A sunny and warm Saturday in May brought a dozen or more enthusiasts and 7 Model A's to Clyde Melvin's garage to learn how to align their front ends. The sessions are supposed to start at 10 AM but when I got there at a quater to, they had already gotten one completed. Ample amounts of coffee and pop with cookies (chocolate chip and oatmeal raisen) and iced cupcakes were on hand to fuel the hungry worker.
There is only one adjustment that can be made to the front end since caster and camber are set by the geometry of the steering components and that is "toe". Toe refers to how the front tires point as the car in going straight: they can be either toed-out, straight, or toed-in. Optimally, we want the Model A to be toed-in by 1/16 to 1/4 inches.
The fixtures that Fred Templer made are shown in the photo above and consist of a vertical sheet of plywood screwed to a 4 x 4. There is a fixture for each side and each is clamped to the front wheel/tire by a bolt, with a wingnut, passing through the spokes to another piece of plywood on the other side of the tire. The length of the 4 x 4 and plywood is about the same as the outside diameter of the tire and there are notches in the plywood on each end to make distance measurements with a tape measure. Fred is shown jacking up the front end and it's held off of the ground by jack stands and the fixtures are attached to the front tires. Clyde Melvin and Ron Heitmann are mounting the alignment fixtures to the wheel while Randy Stallman waits for his chance to loose the tie rod clamp.
The tie rod clamping bolts are loosened and the tie rod length is adjusted such that the reading across the back of the tires is greater than the reading make at the front by the amount mentioned before. After the toe-in is set, the tie-rod bolts are re-tightened and new cotter pins installed. Clyde is shown manning the wrenches and Randy is wrenching the other side of the car.
Here, Fred Templer and Bill Benson are shown measuring the toe while Clyde Melvin adjusts the distance and car owner, Ron Heitmann checks for accuracy.
With the car jacked up in the air, it is a good time to check looseness in the front end due to bad kingpins or worn or loose wheel bearings. This is done my grabbing the wheel, top and bottom, and pushing and pulling on the top and bottom.
John Tedesco is shown rocking the wheel while while Clyde and Fred watch for "play" in the kingpins and wheel bearings. In the photo below, Fred and Randy work on tightening the wheel bearings that were found to be too loose.
Seven Model A's drove in to have their frontend's aligned but that did not take that long with the assembly-line efficiency of this crew so some brake adjustments were the thing to keep them busy.
Car owner, Ron Aschbrenner, jacks up the rearend as Clyde adds a "click" or two to the brakes while Don Miller looks on.