The Ultimate DIY Alignment Rig

The Ultimate DIY Alignment Rig

by Erik Jacobs

If you’ve been following MotoIQ for a while, you know that Project SC300 has been around for a long, long, long time. If you’ve been paying close attention, you may have noticed that the home garage where I work on the car is different. That’s because I moved about 45 minutes deeper into the super-duper suburbs to get some land and someday build a garage mahal.

I was now really quite far away from my favorite alignment shop, Gran Turismo East, with my move deep into the suburbs. While GTE does an excellent job, they were now about an hour away, and that’s way farther than I want to drive my race car on the street (even if it is tagged and registered and insured). They also don’t do corner weighting, which, at this point in Project SC300’s development, really should be done.

With those factors in mind, I decided to piece together the ultimate DIY alignment set up. I didn’t want to compromise anywhere. I knew that, over the years, I would get all the money back because I wouldn’t be paying other shops to do routine alignments or changes. If I bought all the “right” stuff and was patient at the track, I could even do alignments at events.

So, I held my nose and hit “buy now” and waited for the packages to show up.

 

Three Intercomp-labeled cardboard boxes in a pyramid.
It’s not every day that a literal pallet of equipment shows up.

OK, so you can’t see the pallet, but I promise you, that’s how it showed up. And it actually showed up to my package delivery place. Everyone was quite confused. By the way – this stuff is HEAVY. But just what is it?

 

Blue Intercomp scale pads intermixed with bubble wrap and laying on ground with threaded feet in bags.
First things first, scale pads.

The scale pads will hold the scales (for corner weighting). They are adjustable for height. This really allows you to adjust them for level, which is critically important. If the measurement surface isn’t level, gravity is changing what you’re measuring. This affects alignment as well as corner weights.

 

Close up of corner of scale pad looking at Allen key threaded foot adjuster.
The adjusters feature Allen keyed holes.

You can use an Allen driver, an Allen wrench, or whatever other tools you want. I don’t recommend a power tool, though.

 

Shiny metal scales stacked two-by-two with the wireless display laying on top of them.
This is the SW650RFX Wireless Quik Weigh Scale System.

It’s super sturdy and super impressive looking. The scale pads are wirelessly connected to the display. This means you don’t have to run a bunch of cables all over the place which tether you to the area, and you’re free to walk around the car and bring the display with you. Or you can turn on the Bluetooth and use your phone or tablet with Intercomp’s app.

The display has all kinds of features that show you all types of weight percentages and lots of other things that will probably take me forever to figure out. I just used the basic settings. Each pad has a 1,500lb capacity, and that means the system can weigh up to 6,000lbs. Fortunately, the SC300 isn’t THAT much of a pig, so this will work well.

15 comments

  1. palate / palette / pallet. Your “palate” is the roof of your mouth, and by extension, your sense of taste. A “palette” is the flat board an artist mixes paint on (or by extension, a range of colors). A “pallet” is either a bed (now rare) or a flat platform onto which goods are loaded.May 30, 2016

    palate / palette / pallet | Common Errors in English Usage and …
    brians.wsu.edu › 2016/05/30 › palate-palette-pallet
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      1. A fantastic article overall, too many years doing newspaper and yearbook edits make me notice things like that. Can’t wait to see the car driven in anger.

    1. @mike it’s frustrating at first but now that I am learning how to do everything it’s becoming more enjoyable. Especially now that it’s all dialed in. I have probably re-done the same thing three or four times, and I probably have a few more re-dos still to go.

  2. Very impressive set-up. A question regarding the weight in the driver’s seat: for when you are corner weighing the vehicle, why not put some weight on the floor where your feet will be? You are clearly going to great lengths to maximize a lot of the systems on this car, so why not go this extra mile? Put a bathroom scale on the floor as far forward as the pedals/bulkhead will allow, sit in your normal driving position and read the scale to determine how much of your weight is not on your seat. Then, you can put some weight on the floor and put the rest in the seat. Necessary? No, but it’s more accurate than putting all of the weight in the seat. Just a suggestion.

    1. @banfstc you are correct. I had sent that picture to a buddy who does drag car chassis set up (Menscer Motorsports) and he more or less immediately made the same comment. Since that photo I have been putting one of the 45# plates on the floor just in front of the seat. Ideally I need to get additional small weights to do as you suggest — “lay” my weight out more realistically where it goes. That being said, my guess is that my feet by the pedals weigh on the order of 20# at most as I sit pretty deep in the seat. I’d be curious to see what moving 20# from the seat to the pedal box area will do to the corner weights. At some point I’ll report back on that for sure!

  3. Only half kidding. I am local and setting up my Lotus Esprit for track day fun. Adding lots of adjust ability to the suspension.

    Would you let me come by and guide me while I corner weight and align the car with your awesome gear?

    Happy to pay for the privilege. I realize it would probably take much of a day and it is a big ask.

    1. If you use Facebook, send me a message. Happy to talk about it. One requirement is that your car needs to be 5-lug. If it’s not, it won’t work (I only have the 5-lug plate). If you don’t use Facebook you can email me using my full name (Erik M Jacobs) to Gmail

  4. I’m always so confused by the enormous amount of time and money spent on this car. At this point, you’ve spent so much money on everything from overkill wiring to now pro-level alignment gear, you could have just bought a better starting point that didn’t need all this work. You’d also have more time behind the wheel where most of your lap time will come from. It’s a very thorough and impressive build, but it just doesn’t seem like the wisest route to a lap time.

    1. @hayes
      The journey is not about the destination.

      I could have bought an MX5 global cup car. I could have bought a used TA2. I could’ve bought a used Porsche or sorted PCA or other race car. This is a horrifically expensive build.

      Why? Why not?

      I wouldn’t have learned anything about wiring, fabrication, or building cars. I wouldn’t have had any of the experiences I’ve had in the building of it.

      Realizing your dream isn’t always about the end result. Sometimes it’s about the things that go into realizing the dream. Sometimes the dream itself loses its importance along the way, and it becomes all about the way and not the dream.

      If I had a dollar for every time I wanted to set this car on fire and give up, I’d have lots of dollars. You don’t see the heartbreak or the misery parts on MotoIQ. You get the happy bits at the end of figuring it out. Sometimes you see the un-fun things, but it would be really quite boring.

      I’m not much for the whole #builtnotbought movement, but there’s something to it. I often wish I could just send the car somewhere, stroke a check, and have it be a GT4-like end product.

      But that’s not what’s happened. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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