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DIY alignment tools recommendation

 
Old 06-23-2019, 03:10 PM
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bhk2
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Default DIY alignment tools recommendation

CF help request. Looking for a recommendation on DIY alignment tools. '19 Z06. Switching between track set up where stock bolts are raised and normal driving where the bolts are lowered.

The Tenhulzen equipment (2 wheel option), https://www.wheelalignmenttools.com/store/, looked pretty slick for camber and toe. I'm building a jig for caster described in another CF post, and would use the digital angle gauge from the Tenhulzen purchase to measure caster.

Thanks in advance for any pro tips!
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Old 06-23-2019, 04:12 PM
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Kudos for pursuing alignments yourself! The ability to get exactly what you want when you want it is second to none.

We make an alignment solution that encompasses turn plates, toe bars, and the ability to set all specifications including corner weighting and ride height without having the wheels in the way. You can check us out @: www.CSMPerformance.com

We’rerunning a sale this weekend and we also have a used set up for sale:


Colton @ CSM Performance LLC

Last edited by CSM Performance; 06-23-2019 at 04:14 PM.
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Old 06-23-2019, 05:32 PM
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I use the Tenhulzen setup. You really need to use the string system with the Corvette because it needs 4 wheel alignment. If not you may end up with the car not tracking correctly. I use Hub stands similar to the above setup as well and highly recommend them.
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Old 06-23-2019, 07:42 PM
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Oh4GTO
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Originally Posted by badhabit_wb View Post
I use the Tenhulzen setup. You really need to use the string system with the Corvette because it needs 4 wheel alignment. If not you may end up with the car not tracking correctly. I use Hub stands similar to the above setup as well and highly recommend them.
Can you share how you go about doing that. I was set on getting but would like to know what else is needed.
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Old 06-23-2019, 07:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Oh4GTO View Post
Can you share how you go about doing that. I was set on getting but would like to know what else is needed.
The hub stands just make it a lot easier. There are instructions with the kit and if you search here several threads on alignment. Short version you set up the bars so that they are the same and then put one in front of the car and one in the rear. Then you make sure the strings are the same distance apart at the center of each rear wheel and then that the strings are the same distance from the center of each front wheel. Once that is done you set the toe at each rear wheel seperately and set the toe on the front end. That's how to make sure the toe and thrust angle are correct. That's actually the final step you have to set the camber and caster first.
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Old 06-24-2019, 09:14 PM
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I have some tools from long acre racing. Work great and have used them on multiple different vehicles a couple vettes, gti, evo, Miata and trailblazer
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Old 06-27-2019, 11:52 AM
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OP: It all depends on how simple you want the tools.

You need these basic tools:
An angle gauge to measure camber and caster
A method of adapting that gauge to the tire/wheel/hub assembly to get a solid point to measure from.
A tool that lets you measure toe
A tool that lets you measure thrust angle and steering wheel angle.
On a C7 you also need tools that let you measure rear caster. That means an angle gauge that is small enough to use in the limited space on the rear knuckle and an adapter that lets you establish a vertical reference for the gauge.

Here is what I started with:
  • A Sears 24 inch Laser Level which permits me to measure camber, front caster, thrust angle and steering wheel angle.
  • A set of toe plates that I purchased off eBay that let me measure toe.
  • Something that lets the tires slide around on the floor when adjusting toe. I use two 1/8 in thick Masonite boards at each wheel with a large plastic garbage bag between them.
For C7 Rear Caster:
  • I purchased the GM rear caster gauge adapter that plugs into the two holes in each of the rear knuckles (this can be made simpler by cutting a small steel bar to about 6 inches length and using rubber bands to attach it to two quarter inch bolts that are cut so they can be inserted into the holes in the knuckle).
  • A Wixey Saw Blade gauge that is accurate to 0.1 degrees and has 0.1 degrees resolution.

No strings, no stands these things can do everything you need. All you need to do is mark 4 places in your garage where the car's tires need to set and determine how level those places are to each other. In my old garage I had a spot located where the left front tire needed a single piece of vinyl floor tile under it and the right side tire required 2 vinyl floor tiles. I didn't worry about level lengthwise of the car but just side to side. With the C7 you can still do the same thing but you need to be able to establish a length wise level reference so you can calibrate your rear caster gauge to the proper vertical reference. These tools let you do everything but are the most time consuming and maybe labor intensive. Since the car is sitting on the floor when you measure things that means you have to raise it and maybe remove a wheel to make an adjustment which means putting the wheel back on and lowering the car followed by driving it to settle the suspension. This process can take hours at first but gets shorter as you gain experience.

That is where hub stands and strings come into play. You choose a level spot or use the stands to make a level spot, take off the wheels install the stands, add strings and then do all of your measurements using an angle gauge put on the stands and measuring sticks to measure distance from a reference on the stand to the strings that are set up parallel to the car. No measuring, raising the car, removing things, adjusting, reinstalling, lowering and driving and then repeat over and over for each required adjustment. Just measure, adjust and set. A lot easier but a lot more money invested. The ultimate is a $15K alignment rack along with a $25K alignment machine.

Bill
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Old 06-27-2019, 12:14 PM
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Or you can go nuts with hub stands, scales and pads, full tenhulzen alignment, Longacre turn plates, etc. I also had a bosch laser level to make sure all of the pads were exactly level. This setup makes alignment a lot easier and setting thrust angles and corner balancing easier as well. Doing it at home is not a 2 hour job. It probably took

an hour to level and set everything up.
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Old 06-27-2019, 10:38 PM
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Bill, your detailed reply and specific information are invaluable. Thank you for taking time to put helpful response together.
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Old 06-27-2019, 10:40 PM
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Badhabit, wow--thanks for including pics and nice looking ride!
Originally Posted by badhabit_wb View Post
Or you can go nuts with hub stands, scales and pads, full tenhulzen alignment, Longacre turn plates, etc. I also had a bosch laser level to make sure all of the pads were exactly level. This setup makes alignment a lot easier and setting thrust angles and corner balancing easier as well. Doing it at home is not a 2 hour job. It probably took

an hour to level and set everything up.
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Old 06-27-2019, 10:45 PM
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Hope I helped.
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Old 06-29-2019, 06:52 AM
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The problem with strings is that if there is an error in string setup, then that error gets placed in the toe settings of the car. So you just think you know what you have.

David Farmer did a nice DIY writeup several years ago. he used simple tools, toe plates, tape measures and a digital laser level. he sets lots of cars up for the track still with just those tools. David knows as much about alignment as anyone I know. He used to ask for a small "donation" for a copy, so you might PM him for a copy.

Regarding rear caster, you can buy the GM rig or make a simple tool like the one shown above. The bolts were 1/4-20 and fit perfectly in the two holes in the rear knuckle used for this measurement. You adjust caster at the same time you adjust camber. The rear-most eccentric seems to have a bigger effect on caster than the front one, so when I'm adjusting, I move the eccentrics a bit and observe both camber and caster, then tweak each one so both camber and caster end up where I want them.

Last edited by k24556; 06-29-2019 at 06:59 AM.
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Old 07-01-2019, 01:08 AM
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Originally Posted by k24556 View Post



The problem with strings is that if there is an error in string setup, then that error gets placed in the toe settings of the car. So you just think you know what you have.

David Farmer did a nice DIY writeup several years ago. he used simple tools, toe plates, tape measures and a digital laser level. he sets lots of cars up for the track still with just those tools. David knows as much about alignment as anyone I know. He used to ask for a small "donation" for a copy, so you might PM him for a copy.

Regarding rear caster, you can buy the GM rig or make a simple tool like the one shown above. The bolts were 1/4-20 and fit perfectly in the two holes in the rear knuckle used for this measurement. You adjust caster at the same time you adjust camber. The rear-most eccentric seems to have a bigger effect on caster than the front one, so when I'm adjusting, I move the eccentrics a bit and observe both camber and caster, then tweak each one so both camber and caster end up where I want them.
A four post lift like Brian has helps when adjusting the lca cams. I have used his lift several times and it really helps. I think it is better overall than the hub stands since you don't have to take off the wheels and then put them back on unless you are changing the number of shims behind the uca dog bones. It also makes it easier to wrench on the lca cams because you are under the car and can put some real leverage into getting the retaining nu/bolt to its 125 ft-lb spec level. Some people change the shims to change front and rear caster. I don't do that. I change the shims when I go from a street alignment to a track alignment. Adding 7/8 of an inch of shims behind each uca dog bone moves my track alignment to right around -0.9 degrees of camber.
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Old 07-01-2019, 09:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Bill Dearborn View Post
Adding 7/8 of an inch of shims behind each uca dog bone moves my track alignment to right around -0.9 degrees of camber.
How much does that affect toe?
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Old 07-02-2019, 12:06 AM
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Bill and all, thanks for the help. From the CF notes, I put together an inexpensive variation of the caster gauge. Designed with the Wixie digital angle tool, hollow metal tubing, and a small bungee-style clasp strapped around the bolts. The Kwik-lift helps for leveling vehicle and working underneath. I was able to set caster at the desired value, but got stuck with camber. Do you have a pic or detailed explanation with the tools you're using? After setting the rear caster to 0.7 degrees on each side, the terrible result reoriented the steering wheel so it looks like I am turning left while driving straight. So, after going 0-1 on the DIY alignment, I set up strings to correct most of the steering, but needs more tweaking to get closer. Thanks.

Wixie digital gauge, metal tube, small bungee around two bolts.

Kwik-lift to level car and easier access to lca eccentrics.

Last edited by bhk2; 07-02-2019 at 12:11 AM.
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Old 07-02-2019, 02:24 AM
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I have the Tenhulzen 4-wheel setup with turn plates for the front wheels and slide plates for the rear but I find it takes forever and that it is not very repeatable. The digital angle gauges seem to "stick" from time to time and don't appear to be especially accurate. If I drive the car around and measure it again, I will get significantly different readings. Will hub stands make this better? Any advice so I can improve?
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Old 07-02-2019, 07:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Luke42_02 View Post
I have the Tenhulzen 4-wheel setup with turn plates for the front wheels and slide plates for the rear but I find it takes forever and that it is not very repeatable. The digital angle gauges seem to "stick" from time to time and don't appear to be especially accurate. If I drive the car around and measure it again, I will get significantly different readings. Will hub stands make this better? Any advice so I can improve?
Hub stands make it easier but you still have to settle the suspension. I always start the car and then try to get the suspension settled by bouncing it standing on the door jamb on each side. If you don't start the car I think it's a lot harder to get it to settle. I have the same tools as you and it's much easier for me with the hubstands. I also have a quickjack that I use to lift the car onto the stands. I have scales and scale pads as well. I know I went a little overboard with tools but I got tired of not being able to get it right. Now I know I can and do get it right. It requires patience but it's worth it.
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Old 07-02-2019, 08:07 AM
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Originally Posted by badhabit_wb View Post
Hub stands make it easier but you still have to settle the suspension. I always start the car and then try to get the suspension settled by bouncing it standing on the door jamb on each side. If you don't start the car I think it's a lot harder to get it to settle. I have the same tools as you and it's much easier for me with the hubstands. I also have a quickjack that I use to lift the car onto the stands. I have scales and scale pads as well. I know I went a little overboard with tools but I got tired of not being able to get it right. Now I know I can and do get it right. It requires patience but it's worth it.
^Agreed.
Hub Stands just make life easier and you don't have to mess with turn plates or toe plates as they are integrated into the Hub Stands. Honestly, for the cost of turn plates you get a set of our Hub Stands as well. It's all about the tools you have and your abilities with them. Can you use basic tools to get a great alignment? Yes, I did it for years. Would it be easier with alignment specific tools? Definitely and probably more accurate too. We're yet to have a customer who utilized our stands come back and prefer turn plates and toe plates. Not saying someone might not have a preference the other way but not that we know of.

These are our older Original Precision Hub Stands but nonetheless you get the idea. If you'd like some info on our new Mk II sets just let me know.


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Old 07-02-2019, 08:08 AM
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Originally Posted by badhabit_wb View Post
Hub stands make it easier but you still have to settle the suspension. I always start the car and then try to get the suspension settled by bouncing it standing on the door jamb on each side. If you don't start the car I think it's a lot harder to get it to settle. I have the same tools as you and it's much easier for me with the hubstands. I also have a quickjack that I use to lift the car onto the stands. I have scales and scale pads as well. I know I went a little overboard with tools but I got tired of not being able to get it right. Now I know I can and do get it right. It requires patience but it's worth it.

This is exactly how how I feel, I can get close, but the numbers keep changing slightly. I will try starting the car, I have not done that. Can you do a piece by piece rundown of what brand of equipment you are running? Do you need turn plates to go under the hubs?
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Old 07-02-2019, 08:36 AM
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Here's a few comments:

Regarding repeatability, there are several possibilities. Wheels may not be truly free to roll a bit and slide when measuring. If you are using turnplates or hub stands, this frees the suspension. Hub stands are the gold standard, but you can get a decent alignment with turnplates and toe plates.

Camber and caster measurements are going to vary a bit if you test drive the car and bring it back and check again. Getting 0.1 deg repeatability is golden.

Toe is tricky. Just tightening the jam nuts on the tie rod ends will change toe. On the front, each jam nut will cause almost 1/32 toe out when you tight it. Tighten both and you may have 1/16 more toe out than you want. The rears cause toe-in when jammed.

Always start from the back and get camber caster (C7) toe and thrust sorted first. If there is rear thrust, this will throw steering off and cause the car to have a proclivity to head for the ditch or the other lane.

Once the rear is done, then do the front. I tie my steering wheel with the rig shown to keep it centered during front alignment (crap, the photo ended up at the top):
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