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‘55 Bird wheel alignment

Posted By DANIEL TINDER 2 Months Ago
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DANIEL TINDER
Posted 2 Months Ago
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Anyone out there knowledgeable re: suspension wear & alignment?
I had the wheels aligned 20 yrs. ago after I first installed radials. The car has always tracked/steered straight ever since.  I used to rotate tires, but finally realized the futility of extending tread life on tires that would be far out-of-date before the tread was worn enough to require replacement (not to mention the labor/grief involved). Anyway, since recently overhauling the brakes necessitated removing all 4 of my 11 yr. old Michelins, I took the opportunity to swap the fronts to the rear.  The rear tires were evenly worn (but hardly), while the outside tread on the fronts was nearly gone.  While I likely still wouldn’t want to mess with the alignment on a car that tracks so straight, I have to wonder if excessive positive camber (?) might be a sign of normal ball joint wear?

6 VOLTS/POS. GRD. NW INDIANA
312YBlock
Posted 2 Months Ago
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I have a 55 also. I my opinion the first thing to do is bring it in for a wheel alignment and go from there. I had mine aligned a few years ago after having the lower bushings replaced. The mechanic told me the camber was slightly out but said trying to get it 100 % could open a can of worms. I have not noticed any wear on the tire edges.

1955 312 T-Bird Warwick, NY
MoonShadow
Posted 2 Months Ago
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You need to find a shop with an old style machine. The new ones are all digital and most do not have the conversions for our older cars.

Y's guys rule!
Looking for McCullouch VS57 brackets and parts. Also looking for 28 Chrysler series 72 parts. And early Hemi parts.

MoonShadow, 292 w/McCulloch, 28 Chrysler Roadster, 354 Hemi)
Manchester, New Hampshire
Daniel Jessup
Posted 2 Months Ago
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I just had an alignment done on my 55 Fairlane Club Sedan. You can see the full post here: https://www.hotrodreverend.com/post/1955-ford-part-94-back-to-work-on-the-fairlane
I had a DEVIL of a time trying to find a shop in town that would even touch it, much less appear to know what they were doing. One outfit even wanted $150 each side to do an alignment and even then they were not for sure they could handle the specs. As it turns out, I went to the same shop that Tony Fritz uses (go to the This/That section, Tony is the organizer of what would have been the Y block shootout here in Ohio). These guys were great, took my shop manual pages, took their own specs, explained to me what they thought was best on the measurements and why they chose the specs they did and then they test drove the car to boot. Funny thing was, my wife just happened to be on the road at the same time the car was being driven by the alignment man and she freaked out as it passed by. She thought someone had stolen the 55! w00t

I had not had the car aligned since I had put it all back together! I should not have waited that long, really, but to be honest the car drove so well when I just put the shims back in the original locations, etc. Even though I put new ball joints, new bushings, etc, etc, the alignment man said I had one side pretty close before I brought it in. Whistling At any rate, after I got the car back from them I went out on the interstate and went 80 mph - things "felt" much better I will have to say. I am running original 15" wheels and tubeless radials, rebuilt steering gear, aerostar coils, and 1" rubber ring coil spacers. I did rebuild the steering gear and drag link before I put it all back together too. How the car went down the road so well without me getting it aligned in the first place I have no idea. It was in the ballpark at least and things were pretty forgiving. I had put about 1000 miles on it.

Take it to a shop that will not rely upon the "computer" to help them align it.


Daniel Jessup

Loveland, Ohio

aka "The Hot Rod Reverend" w00t
check out the 1955 Ford Fairlane build at www.hotrodreverend.com


miker
Posted 2 Months Ago
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I'll second what Daniel J said. The problem I had with my bird (everything redone) was getting more camber in (for tracking) screwed up the camber. Took an old time guy to close in on the sweet spot.

Many old car guys here use a local, who's main business is medium trucks and motorhomes. He knows what he's doing. Hopefully the young guys in the shop are learning it, because there's not many like him around. Depending where you are, maybe someone in the local car club or tbird club (CTCI) can give you a lead.

miker
55 bird, 32 cabrio F code
Kent, WA
Tucson, AZ
Florida_Phil
Posted 2 Months Ago
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I went through a number of alignment shops before I found one that could properly align my '55 TBird. Just ask the mechanic to complete the following song. "Davy, Davy Crockett, King of the ______  _______".   If he can sing the song back to you correctly, you are good to go.  Tongue

Seriously, ever since I bought my car it had a vibration in the front end that started around 55 mph.  I tightened up the steering box and rebuilt the entire front end.  I installed new tires and had them balanced more than once.  I talked myself into believing the bad country roads where the cause of the problem.  Eventually, I decided to swap out my original steel wheels for custom aluminum wheels.  This was not an attempt to fix anything.  It was purely cosmetic.

To my total amazement, there was an immediate improvement in ride, handling and the vibration was gone.  My stock steel wheels are 5" wide.  Modern radial tires needed a wider wheel.  The modern wheels moved the wheels and tires out about an inch. My stock wheels are 60 plus years old. My TBird with it's new wheels rides smooth and steady at speed.  It doesn't wander, vibrate or make any moves I don't want it to.  So far, I have had it up to 75 mph and all is as it's suppose to.





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DANIEL TINDER
Posted 2 Months Ago
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DANIEL TINDER (8/1/2020)
Anyone out there knowledgeable re: suspension wear & alignment?
I had the wheels aligned 20 yrs. ago after I first installed radials. The car has always tracked/steered straight ever since.  I used to rotate tires, but finally realized the futility of extending tread life on tires that would be far out-of-date before the tread was worn enough to require replacement (not to mention the labor/grief involved). Anyway, since recently overhauling the brakes necessitated removing all 4 of my 11 yr. old Michelins, I took the opportunity to swap the fronts to the rear.  The rear tires were evenly worn (but hardly), while the outside tread on the fronts was nearly gone.  While I likely still wouldn’t want to mess with the alignment on a car that tracks so straight, I have to wonder if excessive positive camber (?) might be a sign of normal ball joint wear?


Go figure.  With the good rear tires on front, car pulled left.  I thought maybe one had a belt shift, so I swapped the fronts left-to-right.  Still pulled left.  Put all tires back in the orig. positions, car again tracks straight as an arrow (though steering feel slightly lighter/less stable that with the good rear tires on either front location). Since new tires are on the agenda, I would rather not suffer the annoying steering pull until I can get them installed.  I’ll deal then with having an alignment done.



6 VOLTS/POS. GRD. NW INDIANA
mjs
Posted 2 Months Ago
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You need to find a shop with an old style machine. The new ones are all digital and most do not have the conversions for our older cars.


It's not that the alignment shops couldn't do the work it's that they didn't want to.  Aligning a T-Bird would be easy.  Camber and Caster, of course, is easily adjusted with shims on the upper control arm.  The new machines, such as Hunter, would have the specs in their data base.  Mine does.  It even has the specs for my 57 Lincoln.  I just did an alignment on a 67 Malibu the other day.  All those shops wanted to do was a "Set the Toe and Go" alignment.  As to whether the machine reads in degrees or inches they can be switched from on to the other.  I just leave mine on degrees.  

As to the pull have a 4 wheel alignment performed.  Since switching the tires did not make a change maybe the rear axle has shifted and created a thrust issue.  I've had to deal with this many times, even with new vehicles.  


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Lord Gaga
Posted 2 Months Ago
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I don't know if this applies but I once replaced both rear hub bearings in a car because of 'bearing noise'....turns out that it was actually a fairly new tire making the noise! (Firestone, will never buy another).

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