DIY alignment tools - LotusTalk - The Lotus Cars Community
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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-08-2017, 07:13 AM Thread Starter
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DIY alignment tools

So, I have a good alignment shop, but the guy cannot actually get in the car, and I hate having to get an alignment[or not get one more accurately] every time I take something apart.

I don't mind paying for decent tools, but I cannot see online great info about what would be a decent tool

Any experience?
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-08-2017, 07:23 AM
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https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f91/...ignment-45655/

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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-08-2017, 07:42 AM Thread Starter
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Yeah, I'm thinking about a little more investment than strings.....

Actually looked on craigslist and as mentioned in the thread, there are many used alignment machines out there cheap.
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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-08-2017, 08:11 AM
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I had a nice Hunter digital alignment system, one of the ones mentioned in that old thread, but I find that using these for toe: Longacre Toe Plates 79501), and this for camber: Longacre Caster Camber Gauge 78274 is so much quicker and easier to use. I have my toe and camber reset on my track car in much less time than it takes just to initialize the digital setup. Probably not quite as accurate, but close enough for track duty.
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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-08-2017, 08:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by exigegus View Post
Yeah, I'm thinking about a little more investment than strings.....

Actually looked on craigslist and as mentioned in the thread, there are many used alignment machines out there cheap.
It turns out that strings is actually more accurate then most of the machines. At least that is what the race shops around here use!

2007 Exige S with almost every track mod...
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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-08-2017, 08:36 AM Thread Starter
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I'm thinking it is the operator that is accurate with strings

and it seems a bit tedious...
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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-08-2017, 08:40 AM
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I have always aligned my Jeeps with strings and it has worked well. Not sure I would do it on my cars though.
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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-08-2017, 08:59 AM
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I have the Tenhulzen automotive kit for 4 wheel alignment. It works great but is a bit labor intensive to setup. I have done full alignment with it on 2 cars but on the Lotus I have only done toe with it, I had a shop do camber b/c they were doing other work at the same time. I have not used it in awhile and if you were interested in buying it from me I would let it go....


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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-08-2017, 10:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by exigegus View Post
Yeah, I'm thinking about a little more investment than strings.....

Actually looked on craigslist and as mentioned in the thread, there are many used alignment machines out there cheap.

strings work fine if you know what you are doing ,ive always used this method,that way i know its done properly
even ferrari f1 and most race teams use this method
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05' EXIGE , SAFFRON YELLOW
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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-09-2017, 10:57 AM
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My 2 cents

The guys that do string alignments all the time, its more accurate due to the level of repetition required - they achieve accuracy and consistency through practice. Also, the race guys don't always have access to a big machine, when you're "out in the field" its likely your alignment rack is back home.

I'm maybe going to do one or two alignments per year but I hate going to the alignment shop. Because I don't do string alignments all the time I had trouble finding good consistency. Decided my compromise was hubstands, lasers, and scales. I paid more money to make consistency easier.

"Give a man a match, and he'll be warm for a minute, but set him on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life."
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post #11 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-09-2017, 12:27 PM
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I created an alignment rig very similar to what is shown in the Ferrari picture. It uses an aluminum beam in front and one in back, lateral strings, and gaps measured with digital calipers. I use a turn plate at each corner. Works great and 100% repeatable.

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Last edited by Lotusmotion; 02-09-2017 at 02:28 PM. Reason: Details...details...
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post #12 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-09-2017, 12:39 PM Thread Starter
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My 2 cents

The guys that do string alignments all the time, its more accurate due to the level of repetition required - they achieve accuracy and consistency through practice. Also, the race guys don't always have access to a big machine, when you're "out in the field" its likely your alignment rack is back home.

I'm maybe going to do one or two alignments per year but I hate going to the alignment shop. Because I don't do string alignments all the time I had trouble finding good consistency. Decided my compromise was hubstands, lasers, and scales. I paid more money to make consistency easier.
What equipment specifically did you buy?
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post #13 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-09-2017, 01:16 PM
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BBX Racing Hubstands (avoid rolling back and forth, easier access)
Roll off levelers from Trackk Rats (to get a completely level plane for the car to sit on)
Intercomp SW500 scales
Checkpoint Laser Torpedo level (used as "strings")
Bosch GLL2-50 (used to set individual roll off levelers to the same plane and account for ride height diff's when switching from wheels to hub stand)
Floureon Dual Axis inclinometer (for leveling individual roll off levelers and measuring camber)

My inspiration was apk919 and this guy: http://lshapedgarage.blogspot.com/se...abel/Alignment

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post #14 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-09-2017, 01:27 PM
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Man, that looks like a lot more hassle than my simple toe plates and touch and go camber gauge.You still need to get the car level, but then it's easy.
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post #15 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-09-2017, 01:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JWA View Post
Man, that looks like a lot more hassle than my simple toe plates and touch and go camber gauge.You still need to get the car level, but then it's easy.
And the speedshop down the street is even easier!

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post #16 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-09-2017, 02:02 PM
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Sure - but my setup is cheaper than those options, just as accurate, and a lot less work. At least for toe and camber.
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post #17 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-09-2017, 04:52 PM
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Measuring overall toe and camber is easy... if I wanted to do only those things, I wouldn't have purchased what I did. If what you've got meets your needs, there is no reason to buy what I've got! Just as you pointed out... most of the work is in getting the car on a level plane.

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post #18 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-09-2017, 06:47 PM
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Here is what i did. Went to a local tire shop that offers lifetime alignment for a few hundred.
1st time I got an alignment, i gave the guys a decent tip and gave the technicians a ride around
the block. Next time around they let me go in the maintenance bay to watch and guide them thru
the process.

I can set up an appointment when needed.

They use Hunter machines, supposedly the latest an greatest (not sure what they mean)

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2005 Elise Katana SC (SOLD)
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post #19 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-09-2017, 07:11 PM
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There is a big difference between getting the wheels pointed in a straight line, relative to the car ("string" method) and a wheel alignment... The string is just the first step... If that is where you want to quit...
If you also want to dial in your bump steer, technically a "wheel alignment", but I would call that chassis tuning... How far do you want to go?

Whoever said that island life is great was never committed to Alcatraz...
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post #20 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-09-2017, 07:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by machine.gun.kelly View Post
There is a big difference between getting the wheels pointed in a straight line, relative to the car ("string" method) and a wheel alignment... The string is just the first step... If that is where you want to quit...
If you also want to dial in your bump steer, technically a "wheel alignment", but I would call that chassis tuning... How far do you want to go?
Correct. With a string rack you can actually get 4 wheel alignment (can't get this w/ just toe plates/camber gauge) but I found finding the true centerline of the vehicle with the string trolley to be difficult with this method. Getting steering axis inclination and other more advanced measurements gets more difficult and is probably much more accurate on a computerized rig.

Most good camber gauges can be adjusted for the angle of the floor the vehicle is sitting on with a "tare" function.

I found that two plastic cutting boards with wheel bearing grease between them make great steering plates for under the tires during home alignment (and cheap compared to real plates!).

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