Setting caster & camber - Vintage Mustang Forums

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post #1 of 66 (permalink) Old 07-13-2015, 08:28 PM Thread Starter
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Setting caster & camber

Recently I swapped out my old drums and 66 spindles for a set of 72 discs with stronger spindles. I wanted to check my camber since it looked like I gained a little more between different spindles and springs settling a bit since I did my suspension 2 years ago. In the middle of installing my Street or Track suspension when it hit me how helpful it would be doing my own alignment even though I never did one before. I spent about $125 on a gauge and did a successful alignment. At the time I set camber at 1 3/8*neg camber and 3.5* caster with 1/16" toe in. the car drove great but I did have a bump steer issue going over crests in roads or RR tracks. With the 72 discs, I installed a Baer bumpsteer kit. I didn't make any real attempt at setting bump steer which I plan on doing. I simply installed all the spacers and called it a day. It's a lot better! I plan on doing more on the bump steer later on, just mentioning it now.

So, here are all the photos! I checked camber on both sides before I started, it was just a tick over 1 3/4* neg on both sides. This is the left side.



This is the right side. As you can see, I had them pretty even. I'm pretty lucky as I have a section in my garage where the floor is dead flat.



First part of doing alignment, I had the wheels straight and needed a line on the floor parallel to the wheels. I used this piece of angle aluminum and drew a line on the floor with a pencil.





A little background info is helpful at this point.According to the Ford shop manual a 1/32" shim is worth approximately 1/2* of caster and 1/16" shim on both bolts is worth approximately 1/3* of camber. Armed with that info I went on. Previously my left upper control arm was installed with no shims. I had to add a 1/32" to each bolt on the upper control arm to make camber even with the left side or very close anyway. I ended up with a base line of 1 3/8* neg camber. I was now at 1 3/4* neg camber. I could have left it but I didn't really see a need for that much. I wanted to back down to around 1* neg camber. I also wanted to increase my caster a little bit. Why? because I can! So I set my shim packs up. On the right, 1/32" on both to equalized both sides. Then I added a 1/16" to bolt bolts on both sides to reduce camber a little bit and then added a 1/16" to the leading bolt for a little extra caster. I know, why didn't I just make the leading shim a 1/8" instead of 2, 1/16"? Now I can easily alter caster and camber equally on both sides. Everything is known. If I want a little more caster, just yank out the 1/16" on both sides and replace with 1/8" and caster will be equal. It'll add about 1/2* in my case with my set up.

Right side shim pack.



Left side shim pack.





If you noticed, the end of the gauge is angled at 40*, this gives me 2, 20* angles needed for caster and hence the pencil line on the floor.

This is the left wheel. I turned the wheels 20* to the left and zeroed the caster at 0* and the bubble at the end is level as well.



Now I have turned the left wheel to the right 40*. You'll notice the bubble says 4* caster in the center.



Here's the right side, turned 20* to the right and gauge zeroed.



Now, the wheel turned 40* to the left and caster is 4* according to the bubble.




Here's a picture of the shims installed, right side shown.



I also adjusted the strut on the right side because when I check caster I was about 1/4* off in caster. I'm anal and I could adjust it so I did! It took a very minute adjustment of the rod, maybe 1/16th or less.



Here's the camber on the left side, reading about 1 3/8*, you'll notice 1 side of the bubble is on the 1* mark.



Here's the right side. Pretty good, huh?



Sorry no pictures on setting toe. Between being sick, roto tilling and slugs of beer I set the toe. I was at 5/16" toe in. I set it to 1/8". I had to turn the left sleeve towards the front about 1/16th of a turn and the right side the same amount except to the firewall. OK, so I set this all up in my garage. How does it compare to a laser alignment in a garage? I bet pretty good. Not that I'm a cocky SOB but simply because I put the attention into it. What good is a laser alignment by someone who doesn't give a crap and simply sets each side with in range even though they're at opposite ends of the spectrum? I like the spindle mount gauge with it's 40* angle. It's easy to install, easy to use. I took my TTD's off and put my old steel wheels on because I was too lazy to make an extension to thread on to the spindle threads but I will make one...one day. BTW, I'm not a professional mechanic, just a weekend warrior. It just takes the willingness to try and a couple hours, the results are well worth the effort. IMO a caster camber gauge should be part of your tool box. It'll pay for itself very shortly

I hope you enjoyed my write up. I forgot to mention I used 3 mil black plastic contractor garbage bags folded up for my turn tables, they work great for that! Oh, the car drives very nicely the short bit I drove it.Funny, the car steers very easy even with the 4* caster. Not sure if it's because of the rod ends in place of the tie rods or different angles of the tie rod arms since they're a little lower. Whatever it is, it's easier then when it was set at 3.5*with the stock spindles.

Tom

I'm not a complete idiot, pieces are missing.

Last edited by Huskinhano; 07-13-2015 at 08:47 PM. Reason: had wrong picture for right camber
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post #2 of 66 (permalink) Old 07-13-2015, 08:36 PM
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WTG Tom!! Good writeup too.


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post #3 of 66 (permalink) Old 07-13-2015, 08:45 PM
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Wow...thanks Tom. Saved this thread.

Regards,
Patrick
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post #4 of 66 (permalink) Old 07-13-2015, 08:52 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys! To everyone else who's interested in fooling around with their suspension, this is not hard. It just takes a little prep and little patients.

Tom

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post #5 of 66 (permalink) Old 07-13-2015, 09:57 PM
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Good write up! This is exactly how I did mine. Takes patience but you know you are getting a better alignment than most shops would do.
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post #6 of 66 (permalink) Old 07-13-2015, 10:31 PM
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+1! Great write up Hopefully this will encourage others to do their own as well!

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post #7 of 66 (permalink) Old 07-13-2015, 10:34 PM
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Nice work and write up!

I recently did this too, doing everything pretty much as you did. My gararge floor was not level so I had to level the car by placing some sheets of wood on the rear tires to raise it up about .5". Doing the alignment I found the most difficult thing to do for me was toe. After my first test drive, it drove good but something seemed off, so I took it to a shop that does alignments for the a local mustang restoration shop to have the alighment 'checked' on a laser rack.

From doing that I learned that my guage read about .1/.15 degrees less vs. what the laser said for example I thought I was around -.8/.85 with gauge, but the laser had me at -.7 but both sides were very equal. Same went for caster but it was closer to a .2 degree difference. So I was happy there.

The more interesting thing was toe, while my measurements had me about 1/8" total toe in, the laser said I had one wheel slightly toed out and one too toed in, so I had them adjust that.

All in all I am glad I did it myself, and am happy I was able to verify my work. The car drives nice and straight on the highway.



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post #8 of 66 (permalink) Old 07-14-2015, 10:02 AM
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Great write up!! I recently did my own alignment using the same style gauge. It's a lot easier than people think, the only real challenge for me was loosening and tightening the upper control arm bolts since I have long tube headers. I'm only able to make a quarter turn at a time and when you're dealing with 2-3 shims that can be a very time consuming task. All in all, I'm glad I did it myself because I learned a lot along the way and I also know that it's done to the specs I want, not the specs some out dated shop manual states.

Out of curiosity, I just have one question. It looks like your upper control arms are adjustable, so I was wondering why you elected to use the shims at all? Perhaps just to fine tune the alignment since I imagine un-threading and turning the heimjoint presents its own challenges due to clearance and having to unload the springs??

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post #9 of 66 (permalink) Old 07-14-2015, 04:57 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jsm0372 View Post
Great write up!! I recently did my own alignment using the same style gauge. It's a lot easier than people think, the only real challenge for me was loosening and tightening the upper control arm bolts since I have long tube headers. I'm only able to make a quarter turn at a time and when you're dealing with 2-3 shims that can be a very time consuming task. All in all, I'm glad I did it myself because I learned a lot along the way and I also know that it's done to the specs I want, not the specs some out dated shop manual states.

Out of curiosity, I just have one question. It looks like your upper control arms are adjustable, so I was wondering why you elected to use the shims at all? Perhaps just to fine tune the alignment since I imagine un-threading and turning the heimjoint presents its own challenges due to clearance and having to unload the springs??

Thanks! Funny, I was thinking the same about the headers. I still have manifolds but those are going soon. You're right, it's a great learning experience and I absolutely agree that you know exactly what your settings are.

Good question about the upper control arms, they're Street or Track. The stock arms do not have any caster built into them, you can use them on either side. The Street or Track from a parts standpoint will fit either side but Shaun sends them fully assembled and adjusted and marked LH and RH. And yes, I could re-adjust the heim joint for more caster instead of a shim. These parts are function first convenience second. If you read any good suspension book, they'll tell you if you make adjustment to one side, you should adjust the other side the same amount. The reason is simple, you want the UCA to be exactly the same on both sides so both sides behave the same and shim to fine tune. I also was thinking if I added more caster by adjusting the heim joint out I would also be lengthening the UCA to some amount. I just wanted to keep them as short as I could.

I'm not sure how much caster is preset in the arms but I guess you could calculate it roughly. IIRC, 1/8" is good for *2 caster, what ever the TPI is of the heim joint, you could just count the threads. My guess Shaun sets them for 3*. It would be pretty much like cutting springs for ride height. You'd be pulling the arms on and off. A little bit of a PIA to say the least but you have that option to add as much caster as you dare to and that's what I like. That was one of the main reasons I bought them besides the outstanding quality of them. I had read enough posts here where guys had trouble getting caster.

To be honest initially I was going to send my car out for an alignment when done. While the suspension was apart this was the time to adjust the heim joints if I needed to but I had no clue. Then I was thinking what if the shop had to take apart the suspension to adjust the heim joints it was going to cost me a fortune. Then hope they got it right and didn't screw something up. I thought to myself, if I'm installing all this stuff, why can't I align it? And that's what I did.

When I did my alignment I still had my stock LCA because they looked good and were Ford service parts. That's when I discovered my LCA were shot. I had positive camber with no shims. If I had sent my car out for an alignment, I never would have know the LCA were bad and the car would have never driven to it's potential. With the new set of Street or Track roller LCA in, when I checked caster, I had 4* on the left and 3.5* on the right and 1 1/4* neg camber on the left and 1 1/2* neg on the right. That was with no shims at all. I had adjusted the struts when I still had the stock LCA. What I did to set them was I used a level to mark on the floor where the lower arms were on both sides with the stock struts in. With the adjustable struts in, I adjusted them with the level on the lower arms so they would line up with the marks on the floor. I adjusted the left side from 4* to 3.5* to match the right side and then I put a 1/32" shim on both bolts on the right UCA which brought me to 1 3/8* neg. Sorry for getting a little long winded, I'm just trying to how valuable doing your own alignment is especially to find worn parts or problems.

Tom

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post #10 of 66 (permalink) Old 07-14-2015, 05:15 PM
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Tom was kind and answered a ton of questions I had when I did mine. He had a post over on BangShift.com that helped me out so I bugged him with more questions.

I took my car to a "professional" shop that said, yes sir, we can align your car to your specs. Yeah... no... I also found the old sheet the alignment shop used. I gave them my Shelby drop sheet with 0 to -.05* Camber, 2-3* Caster, and 1/16"-1/8" toe in.

According to the final spec sheet they aligned it with 0 caster 0 camber (which I guess it OK, it road/handled fine) but I immediately saw why my old tires went to crap in +/-5K miles... 3/16 to 1/4" toe in on each side! They also had a note that said "aligned to customer requested specs". So I have pretty much no recourse as I was stupid and didn't check the sheet the day they gave it to me, I was just excited to be driving my car after having the suspension off for a couple months.

So, after talking to a few more local shops, I didn't get any warm fuzzies that any of them could do it right, I did it myself.

I set my car up to -0.5* Camber, 1.5* Caster (this was all I could get with my adjustable strut rods & keep the wheels centered, and not screw up my camber, and after a few iterations back and forth, I gave up with trying to get more...) and 1/16" toe in combined.

My last set of front tires looked like hell... the outside looked like they had 5,000 miles on them (which they did) and the inside looked like they had 25,000 miles on them. My new tires with my alignment have over 4,000 miles on them and they look evenly worn!

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Last edited by 65 Pony; 07-14-2015 at 05:19 PM.
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post #11 of 66 (permalink) Old 07-14-2015, 05:21 PM
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Very good write up!
Is this new gauge used in addition with the fastrak gauge?
Got a link to buy this gauge or name of this gauge?
Lynn

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post #12 of 66 (permalink) Old 07-14-2015, 05:50 PM
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Many thanks for the very good write up.
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post #13 of 66 (permalink) Old 07-14-2015, 05:58 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by LynnBob 65 Mustang View Post
Very good write up!
Is this new gauge used in addition with the fastrak gauge?
Got a link to buy this gauge or name of this gauge?
Lynn
The bubble gauge shown is basically a rebadged Longearce from "Goracin" or Davis Motorsports of Reno I bought it off ebay, about $125 to my door. Goracin sells an adapter like the fastrack that mounts on the wheel then you stick the bubble gauge on. Basically an adapter. Or you could simple weld a plate to a piece pipe then weld that to a spindle nut to make an extension to clear a wheel hub such as the TTD wheel. I happen to like the spindle bubble gauge because the hub is always true and with the 40* angle on the end saves a lot of time and grief marking out 2, 20* angles on the floor. It's just so much easier IMO. Draw a line on the floor parallel to the tire and you're done! With the fastrack, if the wheel is bent or not true, neither will your caster and camber settings. I found out how out of true my steel wheels were!

This is what I have for the toe gauge, Longacre 79620 Toe in Gauge | eBay

Tom

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post #14 of 66 (permalink) Old 07-14-2015, 05:58 PM
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This is the best price I could find:

Longacre Racing 78260 Caster Camber Gauge Gauge with Magnetic Hub Adapter | eBay

and here are the instructions for it... very simple:

Instructions

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post #15 of 66 (permalink) Old 07-14-2015, 06:02 PM
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It's super easy to make a toe gauge with some 3/4" and 1" square tubing. A piece of rod and a couple nuts. Cost is very little!


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