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Old 10-20-2018, 02:07 PM   #1
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DIY alignment with smart strings and wheel hubs

Talk about fiddly... Especially when levelling the car. Need to raise one corner by 3mm? Get ready for lots of iterations. Not only does adding 3mm of shims under that corner *not* raise that side by 3mm, it also changes the others too I'm still chugging along... Will post more as i get further along... What you see here took several hours to get this far

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Old 10-20-2018, 02:09 PM   #2
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Water level...

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Old 10-20-2018, 03:29 PM   #3
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I tried this with my sons car...

After several attempts, test drives and many hours on the ground, I gave up and paid firestone $75 to do it.

Looking forward to reading your experience.
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Old 10-20-2018, 04:47 PM   #4
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I just got a hot tip on facebook to disconnect my sway bars...

I wish i had a $75 place in my town, nearest is,an hour away. Tire kingdom says they can't do porsches and i don't have any other good places ):

Otherwise, i think i would just take it. There is a fantastic guy at pep boys in jax, is,an autocrosser, but is 1+ hours away... Might be worth it

Last edited by steved0x; 10-20-2018 at 05:09 PM. Reason: typos
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Old 10-21-2018, 06:49 AM   #5
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I paid Firestone 325.00 for a life time aglinment anytime I take it in its free as long as I own the car. Has been there 3 time this year alone.
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Old 10-21-2018, 07:38 AM   #6
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I've done the string alignment a few times on my car. It definitely works and is quite accurate, provided that you are patient and diligent. However, it is REALLY time consuming. We have an independent shop in town with the laser system. It's $95, they let me provide the specs and be with the tech as he gets it all set. Usually takes about 30-45 minutes to get done. And it's dead on accurate.
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Old 10-21-2018, 07:40 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by steved0x View Post
Otherwise, i think i would just take it. There is a fantastic guy at pep boys in jax, is,an autocrosser, but is 1+ hours away... Might be worth it
How much is your time worth? Two hours of driving, compared to four plus hours of trying to get the car positioned to where you may get an accurate alignment?

I used to do my Spec Miata alignments, and it took forever the first couple of times to get a level spot to do the alignment, using floor tiles. I clearly marked on the floor where to place the car, but it was never repeatable.

For track days, I'd just take it to a pro and do it at the start of the season, unless you have an off-track misadventure.

In general, I'd avoid places like Firestone or PepBoys, unless you've heard from other gearheads that that particular alignment tech knows what he is doing.

Here in Seattle, I did some research and found that most hard-core enthusiasts recommend a place called TruLine. When I got there, every car in parking lot was an enthusiast's car, including a lot of Porsches. I had some specs in mind since I would be doing the occasional track days, and the tech agreed that those would be good for what I had in mind for the car. He asked he how much I weighed, and they placed sand bags in the driver's seat and floor board to simulate my weight. It's things like that that separate a $200 alignment from a $75 alignment.

Last edited by Racer Boy; 10-22-2018 at 04:47 PM.
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Old 10-21-2018, 07:41 AM   #8
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The first time does take a while to get everything set up. Put marks and shim sizes on the floor so you don't have to futz around the next time to level the scales.

If you are corner balancing you need to disconnect the sway bars and put your shocks to full soft. Set the ride height first, corner balance, camber then toe.

You look like you are doing great, just keep chugging.
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Old 10-21-2018, 05:55 PM   #9
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Ok, i had air bubbles in my water level and that's why everything kept moving around everytime i added a shim. I bled those out this morning and then got everything dead level with 2 adjustments. Checked the strings one more time, and then off to the races.

Front I didn't adjust, since i didn't do any work up front. At my last alignment, i specified zero toe, what i have now is around 1-2 mm toe out. Closer to 1 than 2. Camber around -3, I'll double check that.

In the rear I set 2mm toe (in per side) measured at a distance of 15" (the length of my toe bars) and -2.2 camber per side) i had to take a lot of toe out after removing the spc control arms and reinstalling the Meyle oem arms. Losing what was supposed to be only .5 of neg camber in back really affected the toe.

I've got to get new tires mounted tomorrow and them I'm taking the hour and driving somewhere to get it checked, and make some adjustments if needed, and see how the laser measurements at the shops measure up to my strings and digital angle gauge.

Last edited by steved0x; 10-21-2018 at 05:57 PM.
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Old 10-21-2018, 05:59 PM   #10
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"How much is your time worth? Two hours of driving, compared to four plus hours of trying to get the car positioned to where you may get an accurate alignment?"

Yes i was asking myself this many times this weekend when i take it to a shop to check, if they have to do a lot, look for a fire sale on smart strings and hub stands
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Old 10-21-2018, 09:06 PM   #11
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Yes i was asking myself this many times this weekend when i take it to a shop to check, if they have to do a lot, look for a fire sale on smart strings and hub stands
When I rebuilt my suspension, I just eyeballed everything enough to drive it without damaging the tires. Amazingly, when I had it aligned, everything was nearly spot-on. Nothing like dumb luck!
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Old 10-22-2018, 11:54 AM   #12
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OK, took it out today for a nice long highway run, it felt great, nice and smooth and straight with no tendency to be wandering around.

I made an appointment with Pulse Autowerks in Jacksonville (formerly Pulse Racing) for Thursday morning, they are going to do my track inspection and also check my alignment and make any needed adjustments. In talking with the owner Terry, who I have met at Roebling several times, I explained my process (strings and hubs) and that I was interested in seeing how it compares to a laser alignment, he says he uses strings as well and that to string my car and check my alignment will only be around 20 minutes of work and then if he has to make any tweaks, probably an hour. He said I can stay back in the shop with him and he will show me what all he does. So I will report back.
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Old 10-22-2018, 04:48 PM   #13
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Cool! Let us know how it goes, Steve.
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Old 10-24-2018, 05:40 AM   #14
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I've gotten a few PMs about the hub stands, so I wanted to post a few more details here:

The ones I am using are the Accu-lign from Tanner by Mittler Brothers:

https://www.mittlerbros.com/tanner-by-mittler/acculign-alignment-system/acculign-alignment-system.html

It comes with 3 hub patterns, and I think mine has Porsche 5x130, Toyota, and Honda (the person I bought them from had a Cayman and an S2000)

I like that it has the rollers at the bottom but due to the big square profile it requires spacers to clear the caliper. On my 2000 S, I have a 7 mm spacer in the back, and a 20mm in the front (I think I could have gotten away with 13-14 but these 200mm spacers came up one sale and so I grabbed them). Since I have long studs this worked out OK for me, folks with regular lug bolts would need new longer bolts to go with the spacers with would add some expense.

The include toe sticks only give a span of 15", I would like longer and I will probably get some made at some point.

For the rollers I bought four 12x12x1/16" steel plate, and bough a sheet of 5/8 plywood cut into 12x12 squares and a bunch of 12x12 vinyl floor tiles to use for shims.

The instructions for the stands include directions for a water level, which is what I used to level the stands.

Flyin Miata Hubstands made by Paco Motorsports
If I had bought the stands new, I think I would have gotten these. Turns out, shortly after I bought the ones I did, they released a new version of the these stands:

https://pacomotorsports.com/product/diy-alignment-hub-stands/

They have longer toe sticks and the toe sticks have markings you can use to align with the strings.

BBXRacing hubstands
BBX Racing-HUBStands - Set Up Wheels, Stands

These look nice but are $$$

The digital camber gauge they sell looks to be this one:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00IKDQHWO/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I tried several other digital angle gauges, and to me, this one was the best.

928 Motorsports hub stands
https://928motorsports.com/parts/wheel_hub_stands.php

These are relatively new, and they have been through several designs - an initial criticism was that there was no "pivot" capability to deal with different camber settings, these would sit flat on the floor and folks were worried it would stress things out. So now they have added a "camber rocker" which is a piece that goes on the bottom to let it pivot. Other suggestions were to put it on a thick rubber mat, or things like that. These have the lowest price. The latest design wasn't out when I got my hubstands, but even if it had, i think the flyin miata/paco motorsports stands would still be my first choice.

There are probably some others out there, but these are the ones I looked at
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Old 10-24-2018, 05:55 AM   #15
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When I rebuilt my suspension, I just eyeballed everything enough to drive it without damaging the tires. Amazingly, when I had it aligned, everything was nearly spot-on. Nothing like dumb luck!
That is awesome, back in march when i did some suspension work (new LCA in the back) when I drove the car to the alignment shop, the back end was wandering around like the devil, it was terrible and scary and I couldn't go over 45. Luckily it was only about 2 miles away.

I don't go to that shop anymore for a few reasons:

Second to last time they did an alignment, they didn't follow my instructions and they set the back up exactly the same as the front, and got aggravated when I asked them to put it back on the rack and set it the way that I asked (and that I had written down and given to them)

Then last time, after installing new control arms in back, they aligned it, and when I went to pick it up, they charged me for 3 hours of labor ($300+ instead of $75 or whatever the regular price was), said the adjustments on my rennline adjustable toe arms were seized up, and so they dropped the arms and just loosened off one of the ends to make the adjustments and it took 3 hours. I have a toe lockout kit but I also have the original toe eccentrics that I could have brought down, had they just called me which could have avoided all this.

Also, since they were the ones to have adjusted those arms the last 3 times (they have done my last 3 shop alignments), and the arms and the jam nuts are all rounded and marked up from by using pliers instead of the proper sized box wrenches. Then when I was doing the track inspection for my next track day, one of the jam nuts was only finger tight... And also both of the rear camber eccentrics were far below the torque spec (75 ft/lb I think) they were way under. At this point I decided to learn to try and do the alignments myself.

I will say, those arms were pretty seized up as I learned when I did this most recent alignment myself, the instructions say to use anti-seize but this wasn't done back when they were first installed dang it I was able to make all the adjustment I needed, but had to use lots of Kroil and had to take one of the arms off and put two box wrenches on it, and stand on them to get one of the joints to loosen up.

Lesson learned, use anti-seize, I guess all the heat and dust and water splashing up there gets into those joints and freezes them up. Plus the arms are a combo of steel and aluminum parts which probably didn't help...

I'm ordering new parts and the next time I get back there I am going to replace the toe arms, and use lots of anti-seize...
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Old 10-24-2018, 08:15 AM   #16
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so many $ for those stands! 5 holes in a metal plate. essential, however. i should pull the trigger. useful for a lot more than just alignments - keeps the suspension compressed during winter storage without flattening the tires, easier suspension work, yadda yadda yadda. my birthday is coming up ...
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Old 11-18-2018, 09:45 AM   #17
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what do you think about these:

https://technotoytuning.com/universal/parts/techno-toy-tuning-hub-stands

a lot less expensive. has a vertical surface for a camber gauge, and i'm sure i could get my toe plates to work with them. looking at the 928 units, they allow for camber by putting a rocker under the base of the stand - same could be accomplished by a broomstick, yes? the miata units are on wheels - same could be accomplished by some wheel dollies?
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Old 11-19-2018, 05:38 AM   #18
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If you want a perfect alignment, either do it yourself with strings, or take it to a race shop that knows Porsche
My "guy" takes 3-3.5 hours, charges $300 and is far better than ANY alignment rack.

Trust me, it makes a huge difference. Before my alignment with the best "tire shop" alignment could get, the car didn't really want to rotate. After the string alignment, I almost spun the car the first corner I took with a bit of speed. Of course it probably didn't hurt that I put in a M030 ROW suspension and camber plates in the front as well

The laser racks are only as good as the calibration and most of them probably are close, but not spot on. Most fo what they do are street cars and close is good enough.
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