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Interesting Phil, but the front clam is not square to chassis (at least mine isn't)...
That's not a problem... if you cover the aluminum with foam padding, you've got to square the rig anyway, regardless of whether the clams are true.

To do this, eyeball the rig's position as a start. Use a carpenter's square to make sure that the mason's line is at right angles to the aluminum "angle iron", if not, adjust them until it is. Then check the distance from the string to the center of the hubs... the goal is to have equal distances between the left and right sides at the front and also at the back.

Two is a few. Document away.
rotfl

OK... I think I'll start another thread for this. I'll post a link to the thread here when I'm done.

New thread is here: http://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f91/diy-corner-balance-ride-height-adjustment-77759/#post1345127
 

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Yeah, I know. Holy ancient thread resurrection, Batman!

I need some direction on this. I've read through TurboPhil's instructions. Makes sense. I understand the math and geometry of it. But what gauge or thickness aluminum are people using for the posts? I checked some out at Home Depot tonight. The angled aluminum I found deflected easily. That can't be good since I'm trying to get a good right angle at the corners. I found some that didn't deflect, but it was about $25/post. That doesn't seem to fall in line with the "$19 in parts" comment in the thread.

I thought about using LotusInMotion's method, but that still doesn't make sense to me. It seems like the string will not be parallel to the center line of the car because of the difference in front and rear offsets. Seems like it would create toe in if the rims are set parallel to the string which is strung from a wider rear to a narrower front. I guess, if someone can clear this up for me, then I can avoid the aluminum posts altogether.

Anyway, a little help?

-Brad
 

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Yeah, I know. Holy ancient thread resurrection, Batman!

I need some direction on this. I've read through TurboPhil's instructions. Makes sense. I understand the math and geometry of it. But what gauge or thickness aluminum are people using for the posts? I checked some out at Home Depot tonight. The angled aluminum I found deflected easily. That can't be good since I'm trying to get a good right angle at the corners. I found some that didn't deflect, but it was about $25/post. That doesn't seem to fall in line with the "$19 in parts" comment in the thread.

I thought about using LotusInMotion's method, but that still doesn't make sense to me. It seems like the string will not be parallel to the center line of the car because of the difference in front and rear offsets. Seems like it would create toe in if the rims are set parallel to the string which is strung from a wider rear to a narrower front. I guess, if someone can clear this up for me, then I can avoid the aluminum posts altogether.

Anyway, a little help?

-Brad
First, the aluminum posts will not deflect if you don't make the string too tight... and even if they do deflect slightly, since they are made of identical material, are the same length, and have the same stress on them (because the string is in the same tension everywhere on it's length), then the two posts will deflect equally, and the width of the string remains equal front to back. The material I'm using is 1" angle that's 1/8" thick.

For LotusInMotion's (and Carl's) method, the strings are only used to make the rear toe equal from side to side; it does not measure the actual amount of toe. For that, they use a toe gauge, which slips under the car and measures the difference in width of the front and back edges of the wheel rim. It's a two-step process, but the setup is less critical than the "posts" method.
 

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alignment question

I've never had my car's alignment checked. I figured since the car runs perfecly straight when I take my hands off the steering wheel, the alignment must be OK?
 

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I've never had my car's alignment checked. I figured since the car runs perfecly straight when I take my hands off the steering wheel, the alignment must be OK?
All that really says is that your alignment is probably symmetric, not that it's within spec. You can still have overall too much or too little toe in the front or rear.

EDIT: If your tires are wearing evenly, and the steering feels responsive but not twitchy, your alignment is probably fine for the street.
 

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First, the aluminum posts will not deflect if you don't make the string too tight... and even if they do deflect slightly, since they are made of identical material, are the same length, and have the same stress on them (because the string is in the same tension everywhere on it's length), then the two posts will deflect equally, and the width of the string remains equal front to back. The material I'm using is 1" angle that's 1/8" thick.
Thanks for that. I guess I was assuming their needed to be a decent amount of tension on the string to keep it flat and to keep the posts from sliding. I understand about the deflection being equal. I guess I'll head back to the hardware store and plan on using less tension in the string.

For LotusInMotion's (and Carl's) method, the strings are only used to make the rear toe equal from side to side; it does not measure the actual amount of toe.
Now that makes sense. I didn't pick up on that even though I saw the toe gauges on the wheels in the photo.

Appreciate the help.

-Brad
 

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Thanks for that. I guess I was assuming their needed to be a decent amount of tension on the string to keep it flat and to keep the posts from sliding. I understand about the deflection being equal. I guess I'll head back to the hardware store and plan on using less tension in the string.
If you use a bungee cord to attach the two ends of the string, you can easily adjust the tension so the string is taut, but not too much so. Tying knots in the bungee cord will shorten it slightly to increase tension, so start out loose and gradually tighten the rig.



Now that makes sense. I didn't pick up on that even though I saw the toe gauges on the wheels in the photo.

Appreciate the help.

-Brad
You're welcome!
 

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My intention is not to take away from any of the great information on this thread about doing your own alignments, but after trying string alignments myself, I have found an alternative that I think is worth mentioning. Due to the economic slump in this country and the closing of automotive shops and auto dealers over the last few years as well as the advent of the latest generation of digital camera optical alignment machines, the market for used alignment machines has become flooded with perfectly good machines at great prices. Earlier this year I purchased a '90s vintage Hunter L111 alignment machine from a smaller automotive shop that had decided to upgrade to one of the new $25K + optical machines. I purchased the L111 from a working environment in perfect working order with a recent calibration and a database of alignment specs up to 2007. While this is an older machine, it was extensively maintained and updated over the years and was just as accurate as the brand new $$$$ optical machine when the same vehicle was tested on both machines. I ended up taking this machine home for $700 which is not a whole lot more than what you would pay for a manufactured string alignment setup and the camber and caster gauges. The main advantage to the machine is being able to attach the sensor heads and start an alignment in a fraction of the time it takes to find the center of your car and set the strings. The other big advantage is having the machine taking constant measurements as you adjust tie rods, shims, etc. instead of having to stop and take manual measurements between adjustments. It also takes constant measurements on all four wheels so you can see if there is any wear in the suspension components while you make adjustments to one wheel. I know there is some stigma out there regarding these machines and that they are not accurate but it is just not true. A well maintained machine used correctly is highly accurate, gives you much more information than a manual method (SAI, thrust line, steering center, etc.) of alignment, and the machine is not difficult to use even for a DIY guy in his garage. You do not need an alignment rack (although it would be nice) to use the machine and all you need are some turn plates for the front wheels and slip plates for the rear wheels which you also need for the string method. A way to lift the vehicle in order to compensate the sensor heads is nice to have, but a floor jack to lift the wheels will suffice as well. If you get together with a couple of guys on the purchase the initial cost of the machine drops and you will have assistants available to help you with the alignments. :D You can practice on your daily driver until you are confident in your use of the machine, but JWA and I successfully aligned my Elise after only one other prior alignment (his Evo). The Hunter machines that seem to work the best for the DIY guy with a small garage on a budget are the G111 - L111 for the cabled head machines and the P211 - P411 if you have to have the wireless RF heads. If anyone would like further information on these machines or what is required to do an alignment with one, feel free to PM me. Also, if anyone from LT wants to do a custom alignment on their Lotus and is local to me (Racine, WI) you are welcome to contact me to make arrangements to have an alignment done. I am not in the alignment business, but am offering this as an assistance to fellow Lotus owners in need of alignment work.
 

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I'm jealous... :drool:

Especially for the room to install the machine... :drool:
 

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I'm jealous... :drool:

Especially for the room to install the machine... :drool:
Actually the machines I mentioned above are quite compact and are on wheels so they are portable and not installed. I'll post some photos of my Hunter L-111 machine later tonight and it is only on a short stand so the entire unit is only a couple of feet tall. The PO never had the full cabinet for it and just had it sitting on top of his work bench. When not in use, I just push it into the corner of my garage.
 

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The question is ... drum roll ... can any of these machine be made portable/pratical to bring to the track? I'm not a fan of the "string" approach either.
 

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The question is ... drum roll ... can any of these machine be made portable/pratical to bring to the track? I'm not a fan of the "string" approach either.
If you have access to a 110V AC power source at the track, yes, you could take the machine to the race track. According to the Hunter rep. I talked to, the computer/monitor part of the machine travels well and as long as the sensor heads are not excessively banged around or dropped they are very sturdy. You would just have to have enough room in your tow vehicle or trailer to transport the machine.

It is funny you brought this up, because JWA and I were just talking about this in regards to the newer Hunter alignment machines that run on a Windows PC format. One could conceivably copy the alignment program to a laptop and run the RF sensor heads out of something the size of a briefcase.
 

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No worries on portable power $500 generator that can handle 6500 Watt 4 120v and 1 240v outlet - got that covered. Would be neat to have a portable unit ... my wheels are turning...

Rob.
 

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No worries on portable power $500 generator that can handle 6500 Watt 4 120v and 1 240v outlet - got that covered. Would be neat to have a portable unit ... my wheels are turning...

Rob.
When I get home from work tonight I'll post that photo I promised of my L-111 machine next to my Elise. That should give you a good perspective of how large/small the machine actually is. You could make a smaller base for it and not have the storage mounts for the sensor heads on that base. It would probably be better to store the heads in some sort of padded box for travel anyway. You could also remove the keyboard and leave it at home because it is only needed for programming and there is a remote control for changing screens while you are working on the car.
 

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OK, here are a couple photos (sorry they are a bit blurry) of the alignment machine:

P8270196.JPG

P8270197.JPG

The dimensions of the machine without the roller stand are 24" wide X 20" deep and 17" tall unless the keyboard tray is removed then it is 14" tall. The sensor heads are attached to their wheel clamps and the clamps are sitting on individual holders bolted to the stand. As you can see the machine is not very large and could be easily transported.
 

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Here are a couple of photos showing an older machine (probably a G111) without a stand or the keyboard under it but they are very representative of the compact size of the 111 series machines once the stand/cabinet is removed.

hunter1.jpg

hunter.jpg

The red colored sensor heads (these are the old non-DSP heads and I would not recommend purchasing these as they are not being serviced by Hunter any longer, but the gray DSP heads that are only slightly larger still are) are laying on the work bench on each side of the machine and you can see that they do not take up a lot of room either. You can ignore the gray box on top of the machine as that is the old dot matrix printer that came with these machines and is not necessary to do an alignment. This machine could easily be set up on a shelf in a car trailer to do alignments at the track as long as you have a source of 110V AC power to plug into.
 

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Very interesting equipment! I didn't see any prices on their site. Any idea of how much this system costs?

I don't know the cost of the system. I sent them an inquiry as to the cost. They claim that race teams in Europe are using their system. Their presentation last spring was geared towards aircraft landing gear alignments.
 
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