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DIY alignment measurements
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beetlejc
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2017 11:46 am    Post subject: DIY alignment measurements Reply with quote

I've been having a hard time, nearing the end of my project build ('69 IRS Fastback) getting the alignment dialed in. (or, rather, Goodyear saying they could do it, telling me there's no toe adjustment in the rear or camber adjustment up front...BS...etc etc) But I didn't come here to rant about Goodyear.

I've paid for a multi-alignment deal for one year with them and they've already had it twice. I've been taking the car back and resetting the ride height closer and closer to stock, still with a slight forward rake. After literally studying the alignment printouts (before & after), I'm back to lowering the rear end (saggy butt look IMHO) but I'm guessing that'll help some of the caster issues up front, allow more toe adjustment in the rear etc etc. I've also been eyeballing my own DIY alignment with string and tape measures to get it close and drive-able for testing. I'll take it back to them for the actual (hopefully, final) computer analysis.

I've found that the generally-accepted rear toe-in measurement for the rear is about 1/8" (based on a centerline "string" method) but I don't have other such numbers for front toe or camber. Unless someone can introduce me to a cheap (free) method of finding the degrees listed in the Bentley, I can really only use actual measurements. (like the "1/8 inch toe-in" for the rear) Can a plumb be dropped from the top of the front wheel to provide a rough measurement from the bottom edge to give me an approximate positive camber measurement?

Any counsel here would be great.
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KTPhil Premium Member
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2017 1:20 pm    Post subject: Re: DIY alignment measurements Reply with quote

You want 0 to 1/8" toe-OUT at the rear. (EDIT see below, this is for swing axle only, not IRS)
You want 1/8" toe IN at the front (both swing and IRS).


Last edited by KTPhil on Sat Apr 08, 2017 5:21 pm; edited 1 time in total
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eashc
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2017 2:35 pm    Post subject: Re: DIY alignment measurements Reply with quote

Heres what this guy did. Not sure how much room you may have

https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=670939
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beetlejc
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 08, 2017 4:49 am    Post subject: Re: DIY alignment measurements Reply with quote

KTPhil wrote:
You want 0 to 1/8" toe-OUT at the rear.
You want 1/8" toe IN at the front.

Where in the heck did I read toe-in at the rear? There's no accounting for deflection at speed?
The front toe-in measurement, I can manage. Thanks!
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beetlejc
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 08, 2017 4:51 am    Post subject: Re: DIY alignment measurements Reply with quote

eashc wrote:
Heres what this guy did. Not sure how much room you may have

https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=670939


Indeed a wee bit of genius. Thanks for the idea!
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KTPhil Premium Member
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 08, 2017 3:17 pm    Post subject: Re: DIY alignment measurements Reply with quote

beetlejc wrote:
KTPhil wrote:
You want 0 to 1/8" toe-OUT at the rear.
You want 1/8" toe IN at the front.

Where in the heck did I read toe-in at the rear? There's no accounting for deflection at speed?
The front toe-in measurement, I can manage. Thanks!


Rear-engined cars sometimes have a slight toe-out at the rear to bring a bit of stability or self-centering. It can make quite a difference in swing axle cars when hitting undulations while cornering. Toe in can make the require constant corrections in those conditions, and is to be avoided.
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raygreenwood
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 08, 2017 4:22 pm    Post subject: Re: DIY alignment measurements Reply with quote

KTPhil wrote:
You want 0 to 1/8" toe-OUT at the rear.
You want 1/8" toe IN at the front.


No.

The spec....for type 31s....notch and fastback.....is +5 +/- 15'.
The spec for type 36s.....squareback....................is 0 +/- 15'.

This is from without guesswork.

Positive toe....is "toe-in"..

You do not want toe out in the rear. The trailing arm and bushings already flex slightly from the thrust of forward motion against the tires....bringjng the toe outward. Having negative toe....which is toed-out.....causes the car to want to steer outward in the direction the tire is facing once the toe increases from road force.
It will reach a limit and then snap back and steer in the direction of the other tire....giving a squirrilly rear end movement.

So the effect you describe is correct.....but you have it backwards. Ray
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KTPhil Premium Member
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 08, 2017 5:20 pm    Post subject: Re: DIY alignment measurements Reply with quote

I've aligned my swing axle bugs this way, and the improvement from getting rid of rear toe-in was quite noticeable. For the swing axle Type 3 the Bentley specifies -5' 10' (slight toe out).

Does the OP have swing or IRS?
(EDIT: I see he said IRS, so yes, the IRS likes zero to a slight toe-in at the rear).
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raygreenwood
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 08, 2017 6:34 pm    Post subject: Re: DIY alignment measurements Reply with quote

KTPhil wrote:
I've aligned my swing axle bugs this way, and the improvement from getting rid of rear toe-in was quite noticeable. For the swing axle Type 3 the Bentley specifies -5' 10' (slight toe out).

Does the OP have swing or IRS?
(EDIT: I see he said IRS, so yes, the IRS likes zero to a slight toe-in at the rear).


Ah....that makes sense for swing axle. The without guesswork I have is for IRS years only....and stresses that camber must be correct.

The wheel geometry and camber issues for swing axle actually make sense for having some negative toe.

Question.....on the swing axle cars is the rear track narrower, equal or wider than the front? Ray
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 08, 2017 9:13 pm    Post subject: Re: DIY alignment measurements Reply with quote

As an example, on the 1966 cars the rear track is wider than the front:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


And the same on a 1969 car:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

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raygreenwood
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 09, 2017 7:04 am    Post subject: Re: DIY alignment measurements Reply with quote

Exactly what I was about to get into. If the rear track is wider I can visualize thst some rear negative camber may help.

Digging through the books a little yesterday.....virtually all of those with positive rear camber listings have rear tracks narrower than the front.
Ray
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beetlejc
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 11, 2017 8:25 am    Post subject: Re: DIY alignment measurements Reply with quote

Thanks for the continued discussion, guys.

So I spent the remainder of the weekend (and not reading the forums):
-dropping the rear one inner spline & setting the rear to 1/16" toe-out

I don't like the looks of it. I had the whole vehicle sitting at stock ride height...slightly higher in the rear, and it looked "correct & appropriate" but I was out of toe-in adjustment at the right rear. Now it's probably closer to actual factory (rear) ride height but has the saggy butt look. Couple that with the fact that I should be aiming for some rear toe-in and I'll be back to work on it this weekend:

-raise the rear one outer spline
-set the rear to 0 - 1/8" toe-in if possible (maybe by changing it up by only one outer spline, it'll leave enough room to find one more mm of toe adjustment)

The upside of all this is that I'm getting fast enough where I can reset the ride height/adjust spring plates in an evening after dinner.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 11, 2017 8:42 am    Post subject: Re: DIY alignment measurements Reply with quote

You probably know this, but to be clear, rear toe is adjusted by sliding along the spring plate, so it should be almost independent of camber and ride height at rest.
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beetlejc
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 11, 2017 8:50 am    Post subject: Re: DIY alignment measurements Reply with quote

KTPhil wrote:
Rear toe is adjusted by sliding along the spring plate, so it should be almost independent of camber and ride height at rest.


Jesus. You might be right. I'd been assuming that because I've had it slightly higher in the rear (for a slight vehicle forward rake) that I'd moved the "assembly" beyond an adjustable range and wouldn't be able to align it properly until I brought it all closer to stock.

Let me wrap my head around this. I'm going to have to post some pictures of the ride height.
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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 10:53 am    Post subject: Re: DIY alignment measurements Reply with quote

Well, I've been progressing on this gradually. It's been difficult to wrap the T3 project up and maintain a westy at the same time.

I've set the rears as far forward in the slotted spring plates as possible and the RR measures 0 deg...maybe 1/16 toe-in if I squint. I had to grind the slots slightly larger. Since this used to be an automatic, (i.e. not the original tranny) I'm tempted to think that maybe I could/should find a way to move the whole engine/tranny assembly rearward slightly by tweaking the mounts somehow. (thereby causing the axles to go forward some...toe in.)

Thoughts on this?

Now I'm working on the front alignment. By drawing a line through the center rib of the tranny and case halves all the way past the front beam, (This is how I measured toe in the rear) I hope to set the toe (in) up front. My initial measurement shows about a 3/4" difference in toe-in from RF to LF. Believe it or not, I actually dropped a plumb from the tranny rib and the case seam and pulled a string all the way up front. If I eyeball it, it looks surprising spot on.

1) Does this method sound...sound?
2) Should each wheel assembly measure equally (toe-in) to the centerline? (you'd think so)

Incidentally, I measured the ride height and set blocks under the center section of the rotors so I could remove the front wheels and get at the steering bits while still simulating "weight-on-wheels."

I'm irritated with the camber adjustment. Basically, I have the RF set at 91.4 deg (essentially, 1.4 degrees -in-spec) and the LF is set at 90.7 deg. -a difference of .7 degrees with no more adjustment. I'm using an iPhone angle finder app...slick but...

Thoughts?
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raygreenwood
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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 12:24 pm    Post subject: Re: DIY alignment measurements Reply with quote

Quote:
I've set the rears as far forward in the slotted spring plates as possible and the RR measures 0 deg...maybe 1/16 toe-in if I squint. I had to grind the slots slightly larger. Since this used to be an automatic, (i.e. not the original tranny) I'm tempted to think that maybe I could/should find a way to move the whole engine/tranny assembly rearward slightly by tweaking the mounts somehow. (thereby causing the axles to go forward some...toe in.)

Thoughts on this?


Lets think about this for a second. If you removed the engine and transmission altogether...aside from the weight loss to the compression stance.....the alignment remains unchanged. The axle flex at the joint fore or aft has not bearing on the alignment.

If I am missing something please let me know...but you are essentially assuming that side loading the axle will flex the suspension. That should not be the case.

Quote:
Now I'm working on the front alignment. By drawing a line through the center rib of the tranny and case halves all the way past the front beam, (This is how I measured toe in the rear) I hope to set the toe (in) up front. My initial measurement shows about a 3/4" difference in toe-in from RF to LF. Believe it or not, I actually dropped a plumb from the tranny rib and the case seam and pulled a string all the way up front. If I eyeball it, it looks surprising spot on.

1) Does this method sound...sound?
2) Should each wheel assembly measure equally (toe-in) to the centerline? (you'd think so)


I don't think that is a good method...pulling the front wheel centerline from the rear of the car.

When you look at alignment equipment..whether its old school mirrors or projected lights or lasers...they use a clamp assembly jig that clamps on the wheel rim so they have a solid and hopefully uniform surface.

You are aligning the wheels primarily and not the tires.

So....when measuring toe-in yourself.....really you are measuring between a point on the most forward edge of the left side rim when viewed from the left side...at 9:00 o'clock position and at 3:00 o'clock position on the right side rim when viewed from the right side.....and between the same exact points at the back side of the rim.
If you are setting 1/8" toe-in....the difference between the two distances between rearward/trailing side of the rims as compared to the front/lead side should show 1/8". Of course the difficulty is making sure that the lead and trail edges of each wheel are the same distance from the centerline.

If you are working on the front suspension...the centerline should be taken off the beam housing.

I would measure the beam....divide by two....mark a centerline on the beam. Then...from that centerline (and with the steering wheel locked in perfect center)...measure to the center of the boss on the tie-rod end ball stud for each side to make sure that when the steering is dead center...the distance from the beam centerline to the centerline of the tie rod end ball stud on each side....is set equal FIRST.

Then measure and adjust to get your toe-in.

Quote:
Incidentally, I measured the ride height and set blocks under the center section of the rotors so I could remove the front wheels and get at the steering bits while still simulating "weight-on-wheels."


This sounds really dangerous to start with....

And.... also you want to measure from the edge of the rims....not the rotors. The rims are larger in diameter. So if you are setting by degrees.....the toe-in will be much larger by the time it is translated to the larger diameter of the wheel....and you will have Waaaay too much toe-in when you re-install the wheels.

AND.....if you are setting by measurements instead of degrees....setting 1/8" toe based on the smaller diameter rotor...meaning 1/16th" toe-in on each side...will also end up being more than 1/8th" once the wheels are reinstalled.

Quote:
I'm irritated with the camber adjustment. Basically, I have the RF set at 91.4 deg (essentially, 1.4 degrees -in-spec) and the LF is set at 90.7 deg. -a difference of .7 degrees with no more adjustment. I'm using an iPhone angle finder app...slick but...


The angle finders in the phones are surprisingly accurate.....IF....the placement of the phone and the shape of its outer case allow it to be placed precisely square. For instance if you have a nice machined metal bar...or one of those machined aluminum carpenters levels that you can place at exactly 12 and 6 on the wheel rim...and you can use you phone to set that up as well.....them you can probably do quite well with the phone angle finder app.

Ray
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beetlejc
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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 12:50 pm    Post subject: Re: DIY alignment measurements Reply with quote

Thanks for the input, Ray.

1) Thanks for clearing my head on bit on thoughts of nudging the engine/tranny rearward. IRS...CV joints....duh. You are correct.

2) My thoughts on the "centerline" method stem primarily from the old "Thrust" alignment days. i.e. set the fronts based on the alignment of the rear. I'll go ahead and measure the beam for a centerpoint as well.

3)It is somewhat dangerous. I initially had jackstands under the center mass of the rotors but that was just slightly too high. I have, however, positioned my tires under the front beam. (old "just in case" habit) Point noted about the potentially incorrect measurements. Thank you.

4) As far as the phone angle finder, it's being placed, without cover at a few places around the face of the rotor. (above and to the side of the grease seal for a reasonable "sanity" check.) I definitely had to wirebrush off some residue before starting.

Overall, you've given me some food for thought. I'll be able to spend some more time over the weekend puttering around this task.
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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 5:50 pm    Post subject: Re: DIY alignment measurements Reply with quote

The thruat issue.....I have been thinking about.....and have no "DYI" advice to give yet. Others may have.

Its the most difficult issue with trying to do alignment yourself. With the age of our vehicles and the number of potential accidents, repairs, age etc.........its common that the rear and front suspension are no longer exactly on the same centerline.....which is why I would not use the rear suspenaion to find the centerline of the front.

When setting the "thrust"......which is very important.......the front suspension is set centered to the chassis......based in steering wheel being centered.....and hopefully the chassis nit being bent.
Then the rear wheels are set to track with the front. In reality the chassis could be crooked to the cejterline thrust....but at least the rear wheel toe angles will be set to follow the front and not steer the car.

I have actually seen a few poorly cobbled together cars over the years that have such twisted chassis.....that they look like they have a 10 angle on them in ine direction...yet.....thruat was able to be set and they steer straight at least.

This is why it is probahly best to set your front toe in and camber.....and then take a few measurements to make sure that the rim at its narrow and widest spots of toe-in are the same distance from both fender and inned tub firewall.....and steering wheel is straight.

Then do the rear suspension. I met a crazy guy once who used two pair of steel bars moujted to the wheels spanning 6 and 12.....and on the front wheela he used little steel rulers mounted to the steel bars.....and on the rear......he mounted an $800 rifle scope he had to set the rear wheel thrust in the same direction as the front... Shocked Laughing ......and the car steered great.
At the time I though he was an idiot......but looking back.......not so much now. Ray
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beetlejc
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 06, 2017 12:00 pm    Post subject: Re: DIY alignment measurements Reply with quote

I decided to go ahead and take the plunge and replace the diagonal arm bushings. I'm hoping this will correct my inability to dial in the proper alignment.
I found that a couple of old main bearings were the perfect size help press these in with my vice.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


First one is done. I'm also giving them a coat of POR15 that I had left from a sample pack I bought a couple years ago. The coating is great! -a nice hard "shell" and good and black.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Has anyone else ever noticed that some jobs just seem to use every single tool in the house? This is one of those.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 08, 2017 3:07 pm    Post subject: Re: DIY alignment measurements Reply with quote

Interesting on your front alignment issues, I just went through my suspension this winter, and am trying to get it aligned. Lh front is .6 degrees in, the rh front, I can only get to maybe .2 degrees inboard. I see some people are recommending 1-2 degrees in for camber, not sure how they are getting there, as the rh side is all I can get.

On the rear, I was able to get the toe in set pretty close, but replacing the 47 year old bushings had to help, no idea what it was before. Will be interesting to see how well it drives now.
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