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The Bubble Doesn’t Lie: Using A Traditional Bubble Gauge On Your Race Car

 

We asked racer Jason Gulledge to try out Jegs’ new Caster/Camber Gauge for us on his Super Stock Monte Carlo.

We asked racer Jason Gulledge to try out Jegs’ new Caster/Camber Gauge for us on his Super Stock Monte Carlo.

When you first start racing, there are a few specialized tools practically everyone will need to supplement the usual assortment of wrenches and pliers in the toolbox. One of the prime tools that we’d definitely recommend is a quality caster/camber gauge. We don’t know if we’ve ever met a winner in victory lane who doesn’t have some method for measuring at least the camber on the front wheels.

In other words, if you try to go racing without a way to measure caster and camber at your front wheels you’re just some yahoo making laps.

Jegs’ Caster Camber Gauge is a great value at less than 120 bucks. A bubble-style gauge has been around for decades and is a proven design. This particular unit measures camber angle from positive 8 to negative 8 degrees and caster from 12 degrees positive to 4 degrees negative, which should cover the needs for almost every oval track racer.

Jegs’ Caster Camber Gauge is a great value at less than 120 bucks. A bubble-style gauge has been around for decades and is a proven design. This particular unit measures camber angle from positive 8 to negative 8 degrees and caster from 12 degrees positive to 4 degrees negative, which should cover the needs for almost every oval track racer.

Fortunately, adding a quality caster/camber gauge to your toolbox doesn’t mean breaking the bank. Yes, there are digital units out there that are pretty sweet and go for several hundred dollars. But you can get results that are nearly as accurate with a traditional bubble gauge. Jegs has one of the most reasonably priced gauges we’ve seen that should meet the standards of any racer.

Jegs’ new Caster Camber Gauge sells for less than 120 bucks and has all the features included that you expect to find in more expensive bubble gauges. This includes durable billet aluminum construction, etched markings that won’t scratch off or become difficult to read, a magnetic adaptor that will fit most hubs, and a padded carrying case to protect the gauge from damage when it isn’t being used.

Of course, even the nicest looking tool is useless if it doesn’t work like you need it to. So we decided to test Jegs’ new Caster Camber Gauge by taking it to the race shop of Jason Gulledge and handing it off. The gauge worked flawlessly, as you can see in the photos.

 

 

Normally, a caster/camber gauge will be used for dialing in the final setup before leaving for the track, but the gauge is also useful to see if you’ve bent anything if you have bumped wheels with another car or scrubbed the wall. Here, Gulledge uses the gauge to right after a night of racing to make sure nothing has moved even before he takes time to wash the car.

Normally, a caster/camber gauge will be used for dialing in the final setup before leaving for the track, but the gauge is also useful to see if you’ve bent anything if you have bumped wheels with another car or scrubbed the wall. Here, Gulledge uses the gauge to right after a night of racing to make sure nothing has moved even before he takes time to wash the car.

Checking caster, which is the amount the spindle is leaned forward or back, requires rotating the wheels. The best way to do this is with a set of dedicated turn plates, but they can be pretty expensive. Another option is to place a large garbage bag folded up under both of the front tires. This will help eliminate binding the suspension or excessive sidewall flex when turning the wheels on the shop floor.

Checking caster, which is the amount the spindle is leaned forward or back, requires rotating the wheels. The best way to do this is with a set of dedicated turn plates, but they can be pretty expensive. Another option is to place a large garbage bag folded up under both of the front tires. This will help eliminate binding the suspension or excessive sidewall flex when turning the wheels on the shop floor.

The gauge’s magnetic mount means it will work with most wheels (wide-five wheels will require a different adaptor). Here, Gulledge has pulled off the dust cap that covers the hub. The caster/camber gauge mounts to the machined surface of the steel wheel hub.

The gauge’s magnetic mount means it will work with most wheels (wide-five wheels will require a different adaptor). Here, Gulledge has pulled off the dust cap that covers the hub. The caster/camber gauge mounts to the machined surface of the steel wheel hub.

Gulledge checks wheel camber first. Camber is the amount the top of the wheel leans either in (negative camber) or out (positive) measured in degrees from vertical. With the wheels pointed straight ahead he mounts the gauge to the wheel up and then rotates the gauge using the small bubble level on the end until it is level.

Gulledge checks wheel camber first. Camber is the amount the top of the wheel leans either in (negative camber) or out (positive) measured in degrees from vertical. With the wheels pointed straight ahead he mounts the gauge to the wheel up and then rotates the gauge using the small bubble level on the end until it is level.

Camber is read using one of the two bubble vials on either side of the gauge. Positive camber is on the left and negative is one the right. Find the one that isn’t maxed out (the positive gauge in this case) and read where the bubble sits on the gauge. For the left-front wheel Gulledge has 2 degrees of positive camber—exactly where he wants it. On the right front Gulledge usually runs 4 degrees negative camber.

Camber is read using one of the two bubble vials on either side of the gauge. Positive camber is on the left and negative is one the right. Find the one that isn’t maxed out (the positive gauge in this case) and read where the bubble sits on the gauge. For the left-front wheel Gulledge has 2 degrees of positive camber—exactly where he wants it. On the right front Gulledge usually runs 4 degrees negative camber.

To measure caster begin by turning the wheel you are working on 20 degrees to the outside. (For the left-front wheel that’s 20 degrees to the left. For the right front, turn 20 degrees to the right.) If you don’t have turn plates, the gauge can help you measure 20 degrees of wheel angle, too. Notice how the end of the gauge is cut on two angles. Turn the wheel until one side of the end of the gauge is parallel with your frame rails—you will need to string the car to do this accurately. When the angle is parallel, you know you have 20 degrees of wheel angle.

To measure caster begin by turning the wheel you are working on 20 degrees to the outside. (For the left-front wheel that’s 20 degrees to the left. For the right front, turn 20 degrees to the right.) If you don’t have turn plates, the gauge can help you measure 20 degrees of wheel angle, too. Notice how the end of the gauge is cut on two angles. Turn the wheel until one side of the end of the gauge is parallel with your frame rails—you will need to string the car to do this accurately. When the angle is parallel, you know you have 20 degrees of wheel angle.

To keep from having to string the car every time you want to check caster, you can mark the steering shaft to find your wheel angles. Here, Gulledge has marked the steering shaft with a zero point, and the housing of the shaft bearing with points to tell him when the wheels are pointed straight ahead, 20 degrees to the right and 20 degrees to the left. It is simple, quick and easily repeatable time after time.

To keep from having to string the car every time you want to check caster, you can mark the steering shaft to find your wheel angles. Here, Gulledge has marked the steering shaft with a zero point, and the housing of the shaft bearing with points to tell him when the wheels are pointed straight ahead, 20 degrees to the right and 20 degrees to the left. It is simple, quick and easily repeatable time after time.

 

 

With the left-front wheel turned 20 degrees to the left, Gulledge adjusts the knurled knob in the center of the gauge until the bubble on the caster vial is centered over the zero mark.

With the left-front wheel turned 20 degrees to the left, Gulledge adjusts the knurled knob in the center of the gauge until the bubble on the caster vial is centered over the zero mark.

Next, he turns the wheel until the left front is pointed 20 degrees to the right (that’s a 40-degree sweep). Using the bubble level on the end of the gauge, he rotates the gauge back to level and reads the caster on the middle vial. During this step be careful not to turn or bump the knurled knob used in the previous step, as this can throw off your reading.

Next, he turns the wheel until the left front is pointed 20 degrees to the right (that’s a 40-degree sweep). Using the bubble level on the end of the gauge, he rotates the gauge back to level and reads the caster on the middle vial. During this step be careful not to turn or bump the knurled knob used in the previous step, as this can throw off your reading.

Here, it is easy to see that the left front wheel has 1 degree of positive caster. On the right front Gulledge typically runs 5.25 degrees positive caster.

Here, it is easy to see that the left front wheel has 1 degree of positive caster. On the right front Gulledge typically runs 5.25 degrees positive caster.

 

 

Source

Jegs/800.345.4545/www.jegs.com

 

 

 


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