DIY Front end alignment: Make the Trammel Bar

As I said in the project list, I have been driving for the last several months on an “eyeballed” alignment.  The car drove well, tracked straight and seemed fine.  But still, it really needed to be done correctly and today I finally did it.

Aligning the steering is simply a matter of measuring and comparing  the distance between rear of the front tire and the front of the front tire.  The trick is that you can’t use a measuring tape since the body of the car gets in the way.  So how do you make that measurement? You make a trammel bar.

The finished trammel bar. The 2x4 is about six feet long.

The finished trammel bar. The 2x4 is about six feet long.

There are a million ways to build one, so start with assessing what you have around the garage. In my case I had a nice long piece of 2×4, so I decided to use that as the base.

A trip to the local Ace yielded a 3 foot piece of 3/4″ PVC electrical conduit and horseshoe conduit mounts.

The 2×4 is about six feet long, so if I want to do a wider car I have plenty of adjustment room.  The pointers are made of 0.063″ thick aluminum sheet riveted to 3/4″ PVC electrical conduit.  The conduit is held to the plank using plastic horseshoes design expressly to hold conduit.

Here are the details:

The completed pointers

The completed pointers made from 0.063 inch aluminum.

Bend the bottom of the pointer around a piece of conduit so that it seat on the conduit better.  If you don't do this, it will flex too much.

Bend the bottom of the pointer around a piece of conduit so that it seat on the conduit better. If you don't do this, it will flex too much.

Putting a reflex bend above the round bend.

Putting a reflex bend above the round bend.

The left hand pointer mounted to the board. Make sure this pointer cannot shift side to side. It will need to fold down and fold back up without shifting.

The left hand pointer mounted to the board. Make sure this pointer cannot shift side to side. It will need to fold down and fold back up without shifting.

Right hand pointer.  This pointer needs to be able to slide left and right to measure the width between the tires.  Keep the horseshoe mounts snug so that it won't shift without force.

Right hand pointer. This pointer needs to be able to slide left and right to measure the width between the tires. Keep the horseshoe mounts snug so that it won't shift without force.

Close up of the steel rule riveted to the right pointer.

Close up of the steel rule riveted to the right pointer.

Here is how to use the trammel bar.

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2 Responses to DIY Front end alignment: Make the Trammel Bar

  1. […] Aligning the wheels. 20081205 Posted by enderw88 in StalkerV6. trackback Now that we have a trammel bar we can actually do the alignment.  First you need to set the camber.  For the SuperStalker that […]

  2. scott says:

    Best to measure toe on tread side of tires, sidewall thickness not allways uniform.

    Easy way to do this is lift wheels of ground, spin them while holding soft chalk aginst tread, then clamp/vicegrip a nail to a jackstand, touch to tire while spinning and you now have a nice scribed line for the tramel gauge.

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