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Old 02-23-2019, 05:52 PM   #21
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The machines do exactly what they think they should I would agree, but the what they read is greatly influenced by the operator setup as you mention, base calibration frequency and accuracy, and just the inherent design of how they work. Perhaps in a Nascar shop that is spotless, on and exactly true all the time rack, with perfectly true wheel perimeters, the results would be OK with a very skilled tech or engineer, but in the real world that just doesn't happen. Add to that the fact that they sell these machines as fast and easy, with .xx angle accuracy that way leads to many less than skilled operators who also aren't given enough time to do it right.

I am going to do a much more accurate check of how well the turntables do at allowing toe and camber settings without rolling. The quick check I did when I got the tables, under poor conditions seemed to show that the camber moved OK with tables and didn't change when rolled a bit on them, but I didn't test the toe for the same. I did find that even with bouncing, on the tables, you have to do it exactly the same each time to get the same result. If it stops going up one time and down the next, things change.

The good is that if you have a flat place on the driveway setup, you can set toe and camber without having the vehicle on the tables, which gives you very much better ability to drive it around the block and recheck again after it gets a true settling. Caster won't change much from a drive of very small toe or camber change, so I don't think you would even have to put it back on the tables at the end, if the caster was good before you took it off the tables. My guess is that at a certain point in the repeatability, you would get to a point of where even stuff like the shocks being warm or cold could be making the settings move enough to see.
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Old 08-30-2019, 09:52 PM   #22
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I figured I would bring this back up as today I did an alignment check on my Buick Roadmaster wagon, which is very similar to our vans in construction. I used the recently acquired bubble gauge, turntables, adapters, and modified cheapo toe gauge.


Bottom line is that the results look good, and repeated measurements showed good repeatability, which is most important. Numbers were close to last computer check, except for camber which was somewhat different. I think repeatability of the home system is within 18* and 1/8" toe, so I am OK with that.


The results match what I would expect from how it drives, so add to believeability.



Points of interest are that good turntable with enough travel (I had to modify mine) really make this whole thing easy. Bubble gauges need calibration check and compensation when used for max accuracy. A spring loaded tire scriber is nearly essential for toe checking.


Bottom line is that doing alignments at home is not all that hard to do, and IMO at least as accurate and more repeatable than the computer ones we have been seeing lately.


I have pics and would normally write up a report and procedure to post, but with the current issues going on with the forum I just don't want to spend half a day putting it all together, just to get the thread garbaged up with extraneous personal agenda and contrarian junk by those that don't seem to care about data or facts or improving the knowledge base.


If anyone has any questions, I will be happy to answer them either in this thread or by PM, as I think this is a viable option for those that are able and want to do the effort themselves.
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Old 08-31-2019, 03:08 PM   #23
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I'm positive that it would be too much for me to do at home but still very good to know that it is doable.


If no changes except tire wear and typical road use, how often should an alignment be done? Would you base it on miles or when you feel handling can be improved? Or both?
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Old 08-31-2019, 04:05 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by markopolo View Post
I'm positive that it would be too much for me to do at home but still very good to know that it is doable.


If no changes except tire wear and typical road use, how often should an alignment be done? Would you base it on miles or when you feel handling can be improved? Or both?

The alignment itself is pretty easy, I would say maybe 1/2 as hard as the spring replacement you did The big thing is the upfront investment and having a good surface in a flat area to do it for most people, I think.



I am still trying to figure out how often is needed. On the rear drive vans that are body on frame, I used to think they would change a lot over time, like the old body on frame cars, but they seem to do better than that, with the exception of the toe setting, at least on ours. I think on ours I won't be making any caster or camber checks/changes unless the handling changes or I see odd tire wear, but I will probably check the toe once a year, as it is very easy to do in about 15 minutes and perfectly level or turntables not needed. All you need is pretty level and the toe gauge, tire scriber, and paint, plus your floor jack. I think, if someone has a van that is handling as they like it, just having the toe tools could be a good deal as you can get them for the less than the cost of an alignment.



On the unibody/strut cars, I have been of the same thought for many years, as we have never had an camber or caster adjuster, if they have them, moved in any of the unibodies we have had. I will be doing only toe checks only on the one we have now, which is 10 years old and never been in for alignment, but has good handling and tire wear (CRV).


I think the big thing with home procedure is to get to the right settings in the first place, as nobody seems to be able to align to specs anymore now that they have the machines and less knowledgeable techs. It also appears that many/most of the machines are not very accurate in everyday use. It does mean a lot of nice equipment sits unused, but sharing is always available
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Old 08-31-2019, 06:41 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by booster View Post
The alignment itself is pretty easy, I would say maybe 1/2 as hard as the spring replacement you did The big thing is the upfront investment and having a good surface in a flat area to do it for most people, I think.



I am still trying to figure out how often is needed. On the rear drive vans that are body on frame, I used to think they would change a lot over time, like the old body on frame cars, but they seem to do better than that, with the exception of the toe setting, at least on ours. I think on ours I won't be making any caster or camber checks/changes unless the handling changes or I see odd tire wear, but I will probably check the toe once a year, as it is very easy to do in about 15 minutes and perfectly level or turntables not needed. All you need is pretty level and the toe gauge, tire scriber, and paint, plus your floor jack. I think, if someone has a van that is handling as they like it, just having the toe tools could be a good deal as you can get them for the less than the cost of an alignment.



On the unibody/strut cars, I have been of the same thought for many years, as we have never had an camber or caster adjuster, if they have them, moved in any of the unibodies we have had. I will be doing only toe checks only on the one we have now, which is 10 years old and never been in for alignment, but has good handling and tire wear (CRV).


I think the big thing with home procedure is to get to the right settings in the first place, as nobody seems to be able to align to specs anymore now that they have the machines and less knowledgeable techs. It also appears that many/most of the machines are not very accurate in everyday use. It does mean a lot of nice equipment sits unused, but sharing is always available
Perhaps an alignment party...
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