DIY Alignment: The Basic Version

Meanwhile, I’d made them higher to give me a bit more room under the car. Oops! On two of the platforms we added wheel chocks for added safety with race cars that do not have emergency brakes. Finally we put an 1/8″ layer of ABS on the top. More on that later. Rather than leaving the platforms over an inch higher than the scales, I removed one layer and then we added a portable 5/8″ plywood base for the scales. This made them even and possible to roll back and forth. To roll from one to the other, we rotate the platform with the chocks by 45°. By the way, our chocks also work superbly as carrying handles. The most important aspect of this, which is what Jeremy wanted, is that rolling the car off the the scales and then back on helps settle the car and improve the accuracy of the corner balance process.

This is the stock photo taken from the Summit website – this Longacre unit gives you everything that you need with the push of a button. I did find that it was a challenge to mount on my Team Dynamic wheels with Falken Azenis tires. No issues with my Rays wheels.

With the corner balance complete it is time to work on the alignment. I think that Jeremy and I both had to put the Longacre Camber/Caster gauge on our respective cars as soon as we could because, like a kid at Christmas, we wanted to play with our new toy, I mean, tool. This is going to be a challenge to speak directly to you and your car, as your setup will be different. For example, at the front of my car I have Ground Control Camber Plates which allow for the adjustment of camber and caster. Apart from static changes like the Whiteline castor bushings, there is limited movement elsewhere. Back in the day I searched long for these as they mount on top of the shock tower and that leaves more room for travel. Almost every B13 Nissan owner wanted a set of these. As described in the DIY Aero article, I’m now on my third version of a lower control arm. This one using a 2J-Racing Bump Steer and Roll Correction kit. This kit absolutely makes a difference in the handling of your B13/14 Nissan; it’s just not as plug and play as the vender suggests that it is.

When I put the Longacre Camber Gauge on my car, I realized that the specs were not even close to what I had provided the shop. In fact, they weren’t even what the shop had said that they had achieved. While a superb alignment shop cannot be replaced, a DIY setup allows you to surpass a mediocre shop by far! I got my -3.2 camber that the shop said wasn’t possible with my car. But that I’ve had before and now I have again.

With the camber gauge the first thing that I found was that not all rim and tire combinations will like it. For example, my Team Dynamic wheels have a small lip and, coupled with my several year old Falken Azenis, the camber gauge literally would not stay on the wheel. Switching to my Volks and Nankang AR-1 wheels made mounting the gauge a breeze. The wheel has to have a bit of lip for the gauge to properly grasp. Hitting the on button revealed that the previous alignment wasn’t close to the requested -3.25 degrees. The shop had indicated it wasn’t able to get that – which surprised me as it had been accomplished before – but that they got close to -2.75 degrees. I’m not certain how they managed that, as the readings revealed -2.00 degrees of camber. Respectable but not what I’d asked for and not what showed up on the printout that was provided previously. Already I’m seeing an area that will result in an improvement of on track handling – I’m thinking specifically of turns 8 & 9 at my local track where my car’s behaviour was Jekyll and Hyde like! Of course, along with the alignment itself are the bushings, bumpsteer and roll centre correction items already mentioned. The top bolt of my strut housing had been slotted previously to allow for better camber adjustment. Without that, the huge amount of adjustment found in the GC camber plates would still not allow the B13 to get near the preferred target of -3.25 degrees. With this slotted top hole not only is -3.25 attainable but it can easily be surpassed. Not that this will ever occur while I own the car. This flexibility comes at minimal cost but the potential challenge of slippage. When tightened properly, mark with a paint pen, and it does hold quite well. Even so, I’m thinking that now that the optimal location has been found, that cutting out some large ‘washers’ that could be welded to the strut supports would provide the camber desired but completely eliminate any possibility of movement.

Back in the day Ground Control Camber/Caster plates were the item to have for your Nissan B13. Mounting on top of the strut tower provides easy access and more room for travel on lowered cars. I still like them for these reasons and the adjustability that they offer.

6 comments

  1. Great write-up. As always Mr. Ewald, your articles are informative and entertaining. I do have a question regarding the digital camber/caster tool: Is there a way to zero the measurement? You can zero a scale with nothing on it (or zero it with an empty container on it). How do you ensure that the -3.25 degrees of negative camber as measured by the tool is actually -3.25 degrees?

    1. Banfstc, thank you. I appreciate your kind words.
      Great question about the Longacre unit. It is supposed to hold it’s zero, even when shut off. According to AES, running my car on the Mustang dyno was like running one of his drift client cars – it didn’t want to run nicely for him. So I’m pretty sure the -ve camber is there. More details about the Longacre calibration can be found here: http://www.longacreracing.com/instructions.aspx?item=42369&article=AccuLevel%E2%84%A2%20%20Pro%20Model%20Digital%20Level%20(ver.%205)

  2. Thank you so much for this article. I read Erik’s article when it first came out and dreamed about something like that, but unfortunately, his set up is out of my price range. This on the other hand is right up my alley. Thanks

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