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Thread: Alignment area Setup procedure - feedback needed please

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    Default Alignment area Setup procedure - feedback needed please

    Good Morning everyone, I did not want to revive some older threads so i thought it would best to start a new one.
    I am looking for some advice, and some tips and tricks on how to prep my work area to perform an alignment. Some equipment which I have is as follows:
    List to tool and items I have:

    1- Intercomp scales
    2- hub stands
    3- Intercomp scale leveler pads
    4- 12x12 linolium tiles
    5- brick paver driveway (all kind of slopes). Car garage too small to light car and work.
    6- I also have "quick Jack" lift but I find using a car jack, or maybe two far easier and quicker.


    My biggest issue is the pavers driveway which slopes. For this reason I bought the scale leveler. They have proved to be pretty easy to setup and obtain a pretty uniform leveled surface (more on that)

    The biggest question that I have is, must all 4 pads be at the same elevation and leveled ? I believe the answer is yes.
    So then how do I ensure that the pads are the same configuration every time (dependability). I was thinking of labeling the pads LF, RF, LR, RR just like the scales are labeled. I have 3 cars I would typically work on,
    so I am not sure this will save me time. I am looking to get repeatable readings for each car.

    The other challenge I have is getting the car on the pads. I have quick Jack which would make raising and lowering the car pretty easy, but its a PITA. I rather use two car jacks.
    However how important is it that I lower the car on the scales all wheels at once when weighing?

    This leads me to another question, once I replace the cars tires and wheels with hub stands, can I make adjustments to the aliment with the car on the scales?
    Does anyone see anything wrong with that? I am thinking that I can have the scales on and watch them to settle between adjustment (LCD) and confirm measurements.

    Last but not least, this is the one that I am having the hardest time with. Please bear with me:

    So I drive my car onto the work area and mark where the tires will go. Then I remove the car, I can't just roll it back while I level the pads because the car would be on the street blocking traffic.
    once I level the scale pads etc. I can put marks on the ground (feed locations) with something temporary (looking for ideas).

    How do I get the car back to those locations with out a friend to guide me. How off can I be from the initial location.

    Sometimes its helpful to write and ask this questions because by putting thing on "paper" we can put our thoughts in order.
    Seems like I just have to take out the scales and level them every time regardless of the car I am going to setup or set down.

    How do you guys deal with all these issues and getting your cars on the scales. I am honestly thinking of jacking up one end of the car at a time and sliding the stands under it.
    then once the entire car is on the scales, go corner by corner removing the tires and installing the hub stands one at a time.

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    http://www.trackhq.com/Banners/yellowsitesponsor.gif emilio700's Avatar
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    We are lucky that all the areas of our shop floor are both flat and level. My last shop had a tiny slope to it and was not flat. I purchased a 15' long piece of 2' square tube aluminum extrusion. Picked a spot on the floor, put car on scales. Removed car and marked scale position on floor. Sat my digital inclinometer (camber gauge) on it top of extrusion and laid across the scales. Used thin 14x14" sheets of steel plate as shims to level scales. Checked gauge with tube across laterally, longitudinally and diagonally. Played with shims until I was sure that scales were dead level.
    Obviously this would only work for cars with the same track width and wheelbase. Longer car and I'd have to do the calibration again. If the driveway surface is rough, you need hard plates underneath to make the scale position repeatable.
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    I don't like to scale using hubplates but I have a nice level alignmment lift with built in slip plates that allows me to get under the car and make adjustments easily so my experience and pain level is a lot different than most. The hubplates will have a different center of pressure (cop) than the wheel / tire combination unless there is a way to compensate for the difference in cop offset. The combination of the cop difference and possible different heights with the hubplates vs tire/wheel also can change the suspension leverage ratios which can lead to discrepancies in the corner balancing, ride height, and camber. Most of the time the camber difference is small (.1-.3) but it is there nonetheless. It is a good idea to base line the results and document the differences between the plates and the wheel/tire measurements. The ease of working on the car and the repeatability of the plates far outweighs the slight differences that result. If you do decide to use the hubplates for scaling make sure to put some protection on the scale pads to protect them.

    Mark
    AiM Data and Video systems, Suspension Setup, Race car builds, support, and rentals. At your beck and call.

    Mark Nichols
    Iron Canyon Motorsports
    http://www.ironcanyonmotorsports.com

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    I guess for me part of the problem has been finding some "nice flat" (scale like) pads with leveling feet that I use to setup the car.
    Sounds like for me I will have to spend some time setting up the scales every time I want to align the car. I better find a way to do this in my small garage.

    I was doing some more online re-search, and came across quite a few images and blogs of people doing their alignments on the scales which was one of my questions.
    I am going to guess it is okay to do so. The scales do not need to be on and I just use them as "flat" surfaces on their level pads.

    The hubstand I have a base plate (metal) for it to slide on so it doesn't damage the scale's surface - is that what you meant Mark?
    I wonder if I leave the scales with a car on them for a few days or weeks.

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    My concern was the concentrated pressure points that roller bearing based hubstands would create vs the more distributed load that the tire creates.

    Mark
    AiM Data and Video systems, Suspension Setup, Race car builds, support, and rentals. At your beck and call.

    Mark Nichols
    Iron Canyon Motorsports
    http://www.ironcanyonmotorsports.com

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    Thanks for the responses everyone.
    I tried to put the car in the garage yesterday to "try" to stage things just to see and there really is no room. I need to figure something out. Its hot outside, its rains often (summer).
    the drawback to my one car garage is that it is very tight to work in. Not sure which one of the two evils is better.

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    Quote Originally Posted by markn View Post
    My concern was the concentrated pressure points that roller bearing based hubstands would create vs the more distributed load that the tire creates.

    Mark
    I understand, I should be fine. I called the scale manufacturer and told me people do it all the time and leave their cars/planes on the scales for a while with not reported problems.
    we shall see.

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    Senior Member robburgoon's Avatar
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    For leveling, you need to get the front pads level with each other. Then you need to get the rear pads level with each other. You don't need to get the front pads level with the rear pads, so if your garage has a little slope for drainage, don't worry about it. Only catch is your car is more likely to roll.

    One discovery I made recently is that I was able to get good camber numbers by zeroing my level on a crossmember of my open trailer, then measuring the camber with the inclinometer facing the same direction as it was zeroed. After coming home from an alignment shop, the numbers were right on the money. Also, the open trailer gives you access to alignment adjustments without fear of the car falling on you. Not bad for a $2k device that you can also use to tow a car to tracks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by robburgoon View Post
    For leveling, you need to get the front pads level with each other. Then you need to get the rear pads level with each other. You don't need to get the front pads level with the rear pads, so if your garage has a little slope for drainage, don't worry about it. Only catch is your car is more likely to roll.

    One discovery I made recently is that I was able to get good camber numbers by zeroing my level on a crossmember of my open trailer, then measuring the camber with the inclinometer facing the same direction as it was zeroed. After coming home from an alignment shop, the numbers were right on the money. Also, the open trailer gives you access to alignment adjustments without fear of the car falling on you. Not bad for a $2k device that you can also use to tow a car to tracks.
    ha, I like that. That is an awesome idea, you can even tweak at the track. So having the car leveled front to back doesn't matter uh - I can see that somewhat.

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    Quote Originally Posted by robburgoon View Post
    For leveling, you need to get the front pads level with each other. Then you need to get the rear pads level with each other. You don't need to get the front pads level with the rear pads,
    Well the thread title is alignment area setup procedure so Yeah Rob is right but to me alignment for racecar means you start from scratch. And real pro racers us a flat level "set-up plate" that the car sits on. To me that means you start at ride height then scale the car then align it. So that means you need a flat floor until you align. It is so easy to obtain a flat floor with a bucket of water, aquarium tubing, a ruler, and some flooring tiles. Also, remember what your measurements are relative to. So in Rob's case he did that alignment relative to his trailer top. I use a flat floor from start to finish so I start at "level" and align from there. Any number of methods work. You just have to think through the process especially when you cobble together a procedure from a number of different sources, making it your own.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FoxSTI View Post
    Thanks for the responses everyone.
    I tried to put the car in the garage yesterday to "try" to stage things just to see and there really is no room. I need to figure something out. Its hot outside, its rains often (summer).
    the drawback to my one car garage is that it is very tight to work in. Not sure which one of the two evils is better.
    Make friends with someone that has a large garage, trade labor for space!

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    Quote Originally Posted by GraemeD View Post
    Make friends with someone that has a large garage, trade labor for space!
    Or just buy a bigger house !!!
    I can always to go my fathers shops and use floor area after hours or on a weekend. The problem with that is what if I "forgot" a tool.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fatbillybob View Post
    Well the thread title is alignment area setup procedure so Yeah Rob is right but to me alignment for racecar means you start from scratch. And real pro racers us a flat level "set-up plate" that the car sits on. To me that means you start at ride height then scale the car then align it. So that means you need a flat floor until you align. It is so easy to obtain a flat floor with a bucket of water, aquarium tubing, a ruler, and some flooring tiles. Also, remember what your measurements are relative to. So in Rob's case he did that alignment relative to his trailer top. I use a flat floor from start to finish so I start at "level" and align from there. Any number of methods work. You just have to think through the process especially when you cobble together a procedure from a number of different sources, making it your own.
    Yes I agree. I appreciate all the replies. At the moment I just need to find a way to safely get the car on the scale pads which are about 8" off the ground.
    I don't want to lift one end of the car onto a pad while still having 3 other wheels on the ground for fear of having the scale slide or tweak the chassis. This applies at least to the front since I don't have a since point like I have identified in the rear.
    So I am thinking of using two equal jacks on each side of the car (front jacking points) and lift the front somewhat simultaneously. OR just use my PITA quickjack lift.

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    Hi guys, So I figured out a lot of thing just by going out and doing them. Its true what works for some may not work for others. With that said, I found after investing in scale levelers that they way too short and flimsy.
    They do no offer enough light or height to slide under the car and make adjustments. Even with the car in hubstands it is pretty low to comfortably work on it, so they levelers are going away.

    I like the fact that they did allow me to provide a leveled plane for the car to rest on - but they are too short with anything. I don't like working on the floor.
    Does anyone have expereince with the SPC Alignment wheel stands?
    I like that it seems that they can be leveled.

    http://www.spcalignment.com/componen...tion&pid=99884

    I was also looking at some raceramp 14" blocks RR-WS-14
    https://raceramps.com/car-ramps/gara...-plate-stands/

    Very expensive but rock solid.. (I have regular ramps 10")
    The only problem I see with the raceramps block is the lack of leveling.

    Typically a camber gauge can be zero at reach wheel (taking a measurement across both tire contact points) so I am really questioning if we really need a leveled floor surface.

    Thoughts?

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    I find danger with car elevated and not supported like on a twin post lift. I think you are better off on the floor. Take a measure guess at the adjustment, settle the suspension and measure again. You want a flat floor to do the camber and have your gauge zeroed to that floor. It just makes it easy repeatable ref point. If you are on a slope then you need to zero against the slope. It just makes things more difficult. Hubstand work great if you can get to all the adjustment points. If not better to leave the wheels on unless you have a twin post lift and can move the car up and down with or w/o hubstands while settling the suspension. IMO the closer you get to spherical suspension the more precise you need to be. If you still got rubber bushings the accuracy just isn't there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fatbillybob View Post
    I find danger with car elevated and not supported like on a twin post lift. I think you are better off on the floor. Take a measure guess at the adjustment, settle the suspension and measure again. You want a flat floor to do the camber and have your gauge zeroed to that floor. It just makes it easy repeatable ref point. If you are on a slope then you need to zero against the slope. It just makes things more difficult. Hubstand work great if you can get to all the adjustment points. If not better to leave the wheels on unless you have a twin post lift and can move the car up and down with or w/o hubstands while settling the suspension. IMO the closer you get to spherical suspension the more precise you need to be. If you still got rubber bushings the accuracy just isn't there.
    I edited my post because I think I miss-read yours.
    So you don't like a tiwn post lift. So what do you prefer or like ?

    I have ditched the quick-jack and gotten a scissor lift. I absolutely love it since it goes up and down in place. I just drive over it and call it a day.
    What I also do - or did today was I left the car down on the scales with the levelers but still kept the lift fairly close of the bottom of the car. I think that is the rear wheel have a chock on them or the e-brake in on then you are okay. Do you think otherwise?

    PS: The hubtands had "safety plates" to the car doesn't roll off sideways.
    Last edited by FoxSTI; 08-27-2017 at 09:38 PM.
    robburgoon likes this.

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    No I like to work on a lift. I use a full twin post shop lift but a home style short rise scissor lift works great too. Some roll on 4 post lifts you can park a car under and get turn plates to do alignments and roll the car back and forth on the lift to settle suspension.

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    Guys I have a question,

    I was aligning my daily drive car last night. when I put the car on the stand to align it and projected the lasers along the car etc and I was all set and done,
    I have the steering wheel centered, and 1/8" toe in, 1/16" either side. When I drove the car, I thought or expected it to track straight with the steering wheels pointing straight ahead, however, the car drives straight with the steering wheels slightly turned to the left.
    At first I was thinking that it may be related to the crown on the road, but my track car, drives straight with the wheel centered. Mind you I have not messed with the suspension yet.

    So what could it be?

    Also, those using laser lines rather then strings. How do you feel about the +/- 1/8" over 30' specs on most lasers?

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