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halz
11-12-2002, 03:26 AM
I just had the appointment at a local shop which does custom alignments (and more) for just about anything that will fit onto their Hunter racks..

I realize this might come off sounding like I am getting some sort of ‘kick back’ from the company, but, I was really thoroughly impressed with the entire operation.. All of the automotive engineers are ASE certified in whichever field they’d be working on your car; mainly suspension systems, steering, brakes, etc.. It was very clear they all enjoyed what they where doing daily.

I was slated from 8:30am to ~12pm for a corner weight adjust and all-wheel alignment.. While I was waiting in the lobby for the tech to take my car out for an initial drive, a supercharged S2000 with a roll cage and Recaro seats casually pulled up with the driver expressing that he had a track event later that week and needed to get his car corner weighted.. meh, too bad.. I was first http://forums.freshalloy.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/smile.gif

I watch as the tech starts up the car with the all-too-familiar timing chain death rattle, and takes it out for a short drive to get an impression of where it stands and what areas might need looking into..

After he returns, the car goes up on the rack and some preliminary ‘looking into’ starts.. I ask if I can see how things go with the whole ordeal.. It was put across that the techs don’t like being watch (I entirely understand the concept), so I tried being as nonchalant as possible as I made my way out onto the floor with their accommodation.

An issue with ‘memory steer’ came up.. it was suspected that my front right strut was binding on the camber plates. Tried some WD40 on the pillow ball mount perch, nothing.. I’ll have to take a look around the area later.

Notes from the conversation I tapped into the Zaurus (http://www.myzaurus.com/) (while looking nonchalant):
</font><blockquote><font class="small[/img]In reply to:</font><hr />
-front right pillowball mount is binding on the spring. left right pillowball mount is rotating freely.. curious! causing memory steer.

[/QUOTE]

At this point, there was open dialog. Comments using the brand name (DMS) of my struts was used in a familiar tone.. I asked if they had previous experiences with the components. While they have, on other types of cars, it was mentioned that they’re very impressed with what DMS offers and might be reselling hardware later down the road.. “along with that other Australian company: Whiteline”, gesturing towards the front swaybar. Very cool. I was very impressed at that point, already.

</font><blockquote><font class="small[/img]In reply to:</font><hr />
-familiar with DMS and whiteline products; might become a reseller in the near future.

[/QUOTE]

Next was the corner weight..

I was asked how much the driver would weigh.. 150lbs. A static weight placed on the drivers seat, and the scales put in place.. It was exciting to see how much the car weighed.. like a new born baby (an experience I can barely fathom, firsthand.. none-the-less)

The car worked out to 2875lbs with 110 miles on the full-tank of gas (more than I expected, for some reason).

Exact initial numbers:
Cross weight: 1400 - 48.7%
Left: 1472 – 51.2%
Rear: 1306 – 45.4%

LF: 820 RF: 748
LR: 652 RR: 654

I was prompted for what type of driving I’d be doing, and summoned over to the readouts.. I came away having written this in the Zaurus:
</font><blockquote><font class="small[/img]In reply to:</font><hr />
-consideration of weight bais was made... ~45.7% rear weight, 2875lbs with a little over a half-tank of gas and 150lbs driver. difference of 44lbs between front left and right; left bias. 30lbs left and right rear; left bias.

[/QUOTE]
(based on the real numbers, the above might not make any sense.. but, it was what I had typed right there on the floor..)

Exact final numbers:
Cross weight: 1446 – 50.3%
Left: 1473 – 51.2%
Rear: 1306 – 45.4%

LF: 798 RF: 771
LR: 675 RR: 631

The front strut threads are maxed out on how low they can go, and apparently I had done an OK job of getting things equal length when I was installing the struts, so the difference after the corner weight is not really huge. Only the rear left strut was adjusted slightly.. ohwell!

Picture of the readout.. http://halzmann2.homestead.com/files/CA_weight.jpg

Then was the alignment…

I was asked what I’d like to run as a starting point.. I throw out some figures I recall from Whiteline’s tuning: -1.5 front camber, 0 toe all wheels, -1 camber rear.

He turns the wrenches and works out what is here in the picture: http://halzmann2.homestead.com/files/CA_specs.jpg

Within the same conversation, the caster and SAI also become apparent.. I got the impression he was surprised with what the car was able to muster by ways of caster and SAI (&lt;- a new term to me!)

I wrote this..
</font><blockquote><font class="small[/img]In reply to:</font><hr />
-want SAI as high as possible
-bumpsteer rods will be adjusted as well

[/QUOTE]

Then it was noted that my front swaybar is full-stiff.. from that conversation:
</font><blockquote><font class="small[/img]In reply to:</font><hr />
-took note of front swaybar being at full stiff... suggested that i soften that up more for autocross, etc. made mention that some people even go so far as disconnecting the front swaybar... so as to get the tires to do ALL of the work. hmm!

[/QUOTE]
..and I’ll add that he mentioned the swaybars reduce the independences of the macpherson strut design (I, personally, never thought that would be an issue in autox, tho)

When he got into it, he suggested that I run some toe-in on the rear.. I wrote this in the ‘Z’:
</font><blockquote><font class="small[/img]In reply to:</font><hr />
-rear toe is advised to be 1/8th of an inch toe-in (to help keep the rear from coming around) could also do 16th of an inch each, however, again, it is suggested that it be 1/8th

[/QUOTE]

Took the car out again... made some more adjustments

Took the car out again.. more adjustments

Each time, the exhaust notes increasing in vigor as the car departed.. heh

Another conversation:
</font><blockquote><font class="small[/img]In reply to:</font><hr />

-rear camber adjusters are different lengths.. this is for the camber curve (when the rear squats, the camber change will be the same on both sides of the car; left and right tires)

[/QUOTE]
I was impressed again with the attention to detail

Took the car out again (almost as if for fun, at this point http://forums.freshalloy.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/tongue.gif ) lifted the car again and checked for more things (tightening, etc.)

Had the final conversations.. time to pay the bill, $85/hr, 4hours.. no problemo. Between signing the receipt, the tech sought out the key one last time for a final-finaaal check.. heh heh.. Arrived back as everything was being finalized and paid for, and said the last words of “enjoy it!”.

Just outside of the parking lot, the slight differences where apparent.. And finally, merging onto the freeway had never been so much fun.. the car felt wonderful

minuteman
11-12-2002, 07:08 PM
That's awesome! http://forums.freshalloy.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/cool.gif , I'm looking for a place around Tampa that would do that service, if anyone knows a place a central florida that does custom alignments, let me know!

Society_Mike
11-13-2002, 12:39 AM
Nice, you will love the different changes when you race.
What I find funny is the tech's comment about wanting "toe in" to keep the rear from coming around, hehehe. The rear is SUPPOSED to come around! hehehehe, j/k.

I have been doing my own alignment using measuring tape, level, and a homemade jig.
Its more tedious then it is hard. You just have to construct a jig to measure everything too. Then using knowledge of caster/camber/toe, start aligning everything to 0. Then change to your personal settings. I like about 1.2~1.5 - camber front and 2~2.8 - camber rear. "0" toe front and rear but if im going to grip race then very slight toe in up front helps. Caster up front slightly rotated back for more forward caster and rear as well. Sway bar I will always keep stock because I need that weight to go to the tires. Too stiff of a sway bar and it becomes unpredictable. That $85/hour labor charge is why I had to learn it myself. Plus, after going to circuit so much and gymkhana once a month, I am always re-aligning my geometry.

AD
11-13-2002, 07:06 AM
I've heard of some DIY alignment kits that are available for sale to the public for something around $300 USD, but am unsure of what they will measure for you (all 3, or just camber/toe? or...) and how accurate they are.

Has anyone here used these or have any feedback/suggestions? I don't know if I could bare spending over $300 for an alignment (and corner weight)!

I paid $40 two weeks back for a custom-spec alignment (although they couldn't adjust everything) and felt like I got a good enough deal ... now I REALLY feel like I got a good deal! http://forums.freshalloy.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/tongue.gif

Society_Mike
11-13-2002, 08:01 AM
you can make your own alignment jig and use common tools. I spent about $10 in parts making everything I needed to do alignment and I allready had a level, tape measure, and random parts.