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The problem I’ve had is that the shops I’ve had do an alignment with the laser guided missile launcher have turned out a crappy alignment that I’ve had to pay for and find out as I’m driving away that the steering wheel isn’t centered or the vehicle pulls one way or another.. I have figured out that I can do a better job of it myself over the last 10 years or so without the lasers and technology that they have payed for.. I have friends that have been into racing and usually they setup their own alignments with some of the caster, camber, and turn table tools mentioned above.. Scales are also part of the equation but probably not necessarily for a street car..
 

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1973 Pontiac Ventura - 489ci BBC swap
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Most cars will tolerate a 1/2* difference in caster, but given that you have virtually none to begin with...I can see that causing a very slight pull. If it feels like more of a yanking, you've got something else going on.

Caster plays a large part in the straight tracking and return to center, along with steering feel. Manual steering cars tend to run less, as the steering will begin to feel heavier with more. I don't know off the top of my head what the early car spec is, but I'd guess somewhere in the 2-3 degree area. Modern cars tend to be 3-5, where the power steering assist tends to mask the heavier steering feel.

The laser systems are just flat better, period. But like anything else, they also depend on someone with a bit of a clue running them. Someone with the IQ of an earthworm can easily jack it worse on a laser machine too, lol.

The racers can get away with a bit less precision as they're changing alignments a lot more often to cope with changing track conditions, and getting 50K miles out of a set of tires along with being able to single finger cruise down the freeway tends to be far less of an issue.

Not to mention, transport and setup of a drive on alignment rack tends to be a bit much for most guys...
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
If it feels like more of a yanking, you've got something else going on.

I don't know off the top of my head what the early car spec is, but I'd guess somewhere in the 2-3 degree area.
No yanking, just drifts off to the right.

According to the 1962 Chevy II Shop Manual: "The correct caster angle is +1*, + or - 1/2* and within 1/2* of opposite side." "The correct camber angle is +1/2*, + or - 1/2* and within 1/2* of opposite side". "Correct toe-in is 1/4" - 3/8" total".
 

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Serious southern boy living in Jax Fl.
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Realize these specs were written for fifty year old bias ply design tires. If you run a radial, a different side wall height, stiffness or width tire these specs will not be ideal. What's more what you may feel as ideal may not be to my liking.
This is Hotrodding.....
 

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It just re-affirms my belief that "true" mechanics are becoming almost extinct, parts guys already have as well as most metal-work guys. Nowadays if it's not on the screen they can't be bothered to even try figuring it out. My Hunter has a full section of specs for individual customers that we have edited for a myriad of reasons that way next time in I can just type in "Johns 67 Chevelle" and the updated specs are right there so I can check to see if it's out for some reason or needs to be re-aligned after a worn part replacement. I have a feeling I take some of it for granted since it's all I do and thankfully have great equipment, none of which was cheap but necessary, and know how to properly use it.
I do not have access to an alignment machine but I agree completely
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
Realize these specs were written for fifty year old bias ply design tires. If you run a radial, a different side wall height, stiffness or width tire these specs will not be ideal. What's more what you may feel as ideal may not be to my liking.
This is Hotrodding.....
So how would I know what specs to set my 62 to?
 

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What part of the country are you in?
East coast, Mass but currently in the process of moving my operation to SC (surfside beach), just built a new 5K sq ft shop.I will be more than happy to help out any member that needs a hand once I'm finally in, running behind...a victim of the times we are in. Invested in an even newer Hunter HawkEye and new roadforce balancer as well as new tire machine and A/C machine to do 1234yf.
 

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Serious southern boy living in Jax Fl.
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So how would I know what specs to set my 62 to?
If you live in a large enough city a Hot rod shop may be able to help. Also some race shops can provide answers. Do you have power steering? If so add between 1 1/2 to 2 degrees castor. I like less than half a degree of camber and a 16th of toe but that's more of a starting place.
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
I do have power steering. I added it but I guess that wouldn't matter? Sounds like I need 2 1/2 to 3 degrees of caster. I wonder why the shop manual doesn't differentiate for PS or manual for alignment specs.
 

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1973 Pontiac Ventura - 489ci BBC swap
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Because of the different way that bias ply tires respond to the road. Bias plies move more in the contact patch, and adding more caster will make the handling worse, power steering or not. Bias ply tires tend to favor less caster and more toe in compared to radials.

It wasn't uncommon for some cars back then to even spec negative caster as a result of this.

Of course, this also amplifies the need for an alignment guy with a clue, and why many people with older cars tend to want to just do it themselves.
 

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66 Chevy II, 67 Chevy II, 65 C10
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I Have been using these for years. I have gauge from the 60's as well as stands and turn plates although I just do it on the floor and not on the stands. My 66 has a heidts superride and I set the front end myself with my gauge and toe plates and took to alignment shop and he didn't need to adjust anything. Spot on. My 67 has stock front end and i set it with my gauge too. I have not had at alignment shop because it drives great and tire show no uneven wear. Get a good gauge and learn how to use it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
Another related question: If I increase positive caster by a couple of degrees will it increase the turning radius and if so, would it be noticeable? That is one thing I've never like about this old car. I need a football field to turn around in.
 

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I concur with that as well. Modern suspension and steering systems can take advantage of increased caster due to significantly different designs, without all the other negative aspects that would come from increased caster on our cars in stock form.

I would think that combined with radial tires and power steering, bumping it up to 2 or 2.5 degrees would be a net positive, but I wouldn't go higher than that.
 

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My little bubble balancer is magnetically attached to the machined outer edge of the spindle .
works great ( as good as any bubble level) , biggest problem is user error. I also use a length of string and jack stands to set toe. Very reliable (62 crew cab Nova)🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸
 

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When I set toe, I put the car on my lift, and used a 6 foot level and "sighted" along the lower inside edge of the front tire, I could see the back tire, which is wider and set the toe with the line of sight just inside the tread, repeat other side. Yes the tires were all "hanging," but the toe was not changed. I found this easier to adjust, got it close, then put the car on the (level) floor and checked with string. I had replaced ALL suspension and steering so I thought I would try this method to get it close, and I'd rather bang my head on the frame than lay on the floor, get up down 30 times...lol
 

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Two things when using these gauges. First, as previously stated, the car needs to be level. Secondly, the front wheels need to be on bearing plates so you can turn them freely with the car sitting on its wheels. If you go to an alignment shop and look at the rack, the wheels sit on bearing plates for this reason. You turn the wheels back and forth for 2 reasons. First to settle the suspension and steering, and secondly to set the caster. As for the comment about not attaching the gauges to the wheels because of deflection, well that's how professional alignment machines attach, to the wheels, for the most part. That's why you make sure your suspension amd steering is in good shape before alignment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #40 ·
Two things when using these gauges. First, as previously stated, the car needs to be level.
How's this for determining level? I use 3/8 clear tubing in an H pattern for 4 corners. Filled with colored water. Each is set as close to the center of the wheel where it sets on the floor. Measuring from the top of the water to the floor I can determine the thickness of boards I need to place under each wheel to get the car perfectly level. Here's the measurements to the floor on each:

LF 18 5/8 RF 18 1/4

LR 20 1/8 RR 20 1/4

So I'll leave the right front to set on the floor and I'll need 3/8 on LF, 1 7/8 on LR, and 2 inches on RR. I need to decide if I'm going to buy those plates for turning the wheels. If so, I'll need to add the thickness of those to each board.

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