Slow Car Fast
December 1, 2010 - Alignment time!
I took the car down to the local alignment shop where they know me pretty well. It's the sort of place where they're not really surprised when I show up with a V8 MGB. The car was a big hit, though. The guys there are the sort who can see past thinks like chopped up fenders and exposed wiring to see the coolness underneath.
So how did it fare? Well, we discovered that if I want less than 1.5 degrees of negative camber on the right front, the shock will hit the control arm. That can be fixed with a bit of grinding on the arm or a relocated bracket, so it's not a big deal. Besides, 1.5 degrees might be about right. When the car drove in, it had -3 degrees on one wheel! The only other problem report was that the Panhard bar is set to the minimum length and it needs to be very slightly shorter to center the axle. Right now, it's 0.27 degrees off. Interesting measurement, that, it's the angle from the center of the rear axle to the centerpoint of the two front wheels. Odd.
The final result is -1.5 degrees of camber, 5 degrees of caster and 0.04" of toe-in. I might remove the latter but that's easy to do at home. The rear, of course, is a solid axle so the alignment numbers are pretty boring. It had 0.27 degrees of thrust angle from my eyeball setup, not bad at all.
One nice thing to see what that my wheelbase is within 0.1" side to side. Looks like I managed to get those control arm brackets in the right place!
And of course, then there was a Lucas moment. The car refused to start. A bit of troubleshooting revealed that the PCM wasn't getting power but other switched circuits were. That's a fairly straightforward problem, as it's very simple wiring. A bit of poking and wiggling and I woke it up again. I suspect it was a bad crimp in one of the spade connectors, so when I got home I cut it off and installed another. This particular wire had been an early installation, and it's been yanked and pulled multiple times at a sharp angle over the course of the build. No harm done, that's the sort of thing you expect on a shakedown like this.

So, how does it feel? Well, I was mostly thinking "I'd better get home before that connection give me more trouble", but it does feel better. The steering still doesn't self-center very hard, so I'm going to check for friction in the column. But it does feel more planted. I'll get it on the highway tomorrow for some higher speeds to see.
tags: alignment, wiring