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Front Wheel Geometry (Castor, Camber and King Pin Inclination)

Wheel Geometry (Castor, Camber and King Pin Inclination) INTRODUCTION The steering and road holding of a


The steering and road holding of a car depend to some extent on the layout and orientation of the stub axles on which the front wheels are mounted. The suspension geometry is defined by the traditional terms camber angle, toe-in, and the swivel angles called castor and king pin inclination. These are shown in the following diagram, which also shows how they are inter-related.

are shown in the following diagram, which also shows how they are inter-related. Caster, Camber and

Toe-in is the very small angle between the front wheel plane and the longitudinal axis of the car. It can be measured as the difference in the distance between the near side and offside wheel rims at the front and rear of the wheels. The object of toe-in is the keep the steering linkages under tension when driving straight ahead.

The camber angle is the angle, as viewed from the front of the car, between the plane of the front wheels and a vertical plane, and is called positive when the top of the wheels leans outward from the body of the car. A slight positive camber reduces the cornering power at the front and normally results in an understeering car.

King pin inclination is the transverse angle of the swivel axis of the front wheel and its stub axle. The effect of the inclination is usually discussed in terms of the king pin offset which determines the self centering torque when the steering is turned for cornering. Although many cars have a positive value of offset which tends to return the wheel to the straight ahead position, some modern cars have a negative offset to improve stability when the tire blows or the brake fails on one front wheel.

Castor angle also introduces a self-centering torque when the car is traveling forward. This is achieved by the positive offset shown in the diagram where the contact of the tire on the road trails behind the king pin axis.

With modern car design it has become more difficult to see and comprehend the interactions of front wheel steering geometry. Hence there are advantages in studying the set-up by using a one third scale model which is as close as possible to the real construction found in a large car. Nevertheless the needs of experimentation require some unusual variations like an adjustable stub axle.


Standard Items (HTM.21A)

1 - Front wheel suspension apparatus

2 - 10 mm combination spanners

1 - 5 mm hex. wrench

Optional Extras (HTM.21B)

1 - Loading lever

1 - HWM.3 Load hanger (1 N)

1 - Spring balance and fittings

Weight Set (HTM 21W)

2 x 10N


Other Items:

1 - 300 mm Steel Rule 1 - 1/4" ratchet drive (5.5" extension) 1 - 10 mm socket 1 - digital protractor

The apparatus comprises a 250 mm wheel carried on a suspension system with two wishbone mounted off a frame which simulates one side of a car body. Provision is made for varying the castor and king pin inclination and reading these angles on vernier scales. There is also a stub axle whose axis can be tilted relative to the swivel angle of the "king pin" to enable camber to be adjusted. The camber and toe-in are measured from the wheel rim to the "car" frame. A rolling road is provided under the wheel by revolving a turntable.

In addition to the normal adjustments it is possible to offset the wheel needle bearing along the stub axle. The "car" frame is also pivoted at one end in the horizontal plane while the other end can be clamped or left free to swing horizontally as a ball bearing moves across a supporting bracket.

The accessories for measuring cornering forces consist of a loading lever to simulate the self weight of the car acting on the suspension and a center zero spring balance. The former device is pivoted on a vertical support attached to the "car" frame pivot and has a downstanding bracket that bears on a groove in the swivel mounting of the upper wishbone. A load hanger at the free end of the 2:1 lever provides for added load. The spring balance is attached to the "car" frame to the rear of the suspension and at its other end has a long length of studding that is held in a bracket by thumb nuts.



The object of the experiment is to become familiar with the castor, camber, king pin inclination and toe-in geometry of a car front wheel suspension and to note the effect on self centering steering of varying the geometry.


Ensure that the "car" frame is firmly bolted to the bracket on which the ball bearing runs.

Identify the following features of the suspension system and note how each one affects the orientation of the wheel and the king pin swivels.

A. Toe-in.

In the model the toe-in can be adjusted through the two nuts holding the studding track

rod attached to the steering arm ball joint. To measure toe-in use a 300 mm steel rule to gauge the distances of the wheel rim front and rear from the horizontal "car" frame. The points on the rim should be on a horizontal axis through the center of the wheel. Typical toe-in measured between front wheels is as little as 3 mm; this would be less than 1/2 mm as measured on this model (half of 3 mm scaled down).

B. Castor.

The castor angle is determined by the setting of the bracket which attaches the center of

the block carrying the two wishbones to the "car" frame. The axis of rotation is horizontal and at right angles to the longitudinal axis of the "car". Typical castor angles range up to 5º. Note that the castor angle is related to the direction in which the car is going by tilting the king pin assembly. The castor angle can be read on the vernier scales to 1º.

Disconnect the "track rod" from its anchoring rod end by removing the M6 nut and turning the wheel clockwise to withdraw the studding. Replace the nut immediately. Set a castor angle of +10º and measure the height of the stub axle above the rolling road at equal full lock angles both ways and also at straight ahead. Revolve the rolling road by turning the handwheel clockwise which corresponds to forward travel for the positive castor.

As the road rolls try deflecting the wheel in each direction and note the self centering tendency. Now reverse the rolling road to observe the effect of negative castor.



The camber angle is the tilt of the plane of the wheel. This is achieved as a combined

result of the orientation of the king pin axis and the stub axle. It is measured using a 300 mm steel rule to gauge the distances of the wheel rim top and bottom from the vertical datum on the "car" frame. The angle is then calculated as tan -1 (difference / 177) or approximately in degrees from

57.3 x difference


177 3



difference ( º )

In real cars the camber seldom exceeds 2º. In the experimental model the camber can be adjusted by using the swivel by which the stub axle is attached to the "king pin".

Keeping the castor angle at 10º, try altering the camber and observe how this affects the contact point of the “tire” on the road.

D. King pin inclination.

The king pin swivels are carried on two parallel and equal length

wishbones springing from a block which can be tilted. A form of "king pin" carrying a stub axle is fitted between the swivels. As the inclination of the king pin axis is altered the plane of the wheel changes in sympathy unless the stub axle is readjusted. To achieve center point steering the king pin axis should meet the road surface at the contact point of the tire. For this an angle up to 10º may be needed.

Note that this angle is affected by the position of the stub axle (that is, whether the plane of the wheel is vertical) and also by the offset of the wheel hub on the stub axle. This offset in real cars is largely obtained by dishing the wheel; in the model the "dishing" can be reduced by transferring spacing washers from the outer to inner end of the stub axle.

Start with +10º castor and no camber. Set the KPI at -5º and make the camber zero again. Roll the road to give forward travel and observe the self-centering. Now change the KPI to +10º and adjust the camber to +2º. Roll the road forward and note whether there is any self centering. Try reversing the road direction and observe what happens as full lock is approached.

Project the axis of the "king pin" onto the road (start with the wishbone swivels which are parallel to the king pin and approximately 65 mm offset) and check how close the geometry is to center point steering (zero king pin offset).

Again check the change in height of the stub axle between equal full lock each way and the straight ahead position.

Finally observe that by moving washers from the outer to inner end of the stub axle the "reduced dishing" of the wheel produces a positive king pin offset (which would also increase the bending stress in the cantilevered stub axle).


Record the observations made during the work done in Parts A to D. Include a simplified drawing to show why the king pin assembly rises and falls as the wheel is steered right and left.

Explain how this rise and fall affects the self centering action.

How does the weight of a car act upon the front wheel?


EXPERIMENT (HTM 21B) OBJECT The object is to observe factors due to the steering which affect


The object is to observe factors due to the steering which affect the cornering force on a car.


To prepare the apparatus proceed as follows. Ensure that the suspension geometry provides a castor angle of +10º, a king pin inclination of +10º and a camber of +2º. Insert the M6 studding track rod in the ball joint with the marked nuts each side and set the toe-in angle to 0º. Note the positions of the marks on the nuts. Since the pitch of the thread is 1 mm for each revolution of the nuts, and the steering arm is 50 mm between pivots with an Ackerman angle of 10º, it is possible to calculate the steering angle in terms of the revolutions of the nuts.

Fit the loading arm complete with load hanger, locating the curved knife edge in the groove in the upper wishbone. Remove the bolt and nut clamping the "car" frame to the bracket plate. Fit the spring balance with a thumb nut each side of its bracket. Revolve the road forward (handwheel turns clockwise) and note how the "car" frame swings until the spring balance position is adjusted to bring the pointer to the pop mark on the bracket plate. Check that the toe-in angle is still zero as this will correspond to steering straight ahead. Note that to steer right the two marked nuts must be moved rightward (toward the free end of the track rod studding).

Part 1.

To take a set of readings it is recommended that both marked nuts should first be turned 10 revolutions clockwise (viewed from the free end of the track rod) to steer left. Rotate the rolling road and adjust the spring balance to bring the pointer to the pop mark, and read the balance while the road is rolling. Record the force in Table 1.

Table 1 Variation of Cornering Forces with car weight

Castor +10º K.P.I. +10º Camber +2º Steering Turns Spring balance reading (N) for loading Right
Castor +10º
K.P.I. +10º
Camber +2º
Steering Turns
Spring balance reading (N) for loading
Self Weight
+20 N
+40 N

Now turn the nuts on the track rod 2 turns counterclockwise and repeat the balance and reading procedure. Keep repeating the procedure twice more with 2 turns of the nuts, eight times with 1 turn, and then three times with 2 turns to finish at a total of 20 turns (±10 each way from ahead) from the start.

Next place 10 N on the load hanger, which will obviously load the wishbone with 20 N, and take as full a set of readings as possible within the range of the spring balance. Then increase the load on the hanger to 20 N and repeat the procedure.

Part 2.

Having studied varying the load, the next stage is to vary the suspension geometry as follows while keeping a constant 10 N on the load hanger.

















For (a) it is necessary only to change the castor angle, and then to take a set of readings for Table 2

Table 2 Cornering Forces and Suspension Geometry Constant load = self weight + 20 N

Castor (º) 10 5 5 10 KPI (º) 10 10 10 10 Camber (º) 2
Castor (º)
KPI (º)
Camber (º)
Steering Turns
Spring Balance Readings (N)

The next step (b) is to make the camber zero. This can be done only when the steering is straight ahead. Repeat the balance readings procedure

Finally reset the castor angle to +10º and take the last set of readings

Before leaving the apparatus re-fix the bolt and nut securing the "car" fame to the bracket plate.


Plot the results of Part I on a graph of cornering force against steering turns making a right turn positive and left negative. The steering turns can, of course, be calibrated in angular degrees using the approximation



1 turn


x 57.3

Draw reasonable smooth curves through each set of points

The results of Part 2 must be kept in tabular form for comparisons, although any gross irregularity could be shown up by using individual graphs as in part 1. However, it is not feasible to produce a family of curves because more than one variable is involved.


Explain why the results are not symmetrical about the straight ahead position

Comment on the pairs of results wherein only one thing is changed, for example (a) and (b).