DIY Corner Balance And Ride Height Adjustment - Page 5 - LotusTalk - The Lotus Cars Community
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post #81 of 140 (permalink) Old 07-20-2010, 12:15 PM
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Looking for recommendation on if I should purchase my own digital scales

I already had installed the Sector 111 RTD2Brace and just installed Nitron Doubles, V2 Arms, have V2 Shim kit, and the V2 Linx. (Love the quality of V2 parts) My Lotus is still up on stands and my plan was to do my own alignment. (I have my own Longacre turn plates, toe in kit and Longacre Digital caster/camber gauge with quickset kit) I was then planning to take and have corner balance alignment done by a professional then myself

I am now debating buying my own scales and doing all myself and learn in the process. I found some used Longacre scales for sale for around $800 that I could buy(Retail over $1,100, told only used once). But the budget is really at the limit with my new parts

I do plan on taking my Lotus to at most 5-8 open track days a year. I also am having a hard time scheduling my car at shop should I go the professional balancing route, but that's a result of my lack of weekday availablity

Should I buy my own scales or is balancing a car more of a onetime deal with the novice amount of track events I will be in?

I do like having my own tools but even at around $800 I would like to know I would use the tool more than once. But with this my first time doing the work I would hate to buy the scales and then end up taking to a shop to check my work.......
i say definately buy the scales, and get them used. you can always sell them for what you paid, so they really cost nothing in the end.
i love the set of scales that i got, along with the rolloff levelers.
I see people throwing $ to others who have the scales, and then are left unable to check what changes are made to the car w/o spending more $ on someone elses labor.
I got a set of top of the line longacres, with rolloff levelers for cheap on Race, performance & street cars, engines, engine parts, trailers for sale
$ well spent.
make sure that you level your scale pads individually, and level to each other so that what you do is repeatable since its done from a level surface every time.
I got this below, and its simple and cheap, though these can be made at home easily as Tim Mullen has shown on this site before.

Liquid Level with 12 Foot Hose

1977 Crossle 32F
1999 Spec Miata
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post #82 of 140 (permalink) Old 07-27-2010, 08:13 PM
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I just ordered one of the ART gauges last night, i can let you know what i think of it in a few days when it arrives. I own the ART dreamstick, and its a very nice tool to use, so i assume the other tools from this company will be good as well. Hold onto your $ for a bit and i will let you know how this tool is before you buy it. I am trying to replace a gauge that just doesnt feel as precise as i would like it to be for my formula car.
The gauge i am replacing is one of these
FASTRAX Gauges - Lo-Corners Ride-Height Gauge

it just didnt feel like it is a precision tool, and reading it is just like reading a ruler and prone to error and unrepeatablity with small adjustments in height. apparently it just doesnt have the potential for precision that a digital gauge like the ART looked like it offers.

the ART gauge came in a few days ago. this new gauge will likely be the most precise gauge i could buy, of the ones that i am aware of on the lower end consumer market.

The ART measures in MM or inches down to .XXX

I have not used it yet to check my FF car, since the car is still up on its chassis stand, but i have no doubt that it will be super accurate, and easily repeatable from what i could see by playing around with it for a short time.

i would say anyone looking for a ride height gauge, that the ART gauge would be the one to get for sure.
just make sure that it will do the range that your car will be set at.

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post #83 of 140 (permalink) Old 07-27-2010, 08:22 PM Thread Starter
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The gauge i am replacing is one of these
FASTRAX Gauges - Lo-Corners Ride-Height Gauge

it just didnt feel like it is a precision tool, and reading it is just like reading a ruler and prone to error and unrepeatablity with small adjustments in height. apparently it just doesnt have the potential for precision that a digital gauge like the ART looked like it offers.

the ART gauge came in a few days ago. this new gauge will likely be the most precise gauge i could buy, of the ones that i am aware of on the lower end consumer market.

The ART measures in MM or inches down to .XXX

I have not used it yet to check my FF car, since the car is still up on its chassis stand, but i have no doubt that it will be super accurate, and easily repeatable from what i could see by playing around with it for a short time.

i would say anyone looking for a ride height gauge, that the ART gauge would be the one to get for sure.
just make sure that it will do the range that your car will be set at.
I was wondering how you liked the older one... sounds like the new one is a real improvement.
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post #84 of 140 (permalink) Old 08-02-2010, 09:57 AM
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DIY Ride Height Tool

When I saw some of the ride height tools available, I was wondering how one could use such a tool if measuring ride height from the Lotus frame points to a garage floor.

The attached photos show two options. One I have previously used.

The first photo shows a couple of old FM radio antennae that I pop riveted together. I then clamp Vice Grips around the one I want to use, so it stands vertically with the bottom of the antenna very slightly below the Vice Grip jaws. Extend the antenna to touch the car frame. Sit in the car, then measure the compressed dimension with calipers. You don't even need to add driver ballast using this method. Just sit in the car gently to avoid over compression of the springs. Works fine and showed good repeatability.

The first photo also shows the DIY $10 alternate ride height tool.

Take a small Harbor Freight digital caliper and, using a Dremel or similar tool, cut the overall length to approximately 95 mm.

Then, slip the PVC over for a test fit. You want the overall length when fitted to be 100 mm, so leave it slightly long by a mm or two. Cut the PVC and JB Weld it to the caliper, being careful not to block the access to the battery.

Then CAREFULLY sand down the PVC, so that the overall length of the combined caliper and PVC is as close as possible to 100 mm. Try to keep the unit as vertical as possible when sanding.

In use, the PVC provides a large enough base for the unit to stand vertically easily. Zero the caliper, slide the end up to meet the chassis, take reading and add to 100 (or whatever your final overall unit dimension is).

If you are fussy, you could mask off and paint the PVC.

Then take the money you saved and buy a rear tire.

(While I haven't actually finished the fabrication (new caliper on order), I can't see any issues, but, of course, being human, I might have missed something. Still seems like it should work fine on our cars. I'll post photo of final unit when I get around to it.)

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2006 Elise, Graphite Grey/Red leather, Sport Elise Suspension, Cup airbox, ECU ref lash, MonoBalls, etc. etc.
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Old stuff gone: Ferrari 275GTB/4, '69 1275 Cooper S. '72 500 Fiat, old Jags, etc. Never bought a boring car.
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post #85 of 140 (permalink) Old 08-02-2010, 10:06 AM
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I am very happy with a Lazer level and a scale. Cross is much more important than ride height.

Ralph Provitz
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WHRRI Top 10 Driver
2006 Exige
D Sports Racer S08
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post #86 of 140 (permalink) Old 08-02-2010, 10:24 AM
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When I saw some of the ride height tools available, I was wondering how one could use such a tool if measuring ride height from the Lotus frame points to a garage floor.

The attached photos show two options. One I have previously used.

The first photo shows a couple of old FM radio antennae that I pop riveted together. I then clamp Vice Grips around the one I want to use, so it stands vertically with the bottom of the antenna very slightly below the Vice Grip jaws. Extend the antenna to touch the car frame. Sit in the car, then measure the compressed dimension with calipers. You don't even need to add driver ballast using this method. Just sit in the car gently to avoid over compression of the springs. Works fine and showed good repeatability.

The first photo also shows the DIY $10 alternate ride height tool.

Take a small Harbor Freight digital caliper and, using a Dremel or similar tool, cut the overall length to approximately 95 mm.

Then, slip the PVC over for a test fit. You want the overall length when fitted to be 100 mm, so leave it slightly long by a mm or two. Cut the PVC and JB Weld it to the caliper, being careful not to block the access to the battery.

Then CAREFULLY sand down the PVC, so that the overall length of the combined caliper and PVC is as close as possible to 100 mm. Try to keep the unit as vertical as possible when sanding.

In use, the PVC provides a large enough base for the unit to stand vertically easily. Zero the caliper, slide the end up to meet the chassis, take reading and add to 100 (or whatever your final overall unit dimension is).

If you are fussy, you could mask off and paint the PVC.

Then take the money you saved and buy a rear tire.

(While I haven't actually finished the fabrication (new caliper on order), I can't see any issues, but, of course, being human, I might have missed something. Still seems like it should work fine on our cars. I'll post photo of final unit when I get around to it.)

apexdc, that is a very nice idea you came up with.
as long as its repeatable it will work fine.
one suggestion i would make it rather than ballparking the 100mm with the PVC why not get an equvalent diameter pice of aluminum tubing and take it to a machine shop to have it cut exactly at 100mm.
i doubt it would cost much at all, then you know your measurments to be true, vs other guages.

nice idea!!!
i love seeing people share thier innovations here.

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1999 Spec Miata
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post #87 of 140 (permalink) Old 08-02-2010, 10:33 AM Thread Starter
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...

nice idea!!!
i love seeing people share their innovations here.
+1
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post #88 of 140 (permalink) Old 08-02-2010, 10:53 AM
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apexdc, that is a very nice idea you came up with.
as long as its repeatable it will work fine.
one suggestion i would make it rather than ballparking the 100mm with the PVC why not get an equvalent diameter pice of aluminum tubing and take it to a machine shop to have it cut exactly at 100mm.
i doubt it would cost much at all, then you know your measurments to be true, vs other guages.

nice idea!!!
i love seeing people share thier innovations here.
I also agree about seeing others work on this great forum. I try to contribute when I can. Thanks.

The aluminum would be a good improvement and I'll go that way on mine.

Having done a little hand sanding on Ducati valve shims to get what I wanted, I think it might still be possible to get really close with some careful home sanding. (I'm an incurable home tinkerer and reluctant to get someone with actual skills and knowledge involved!) Again, as long as you know what the final overall dimension is, you just add that correction factor 102.3 mm, for example, to the additional 22.4 or so mm that will show up on the caliper. The 100 mm dimension just makes the math easy.

Oh, forgot to mention, when I used vinyl tile to get my four wheels water leveled on my garage floor, I also did leveling shims for the four ride height points. This tool then works great with those.

BIG thanks again to Andy and Carl for getting me (and others) on this path!


2006 Elise, Graphite Grey/Red leather, Sport Elise Suspension, Cup airbox, ECU ref lash, MonoBalls, etc. etc.
1992 900SS Ducati Race Spec Built by Ferracci
2006 KTM 950 SuperMoto, a work in progress

Old stuff gone: Ferrari 275GTB/4, '69 1275 Cooper S. '72 500 Fiat, old Jags, etc. Never bought a boring car.

Last edited by apexdc; 08-02-2010 at 10:56 AM. Reason: forgot something
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post #89 of 140 (permalink) Old 08-02-2010, 12:23 PM
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For all who are thinking about getting cornerweighted by a shop or yourself, it indeed makes a huge difference the next time you drive at the track.

-G
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post #90 of 140 (permalink) Old 08-02-2010, 12:55 PM
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For all who are thinking about getting cornerweighted by a shop or yourself, it indeed makes a huge difference the next time you drive at the track.

-G
That's actually good to hear. As much as I have been enjoying this whole process, there is a fair amount of work involved in DIY. I truly feel that this is a skill worth acquiring when you consider the level of adjustability of our cars.


2006 Elise, Graphite Grey/Red leather, Sport Elise Suspension, Cup airbox, ECU ref lash, MonoBalls, etc. etc.
1992 900SS Ducati Race Spec Built by Ferracci
2006 KTM 950 SuperMoto, a work in progress

Old stuff gone: Ferrari 275GTB/4, '69 1275 Cooper S. '72 500 Fiat, old Jags, etc. Never bought a boring car.
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post #91 of 140 (permalink) Old 08-02-2010, 12:58 PM
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That's actually good to hear. As much as I have been enjoying this whole process, there is a fair amount of work involved in DIY. I truly feel that this is a skill worth acquiring when you consider the level of adjustability of our cars.

At the end of the day the $250 I spend on cornerweight/alignment is completely worth it.

And I get a nice print out with 50/50 cross weight and the alignment specs I want.

DIY is good too though for those who want to do it.

-G
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post #92 of 140 (permalink) Old 08-02-2010, 01:51 PM
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At the end of the day the $250 I spend on cornerweight/alignment is completely worth it.

And I get a nice print out with 50/50 cross weight and the alignment specs I want.

DIY is good too though for those who want to do it.

-G
ahhh.... but you assume what is printed on paper is relevant to the actual geometry of the car

a few of us have found these 2 things to be wildly different

"I really started paying attention to cars was when they came out with the Nissan Z, the first body. Then I seen the Cherokees, the old square ones, and I was like, “Wow, that’s cool.” Then I seen the Isuzu jeeps and I seen the Wranglers."
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post #93 of 140 (permalink) Old 08-02-2010, 02:58 PM
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At the end of the day the $250 I spend on cornerweight/alignment is completely worth it.

And I get a nice print out with 50/50 cross weight and the alignment specs I want.

DIY is good too though for those who want to do it.

-G
if you pay someone else to do this and cannot do it yourself, what happens is that you are basically "stuck" with what you have when you are at the track.
you cannot adjust anything, and cannot do any testing to see what is better or worse as far as adjustments go(toe, camber etc).
just taking a baseline given to you by someone else, does not mean that is the optimal setting for your driving style and your car.

for $750 you can get a nice set of used longacre/intercomp scales and sell them for the same $750 you paid when you move on(= free).

the other thing about doing this stuff yourself is that you know it wil be done to your own standards.

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post #94 of 140 (permalink) Old 04-14-2011, 07:02 PM
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Yeah, sorry... I should have been more specific. I usually tweak corner balance and ride height in the following order:

1) Set corner balance to 50% (you're already there)
2) Set LF=RF and LR=RR (this is what I'd do next)
3) Make final front and rear height adjustments by changing left and right side equally

There's nothing magic about that sequence; it's just the order that I like best. You can certainly try to combine all 3 steps to shorten the number of iterations you need to do.
Andy, In step 2 are you referring to setting ride height correct?

PS: The plumbers laser level is the coolest tool ever, makes leveling anything a breeze.

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post #95 of 140 (permalink) Old 04-14-2011, 07:11 PM Thread Starter
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Andy, In step 2 are you referring to setting ride height correct?
Correct.

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PS: The plumbers laser level is the coolest tool ever, makes leveling anything a breeze.
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post #96 of 140 (permalink) Old 04-14-2011, 08:58 PM
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Thanks for the write up, pretty helpful information in there. Those 3 steps make it a lot easier to get it done. At first I got the ride heights then had no clue where to start to balance it out, you would have to be Einstein to understand what needs to happen there. It does help to not be rushed and take time, I have been forced to do this because my driver's seat has been gone for 2 weeks getting an insert sewn in for the sub-belt (I added extra weight to counter).

Think I've gotten it as close as I will be able to, my scales aren't the "cats meow" but once leveled (don't have leveling plates, had to shim, the paint cap with tape was very helpful here) they did ok. Also since I couldn't "roll" the car that much on the scales I used contractor style trash bags which I cut to fit on top of the scale put one down, sprayed water, then put down another one so the suspension could "settle." I will do the alignment tomorrow but here is what I came up with, can't wait to play around with rake and other settings. I can't wait to drive it now!



and ride heights measured:
120.5 121.0
126.0 125.5


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Last edited by ACE51; 04-14-2011 at 09:05 PM.
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post #97 of 140 (permalink) Old 04-14-2011, 09:31 PM Thread Starter
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Nice work...
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post #98 of 140 (permalink) Old 05-30-2011, 12:18 AM
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Very nice to read about all these things and to learn about it. Thank's to all authors.

Still some things I'm not really understand:
"Cross weight", LF/RR and RF/LR should be about the same. This means 50% of the complete weight should be on LR/RF (if left side is heavier than the right side of the car). May be up to 56%.
Sorry for the question: WHY?

We sit on one side of the car, what means, we always have more weight on one site (when we drive alone). To equal the cross weights, we need to compromise that LF/RF and LR/RR must me more different than necessary. I mean at some point, you car really should go out of balance while braking (if your brake balance is maybe 80-20 or something).
Extreme sample: You would weigh 500pounds, would is make sence to go on gross weights? Where is the limit?

Why not trying to balance the driver weight equal on front anf rear (on the driver's side?

Sorry for all the questions, I don't wan't to question your thinking. I just would like to learn all about it.
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post #99 of 140 (permalink) Old 05-30-2011, 03:10 AM
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A 50% cross set up will make the car turn the same left and right as far as under steer and over steer. Tuning a car to a particular track can involve adjusting the cross. Most tracks run clockwise so there are going to be more right turns than left. So you want a car that can turn right very well. In the case of a track like Mid-O you have two slow speed rights that lead onto long straight. You want the car to rotate very well in these turns or over steer to get around them fast. Then there are two fast left hand turns that you don’t want the car to have over steer. A slight push is what would be fast. So you add more cross to achieve this. Higher percentage. Say 54%.

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post #100 of 140 (permalink) Old 05-30-2011, 06:13 AM
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A 50% cross set up will make the car turn the same left and right as far as under steer and over steer. Tuning a car to a particular track can involve adjusting the cross. Most tracks run clockwise so there are going to be more right turns than left. So you want a car that can turn right very well. In the case of a track like Mid-O you have two slow speed rights that lead onto long straight. You want the car to rotate very well in these turns or over steer to get around them fast. Then there are two fast left hand turns that you don’t want the car to have over steer. A slight push is what would be fast. So you add more cross to achieve this. Higher percentage. Say 54%.
Yes, so far I understand. 54% you have on RF/LR on this type of track?! This gives you a lighter rear right wheel when turning right (what causes oversteer).
Let's stay at this extreme example, I made. Fortunatly I'm not weighing 500pds , but let's say your car would be much, much more heavy on the complete left side. To compensate your Cross weights to 50%, you really have very different weights between FrontLeft and FrontRight. RearLeft and RearRight as well. What's with braking than?
For my understanding the best thing would be, FL+RL=FR+RR and equal cross weights as well. To reach this, you either need to move in the middle of the car or drive with a passenger.
My question is : What't the max. difference (which makes sence) between the wheel weights FL and FR? And RL and RR?
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