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Old 03-05-2015, 05:48 AM   #1
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Default What do you guys use for measuring camber/caster?

I apologize if this has been discussed to death, but a few friends and I have decided to start doing our own alignments since we can't seem to find a competent place to get one done around here. We'll be setting our cars up on 4 ramps and using the tried and true string method for measuring toe, but it seems there's a few different options as far as measuring camber and caster goes and we're having trouble deciding on something.

A friend first brought up this tool from summit racing as an idea, but it seems pretty expensive and doesn't have great reviews. It allows for measuring toe without the string method, but uses the other wheel as reference so I'm not sure how you're supposed to make sure you're tracking straight. I don't think we'll go with this. http://www.summitracing.com/parts/qta-90004/overview/

M.net's alignment guide recommended a sealey camber/caster gauge that magnetically attaches to the hub or brake rotor. I'm unsure of how accurate something like this is compared to a set up that attaches to the wheel like the quick trick tool, as well as how it manages to measure caster. The only way I know of measuring caster is to measure camber at two equal and opposite steering angles. This seems to be the same product they recommended but from a different vendor: Magnetic Camber Castor King Pin Gauge Automobile Car Truck Wheel Alignment Tool | eBay

So what I'm wondering is, what kind of tools have you guys used, and what would you recommend? I know I've seen a few people that have made their own, and I would love to be able to do that, but I don't have the capabilities to do so. We'd like to keep it under $150 or so but if something is really worth above that point we could make it happen. Thanks everyone.
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Old 03-05-2015, 09:46 AM   #2
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Toe = toe plates and string method

Camber = iPhone on a flat piece of metal stock

Caster = don't measure it...just max it out


Cost = basically free
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Old 03-05-2015, 04:25 PM   #3
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Camber = iPhone on a flat piece of metal stock
How would I go about this? Just place the metal flat against the wheel and place the phone flat on that? I'm a little hesitant to trust the gyroscope in my phone to be 100% accurate. I could try calibrating it against a real level, but I'm pretty sure they use like $5 gyros in phones so I don't know how accurate it could be.

Quote:
Caster = don't measure it...just max it out
I guess I could do this as well, but I'll probably measure it afterwards the complicated way using camber, just to make sure its the same on both sides.

I suppose that is the cheapest way to go about it. Any recommendations on what to do for the piece of metal? Would it be okay to use one big enough that it contacts the tire for placement, or do I need to make something that contacts the wheel in 3 places like the quicktrick tool? Cause I have zero experience in metal working / fabrication and no tools to do so.
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Old 03-05-2015, 04:41 PM   #4
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I just realized you probably specified and iPhone for a reason. My phone, and none of my friends phones, are flat on the back. I may have to continue thinking about buying a tool. I've also tried about 6 apps now and none of them will measure inclination in the way I would need them to for camber.
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Old 03-05-2015, 09:13 PM   #5
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You can measure that caster is equal roughly by turning the wheels all the way left and right and measuring the camber gain/loss.
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Old 03-05-2015, 09:31 PM   #6
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Old 03-05-2015, 11:18 PM   #7
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Any piece of flat stock should work fine. Preferably something long enough to reach from the widest part of the top of the tire to the widest part of the bottom of the tire (widest = furthest protruding out portion of rubber on the sidewall).

You should be able to use any smart phone... I use the side of the phone as the flat plane against the metal bar.

I don't use this method for absolute measurements, only for relative measurements.

I can get a track alignment about 95% as good as a professional laser alignment with these methods.
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Old 03-05-2015, 11:37 PM   #8
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You can measure that caster is equal roughly by turning the wheels all the way left and right and measuring the camber gain/loss.
Yeah, that's how I was planning on doing it. I'm still unsure if there's more than one way to actually measure caster, so when I mentioned using the "complicated" method, that's what I was referring to. The more researching I do, the more I'm thinking thats the only way.

Quote:
Any piece of flat stock should work fine. Preferably something long enough to reach from the widest part of the top of the tire to the widest part of the bottom of the tire (widest = furthest protruding out portion of rubber on the sidewall).

You should be able to use any smart phone... I use the side of the phone as the flat plane against the metal bar.

I don't use this method for absolute measurements, only for relative measurements.

I can get a track alignment about 95% as good as a professional laser alignment with these methods.
Good to know. I just remembered my dad has a huge straightedge, so that would probably work unless its TOO long. And I'll check if any of my friends phones have flat sides, as mine doesn't. Although, I do have an iPhone 5 laying around that a friend gave me after he left it in the snow... I need to find a charger and see if I can get that working
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Old 03-06-2015, 01:29 AM   #9
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I have a Longacre digital caster/camber gauge, this one:
Longacre Digital Caster Camber Gauge 78298



It works well. I experimented with cell phones and the like and was unsatisfied, so I bought this. Much simpler, much smoother.

For toe I just use a tape measure.

--Ian
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Old 03-06-2015, 09:40 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by codrus View Post
I experimented with cell phones and the like and was unsatisfied, so I bought this. Much simpler, much smoother.

For toe I just use a tape measure.

--Ian
For sure a $300 camber gauge is going to work better than a flat of metal and a cell phone.
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Old 03-07-2015, 02:37 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Efini~FC3S View Post
For sure a $300 camber gauge is going to work better than a flat of metal and a cell phone.
Yes. It's called the right tool for the job.

The cell phone does make a good tool for figuring out when you've turned the wheels ~30 degrees in each direction so that the caster calculator can work, though.

--Ian
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Old 03-07-2015, 08:29 AM   #12
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OP asked to keep it under $150...
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Old 03-07-2015, 02:32 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Efini~FC3S View Post
OP asked to keep it under $150...
"if something is really worth above that point we could make it happen"

In my opinion, the digital caster/camber gauges are a sufficient step up in usability to qualify.

You can get the actual sensor for $180 here, which appears to include the aluminum holder with screw fitting:
LONGACRE 78292 Digital Kart Caster / Camber Gauge with AccuLevel

One could probably fab up a wheel adapter without too much trouble, although it wouldn't be as compact or adjustable as the Longacre one.

--Ian
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Old 03-09-2015, 04:57 PM   #14
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We have the Longacre digital caster/camber gauge and toe plates. Not worth trying to do the job with much less. You can get a similar setup with the bubble gauges for a little less, but the digitak is well worth it. I built 15" stands last year and it makes alignments and corner weighing much easier. I know, not the $150 option.
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Old 03-10-2015, 01:37 PM   #15
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I've been doing OK with the FM hubstands. And the digital gage.
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