Alignment time!!

So it’s time for ride height and alignment. I’ll give a little overview of how I did it.

First was the steering rack. Back when I installed the rack and steering shaft, I followed the procedure in this post on the Factory 5 Forum by Karlos from a few years ago. So I knew my steering rack and wheel were centered.

Ride height is next. After a little fiasco I had with severely uneven shocks to acquire an even ride height, I figured that we have to adjust the shocks in small amounts and equally to maintain the same spring pressure side-to-side and very close to equal heights. I did as a guru on the Forum suggested and with the suspension hanging, set the collars right down on the springs. I measured the shocks from the top of the spring collar to the top of the threaded tube to make sure they were equal. The fronts and rears were at 2.5″. Even though I used silicone spray on the threads and did my adjustments with the suspension hanging, I still could not turn the collars by hand once the spring started compressing. So I used my Koni shock adjustment spanner that I had previously gotten from Breeze (cheaper than Amazon!). Got the rear frame height set to 5.5″ with 3″ on both shocks and the front crossmember is at 4.25″ at center with 3.25″ on the shocks. Good place to start as I expect it to settle and also to have to adjust after getting the body installed.

Next I wanted to make sure the 8.8 is square in the chassis. This is done with the panhard bar and the Breeze adjustable lower trailing arms. I measured in several places from the axle (not the brakes or tires) to the frame and found that while it was square with the frame, it was sitting about 1″ to the right. I ran strings on jackstands off the rear sidewalls and then measured from string to chassis and confirmed it was over too far. Adjusted the panhard bar and got it solid in the middle. Cool.

Now for the front suspension. Caster & camber, then toe. I used some alignment plates I borrowed from a friend of mine… I had tried the wax paper thing and the tires just tore it up. Didn’t have any large plates around nor any floor tiles. These turn plates worked very well and it was quite easy to turn the wheels back n forth many, many times. I also used the FasTrax Caster / Camber Gauge along with their toe plates.

Setting the caster gets you started, but it will change as you then adjust the camber. I was shooting for +8* caster, -.5* camber for a power system. I mistakenly wasted about 2 hours when I realized I was using the wrong 0* mark on the FasTrax scale and only had 3* caster set in when I was reading 8*. Be sure to use the right scale. So as I set the caster and camber, working back and forth, the adjustment amounts got smaller and smaller until it all came right into place. Beautiful. I did NOT have to cut or modify the upper arm tubes in any way. I had read of so many people that did need to do this that I was expecting to.

I did one wheel, then the other. Went back and forth and double checked several times. She’s good. Time to work on Toe.

First step was to center my steering wheel and strap it down. I ran a ratchet strap to the brake pedal to hold the wheel centered. Using the FasTrax toe plates made it really easy. I clamped a level to one wheel (making sure it was against the wheel lip and not being held out by the tire sidewall… the 17″ers dont have much sidewall bulge) and found the wheels only had about 1/4″ toe in, but by checking with strings, they were pointing out to the right. I brought both tires back to straight, verified by running strings and measuring from string to the frame back by the door latch area. Very small adjustments make a big difference when measured that far away. With the wheels set straight, I was easily able to use 2 tape measures to check the toe. Got her adjusted to 1/8″ toe in… each tire toed in 1/16″ from straight and verified by the 2 tapes across both tires.

Went back and double checked everything… ride heights, equal shocks, rear square and centered, steering wheel centered with tires straight ahead, caster, camber, toe in. Shes set pretty good, I think, and I feel good about the way I measured and verified.

[edit] To sum up my settings… 5.5″ rear height, 4.25″ front height, R Front caster +8* camber -.5*, L Front caster +8-8.25* camber -.5*, total toe in 1/8″ [end edit]

One step closer to go-cart!