Another alignment thread!

Discussion in 'Suspension, Steering and Chassis' started by RollercamDART, Oct 12, 2018.

  1. RollercamDART

    RollercamDART Active Member

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    I have done a bit of searching and seems my question is a hodgepodge of issues so here we go:

    Ok so alignment question (74 Dart):

    Took the car in to have it aligned yesterday, and while I have a feeling the shop may not be the most experienced at aligning older cars, these are the numbers they were able to put on paper:

    Front left:

    Camber 1.7
    Caster 1.5
    Toe .13

    Front right:

    Camber -.3
    Caster -3.2
    Toe .14

    Obviously the caster and camber are terrible on the front right, but bad for both. In the adjustment numbers he adjusted .1 closer to 0 on both sides and thats it.

    Seems like there should be more adjustment there, but he said thats as far as they could be adjusted.

    Is this a case of alignment guy not knowing what hes doing or could it be something else in the suspension? All of the bushings, rod ends, control arms etc were replaced shortly before I purchased the car and everything was out of whack. Currently, while it is better now with the toe adjusted, gradual turns are scary, the car tries to over turn and I have to correct quickly.

    One thing I do need to do is come up on the front torsion bars and raise the front of the car about 2", currently they are torqued way down from the previous owner to give it a raked look. Will this allow some of this to be a bit closer to spec?

    Any help is appreciated!
     
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    • roccodart440

      roccodart440 Well-Known Member

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      I could not get acceptable specs (+castor and negative camber) with my stock upper A-arms. I swapped to RMS upper A arms and problem solved. All the adjustment I wanted.
       
    • rustycowll69

      rustycowll69 Well-Known Member

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      I'm not sure what you mean by "over turn". If you mean the steering wheel does not want to return to neutral (straight ahead) position by itself, after completing the turn, that is mostly caster. When you are turning the front end lifts up slightly, and the weight on the front end will want to return to it's lowest position by returning the stg wheel to its neutral position when you release the stg wheel and it spins back in your fingers.
      If the caster is insufficient AND/OR the suspension is riding on or very close proximity to the control arm rubber bumpers, this will prevent stg wheel "return".
       
    • RollercamDART

      RollercamDART Active Member

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      What I mean is going in to an easy turn, or changing lanes, it hits a point in the steering wheel (very early into the movement, like an inch of steering wheel movement) where it goes from what is expected, to too much and will put you into the turn too quickly or into the lane too fast, as though you are moving the steering wheel too far, too fast.

      Yesterday on the way home on a 2 lane road doing 45 into a gentle right hand corner it tried to put me into the inside lane when I went into the turn, and it does the same thing when changing lanes.

      I hope that makes more sense
       
    • rustycowll69

      rustycowll69 Well-Known Member

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      that sounds more like something is loose. Like maybe the steering box is loose. Maybe the attaching bolts are loose, or maybe the k-frame steering box mounting bracket is cracked, or broken. You say everything was replaced by PO? are you positive? could some of the parts be defective?
      Have someone crank the stg wheel back and forth(while tires on ground), while you crawl around looking for slop in the steering linkage.
       
    • KosmicKuda

      KosmicKuda FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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      I believe your alignment guy saying that's all he can get. Before leaving from CA to OH in my 68 I had it aligned because it was way out of whack. IIRC, the guy could barely get the caster to zero let alone positive. It worked fine driving the 2800 miles home.

      A few years later I rebuilt the front end and used the Moog offset "problem-solver" eccentric bushings in the UCA's. Installed to provide max caster. These allow for additional range of adjustment unlike the stock concentric ones. Caster 2* positive, camber .5-1.0* negative, and 1/16-1/8" toe in. Car tracks hands-off like a freight train and is very stable in the corners. Do NOT use the original alignment specs as they are outdated for use with radial tires. Your negative caster is most likely causing your wandering.

      You didn't mention what tires you are running but if not in excellent condition they could be adding to the problem. If it was me I'd remove the UCA's and go Moog offset and realign
       
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      • RollercamDART

        RollercamDART Active Member

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        I checked slop in the linkage and its all tight. I checked play in the steering box and it did have a slight dead spot but I adjusted the worm drive alien screw up top a smidge and now the Pittman arm is moving with the wheel immediately.
         
      • RollercamDART

        RollercamDART Active Member

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        I am using the specs from here for the alignment, funny enough their system also had the same specs for radial tires
         
        Last edited: Oct 12, 2018
      • Frnknsteen

        Frnknsteen FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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        Actually,... I think you have issues with both wheels. 1.7 degrees of positive camber on the front left isn't good with radial tires. I would rather see that be negative camber.... somewhere between -.3 to -.5, or more if you drive aggressively. Positive 1.3 caster isn't too bad as that's pretty normal for stock bushings. On the front right, I think the camber looks good, but negative caster is more for the old bias ply tires. Toe in looks pretty good on both sides though!
         
      • rustycowll69

        rustycowll69 Well-Known Member

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        I disagree. Toe-in for a rear wheel driven car should be 1/16in or less, depending on how tight the front end suspension/stg components are. If everything is tight, including wheel bearings adjusted properly and good quality strut rod bushings, you can reduce toe-in closer toward zero.
         
      • teringer

        teringer ase master hall of fame

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        back in the day you would set ride height first(raising torsion bar if low) then check the caster ,camber, toe -no one does this anymore!
         
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        • rustycowll69

          rustycowll69 Well-Known Member

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          the idea behind toe-in is that when the car is driven forward, with whatever play there is in all the components, the tires will pull away from each other and be pointed straight ahead. So to compensate for that, they adjust the tie rods to point the tires inward just a slight amount at rest, then they will be straight ahead at normal forward speeds.
           
        • RollercamDART

          RollercamDART Active Member

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          So update: crawled up under the passenger side to measure for the ride height, check for any obvious damage that could be causing the worse numbers on that side, and to see where the cam bolts were currently positioned. I found the passenger side adjustment bolt for the torsion bar was not in the pocket on the "lever" for the torsion bar. That whole side would have an inconsistant ride height depending on where that bolt happened to be. I fixed that, and was correct in that the ride height came up about 2" to be where it should be.

          On inspection of the cam bolts, both bolts were all the way forward (fat part back) so the alignment guy saying that there was no adjustment left for caster was wrong.

          Now that I have set the ride height there is tons of positive camber, which is expected, and so a better shop should be able to get it where it should be
           
        • rustycowll69

          rustycowll69 Well-Known Member

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          awesome. this is the kind of stuff that prompted me years ago, to think "if you want it done right, you better do it yourself."
           
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          • BigBlockMopar

            BigBlockMopar BigBlockMember

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            It remains unbelievable how many shops have goons wrenching on cars that have zero knowledge of how the basics of a suspension-system works and how to adjust it.
             
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            • pro451bee

              pro451bee New Member

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              We call those techs warm bodies at our dealership.Upper management ,it seems ,is A-ok as long as they dont have to pay them much.
               
            • 67Dart273

              67Dart273 Well-Known Member

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              Is there any reason you cannot align it yourself? IE physical problems? I just turned 70, and say, 3 or so years ago, aligned mine myself. "You don't need much."

              I don't even have a shop, I use my car trailer!!! Put the car on the trailer and jack/ block it up level.

              1...Set ride height. "It's in the book." The shop manual that is.......which you can download, free, from MyMopar. Some of them there came from the guys on here

              2....Set/ argue in caster/ camber. You do NOT need lasers or even fancy caster/ camber gauges. You can MAKE one if you are a bit handy. ALL you need to set camber is a gauge to measure degrees off plumb. In this day and age you can buy "digital" gauges ate Lowe's/ HD, etc that will work fine. Mine is an old Ammco

              3...Caster There is actually no such thing as a gauge that measures caster. It ACTUALLY computes caster from camber and wheel angle. You can do the same. You make an angle indicator (protractor) at the wheel. You measure CAMBER with wheels straight ahead. To measure CASTER, you turn the wheels in 20 degrees and measure camber. Turn them out 20 degrees and measure camber again. Take the difference between the two readings and multiply X 1.5 and that is your CASTER reading. My antique Ammco guage works the same way, the scale which does so is simply a circular slide rule



              4...Toe. Simple. Crackedback props 2x4's alongside the tires on top of soda cans to space them up. I use a rig I bought off egag. You can MAKE a spike for marking the tire centerline, and if you don't want to make a toe gauge, then round up your wife/ son/ etc and use a tape

              ===========================================

              I got lucky. I scored this old caster/ camber gauge and the wheel turning plates off CL For turning plates you can use some scrap tile or sheet metal with grease or salt and maybe a few other things to lube them

              ALL THIS IS REALLY is a plumb level that shows degrees off plumb

              _mg_6330-jpg.jpg

              Turning plates

              _mg_6329-jpg.jpg

              This is my toe gauge which allows me to do a "one man" toe setup, for 60 bucks off Egag. Turns out it was for a truck and way too tall, I had to cut the base off, and buy a chunk of tube for the cross piece ALL THIS IS REALLY is a tape


              _mg_6332-jpg.jpg

              The triangular thing at top is a spring loaded spike allows you to turn the tire and scribe a center "plane" line to measure from.

              ammcotg-jpg.jpg
               
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              • 67Dart273

                67Dart273 Well-Known Member

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                Another member, not I, posted this "starting place" a long time ago. This will give you max caster while allowing reasonable camber. to put this simply, you want the spindle tilted "back" at the top as far as you can get, and the top of the spindle tilted "inwards" towards the center of the car to get camber with radial tires. The last is OPPOSITE bias ply...............


                Alignment notes:

                from here:

                Front end alignment help please ??

                Have them start with the front cam all the way out and the rear cam all the way in. Move the rear cam out until camber is in spec (1/2 deg. neg is good). This is the most positive caster that is available without new parts (offset bushings, tubular upper control arms, etc.). All of this is AFTER setting ride height. I usually set ride height with about an inch between the LCA bumper and the frame, then even the sides up.


                Turn of the screw: front end alignment for performance on classic Mopars

                http://www.moparmusclemagazine.com/howto/mopp_0701_1968_plymouth_gtx_suspension/index.html
                 
              • Frnknsteen

                Frnknsteen FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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                That's fine if you disagree. I actually disagree with you on the purpose of toe-in. In my experience, the purpose of toe-in or toe-out is to put a prompt on the tires to track slightly in or out so they aren't at 0 degrees. When tires are at 0 degrees, any little bit of play, or irregularity in the road surface can allow them to move inwards or outwards, and not equally from left to right. This is what causes cars to wander around the road. When I used to race snowmobiles, we set up our skis to toe-out a bit. It helped it track straight and not follow every little rut left by the people that ran ahead of you. If you set the skiis perfectly parallel, it would dart back and forth being thrown by every little inconsistency in the trail.

                We each have our own opinions, but I will say that pretty much any alignment reference says to set our cars (on radial tires) to 1/16" - 1/8" toe-in, including the Skosh chart in the "Turn of the screw" link that 67Dart273 attached.
                upload_2018-10-15_7-57-39.png

                I did the calculations,.... well, actually, I modeled up my 225/60-R14 radials in my 3D CAD software and determined that a 1/8" toe-in (1/16" per side) equates to a .15 degrees per side. The original poster said his were .13 on the left and .14 degrees on the right. That should come out to just under 1/8" toe-in. If he wanted to reduce the tow-in down to closer to 1/16", he could reduce the angle measurement down to around .07 degrees per side, but where he is at is not unreasonable. In fact, it is exactly where I have mine set (with all brand new suspension and steering) and mine tracks as true and straight as can be, and I've seen no signs of tire wear.
                 
              • RollercamDART

                RollercamDART Active Member

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                At this point I do plan to do this myself. The second shop I took it to, that insisted they could make it right, did manage to get it at least to the positive side of the caster gauge, but in doing so took all the adjustment out of the strut bars which brought my tires within 3 inches of the front of the fender, and jacked the torsion bars so far that the car sits like it has no engine in it and has 0 suspension travel because its so stiff. Both cam bolts are still all the way forward and I am at .1/.9 positive caster.

                I ordered a camber gauge and am going to pull her into the garage in the next week or so and do it myself.

                20181013_203401.jpg
                 
              • 67Dart273

                67Dart273 Well-Known Member

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                I hope to hell you didn't pay them................

                When you say "both" cam bolts do you mean both on one side? That is not right. To get caster, you want to tip the top of the spindle to the rear. So that means one cam tips the FRONT of the A arm OUTWARDS (which moves the ball to the rear, and the rear cam must tip the arm INWARDS which also moves the ball to the rear

                Then, you diddle the two of them to get some form of camber while trying not to lose too much caster
                 
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                • RollercamDART

                  RollercamDART Active Member

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                  Yes I mean both cam bolts are angled out, front and rear, on both sides. I know that bringing the rearward cam bolt inward will increase caster, and I told them such, but its apparent they didnt listen.

                  Like I said, just going to do it myself. If anything Ill get to teach my son some of this stuff as well since he has fallen in love with this car in the 3 weeks I have had it.
                   
                • Mattax

                  Mattax Just the facts, ma'am FABO Gold Member

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                  No wonder they get it right.

                  The reaction struts are not adjustable! They must have the correct position and torque or they will be pushing on the lower control arm bushing and messing everything up. They are adjutable on some Ford's like Mustang/Falcon IIRC - totally different system.
                  Get yourself a '74 Factory Service Manual just like 67Dart273 wrote above. The section on front suspension in my '67 and '68 FSMs are excellent. I have to imagine the '74 is just as good.

                  First thing you will need to do is make sure the struts are positioned properly and tight.
                  Next is check for any looseness in both the suspension and the steering linkage. The first is the control arm bushings and ball joints. The latter is the tie rod ends, steering link, idler and pitman arms. The FSM explains the correct way to check for ball joint play as some play in the lower joint is normal when the arm is hanging.
                  To check for play in the steering system, one method is to raise one side and move the tire -wheel with your hands at 9 and 3 o'clock. Look for motion at the joints. Then lower that side and do the same on the other.

                  Once that's done, you can follow the proceedure in the FSM. Ride hieght, camber, caster, toe.
                  Another tip. Since the measurements have to be done with the weight on the wheels, drive the car up on some 2x10s or 2 x12s, front and rear. That will get another 1.5" clearance to crawl underneath.
                   
                • RollercamDART

                  RollercamDART Active Member

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                  The previous owner of the car installed adjustable strut bars when he replaced everything up front. They are currently adjusted as short as possible, pulling the lower control arm forward, and by extension of that, the wheels. Another thing to deal with when I go to undo a bunch of the stuff they did.
                   
                  Last edited: Oct 16, 2018
                • Mattax

                  Mattax Just the facts, ma'am FABO Gold Member

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                  OK. There's nothig wrong with adjustable strut rods when used for the correct purpose. FF started making them and some guys I know made them for themselves. Adjustability allows for variations in the front strut bushings (common in the 'one size fits all' aftermarket) and for those that wish, converting the front bushings to rod ends.*

                  As you may or may not know, the mopar lower control arm bushings are long rubber (or poly or nylon) pieces. Especially with poly-u or nylon, the arm needs to be 90 degrees to the shaft (sometimes called a pin) in bushing. With rubber, there's a little more forgiveness. Do the best you can. Its hard to judge accurately because both the front and rear half of the rod's bushing compress. In other words, the position of the rod and lower control arm move forward as the nut is torqued to spec. People were having trouble with polyureathane bushings being to fat, resulting in final positions that were pushing the lower control arms backward on the LCA's bushing.
                  Steve Wall and myself tackled this a little differently just about the same time as others were working on the adjustable strut rods. Working from Steve's info, I did a slice up of the most commonly available poly strut bushings so it would fit my 67 without pushing the LCA backward. Shown here: Making A-Body Strut rod Bushings Work

                  *These were all people involved in some sort of competition, vintage road racing or autocross mostly.