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H: Hubs, Wheels and Tyres Laser Chain Alignment

Graham Smith

VOC Hon. Editor
VOC Member
VOC Forum Administrator
VOC Forum Moderator
Does anyone have any experience of using one of these laser Chain Alignment Tools (CAT)?

Just wondered if they were any good?

 

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davidd

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I looked at the Procat years ago. It depends on what you are trying to align. This is a sprocket alignment tool and not a wheel alignment tool. On a unit construction twin, aligning everything to the CS sprocket is good. On a Comet with a separate gearbox or an alternate gearbox, it may not work as well because the CS sprocket may not be lined up with the front wheel. The closer the bike is to stock, the better, but there could be a bend in the steering head, which will present a wheel alignment problem.

I think a nylon string is probably the best sprocket alignment tool. I did buy a laser. I think it was a 10" craftsman level with a laser ($30). I used it for wheel alignment by building a Unistrut clamp that bolted onto the lower part of the front wheel. The left and right Unistruts had a 90-degree plate welded on. I glued a paper scale on each with zero at the tire and going up in inches. The two scales were mirrored so zero was closest to the tire on both sides. I could hold the laser level at the bottom of the rear wheel and rest it on the rim at the front and rear of the tire, but not touching the tire. The laser dot would land on the scale on one side, Then, I would try the other. It takes some back and forth to make sure the front wheel is straight, but eventually, you will see that it is working, or not. If the numbers are not working it is the rear wheel that is out of alignment and you have to make attempts to adjust it into position. When the laser dots land on the same number on both sides the wheels are aligned.

The same test can be done with strings. You do not need a laser. There is still a lot of back and forth.

On my bike, the axle had to be skewed 0.1170" to one side for the wheels to be straight. It ran perfectly at Bonneville.

David
 

Gary Gittleson

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VOC Member
So that Tru-tension item will align the sprockets. What it doesn't help with is the alignment of the wheels, unless the front sprocket is guaranteed to be aligned with the front wheel; aligned meaning in a parallel plane and at the proper offset.

I know one should have the sprockets aligned with each other but once so aligned, if the wheels are not aligned with each other, we have a problem that would be difficult to solve. Short of solving that, do we strike a compromize? I would guess that the chain can tolerate a small amount of misalignment but the rider won't tolerate the same for the wheels.
 

Nigel Spaxman

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VOC Member
I built my Norton with aluminum wheels from a Yamaha RD400. I had to establish chain alignment wheel alignment and disk alignment, by making spacers. The bike was only partly assembled so I was able to clamp a piece of flat bar onto the gearbox sprocket, to take measurements. It turned out that when the sprockets were perfectly lined up, the rear wheel was only off center by .030". When I made up the axle spacers I split the difference. I made it so the sprocket was out by .015" and so was the centerline of the tire. The bike handles well and there are no problems with the chain. I think that + or-.020" is close enough for either of those dimensions It was interesting that the original design of the RD400 and the Norton were so close in terms of the offset of the chain from the centerline of the bike. I guess they both started with similar sized tires. The wheel bearings had the same ID as well.
 

Normski

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I’ve used bricklayers nylon line successfully for both sprocket and wheel alignment. It’s stretches nicely so is easy to keep taut. I borrowed a laser tool after to double check the sprockets and they were spot on so I’ve never felt the need to buy or borrow a laser one since.
 

Chris Launders

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VOC Member
It was interesting that the original design of the RD400 and the Norton were so close in terms of the offset of the chain from the centerline of the bike.
As well as the Yamaha I found that 250/350 Honda's had almost the same chain line as Norton/BSA/Triumph. Suzuki and Kawasaki probably were as well, above that sort of size though the chain line was considerably further out, at least it was on the 4 cylinder Honda's.
 

Martyn Goodwin

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Does anyone have any experience of using one of these laser Chain Alignment Tools (CAT)?

Just wondered if they were any good?

I have used exactly that device for years, find it very easy to use, producing accurate results. Makes chain/sprocket alignment just so easy. Not that expensive either.
 

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