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Old 04-04-2012, 10:41 PM   #1
DIYguy
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Happy DIY wheel balancer

A while back on another thread entitled something like "homemade tools", someone asked me what tools I use for doing my own alignments, wheel mountings and balancing.

I had posted photos of my DIY laser toe gauge, DIY pendulum camber gauge and my old HF bubble balancer in that, and other threads. I also mentioned at the time that I was not all that happy with the balancer and I had something new in mind.

Recently someone expressed interest in what I ended up building. So here are a few photos. It works very well and I am extremely pleased with the results.

I have balanced 20 tires on it already and will be doing 4 more this coming weekend. As nearly as I can determine it is sensitive to something on the order of 1 gram (1/28th ounce) of imbalance at the rim. I have a plan to make it about 3x more sensitive in the near future.

At first it was a bit tedious to use but I am getting used to it and now I can do a balance in less than 10 minutes or so. I only use stick-on weights these days, BTW. No more clip-ons.

I have been discussing this with OldNuc for a while and he has found a line on a pre-made cone and shaft set so that you don't have to make your own. Hopefully he will let us know how it works out.

The support stands can literally be made from wood if you want, and the bearings are not critical other than they must be either "open" or "shielded" styles, NOT "sealed" (too much drag). All grease must be removed from them and only light oil or silicone can be used instead.

There are patents on balancers like this going back to 1918. It is nothing new. Many versions of this have been commercially produced right into the 1970's and 1980's when bubble and eventually computer balancers took over.

Please realize that like my other DIY tools, the commercial versions don't really do anything all that much better, they only do it faster with less skilled technicians to maximize profits. I have used professional equipment myself, so I do have something to compare against.

Discussions about dynamic balance are for the most part vastly overblown in my experience. Put the weights in the centerline of the wheel or split them evenly on the inner and outer rims and you are unlikely to have any "dynamic" balance problems when using aluminum wheels and modern high construction tires. Unless you are driving way beyond the speed limit.... Not so for your grandma's steel wheels and bias ply tires though.

The cones on mine are 4" OD and 2.5" in thickness. The center shaft (a tube, actually) is threaded 1-1/2"-12. You can use other, more common sizes without harm if you wish.

Enjoy.
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Old 04-04-2012, 10:43 PM   #2
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Happy Re: DIY wheel balancer

And here is one more photo of the balancer in action on a wheel from my SC2 (10 photo per post limit)-
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Old 04-04-2012, 10:56 PM   #3
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Default Re: DIY wheel balancer

I have some skateboard bearings with seals that can be popped off. I hope that OldNuc spills the beans on the off-the-shelf cones.

Thanks for posting the design. I recently had some new tires and wheels installed and they aren't balanced worth a hoot. Rather than take them back, I'll 'DIYguy' them.

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Old 04-04-2012, 11:20 PM   #4
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Default Re: DIY wheel balancer

I think there's a way to get somewhat of a dynamic balance with a vibration sensor on one or both ends of the axle (a small accelerometer may work).


After static balance, spin the wheel. Shift weights around to minimize vibration.

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Old 04-04-2012, 11:35 PM   #5
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Default Re: DIY wheel balancer

Quote:
Originally Posted by hein View Post
I have some skateboard bearings with seals that can be popped off. I hope that OldNuc spills the beans on the off-the-shelf cones.

Thanks for posting the design. I recently had some new tires and wheels installed and they aren't balanced worth a hoot. Rather than take them back, I'll 'DIYguy' them.
Here you go, don't pass out from the price though. http://www.ebay.com/itm/251007596556...84.m1423.l2649 These are actually cheap when you go looking for things like this.

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Old 04-05-2012, 01:03 AM   #6
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Happy Re: DIY wheel balancer

Quote:
I think there's a way to get somewhat of a dynamic balance with a vibration sensor on one or both ends of the axle (a small accelerometer may work).
Actually, if I spin the wheel when it is imbalanced, the end of the frame that is not cross-braced (the other end from the floor cross member) will vibrate back and forth. There are so many accelerometers and chips on the market now that something should work. You'd want to mount it to the side of the frame piece of course.

Honestly though, once balanced with stick-on weights along the wheel center line I haven't seen any issues so far on five different vehicles. But who knows?

Quote:
Here you go, don't pass out from the price though. http://www.ebay.com/itm/251007596556...84.m1423.l2649 These are actually cheap when you go looking for things like this.
Thanks OldNuc. And thanks very much for all your kind input and patience. I really appreciate it.

HF has a relatively inexpensive version which looks like it could work.
http://www.harborfreight.com/motorcy...and-98488.html
The main issue I can see with it is that the cones are a bit small for the center opening of a typical Saturn wheel. Perhaps they could be adapted somehow. At least you'd have a ready made stand with bearings. Or get someone at a local high school or trade school metal shop make new cones for you as a class project.

BTW, there are LOADS of web sites that have similar balancers that people have built. This is merely my version of one. Curiously, quite a few of them use skateboard wheels.

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Old 04-05-2012, 02:54 AM   #7
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Default Re: DIY wheel balancer

I love how your balancer came out diy guy nice piece of kit there

also found this on HF its cheap i dunno how well it would work

http://www.harborfreight.com/catalog.../category/843/

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Old 04-05-2012, 09:47 AM   #8
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Default Re: DIY wheel balancer

Those motorcycle balancers dont seem like the cones are the right size. Also, I would think that rod might flex from the weight of a car wheel.

So, the next question is, when are you going to start making cones and rods for us to purchase?

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Old 04-05-2012, 10:29 AM   #9
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Default Re: DIY wheel balancer

In reference to the cone set I posted a link to above. The center hole in the wheel is ~50mm and the small cone is 63.85mm and the large pair is 76.62mm so, it fits and a 1/2" dia hardened steel rod should be just fine. If you build the uprights correctly you can bring them in closer to the wheel when it is all mounted to decrease the length of shaft that is supporting the wheel which will markedly decrease any deflection. Classic physics tells you there will always be deflection and it does not impact the functioning of this type of balancer.

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Old 04-05-2012, 01:33 PM   #10
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Happy Re: DIY wheel balancer

Quote:
I love how your balancer came out diy guy nice piece of kit there
also found this on HF its cheap i dunno how well it would work
http://www.harborfreight.com/catalog.../category/843/
Thanks, I appreciate it. However this is exactly the same one I have had for years and was unhappy with.

Using my new balancer I discovered balancing errors of up to 1/4 ounce and in one case even more on almost every tire I have balanced after checking them first using my old balancer. The greatly improved ride quality tells me that the new one is right and the old one was wrong.

I'll probably never use my old HF balancer again. It just is not accurate enough. I cannot recommend one of them, sorry.

Quote:
Also, I would think that rod might flex from the weight of a car wheel.
OldNuc is right, if the rod flexes a little it is OK (so long as it always returns to straight when the load is removed. This is because this style of balancer relies upon a torque moment to operate. As long as the rod always sags toward earth by the same amount as you rotate the tire, it actually has no effect on the result. It just acts as a spring. The rod/cone set he found should work well. Just don't drop the wheel and rod assembly onto the bearings!

However..... That is the exact reason that I chose the 1-1/2" tube I had laying around as a shaft rather than buying bar stock of a smaller diameter. I wanted to eliminate all the variables I could.

I may yet produce them for sale. I had a machine shop owner buddy of mine look at it, but he didn't think there was enough volume in it to bother quoting. Maybe yet?

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Old 04-05-2012, 04:25 PM   #11
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Happy Re: DIY wheel balancer

BTW, this is an HF-style balancer such as in the link I provided above being used- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7ydyepU39s These things are so cheap that they are worth their cost for the framing and bearings alone. Then just make/buy the shaft and cones.

This is exactly how mine works, and except that I have to thread my cones on, just a easy. I considered doing set screw cones like this one, but I decided that I wanted to be able to firmly clamp the wheel in place on the cones by screwing the cones together. Also, unlike most motorcycle wheels the car wheels can't really use long tapered cones.

With the right center cones as OldNuc found, it should work great.

I built the framework and bearing plates for mine from metal stock I had laying around.

Oh, and here are some CAD renderings of the design that I used when planning it. The final product turned out quite close to my CAD models. I just haven't made the quick release knobs for the cross brace yet (to remove it for storage purposes).

All the hardware I used was metric BTW. Just a pet peeve of mine. You could of course use SAE hardware if you want to.
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Old 04-05-2012, 05:51 PM   #12
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Default Re: DIY wheel balancer

Yes, that is like a HF motorcycle balancer and it sells for $50.00 http://www.harborfreight.com/motorcy...and-98488.html

This is the one in the video: http://www.ebay.com/itm/NEW-BLACK-WI...06b1fa&vxp=mtr and it goes out for 62.00

Building the 1 1/2 sq aluminum T-slotted framing will cost more but you get what you pay for. http://www.mcmaster.com/#catalog/118/1922/=gz85b8 About 6' of framing stock will be enough.

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Old 04-05-2012, 07:48 PM   #13
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Happy Re: DIY wheel balancer

Yes, that is the framing that I used (1-1/2"). It is plenty rigid although if I had had some double slot stock on hand I would have used it for the horizontal portion of the frame (less twist).

I used up all the double-wide stock I had on hand a while back when I made my laser toe gauge. That had to be very rigid.

The brackets I used to hold it all together are just standard hardware store style 4"-leg corner brackets.

The plate that connects the "T" bar to the one upright was some old 1/8" scrap plate I had collecting dust.

The two top plates for the bearing supports were left over from something else I designed. That's why they have the extra holes in them.

The bearings were pulled from my tool box, I don't even remember where I got them (or when), but I had four and they were brand new!

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Old 04-12-2012, 06:10 PM   #14
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Dizzy Re: DIY wheel balancer

Quote:
Originally Posted by DIYguy View Post
The cones on mine are 4" OD and 2.5" in thickness. The center shaft (a tube, actually) is threaded 1-1/2"-12. You can use other, more common sizes without harm if you wish.

Enjoy.
Once again, I am left wishing that my lathe (a Harbor Freight 5980) had a power feed. One of these years I'm going to end up fabbing something to let me cut threads on that sucker, it'll likely be a CNC conversion though! =D

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Old 04-12-2012, 09:24 PM   #15
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Default Re: DIY wheel balancer

The cone set that I ordered has arrived and the cones are UHMW polly which explains the $85.00 price tag.

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Old 04-13-2012, 11:36 AM   #16
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Happy Re: DIY wheel balancer

Quote:
Once again, I am left wishing that my lathe (a Harbor Freight 5980) had a power feed.
Aren't lathes wonderful tools to have (even if they don't have power feed)? Mine is an Enco but it is similar to HF 45861 (9x20). I find myself using my lathe 10x more often than my mill. There are no end of things that need turning, trimming, threading, polishing, knurling, spinning, etc, etc.

If you are lamenting power feed for threading, yes it's great (I used that to single point the tube), but it is not really necessary. Use a regular threading die and the lathe can act as a power feed for it (but you need a reversible motor of course). As you can see in the photos I bought a 1-1/2"-12 tap off of Ebay for the inside threads. I did the tapping in the same setup as the cone machining using a live center so they are concentric. The cones I made have essentially no runout.

Mine has all the Steve Bedair website mods done to it short of variable motor speed and now is functionally more like a 10x22 (I picked up at least another inch of cross feed with the lead screw mod I did). One of these days I'll rebuild the pedestal cross feed (the one that swivels) to have a longer travel as well.

Quote:
The cone set that I ordered has arrived and the cones are UHMW polly which explains the $85.00 price tag.
Can't wait to hear you you like it. It should work just fine. I used mine again last weekend on a friend's car. It worked perfectly. Solved a nagging balance issue for him.

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Old 04-13-2012, 12:45 PM   #17
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Happy Re: DIY wheel balancer

Quote:
Originally Posted by DIYguy View Post
Aren't lathes wonderful tools to have (even if they don't have power feed)? Mine is an Enco but it is similar to HF 45861 (9x20). I find myself using my lathe 10x more often than my mill. There are no end of things that need turning, trimming, threading, polishing, knurling, spinning, etc, etc.

If you are lamenting power feed for threading, yes it's great (I used that to single point the tube), but it is not really necessary. Use a regular threading die and the lathe can act as a power feed for it (but you need a reversible motor of course). As you can see in the photos I bought a 1-1/2"-12 tap off of Ebay for the inside threads. I did the tapping in the same setup as the cone machining using a live center so they are concentric. The cones I made have essentially no runout.

Mine has all the Steve Bedair website mods done to it short of variable motor speed and now is functionally more like a 10x22 (I picked up at least another inch of cross feed with the lead screw mod I did). One of these days I'll rebuild the pedestal cross feed (the one that swivels) to have a longer travel as well.
IMNSHO Lathes are the greatest tools man has ever produced... They are the only tools (talking non-CNC here) that can replicate themselves.

I currently use the mill portion of mine more than the lathe because the lathe does not run! I started a treadmill motor conversion nearly a year ago and while the motor mounting went pretty painlessly, figuring out an electronics enclosure has stalled the progress. I've got a buddy in the supply business though and he's helping me find a suitable metal enclosure for the board. I don't feel like chancing having the 120V feeds unguarded with a child running around so I haven't even tested the setup, though it came from a running treadmill.

I did see from your photos that you used the big-ol' tap for the cones. I'm pondering the piece of 7/8-8 threaded rod I have sitting around for use here. If I cut shoulders it should get the job done... just need to verify straightness first.

OR I could leave the idea alone and get on with my 200 other projects......

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Old 04-13-2012, 01:41 PM   #18
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Happy Re: DIY wheel balancer

Quote:
I'm pondering the piece of 7/8-8 threaded rod I have
Sure, that will do nicely so long as it straight of course. In fact a coarser thread will make it quicker to get the cones on and off.

My choice of 1-1/2"-12 threads was principally due to the ~1.410" root diameter which worked with the tubing I was using. When I single pointed the threads on the tube OD I did them on the tight side. I had to lap them a bit in fact. The lathe was very handy for that purpose as well. There is very little play between the tube and the cones as a result.

Doesn't matter that much though because the threads will tend to self-center. So as long as the body of the shaft/tube is straight, you should be OK.

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Old 04-13-2012, 02:24 PM   #19
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Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Far Southwestern Iowa
Posts: 66,693
 

1998 SC2
Default Re: DIY wheel balancer

There are 3 critical tools, lathe, grinder, Oxy/Acet torches and cutting head. With those tools if you can not make it you don't need it.

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Old 04-13-2012, 02:34 PM   #20
TrotFox
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Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Knoxville, TN
Posts: 338

1992 SC
2006 VUE 2.4L
Happy Re: DIY wheel balancer

I've got a tiny Butane-NOX torch... and a small selection of propane bottle heads, does that count?

Everything else I'm good on. Besides, I'm not technically allowed to keep any "fuel tanks" stored at our current townhouse. (shhh!)

Trot, the mostly-capable, fox...

...
Red 5spd Fiero Formula
Grey 5spd '06 Vue
Red '15 PriusC-4

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