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Thread: How to do an alignment with a string system?

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    Administrator ucfbrett's Avatar
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    Default How to do an alignment with a string system?

    Does anyone have one of those string systems used for aligning a car? I'm curious. I went in halfsies on one (pre crash) and I thought you could put the car in the air, set up your toe and camber, set it on the ground and you're good to go.

    Then I was told you have to measure toe with the car on the ground, lift it to make adjustments, put it back on the ground, compress the suspension a few times, roll it back and forth, then remeasure.

    Also, on the front of a Miata, do you set the camber with the control arm eccentrics, then fine-tune toe with the tie rods?

    What is the order of operations?

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    Senior Member fatbillybob's Avatar
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    to me strings are a great thing if you are the guy selling them. if you are the guy using them you can introduce error with them. The minimal tools I use are scales, ruller, L rule, laser level, slip plates, tape measure , angle iron, 1/8"x12"x12" floor tile

    My method is:
    1- shim floor flate. if you don't have a flat floor don't bother
    2- scale car
    3- set thrust and rear toe
    4- set rear camber
    5- set front camber
    6- set front toe
    7- set caster
    8- verify settings because some setting changes will alter other settings

    There are other methods

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    Here's my process:

    Go see Darrin at West End Alignment in Gardena.
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    Kam
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    I frequent the RR/AX forum on Honda-Tech, they have a lot of very technical threads (Despite the forum overall being...sad). Here's a good alignment thread with pictures:
    String Alignment - Honda-Tech

    Another, referenced in the first:
    String Alignment - Honda-Tech

    And another DIY method:
    DIY R Alignment: The Quick Method - Honda-Tech

    The actual process of which to do first (camber, caster, then toe...etc) is really up to you.
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    Señor Member b3d3g1's Avatar
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    I did something similar to you Brett and I split the cost of scales, stings and also hub stands. The hub stands eliminate the need to jack the car up for each adjustment.
    I've only done one alignment since the purchase and it was a very steep learning curve and I could probably do it in half the time now but I also spent a lot of time messing with ride height and corner weights. On the miata, it's pretty easy to move both eccentrics the same amount if you have 2 wrenches to try to change only the camber.
    I used emilio's video as a reference to get me started. Alignment 949 Racing Supermiata - YouTube

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    Senior Member julian's Avatar
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    typically adjust camber first because that will affect your toe settings. i've never tried to move both eccentrics at the same time as mentioned above tho.

    i've been meaning to try setting up strings with 4 jack stands but haven't tried it yet. i just set total toe measuring from wheel to wheel instead of measuring invidiual toe.

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    Senior Member Gian's Avatar
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    I've always been taught.
    Level floor. Appox Weight of the driver in the seat.
    Suspension loaded & settled.

    1.set back (front)
    2. Thust line (rear)
    3. Camber
    4. Toe
    5. Camber
    6. Caster
    7. toe

    Just a little different from billybob's
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    OP: You are referring to Smart Strings type system, where the string are located by apparatus attached to the vehicle? So when you jack up and move the car around, the strings don't change relative to the car?

    https://www.pegasusautoracing.com/pr...asp?RecID=3004
    Last edited by hotrodmex; 07-27-2012 at 04:59 PM.

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    Administrator ucfbrett's Avatar
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    We have the Iron Canyon setup that hangs from the car.

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    Senior Member Gian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ucfbrett View Post
    We have the Iron Canyon setup that hangs from the car.
    The string is the square that all measurements are taken.

    So it's as if the car is sitting in a box. So you can square up the car.
    Hope that helps a little.

    You should have asked this morning. I could have shown you how it works.
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    http://www.trackhq.com/Banners/yellowsitesponsor.gif emilio700's Avatar
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    Senior Member apk919's Avatar
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    String alignment on a Lotus: DIY Toe Measurement

    Now I use alignment plates similar to Emilio, but instead of strings I use lasers:

    accu-lign6.jpg

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    Senior Member Silversprint's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by emilio700 View Post
    Very informative. Those hubstands make alignment much easier.
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    http://www.trackhq.com/Banners/yellowsitesponsor.gif emilio700's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by apk919 View Post

    Now I use alignment plates similar to Emilio, but instead of strings I use lasers
    What brand, model laser? Comments?
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    But obviously I just dont get it. -fatbillybob

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    Senior Member apk919's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by emilio700 View Post
    What brand, model laser? Comments?
    It's a rig I've made myself. I use a couple of Bosch torpedo laser levels mounted on the brackets that are normally used to measure toe. Without getting into the nitty-gritty details, it allows me to make a simple measurement from the laser "line" to the alignment plates, put the measurement into a spreadsheet, and get the effective toe (and thrust angle, for the rear). Since I'm measuring the toe angle using the wheelbase of the car as one side of the triangle, the geometry "exaggerates" the toe measurement by a factor of 5, i.e. every 1mm of distance measured at the plate is equivalent to 0.2mm of toe at the wheel. I can also adjust the toe with the laser in place, and watch the beam "walk" to the desired location as I adjust the suspension and retighten the jam nuts.

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    Senior Member apk919's Avatar
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    This is a screenshot of the spreadsheet with actual measurements (all linear measurements in mm)...

    laser_xls_done.jpg
    Last edited by apk919; 07-29-2012 at 03:29 PM.

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    Can you please explain how the laser method works in comparison to the strings?
    W the string you measure from the string to the store bar (front and back). With the laser mounted to the toe bar (pointed parallel to the carea am guessing) what are you points of reference?
    Are you measuring to a body panel?

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    When I tested hub stands, they produced different measurements than with the wheels. I now use scale and wheel stands that the car sits on and dont have to jack the car between every measurement and adjustment. Still need to lift the car to set spring perches.

    Setup takes time and a commitment to detail. Shops that have nice alignment gear make the job very easy. But if you are looking to do this yourself and don't own an alignment rack, it takes time. The good news is that once you get it to your baseline, small changes around that baseline don't take too much time. The biggest PITA is to get the car on the leveled wheel stands. After that, it is gorillaing the eccentric bolts so they don't move. After that, the biggest PITA is repeating every race weekend. If you really want the benefits setup provides, it is done every weekend and then modified at the track for what you are feeling. It is a commitment and a knowing that setup makes the difference. For me, making a change that improves the car is almost as rewarding as driving the car. I don't enjoy doing setup, but I do enjoy the results from putting in the effort to do it.

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    Quick note: the stands that Emilio is using probably produce much better results than the stands I used. The difference is the flat base plate that is roughly equal to the tire width. The stands I used did not have that base plate and is the reason I suspected that i had different results than with the wheels on.

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    Hey James and Brett, you probably remember Joey and I doing a bazillion alignments a weekend at the track. We used the string method and used ramps to put the car high enough to do the final toe adjustments. The first step is to establish a square we used the rear axle centerline and or hubcenter on wheel make sure all centers match and the front and rear have different track so be aware of that also. Once it is square we would them start the adjustment process. You can fine tune the handling with toe and tire pressure. If we need a big adjustment we would adjust the camber, but it was mostly toe and pressure at the track. It could get interesting for some tracks we would run a different tire pressure on every tire. Of course that is a spec miata where you don't have a ton of adjustment so that's what we did. The ramps made it so we could do a toe change in about 15 minutes. A camber change and realign in about 30 minutes. One trick we learned is we would measure the toe while we were adjusting with the car in the air to make it easier. For example while the car was on the ground it may have 3.0 degrees of negative camber, at full droop car in the air it may have 2.0 If we wanted to make an adjustment we would move the concentrics the same amount in the same direction and it would not screw the toe up. we would have one guy holding the gauge until it changed the correct amount as the other guy worked the concentrics. We put the car down and roll it and verify the change and then go through the alignment check, but 9 times out of 10 if we did it correctly we would not have to change the alignment. In addition we would make the adjustments with the strings all on the car to save time and check square when we dropped the car, but if your careful and don't bump the strings this can be a quick deal. Hope that helps.

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