My alingment experience at NTB......and a question or two... - ClassicOldsmobile.com


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Old April 19th, 2017, 07:34 AM   #1
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My alingment experience at NTB......and a question or two...

So, I have the 68 back on the road after 5 years of redoing just about everything, ( much fine tuning to do) anyway, I took it in for alignment and torquing the front suspension. Drove the car away and drove for a few hours. Got home and began my after drive inspection- all the alignment spacers were laying on the frame on the drivers side. P side is ok. They had approx an inch of various thickness spacers on the rear and about 3/4 inch on the front. This seems way to thick to me and I can see where a good bump in the road would pop them out. So, I am taking it back to them in the next day or so. Is there a max amount of spacers that should be used? did I use incorrect bolts perhaps? ( 7/16x14 and 3" long- they do not have the factory knurling under the bolt head as the original ones did, potential problem there?) Prognostications?- did NTB simply not torque the bolts enough? are my bolts an issue? Should I trust NTB considering this or is an alignment pretty basic stuff for a shop and this was a one off thing? I guess my biggest concern / question would be is there a max thickness, in combination, for alignment spacers?
Thanks!
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Old April 19th, 2017, 07:40 AM   #2
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If the suspension parts are new then there isn't any reason your alignment should be so far off that it would require that many spacers. What are your alignment specs at according to NTB?
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Old April 19th, 2017, 07:50 AM   #3
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I did not get a print out of the specs- computer was down, I can ask for a copy.......
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Old April 19th, 2017, 08:06 AM   #4
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A large stack of shims is not unheard of if trying to max out the caster. What probably happened is they did not get the bolts tight enough and the stacks fell out. Bring it back and have them reinstall the shims and double check the alignment. Get a print out this time.
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Old April 19th, 2017, 08:07 AM   #5
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Definitely get a printout. That's lame that they didn't provide you a printout. Usually an alignment shop provides a printout that will show your camber, caster and toe angles and how close they were to the manufacturer's specs.
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Old April 19th, 2017, 08:19 AM   #6
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Manufacturers specs are not usually available on the later alignment machines as the listings most often don't go back that far in the machines memory. What they end up doing is finding a vehicle spec using a later model car or truck just so the machine can load up on an initial setup. Then set your alignment to what a standard rule of thumb would be. The normal rule of thumb is as much positive caster as you can get, usually from 1.5-2.5 with stock suspension and 2.5-5 with an aftermarket. 0-3 negative camber for autocross, but usually 0-.5 for the street. With toe in of 1/16-1/8.

These cars came with crappy front end alignment specs when new and were set up for bias ply tires.
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Old April 19th, 2017, 08:34 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldcutlass View Post
The normal rule of thumb is as much positive caster as you can get, usually from 1.5-2.5 with stock suspension and 2.5-5 with an aftermarket. 0-3 negative camber for autocross, but usually 0-.5 for the street. With toe in of 1/16-1/8.
I knew someone would chime in with the correct specs. That sucks that shops don't have access to specs we need.
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Old April 19th, 2017, 09:24 AM   #8
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Manufacturers specs are not usually available on the later alignment machines as the listings most often don't go back that far in the machines memory. What they end up doing is finding a vehicle spec using a later model car or truck just so the machine can load up on an initial setup.


That is what they told me too. Do I need to let them know about the aftermarket springs etc or is that a non issue?
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Old April 19th, 2017, 09:38 AM   #9
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No a non-issue, all that does is effect the amount of shims required to get your camber set.
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Old April 20th, 2017, 03:28 AM   #10
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Agree, they just didn't tighten up one side. A shop should have the resources to find the correct alignment specs, even for an old car. You just need to have an old Chilton's around!
Don't worry about the number of shims. As our cars get older, sometimes the frames sag a bit in the middle, and need extra shims to bring the A frames back where they need to be. On the old 55-7 Chevies, they go so far out, that you have to use offset upper shafts to get them back where they belong.
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Old April 20th, 2017, 05:47 AM   #11
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Next time, find a shop that can input the numbers manually. This will not be a chain shop. I found shops like that even when I lived in So. California. very informal--you can talk to the tech while they are working.

I needed to use one of those shops because I had a late model car for which the alignment specs hadn't been released for the usual automated machines. I took the car manual specs to the non-automated shop and they did a great job fixing my problem.

And---I supported a local business instead of a chain store.
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Old April 20th, 2017, 08:04 AM   #12
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Thanks for all the informative and helpful replies.

Next up- some help with fine tuning........
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Old April 20th, 2017, 10:55 AM   #13
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Bring it to someone who knows the older stuff. Chances are you got a green monkey that doesn't know sheet about the old school stuff. An inch is not crazy on the front bolt. The nuts are crimp locks. They really are not designed to be used over and over as the locking feature wears out. It's likely it was not torqued. The nuts are available as exact reproductions from many sources. You may have to purchase the nuts and bolts as a kit but so what. I'd suggest you inspect the bolt. If the threads look bad air hammer them out. Air hammer the new bolts in.
I'm well versed in fine (super) tuning 68-72, 350-400-455s. This has been discussed many times here. Do a search on me or these search words.

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Old April 20th, 2017, 11:10 AM   #14
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I had hoped any shop would be ok with a basic alignment...guess I found out otherwise..... the bolts are new and in good shape as are the nuts. You mention you are well versed in super tuning the Olds engines, same with my Franken motor? SB, Aluminum big block heads, bored, stroked, roller set up, chevy pistons and so on??? I would appreciate your assistance. Taking it back to get the alignment done this afternoon and then I'll see how it runs and ask for help.
Thanks much!!!
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Old April 20th, 2017, 11:16 AM   #15
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I am versed with anything spark ignited. Yes do report back what happened with the front end.
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Old April 21st, 2017, 04:20 AM   #16
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Got the car back last night, all is well, the guy that did it the second time has it spot on with 1/2 the amount of spacers, and he let me come back in the shop and watch while he re-torqued the UCA bolts.
Regarding the fine tuning- should I wait until I have the posi carrier and gears installed or is that a non issue as well? I seem to be lacking mid range power- due to my limited slip and gearing? ( 2.XX- factory)
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Old April 21st, 2017, 05:48 AM   #17
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A few observations:

I would not assemble the front end without the original-type splined upper control arm bolts. They are easily available and essentially a universal product. I have one on my car where the splines are a bit worn, and it is a royal PIA to get it fully tightened. I can't imagine doing four with no splines at all.

I have had the same experience of having all of the shims fall out on one side. It happened on the tight-radius on-ramp from the Harlem River Drive to the Triborough Bridge. I know it was there because that was where I first heard the CLUNK. A couple of days after I got back to Maine, I opened the hood and noticed HEY -- Where'd they go?!? I think one or two were lying on the frame, but the rest were long gone.
I DID NOT take it back to the idiot who did it wrong the first time.
I took a pry bar, pulled the pivot against the nut, and measured the gap, then went to NAPA and bought the correct number of shims for that gap, loosened it, installed them, and tightened it up properly. No more problems over several years.

That time, I was in a hurry and took it to a place that seemed to know what they were doing.
That was a mistake.
In general, I don't worry about whether they know what they're doing. I take it to a place where they let me stand next to the guy as he works and tell him what to do.

When I went to get it lined up last year, I went to a guy I found who does just that, and who has lined up several newer cars for me. He clamped on the sensors (four wheels - wasted 50% of his time), fired it up, and got the initial readings. The toe-in was fine. Then he looked at the computer's recommendations, and at the shims, and a look of panic came over his face.
He'd never seen shims. He had no idea what to do . He didn't have any shims in the drawer.
He called the boss in, and the boss reasonably concluded that it was time to cut his losses.
He said Sorry, they couldn't do it. No charge. He gave me the name of a guy up the road who could.
I asked him for the printout. He gave it to me.
I took it home and used the handy table in the CSM to figure out how many shims it needed, and set it up as Eric suggested above.
Tracks straight, turns as well as a 5,000 pound boat can.

The last lesson I have learned is the same one I follow regarding lug nuts (the only other thing I just can't do is mount and balance tires. Yeah, don't rub it in, Joe) - I always check the tightness of everything that someone else did as soon as I get home, unless I have personally watched them apply sufficient torque to each fastener (not by the wrench's click, but by muscle strain).
Anyone touches the UCA bolts, I will retighten them myself. "Trust, but verify." And don't trust.

I'm glad you finally got it done right.

- Eric
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Old April 21st, 2017, 05:49 AM   #18
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Tinker away, and then when you get your new gears, you can tinker some more.

Did you get a print out this time? What were the settings they used for your alignment?
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Old April 21st, 2017, 06:08 AM   #19
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You can super tune with what you have right now. That will familiarize you with how to go about it when you gear up. Then re-tweak with the new gears. You won't need to do much if it's already super-tuned with the 2 series gear. Little timing tweaks (all three events) and maybe mess with the fuel curve (rods n jets) AVS door on carb et al...
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Old April 21st, 2017, 06:49 AM   #20
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Thanks much Eric, Eric and dr, I will order up some of the knurled bolts and swap them out.......it was quite a clunk and a lot of pulling to one side when the shims fell out! not what a person wants to hear the first mile or two after 5 years! Was funny at the shop last night- I am in the waiting room and I hear them trying to start my car- lead mechanic yells over- "it is a carbureated car, pump it 2 times and turn the key".....guess our cars are getting as old as we are
I mentioned the lack of mid range power, you guys think it is mostly due to the "wrong" gearing for my set up or should it be peppy through out ? Am I ok using my rockauto stock replacement distributor with a melonized gear? or am I limiting myself on timing etc with this set up? FYI, I am timing by trial and error- a bit of driving and a tweek, right now I have it idling pretty smooth in gear, it is one cold blooded beast though. The choke is working correctly. How about a couple suggestions to iron things out a bit?- I feel it could be running a little bit smoother but this is all new to me so.....????FYI- there is no popping or back firing from carb or exhaust. How many miles should I drive before pulling a few plugs for inspection?
Thanks much for any and all input!
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