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Plug Whisperer
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I snapped some pics from earlier this after noon of my little alignment rig. This is basically taken directly from the SELOC Wiki...

I used some 1" Aluminum angle and cut perfectly at 80". Then drilled holes exactly 4" in from the end of each piece. I double checked to ensure accuracy.

Then cover the aluminum alignment poles with home A/C line insulation to protect the car.

Next use some blue masking tape to hold the poles in the generally right place. String some mason's line between the poles and pull tight.

Now you're ready to set the strings to be equidistant from the center of the car. Best way to do this is to measure from the hub of each wheel with a ruler, ideally with mm increments. The distance from the string to each rear hub should be the same and the distance from each front hub to the string should equal as well. Shift the respective front or rear pole to either side until you have the lines exactly equidistant from the respective hub.

You now have two lines running perfectly parallel to the car's center line and can perform your in-home alignment. I will all but guarantee that your in-home alignment job will be more accurate than the screw-balls at the local alignment shop will do:) It's helpful to grab your spouse and have him/her sit in the driver's seat while doing the operation to be ultra precise, although it's not mandatory.

A couple tricks to make the job easier:

1) I cut a set of thin sheet metal plates and sandwiched grease between them and placed a set under each wheel. This is a poor-man's turnstile for the wheels. It helps to eliminate steering load in the system. A nice addition;)

2) Our cars are so light that the steering wheel tends to turn when adjusting a wheel. I used yellow electrical tape and placed a piece on the steering wheel and the column to help re-center the wheel after each adjustment. You will drive yourself crazy if you don't do something like this...

Finally, why did I do this? Factory rear alignment was 2.8mm of toe-in on each side, so over 5mm total toe!:eek: The front left tire was dead nuts on at zero toe. The front right was toe out about 1.5mm... Terrible factory alignment...

Hope this was helpful. Happy to answer any questions...

Best,

Phil
 

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Is that the best way to do it? most garage floors are going to be pitched a little bit I would think
Mine is pitched from rear to front very slightly (to allow for drainage out), but level from side to side. So the camber readings are fine for me (when pulling the car staight in). You can also shim your wheels to get your car perfectly level. Linoleum squares work well for this (stack however many are needed under each wheel). To get an idea of whether you need to worry about it on the camber measurements, you can pull in, take a reading and then back in and take another reading. If your floor is level side to side, the readings will be the same.
 

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Plug Whisperer
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Discussion Starter #6
To keep things simple, yet VERY accurate, use the same poles that are used for toe...

Simply tape the poles to the clam directly above "axle line" both front and rear.

Then use a plumb-bob (anything with some weight in your shop) tied to the mason string at each end of the pole to create a perfectly vertical line next your wheel.

Just like toe, measure against the rim. The difference between the upper and lower measurement is your real camber. The setup for measuring camber is much quicker than toe since you don't have to worry about one end in respect to the other. If you don't like your camber the way it is, simply place your plumb-bob strings on top of the car, pull the wheel, adjust camber, put everything back together, drop the strings, and remeasure...

This may seem too simple, but the accuracy is only limited to what you take your measurements with. I was using a dial caliper last night and getting down to the .001 of an inch (for toe, can't get that accurate with camber)... That accuracy isn't really required, so I wouldn't recommend that you try that at home (plus it takes forever. I won't do that again, as the first pot hole I hit will throw things off a few .001's anyway). A simple machinist ruler measured in mm would be the best and is probably accurate to .5mm or so (depending on the size of string you use- thinner the better). Good enough:up:

Best,

Phil
 

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Dude all you're doing is just increasing the amount of work I'm going to have to do in your garage! Or more accurately the amount of beer I have to bring with me! ;)
 

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Plug Whisperer
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Discussion Starter #8
Last night I lowered the car yet a bit more up front. I now have a full 1 cm rake, which is what I was looking for. Before I lowered again, I was running zero front end toe. After lowering approx 8mm, I measured 1mm toe-out on each front wheel or 2mm total toe-out. Obviously I realigned back to zero...

I would be spending a small fortune on alignments had I not built this little contraption:clap:
I used to be resistant to tinker with the ride height, tie-rods, etc... now, the world is my oyster:D:coolnana:

For you DIY'ers, I'd recommend that you give this a try. It's actually pretty fun.

Have a great day,

Phil
 

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Excellent - thanks for the pics. I've been trying to figure out how to fix the poles to the car (thinking I'd fab brackets and bolt them somehow) - I never even considered taping them.
:eek:
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Excellent - thanks for the pics. I've been trying to figure out how to fix the poles to the car (thinking I'd fab brackets and bolt them somehow) - I never even considered taping them.
:eek:
The tape isn't even needed. I just use the tape to roughly hold the poles in place while a tighten the strings...The padding along with a fair amount of tension on the strings is all that is needed. The poles are very light and you're not driving around with them:)

A couple more install notes...

*FRONT*

-It's helpful to remove the clamp on the rack boots so the boot isn't fighting you while twisting the tierods.

-You need to remove the front wheels to break the jam nuts loose.

-The front tie rods are 12mm on the flats.

-Roll the car backward then forward and set the brake prior to adjusting front toe. This will ensure that any slack in the suspension is positioned as it would be when travleing down the road.

-It's easy to reach the tie-rod with the car on the ground just by reaching up behind the front tires. Just be careful to limbo under your alignment strings! Sounds tougher than it really is...

-Don't forget to check your steering wheel after EACH alignment change. Use colorful tape to mark your center. Makes all the difference in the world.

*REAR*

-You only need to remove the diffuser for the rear alignment. The jam nuts on the rear toe-links are 19mm and can be accessed with the wheels *on* the car.

-Small adjustments on the rear links translates into big rear toe changes.


Now go make the world your oyster too:)

Best,

Phil
 

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Nice set-up and write-up.

Below is an alternative set-up that accomplishes the same results with no need to fabricate an alignment rig.

My stringing technique (learned from 4carl) is to tie a length of line to two bungee cords, one set for each side of the car. Wrap the bungee cords around the back of the back tire and front of the front tire, both sides of the car. Now, the line is stretched along the length of the car's wheelbase.

Next, adjust the line height so it is identical front and rear. Next, using spacers that are identical in height (I used wire nuts, which I size matched using a digital micrometer), place a wire nut under the line at the outside of each rim and furthest end of each line as the rim surface allows.

The result is that your car is now box-strung, and no centering is needed as the stringing technique self-centers. You can measure and set thrust angle of the rear wheels and center and realign the front wheels.

I use 40 lb. rated blue colored fishing line instead of string. I picked up four alignment turntables for $300 from Harbor Freight. I fabricated an alignment gauge, to measure toe, from 1/2 inch irrigation pipe (with corners reinforced to reduce flex at the elbow joints).
 

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Phil,

Good job!

Get some slip plates -- makes for easier (and proper) adjustment....here's Carl's string set-up....
 

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Jack I don't see how those strings can be parallel if the front and rear track widths are different. Is that not a necessity? Or am I showing my ignorance?

xtn
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thanks Jack. Nice setup. I looked at those and the killer dunlop site alignment jig... I thought I could do a comparable job with the old-school string and pole setup. I think for measuring toe, both setups are equally accurate. Carl's got the ticket for camber though. THe plumb-bob method can be a bit annoying....

You must have missed the part about my slip plates:D... I used them, you just can't see them. Under each tire there are 2 6x6" pieces of thin sheet metal with grease sandwiched between them. Makes for near a frictionless surface for the tires to turn and nearly completely unloads the steering system. The other nice thing about them, is that it's easy to just roll the car on to them in a forward direction to get the suspension settled in after making ride height adjustments...

Not saying one method is better than the other, but this system works pretty good...total cost on parts was about $19 at lowes (I already had the dial calipers and metric ruler):nanner2:

In any case, it sure is nice to talk shop every once in while. A guy can only get just -so- excited about reading another thread on custom seats:crazyeyes:D

Best,

Phil
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Is 0 toe the ideal setup for an Elise? I wouldn't think so, but I could be wrong.
Arguably, yes. It's very much a matter of preference though... some run a touch of toe out... You are also talking about the front here...

Most run a little toe-in out back... some of the more agressive drivers who like some over-steer will run zero to toe-out in back:eek:... But that's pretty darn agressive for a car that all ready over-steers pretty quick...IMO
 

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they look like common garden cup car wheels, like i've got on my Exige S (so yes)
Thanks Charlie. Are they all the same bolt pattern? Do you know the width? Do I need to go the dealer route, or is there other alternatives? Appreciate the help
 
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