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Old 10-19-2013, 05:21 AM   #1
JWA
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Ford E-Series Alignment Questions

Hey Guys----need to essentially interview someone vastly knowledgeable about caster & camber settings on the base or stock van chassis, not the cutaway versions eventually finding their way to camper or RV conversions.

I've read articles suggesting significant changes in both caster and camber in order to vastly improve steering action, to reduce front end wander. I see a few holes in what I've read and would like an expert's view or opinion of all this.

If anyone knows such a person, someone dedicated more to front suspension work or modifications than anything else I'd appreciate being put in contact or referred to them.

Thanks in advance!


J W
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Old 10-19-2013, 08:15 AM   #2
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Re: Ford E-Series Alignment Questions

Here is a good source of info: http://www.aligncraft.com/terms/terms.html

We have built a lot of custom front suspensions and modified many factory setups.

My racing partner owns an alignment shop and has been in the business 30+ years.

What are the questions?
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Old 10-19-2013, 09:11 AM   #3
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Re: Ford E-Series Alignment Questions

Thanks---figured someone here might have this sort of expertise!

Here's the full text of a forum post, another site. This does seem to address motor home conversions, in this case based upon the Ford E-Series chassis.

Our 2004 E450 28 Foot handled terrible until we added additional + Caster to the front wheels.

The Ford Spec for front end CASTER is:

LH +1.3 to +6.8 Degrees
RH +1.8 to +7.3 Degrees

Our unit was:
LH +3.3 Degrees
RH +3.5 Degrees

We added + 2.0 degrees, so we are now at:
LH +5.3 Degrees
RH +5.5 Degrees.

Alignment problems on the E series follow the 80/20 rule in the sense that TOE and CAMBER is 20% of the story while CASTER is 80% of the story. TOO LITTLE CASTER will amplify any external force many fold to the detriment of stability.

If your unit feels like the steering box needs to be tightened up it is because of TOO LITTLE + CASTER.
If cross winds and wind gusts cause havoc it is because of TOO LITTLE + CASTER.
If you think the tail is wagging the dog it is because of TOO LITTLE + CASTER.
If you are needing to drive it all day and never relax it is because of TOO LITTLE + CASTER.Our 2004 E450 28 Foot handled terrible until we added additional + Caster to the front wheels.

The Ford Spec for front end CASTER is:

LH +1.3 to +6.8 Degrees
RH +1.8 to +7.3 Degrees

Our unit was:
LH +3.3 Degrees
RH +3.5 Degrees

We added + 2.0 degrees, so we are now at:
LH +5.3 Degrees
RH +5.5 Degrees.

Alignment problems on the E series follow the 80/20 rule in the sense that TOE and CAMBER is 20% of the story while CASTER is 80% of the story. TOO LITTLE CASTER will amplify any external force many fold to the detriment of stability.

If your unit feels like the steering box needs to be tightened up it is because of TOO LITTLE + CASTER.
If cross winds and wind gusts cause havoc it is because of TOO LITTLE + CASTER.
If you think the tail is wagging the dog it is because of TOO LITTLE + CASTER.
If you are needing to drive it all day and never relax it is because of TOO LITTLE + CASTER.


A follow-up reply:

The top mount of your upper ball joints are shipped from the factory with fixed non adjustable sleeves that need to be replaced.

In my opinion, your best choice in adjustable sleeves are from Ingalls Engineering. They are clearly marked as INGALLS 594. They consist of two concentric sleeves that have 360/24 = 15 degrees indices labeled A through X. In order to set them you need a "cheat" sheet which is on the web as "59400.pdf". These sleeves will allow adjustment of both CAMBER and CASTER up to +/- 2.0 degrees each, in any combination of CASTER or CAMBER. All you need to do is, using the cheat sheet, is take the max adjustable + CASTER change which is +2.0 any you will see a black and white improvement.


My question is this sort of modification advisable or recommended for the normal chassis, that which will be stock ?

Are there any real benefits or downsides to installing the adjustable sleeves?

Love to know general opinions or any hands on experience to making such caster/camber adjustments.

TIA
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Old 10-19-2013, 09:38 AM   #4
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Re: Ford E-Series Alignment Questions

First, is your van a stock 2WD Ford?

Second, what are the symptoms you are trying to correct?

When we build custom off-road suspensions we usually build in at least 6 degrees of caster.

When we build out Twin-traction Beam 4X4 conversions, we build in 6 degrees of Caster with a Zero alignment cam in the beams. Alignment cams of up to 2.5 degrees are available (about $25 each) and they will effect both caster and camber so additional adjustment is available.

When we do our basic 2WD ride leveling kit (raises the front 1.5 to 2.25 inches depending on weight of van) we can usually get camber and caster set with an alignment cam change only. If additional caster change is needed we either modify the radius arms or build custom radius arms. Additional camber requires modifying the I-beam. All of this is very straight forward and done all of the time.

Regarding the post from the other forum, it is a little simplistic to state that adding caster will fix everything they stated. What adding caster does is makes the tires want to return to center (straight ahead) but it also increases steering effort. Think of riding a bicycle or motorcycle with extended "chopper" forks - hard to turn and wants to return to center.
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Old 10-20-2013, 02:56 AM   #5
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Re: Ford E-Series Alignment Questions

Thanks for the reply and link BJM----very interesting and informative too!

My van is nothing more than a 2WD completely stock E250 cargo, hauling nothing more than tools and supplies for my auto/truck windshield business. I don't have any real issues I'm trying to correct, the van is a truck of sorts and drives like one, not a bad thing IMHO. I keep my suspension lubed and in top condition by replacing worn parts and having the alignment checked at least once a year--rough roads here locally.

I asked for opinions about the quoted text only because it came across as a bit too certain changing factory recommended caster/camber settings was the cure for other handling issues. After considering the vehicles involved it seems to me issues with sway control and perhaps worn components were more a factor than simple alignment specs.

It also seems to me the front and rear suspension should be viewed as a unit rather than separate parts all coincidentally installed under a frame. One part affects the other, problems that occur up front might be induced by something amiss in the rear.

Thanks again---and BTW Baja Sportsmobile---does your racing endeavor have a webpage or site? Your posts are quite interesting especially about modified suspensions. Would love to see more of your work or racing success!
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