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gmg
gmg New Reader
8/9/08 3:04 p.m.

Does anyone have any experience (good, bad, indifferent) with the Fastrack Camber/Caster Gauge? http://www.racerpartswholesale.com/product/1709/Caster_Camber_Gauges I'm looking to do my own wheel alignments this Fall. Thanks!

modernbeat
modernbeat HalfDork
8/9/08 3:14 p.m.

I use the ART Smart Pro II which is fairly similar. I find it very easy to use and setup.

http://www.advancedracing.com/products2.php?prod=smartcamber2

gmg
gmg New Reader
8/9/08 3:41 p.m.

Have not been aware of the Smart Pro. I was looking at bubble devices thinking that they are simpler (and, less expensive) and have fewer parts to break (except, of course, for the bubble glass!). How long have you had the Smart Pro? Any calibration issues?

porksboy
porksboy HalfDork
8/9/08 5:40 p.m.

I have used the Fastrack with the bubble in it. I found it to be satisfactory. Make your self some turn plates out of two one foot squares of Formica for each wheel with grease or something between them to make turning the wheels easier. They have a new model out with an electronic gauge on it. That and a couple of toe gauges and you should be set.

modernbeat
modernbeat HalfDork
8/9/08 6:10 p.m.
gmg wrote: Have not been aware of the Smart Pro. I was looking at bubble devices thinking that they are simpler (and, less expensive) and have fewer parts to break (except, of course, for the bubble glass!). How long have you had the Smart Pro? Any calibration issues?

I've had it about three years. No calibration issues. It uses a digital level that you zero after you clamp it to the alignment jig. I've used a bubble device in the past. The digital levels are worlds easier to use.

gmg
gmg New Reader
8/10/08 6:48 a.m.
porksboy wrote: I have used the Fastrack with the bubble in it. I found it to be satisfactory. Make your self some turn plates out of two one foot squares of Formica for each wheel with grease or something between them to make turning the wheels easier. They have a new model out with an electronic gauge on it. That and a couple of toe gauges and you should be set.

Thanks for the feedback on the Fastrack. And, the tip on the formica squares.

I'm thinking more of a string type arrangement for checking toe. I thought that strings would allow me to find and measure off the chassis' center to check thrust angle for the drive wheels. I'm not sure I can do that with toe gauges?

gmg
gmg New Reader
8/10/08 6:58 a.m.
modernbeat wrote: I've had it about three years. No calibration issues. It uses a digital level that you zero after you clamp it to the alignment jig. I've used a bubble device in the past. The digital levels are worlds easier to use.

Good to know, thanks. The digital readout is pretty interesting. Takes away the guess work. I'm kinda' going back on forth on that one. I've always been pretty good at finding "true" horizontal and vertical with bubble levels. Hmm.

Have to think more about the process of doing the alignment, and how bubble vs. digital would affect that. Digital might be a bit faster.

44Dwarf
44Dwarf New Reader
8/10/08 7:17 a.m.

I check my car before every race and if theres been any contact i'll check it at the races. I do not use any jig nor would i that attaches to the rim! Rims are a consumable in racing. I use a magnetic angle finder off the disk brake rotor. I used to use a manual one but now i use a digital unit that 2.5 x2.5 cube

gmg
gmg New Reader
8/10/08 7:23 a.m.
44Dwarf wrote: I check my car before every race and if theres been any contact i'll check it at the races. I do not use any jig nor would i that attaches to the rim! Rims are a consumable in racing. I use a magnetic angle finder off the disk brake rotor. I used to use a manual one but now i use a digital unit that 2.5 x2.5 cube

Is that like this one: http://tinyurl.com/578486

Jensenman
Jensenman SuperDork
8/10/08 8:38 a.m.

I bought one of those $39.00 bubble level camber gauges from Solotime before they got snapped up by SPS, they no longer sell them. It has to be held against the wheel, no magnets etc. It reads in 1/8 degree increments. So far I have been happy with it. I like the Longacre hub magnetic tool but I don't see how, with my setup, that I could get an accurate measurement (there's not a good flat spot to mount the thing with the wheels on the car).

The centerline is very important. I wound up redoing the Abomination and discovered my original alignment left a good bit to be desired. Like, the rear tires were both toed to the left about 1/4". I'm surprised it handled as well as it did.

Since my rear setup uses the same shims to set both camber and toe, I set the rear camber first. I leveled the car side to side, found the chassis (not body) centerline, marked it permanently both front and rear, then hung a string and plumb bob from those marks to a long piece of aluminum strap. That was two 6 foot pieces of aluminum from Home Depot that I aligned with string and then riveted together. I say 'was' because I recycled that for other projects. I guess I'll have to make another one. Hint: use some pretty heavy weights to hold the strap down so it won't move. I used several bricks.

Anyway, once that was found, I used my toe plates and a big aluminum ruler to plot out the rear toe. I did the rear first because the front 'keys' off of the rear. Once I got the toe right with the centerline, I then checked total toe with the plates and when I did those adjustments I added/subtracted the same amount on each side till I got to zero toe. I rechecked it with the centerline setup again and it was where it needed to be.

At that point, it's possible to check the front with string to make sure the front tracks with the rear. That's more to center the steering wheel than anything else, since the front wheels do turn in relation to the chassis. Once the front was aligned with the rear and the wheel was centered, I used the toe plates to set the front alignment. Since toe is split from camber adjustment at the front, I did the toe first, checked and adjusted the camber and then reset the toe, since adding shims behind the front lower C/A pivots changed the toe.

All this took the best part of a rainy Sunday afternoon.

I put the car on the big bux Hunter machine at work one evening and found that my homespun alignment was within the 'noise' of the machine.

joey48442
joey48442 Dork
8/10/08 10:00 a.m.
modernbeat wrote:
gmg wrote: Have not been aware of the Smart Pro. I was looking at bubble devices thinking that they are simpler (and, less expensive) and have fewer parts to break (except, of course, for the bubble glass!). How long have you had the Smart Pro? Any calibration issues?

I've had it about three years. No calibration issues. It uses a digital level that you zero after you clamp it to the alignment jig. I've used a bubble device in the past. The digital levels are worlds easier to use.

When you zero it in, does it compensate for a slight incline in your garage floor? My floor slopes slightly to help with drainage.

Joey

modernbeat
modernbeat HalfDork
8/10/08 12:15 p.m.
joey48442 wrote:
modernbeat wrote:
gmg wrote: Have not been aware of the Smart Pro. I was looking at bubble devices thinking that they are simpler (and, less expensive) and have fewer parts to break (except, of course, for the bubble glass!). How long have you had the Smart Pro? Any calibration issues?

I've had it about three years. No calibration issues. It uses a digital level that you zero after you clamp it to the alignment jig. I've used a bubble device in the past. The digital levels are worlds easier to use.

When you zero it in, does it compensate for a slight incline in your garage floor? My floor slopes slightly to help with drainage.

Joey

Yes, you basically calibrate it to the surface the car is on.

gmg
gmg New Reader
8/10/08 12:37 p.m.
Jensenman wrote: I bought one of those $39.00 bubble level camber gauges from Solotime before they got snapped up by SPS, they no longer sell them. It has to be held against the wheel, no magnets etc. It reads in 1/8 degree increments. So far I have been happy with it. ... ... ... ... ... ... I put the car on the big bux Hunter machine at work one evening and found that my homespun alignment was within the 'noise' of the machine.

Jensenman, nice write up. Also, good work! Sounds like you have a good method for your car and good skills.

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess SuperDork
8/10/08 12:39 p.m.

I have that exact Fastrax, and I bought it form RPW (GRM advertiser) if I recall. I like it. I use that and a $15 HF toe guage. I use a HF laser level to find/adjust 4 level spots for the tires. I can do about as good a job aligning as an average alignment shop. That is, not as good as a really good race oriented shop, better than a below average shop.

gmg
gmg New Reader
8/10/08 2:24 p.m.
Dr. Hess wrote: I have that exact Fastrax, and I bought it form RPW (GRM advertiser) if I recall. I like it. I use that and a $15 HF toe guage. I use a HF laser level to find/adjust 4 level spots for the tires. I can do about as good a job aligning as an average alignment shop. That is, not as good as a really good race oriented shop, better than a below average shop.

Good work! I like the laser level idea, also. I have a Miata, and it is lowered slightly. So, I may need to get the whole car up on some short ramps just so I can see and reach the alignment bolts a bit easier. The laser level idea would help level the ramps to each other before driving the car up.

wreckerboy
wreckerboy SuperDork
8/11/08 7:18 a.m.

I've been using the $39 RPW special ( http://www.racerpartswholesale.com/product/1934/Caster_Camber_Gauges ) that Jensenman mentions for a few years now with excellent results to align the Miata. They still sell the thing - I had to replace mine when I managed to run it over during a recent alignment session.

To get a level position for the car I use a laser level and three speed squares purchased from Lowe's for about $2/each. The first time I did it I checked the results with both my eight foot level and my water level and got satisfactory results. My car is normally set at about five inches to the bottom of the pinch weld and I must have the stands in order to get under and to torque the suspension bolts down to "arrghUUHGH" torque levels.

Jensenman
Jensenman SuperDork
8/11/08 8:03 a.m.

Glad to see RPW still has that camber gauge. It's a good 'un.

I got lucky, both my garage floors are pretty level. I can't align on the driveway because it slopes so darn much. The 'Vette I set up recently was so low that I had to put it in my regular garage with the 'overhang' sticking out, set my alignment, mark the alignment points with a Sharpie, torque everything as best I could, then put it on ramps so I could really wail on the control arm bolt torque. Then I had to put it back in the same spot so I could recheck everything. Talk about a PITA. It would have been so much easier if I had been able to get my air impact under there.

I used one of those toe gauges the good Dr refers to and I hated it. Having to continually move it from front to rear of the tires and level it each time was a real PITA. That's why I got the Longacre toe plates. The thing to remember about toe plates is to overinflate the tires so the sidewall bulge won't make the plate 'rock' on the tire.

walterj
walterj HalfDork
8/11/08 9:48 a.m.

I borrowed one of these Smart Camber gauges in the paddock at Summit and it was very nice - can be instantly zero'd to accomodate less than stellar surfaces. A bit pricey but accurate and nice small packaging for squeezing into an already full trailer toolbox.

http://www.pegasusautoracing.com/productdetails.asp?RecId=1206

billy3esq
billy3esq Dork
8/11/08 1:24 p.m.

Jensenman,

It's taken me years to finally find an alignment place I like. If you weren't so far away, I'd bring my car to you for an alignment. Do you do house calls? What if I buy the beer?

Jensenman
Jensenman SuperDork
8/11/08 2:03 p.m.
  1. Like doctors and lawyers, I don't do house calls.

  2. I'll still accept beer, though.

BTW: I just ordered me a no-E36 M3 tubing bender. Roll cages are next on the list of J-man's race car fab shop!

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess SuperDork
8/11/08 2:51 p.m.

Billy, There was a good alignment shop on Old Galveston just north of L.C., south of Webster or in Webster, if I recall. On the west side of the highway.

SupraWes
SupraWes HalfDork
8/11/08 3:58 p.m.
gmg wrote:
44Dwarf wrote: I check my car before every race and if theres been any contact i'll check it at the races. I do not use any jig nor would i that attaches to the rim! Rims are a consumable in racing. I use a magnetic angle finder off the disk brake rotor. I used to use a manual one but now i use a digital unit that 2.5 x2.5 cube

Is that like this one: http://tinyurl.com/578486

Like dis I think. I need to order one myself this week and some toe plates.

http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=95998

billy3esq
billy3esq Dork
8/11/08 4:48 p.m.
Dr. Hess wrote: Billy, There was a good alignment shop on Old Galveston just north of L.C., south of Webster or in Webster, if I recall. On the west side of the highway.

Thanks for the tip, but that's way the heck on the other side of town for me. I'm up near Tomball. I did finally find a good shop up here after several tries.

gmg
gmg New Reader
8/11/08 9:33 p.m.
wreckerboy wrote: I've been using the $39 RPW special ( http://www.racerpartswholesale.com/product/1934/Caster_Camber_Gauges ) that Jensenman mentions for a few years now with excellent results to align the Miata. ... To get a level position for the car I use a laser level and three speed squares purchased from Lowe's for about $2/each.

Wreckerboy, thanks for the link the the camber gauge and the tips on leveling the car. I have just a bit more distance between the pinch weld and the deck than the 5" you mention, but not much. Almost have to squint with one eye to see under the car since the eye on top is pretty much looking at the rocker panel. Ramps or stands of some kind are imperative.

44Dwarf
44Dwarf New Reader
8/12/08 7:17 a.m.

I used to use the manual one like this. except mine was shorter.

http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=34214

I now used one like this

http://cgi.ebay.com/Digital-Angle-Gauge-Protractor-Inclinometer-Clinometer_W0QQitemZ280254221349QQcmdZViewItem?hash=item280254221349&_trkparms=72%3A570%7C39%3A1%7C66%3A2%7C65%3A12%7C240%3A1318&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14

I had tried a "smart Level" unit but it was to long.

44

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