Dealer tools

MoparMap

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I have a question regarding some of the dealer (Miller) tools. I've been slowing adding to my collection as I have no intention of selling my car in the future and I've found having the actual real tools makes jobs way easier. That being said, I'm having some confusion between some of the tools. I went through my 04 service manual and pulled out all the tools mentioned into a spreadsheet and started looking for them online to see what what out there. The biggest question I have is the caster alignment brackets. In the service manual it calls out 8995 and 8996 as the tools for my 04, but in searching I've also found kit 6990, which includes alignment tools and the bushing remover/installer set. However, within this tool set the caster brackets are called out as 6915 and 6916. To my eyes they look the same, but I wasn't sure if there was something else going on. Any ideas why the different numbers? It looks like all the tools in the kit start with 69XX, so wondering if it's as simple as trying to keep a naming convention. Getting it all together as one would make for a tidy toolbox if they really are the same thing.
 

Graysnake00

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I am collecting special tools too for my car as I don't plan to part ways with it any time soon. I had looked at the 6990 kit for servicing my 2000 GTS but realized that not having a DRBIII scan tool, I cannot use the inclinometers. The only tools that would be useful for me were the front and rear caster alignment brackets and maybe the bushing removal tool. The 6915 and 6916 are the caster brackets that are called out in my service manual for my Gen II. I can only assume that they made some minor changes to the suspension and the Gen II brackets don't fit on your Gen III hence the part number difference.

I was able to pick up both 6915 and both 6916 brackets for less than $50 on Ebay. I also bought an inclinometer off of Amazon for around $35 and I'm thinking that I can zip-tie it to the caster brackets and read the angles.
 
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MoparMap

MoparMap

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Yeah, I don't have the DRBIII either, but was thinking the inclinometers are just electronic sensors, so if I could figure out how they are wired I bet I could get a reading out of them. Would be awesome to have a datasheet, but guessing that won't be as easy to come by. By my guess they are just a powered sensor that probably gets something like 5 or 12V input voltage and is either going to be 0-5V output or 4-20mA. That seems to be fairly standard in the sensor world from what I've seen. Would like to get my hands on some to play with them as they are "cheap" enough in those kits, but don't want to get a kit to find out it won't work with my generation.
 
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MoparMap

MoparMap

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I think the only thing I've really gathered is that the part numbers I've got are gen 1/2 (or maybe just gen 2?). I think I agree the 8995/6 ones were new for gen 3/4. I did end up getting a DRB III, so I can read the inclinometer directly, though I did play with snooping the signal some and have found out how to get the sensors to read via a computer, I just haven't decoded the output yet. Sadly they were not as simple as a voltage or amperage output, but more like a serial or CAN interface. You have a send a message to them and then they reply with what looks to be a 3 byte message or something like that. I need to do some more testing one of these days to try to understand the format. I thought it might be something like angle/minutes/seconds, but I don't think that resolution quite makes sense. I need to set the sensors side by side with a digital inclinometer I have and just make a table of the output and go from there.

As for the brackets, it seems like it would be pretty easy to make your own if someone had one for reference. They are just metal bars with two spring loaded hooks, and the hooks aren't really even that important from what I can figure. The hooks just wrap around the ball joints and hold the tool up against the knuckle, but it's the dimensions of the metal bar that are what key off the knuckle to give the kingpin inclination angle. Would be nice if someone had a set they could measure up as I bet you could fab up your own set pretty easily. The gen 2 ones seem to be all over the place, but the gen 3/4 ones still go for some silly high prices for what they are.
 

Michael Murray

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Excellently thorough reply, thank you! What degree does the OEM inclinometer read to? .1?

After I read your reply I went on a search again to find a sub-$300 set of adapters and stumbled across this. It says incomplete, but it seems that is only because the right side is not included?
Either way, I plan to make this work and put together a right side.

Any recommendations of a magnetic (or not) inclinometer for use in the meantime?

Please keep me updated on your findings

Thanks!
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MoparMap

MoparMap

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The DRB III reads to 0.1 degrees, though the sensors might be capable of more. I did play around with them some more and took some measurements against a digital inclinometer I have and the output appears to be linear. And I was wrong before, it's actually 6 byte output, which is pretty crazy resolution, though I'm not sure if the sensors can actually really read that reliably or not. The DRB also reads things as -180 to +180, so I need to do some testing on "negative" outputs to confirm how they work. Need to check on the zero function as well. It's easy enough to do in software (just apply an offset), but I don't know if the DRB actually sends a command to the sensors and the zero is stored internally on them or if it's just handled purely on the DRB III.

I thought about it some more, did a little testing, and I'm pretty sure I can actually power the system from a computer USB as well. Though the DRB powers the switch box with 12v, there is a 5v regulator inside it that runs pretty much everything else. The DRB also only outputs 5v on the line it uses to switch between left and right sensors. I realized a 5v regulator doesn't have to have 12v fed to it to work, it just wants 5 or more.

So my plan at the moment is a custom cable that would plug into the switch box on one end and the other end will have a DB9 connector, a switch, and a USB connector. The USB is there strictly for power and pulls 5v from the computer to run things. The switch will let you toggle back and forth between reading the right or left sensor (I'm not sure a good way to automate this just yet so both can be read at once like the DRB III does). This way you wouldn't have to fiddle around with a separate power supply or two cables or anything like that. Messed with it a bunch yesterday and was having a hard time understanding the cable, but I think it finally hit me what I was doing wrong, so planning to take another stab at it today. If the cable and power part is solved I just have to figure out the software side, which is going to be a little more interesting. The actual functional side of the program is pretty dirt simple, it's just a matter of figuring out what to code it in and how to talk to a serial port. I have very little experience with talking to hardware on Windows based computers, but I'm hoping I can make something work.

On a different note, any chance you could measure that tool up once you get it? I'm pretty sure the only difference between left and right are the hooks, so would think if you have one you could make another pretty easily by just mirroring things. If you can measure the main block part I think it would be really easy to recreate and I'd be interested in trying to make one myself. As for sensors, I'm pretty sure that tool is aluminum, so don't think a magnetic one is going to do you much good. Most of the ones I see are longer and meant to be more like a level, which isn't really that useful here. The factory ones are pretty compact and nicely machined to be square. There might be something out there though, I just haven't looked that much. The ones I have came in an alignment kit I got as a Christmas present a few years ago. They are more like the level style though and pretty long.
 
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MoparMap

MoparMap

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Well, looks like my USB powered hopes are dead. Per the datasheet the regulator cuts out at 7V. In testing I got it all the way down to 5.5-6V, but the USB port runs at a pretty regulated 5, so the regulator doesn't turn on to get everything else going when attempting to power directly from USB. I could potentially power it from one of the extra pins on the serial adapter I have, but those seem to run anywhere from 6-12V. The bigger issue that comes from that is that my switch idea to swap between reading the left and right sensors kind of goes up in smoke there as it requires a 5V signal to operate. I could make it work with an inline regulator, but that just adds more complexity into the cable than I think makes sense. Reading a single sensor should be pretty easy though as I can just jumper the "sensor select" line to ground to only read from the one all the time. At that point the serial port power approach probably also makes sense as it would mean I could do everything in a single connector.
 

Michael Murray

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Wow you have really dug into that project, nice work! I found all it takes to get the left side to work on the right is remove the nuts and flip the hooks.

I plan on ******** a piece of steel plate (shown primered) to the bracket and sticking the magnetic digital angle finder to it.
 

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MoparMap

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Ah, very nice to see it actually installed on a car with better angles. That makes more sense about how it all fits and goes together. I had a feeling there were some pads on the knuckle casting this tool sat against, and those pictures make that very clear. I might have to CAD up the tool in my spare time just for the heck of it so I've got something for reference. Should be easy enough since it's a pretty simple shape. Looks like there are basically just two tooling points to worry about as well, the rest is just clearance for the parts around it. I'm kind of tempted to even try 3D printing one out of plastic just for some test fitting. If I can get it rigid enough it should probably still work even, though I might have to get clever with how I attach it to the knuckle.

Thanks again for the measurements! I've got more info on the sensor reverse engineering in the "DRB III Reverse Engineering" thread on this same forum. I'm tantalizingly close to something that should work fairly effectively, just have to get the last bugs worked out.
 

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