe a laser alignment machine, will give a somewhat inaccurate reading. Toe in or out of more than about 1/8" is way too much. Since the tires need to be running basically straight ahead while in motion, toe compensates for slight flexing of the steering system components between "on the road" and "at rest". Steering systems with the linkage behind the wheels tend to spread the wheels out while driving, so they usually get toed in somewhat while at rest. Steering systems like the early 1950's Fords with the tie rods ahead of the wheels usually got a slight amount of toe-out because they had a tendency for the wheels to pull toward each other while in motion.
Jerry
Posted By: Lugnutz

Re: Modern alignment tool? Any recommendations? - Thu Mar 21 2019 02:06 PM

So, I think the answer to my question above is 0.5” of toe. Correct?
Posted By: tclederman

Re: Modern alignment tool? Any recommendations? - Thu Mar 21 2019 02:36 PM

What year 4100?
Original front suspension?
Posted By: Lugnutz

Re: Modern alignment tool? Any recommendations? - Thu Mar 21 2019 02:38 PM

1965 C10 with IFS. Now I have another question. Why does it matter what year or model truck?
Posted By: Justhorsenround

Re: Modern alignment tool? Any recommendations? - Thu Mar 21 2019 04:23 PM

Tim, he was referencing a post by 4100 Fire Truck.
Posted By: tclederman

Re: Modern alignment tool? Any recommendations? - Thu Mar 21 2019 06:05 PM

"Tim, he was referencing a post by 4100 Fire Truck."

Thanks, Martin & Lugnutz

Before I look something up, I like to be sure of the details.

hmmm:
Lugnutz: 1965 C10 with IFS
4100 Fire Truck: ???? (I do not see a vehicle designated)

Maybe someone else will look up the specs that are needed?
Posted By: MNSmith

Re: Modern alignment tool? Any recommendations? - Thu Mar 21 2019 06:22 PM

Originally Posted by Lugnutz
So, I think the answer to my question above is 0.5” of toe. Correct?



A 1/2" seems a little much.
Posted By: sstock

Re: Modern alignment tool? Any recommendations? - Thu Mar 21 2019 06:36 PM

I've always subtracted the front measurement from the back and dont divide by 2.
I have my 53 with truck bias ply tires set at 3/32" toed in , tires seem to be wearing evenly but not enough miles to close the door on that one yet.
Posted By: Lugnutz

Re: Modern alignment tool? Any recommendations? - Thu Mar 21 2019 07:28 PM

MNSmith,
I’m not sure you understood my “simplified example” question so I’ll restate things a different way.
Factory Service Manual says my toe should be 3/16”.
The link tclederman shared wants me to subtract the distance between the front tire tread centerlines from the distance between the rear of the tire tread centerlines (B minus A).
I’ve been thinking if I cause my tires to “toe in” 3/16”, then the difference between the front and rear will be 3/8”. If I do the math I get 65.375” - 65” = 0.375” but in reality the tires have only moved toward each other by 0.1875” (which is 3/16”).
Posted By: 4100 Fire Truck

Re: Modern alignment tool? Any recommendations? - Fri Mar 22 2019 12:07 AM

When I get a chance I will try and post pictures of how I make reference marks on the tires. Trying to scribe a visible line that it true, and easily visible on a black tire is tough to do. And forget about using tread edges, and a tape measure. I simply make crosshairs on a piece of tape on both tires, and roll the vehicle back, and forth to use the same reference point. Works to perfection. I figured that out trying to set toe on a race kart sitting on a stand.
Posted By: MNSmith

Re: Modern alignment tool? Any recommendations? - Fri Mar 22 2019 01:41 AM

Originally Posted by Lugnutz
MNSmith,
I’m not sure you understood my “simplified example” question so I’ll restate things a different way.
Factory Service Manual says my toe should be 3/16”.
The link tclederman shared wants me to subtract the distance between the front tire tread centerlines from the distance between the rear of the tire tread centerlines (B minus A).
I’ve been thinking if I cause my tires to “toe in” 3/16”, then the difference between the front and rear will be 3/8”. If I do the math I get 65.375” - 65” = 0.375” but in reality the tires have only moved toward each other by 0.1875” (which is 3/16”).



Not the way we've always done it. If the spec calls for 1/8" toe in, and, let's say, we're working with a roughly 61" tire center line to tire center line, or "A" and "B" as the diagram shows, then your B measurement will 61" and your A measurement will be 60 7/8". A difference of an 1/8" from front to rear. Thing is, you might've only moved the front or rear 1/64" to get the number you need, if even that.

One quick way we would get a reference mark is to raise the front of the vehicle. Using white or silver paint, spin the wheel while spraying the center of the tire. Let dry a bit. Spin the assembly and hold a scribe to the center of the paint to make a reference mark. Eventually, after a little driving, the paint comes off. These days, some new tires already have the reference mark from the manufacturer.
Posted By: Hotrod Lincoln

Re: Modern alignment tool? Any recommendations? - Fri Mar 22 2019 03:29 AM

I did the same center-marking procedure with chalk, not paint, and a spring-loaded scribe for 30-something years before getting a Hunter D111 alignment machine that measured everything electronically. The toe measurement is simply the difference between front and rear measurements- - - -to get 1/8" toe-in, just move the tread centerline in 1/16" on each tire. It's easy to over-think a very simple procedure. Anything over about 3/16" difference in the front and rear measurement is going to cause the tread to "feather edge" from the tires scuffing against each other. 1/2" toe-in will wear out the tires in a few hundred miles.
Jerry
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