Wheel alignment

edited July 2013 in Rambler
I'm still working out the kinks perpetrated on my Rambler when it was stolen in February. Something new pops up every week. I discovered that the front wheels were out of alignment a couple of weeks ago but I waited to deal with it because I wanted to get some wear on the street tires that came with the Rambler and I planned to put knobbies on all around. So on Thursday the left front tire blew. POP! Time for the new tires.

I spent all afternoon today working on the alignment. Flipped the trike over, took the tires and tubes off, got the manual out and proceeded to measure the front and back spacings according to the manual. WHOA!!! The manual says the wheels should be aligned at the back to 28.25 inches on center at the back of the wheels. I made a little jig to the match the measurement and set it on the wheels. With the left wheel aligned to specifications for distance to the boom, the right wheel toed out radically! WTF! I thought for sure something was bent, literally. I puzzled over the problem for an hour and tried several different techniques to ferret out why the wheels wouldn't align. Then I threw out the manual and did it the way I used to do with my Tour. This is what I discovered:

The manual is wrong. The alignment measurement is 29.25 inches on rim center. Misprint or ???? I made the notation in my manual and also wrote down the measurement of the tie rod as backup.

Took her out for a ride with the new tires and aligned wheels. So smooth! Just like when she was new!

Comments

  • Thanks for sharing that very valuable information with all of us. I'm going to fix that typo right now.
  • This would explain why I've gone through two tires in the first month I've had this trike. Was beginning to think there was something seriously wrong. Once I've replaced the worn out left tire (already replaced the right), I'll check the alignment to 29.25".

    Earlier I downloaded the manual and it still is showing 28.25 and I understand how they got that number. I need to check with the bike shop where I bought it on how they aligned it.

    Thanks for the tip!!
  • We are working on revamping our manuals.
    Kelli B
    Sales, TerraTrike
  • hmm looked at the manual and the dimensions for the back side for alignment were corrected to 28 1/4. however, there is no way the front measurement can be 1/16 th smaller. that tube is is 1/16th smaller than the back tube so the front measurement should be 14 3/16. having a carpenter backgound working with fractions kinda screws with me!!
  • Rather than relying on instruction manuals or than measuring from wheel to frame edge, the method I think works best is to measure the distance from the center of the left tire to the center of the right tire, with the wheels pointing straight ahead or nearly so. With the stock Chen Shin tires, it's easy to get a fairly precise measurement, thanks to the tread siping right in the center.

    I take one measurement across the very front of the tires, and the other across the very rear. In other words, at 3 and 9 o'clock, or as close to that as possible, making sure to keep my yardstick even and parallel.
    Then I adjust the tie rod until the rearmost measurement is about 1/8" greater than the front.

    I also recommend using blue Locktite (mild thread-locker) on the tie-rod end threads, and on their locknuts, to keep anything from accidentally vibrating loose.

    Mark
  • I just corrected the alignment. Measuring is a big bother. Yes, the rim can be used if the wheels are true. The center of the tire tread can be used if the wheels are true and the tire is mounted centered all the way around the tire...and if the tire is molded with the tread even in the center (don't count on it with the cheap Cheng Shins). I did scribe a line on a spinning tire with a sharp, soft pencil. Hard to see, but I knew it was true.

    Center the steering. Measure from each rim to the boom to get it centered.

    Adjust the tie rod to get the wheels parallel with the rider in the seat. The rider's weight must be on the seat for a correct adjustment. The frame flexes (all do, and ours are no exception), and the flex changes the alignment.

    Good idea to put Loctite on the tie rod nuts. Blue Loctite holds but the nut can be moved with tools. Red Loctite requires heat to move the nut---we don't need that.
  • i found a great way to get the distances correctly, i took the telescoping antenna of my old portable radio.
    i can now set the distance between the center of the tires at the front and back but then i use the telescoping antenna to verify the distances measuring from the inside surfaces of the wheel rims. i extend the antenna until it is just touching the inside surfaces of the rim in the front then i check that the back measurement is just about 1/16" bigger in the back for a very slight toe-in.
    works great, with a much more accurate measurement from hard surfaces.
  • i found a great way to get the distances correctly, i took the telescoping antenna of my old portable radio.
    i can now set the distance between the center of the tires at the front and back but then i use the telescoping antenna to verify the distances measuring from the inside surfaces of the wheel rims. i extend the antenna until it is just touching the inside surfaces of the rim in the front then i check that the back measurement is just about 1/16" bigger in the back for a very slight toe-in.
    works great, with a much more accurate measurement from hard surfaces.

    That is what I use, and some folks find that a round curtain rod works pretty well too. Much more accurate than a ruler on the tire, in my opinion.
  • I recently had wheel alignment problems (details elsewhere in this BB) and this method worked well for me.

    With the wheels straight ahead and the brakes locked, I laid a 48" long framers strait edge across level spokes at the front of the wheel and at the rear. With the strait edge in this position, I didn't have any interference from the fenders. I just measured from the center ridge of the rim (not from the spokes themselves). I used the blue goop and it has never moved. Of course, if you don't have fenders, the other methods work just as well.

    TheDuke
  • Just picked up my Rambler GT ...played with seat adjustment, etc.   I find that the steering wanders, hunts and has trouble finding center. I also have a Miata I play around with and in cars this condition is usually solved by a SMALL amount of toe-in....so I loosed the locknuts on the long tie-rod and lengthened it a bit. I measured the distance between front and rear by just hooking a tape measure over the spoke nipple and looking at one on the opposite side. Anyway...it seems much better. I can't really go on any lengthy rides....due to medical issues (I bought the rambler because normal bike seats aren't colon cancer friendly)
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