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madwilliamflint
10-15-2011, 11:17 AM
Pure n00b question.

So I've got this bandsaw, radial arm saw and table saw I bought last week. I'd just started pulling things off the table saw when it occurred to me that at the end I'm going to have a bucket of bolts bits and bobs...and a puzzle.

What's the right way to keep track of things to minimize the "leftover parts" syndrome?

Pictures at every step? Just one section at a time? Everything I come up with seems oddly convoluted.

lynnl
10-15-2011, 11:29 AM
That's a big part of the fun; trying to put it all back together again. :)

I usually try to "store' the screws and bolts back in their respective holes. But unless it's pretty complex I just trust that I can remember how it goes back together. Unless it's obvious, I'll often try to take a mental photograph and consciously record that.

If it's real complex, and I know I'll have problems later, I'll draw a diagram.

And finally, after days or weeks have elapsed, due to some unforeseen interruption, I'll slap myself in the forehead and say "damn, I should've taken a picture!"

LHC
10-15-2011, 11:33 AM
I just had a breakthrough of sorts with this issue (noob here as well :) )

Off to the supermarket - get a box of those zip lock freezer bags - the ones with the white strip on them that you can write on. I'm currently tearing down a little milling machine and with each subassy, I tuck all the nuts and bolts etc. into a bag and label it. I don't put too many things together or it tends to negate the effort after a week or two when you forget.

I take some pictures along the way as well but sometimes I get on a roll and there's a big gap between successive ones.

madwilliamflint
10-15-2011, 11:34 AM
I just have this image of a pail with derustification solution and a mob of stuff in there.

I keep coming up with more arguments to have a little computer in the shop with a few reasonable resolution/framerate cameras that I can move around.

madwilliamflint
10-15-2011, 11:35 AM
I just had a breakthrough of sorts with this issue (noob here as well :) )

Off to the supermarket - get a box of those zip lock freezer bags - the ones with the white strip on them that you can write on. I'm currently tearing down a little milling machine and with each subassy, I tuck all the nuts and bolts etc. into a bag and label it. I don't put too many things together or it tends to negate the effort after a week or two when you forget.

I take some pictures along the way as well but sometimes I get on a roll and there's a big gap between successive ones.

Heh. indeed, yours is the thread I was reading that made me think of it.

If only screws and bolts had resistor type encodings on them I'd be all set :p

Thruthefence
10-15-2011, 11:38 AM
Sometimes you can find a "parts book' online for the equipment. Remove a bolt, bag it, and label "item 32, fig 5" or what ever, and put it in a box.

Lacking a parts book, take digital pics from several angles, and assign your own item numbers. eg, front of machine, fig 1, r/h side, fig 2, back, fig 3.

It's a pain in the ass, but not as big a pain as looking for a missing "special" fastener that went out of production in 1945.

madwilliamflint
10-15-2011, 11:40 AM
Sometimes you can find a "parts book' online for the equipment. Remove a bolt, bag it, and label "item 32, fig 5" or what ever, and put it in a box.

Lacking a parts book, take digital pics from several angles, and assign your own item numbers. eg, front of machine, fig 1, r/h side, fig 2, back, fig 3.

It's a pain in the ass, but not as big a pain as looking for a missing "special" fastener that went out of production in 1945.

Well, if it were just a matter of taking it apart and putting it together again I think I'd be alright. Worst case scenario I'd use a big piece of cardboard and just tape bits to it. It's the chaos of cleaning them all that's got me flummoxed.

Highpower
10-15-2011, 11:49 AM
Lay the parts out in order as you remove them and reassemble in the reverse order. Sharpies (http://www.lowes.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?langId=-1&storeId=10151&catalogId=10051&cId=SEARCH&productId=3338550&cm_mmc=SCE_gps-_-gps-_-gps-_-Sharpie%20Sharpie%20paint%20Marker%205ct%20Asst%20 Medium&CAWELAID=1023558542) serve well to "code" your parts for identification. One dot blue, three dots red, two dots white, etc. Just "code" them after you have cleaned them. ;)

Alistair Hosie
10-15-2011, 11:56 AM
If the bolts and screws hold two parts together why not do what I do.Now if only I could remember ! that would be helpful:D seriously always put the bolts back where they came from as much as possible this saves a lot of heartache when rebuilding comes round having them in situ. Have fun other wise polly bags with labelling should get a big pile of clear resealable bags for a dollor or so.Now you can have fun :DAlistair

lynnl
10-15-2011, 12:04 PM
Actually, I don't remember ever being unable to get something back together with no parts unaccounted for. It may've happened, but certainly not often.

Where I do sometimes run into difficulty though, is the orientation of some parts, e.g. which order to install a series of washers, backets, and thingamajigs.
It's all too easy, when tearing down, to neglect noting the significance of certain orientations and relationships. Only when reassembling does that importance become obvious.

Just as I thought of this and began to post it, I saw another new thread "Hydraulic rebuild..." which typifies this issue.

Stu
10-15-2011, 12:08 PM
Digital camera. Take pictures of every thing and every stage of dis-assembly.

Bill

danlb
10-15-2011, 12:41 PM
I've seen paint pens or markers used to give a reminder of the correct order for the washers and stuff. A swipe of the pen before it is disassembled and you can usually figure out what order they were in by matching up the paint.

Dan

T.Hoffman
10-15-2011, 12:59 PM
Zip lock bags and sharpies for labeling the bags.
Digital camera is your best friend.

Take way more pictures than you think you need. They can easily be erased later when you're done. They can come in really handy when putting things back together to see how things where oriented before removal.

dave5605
10-15-2011, 01:54 PM
+1 on zip locks bags, a magic marker and a camera. I have tore down cars to the bare frame to swap frames and you end up with hundreds of bolts/nuts/washers you have to keep track of.

Camera is also your friend when replacing wiring harnesses. Worst case send photos to your local drug store and have then print them out for 15-20 cents each.

Now on something you don't care too much about (like a engine hoist I have) I spray paint the different bolts/nuts different colors prior to diaassembly. Makes it real simple to piece it back together 6 months later.

The Artful Bodger
10-15-2011, 03:19 PM
I dont usually have any problem putting something back together but if it is something bigger, like a car or a motor cycle, I will disassemble the major components seperately and keep the smaller bits from each assembly in their own container.

Paul Alciatore
10-15-2011, 03:23 PM
Actually I have used at least three systems.

1. I simply lay out the parts in bunches on a workbench in the order they were removed. Sometimes one bunch will be in the order in which they go back on (like a shaft with bearings, spacers, spring washers, nuts, etc.), kind of like an assembly drawing.

2. Ice cube trays for small parts. Again, in the order of dis-assembly.

3. For medium size parts, I use cardboard or plastic bins. Again laying them on the bench or on a shelf in the order of dis-assembly. Or number them.

If I was going to wash them, I would wash just one of the above bunches at a time; some times, one part at a time.

I have seen some real problems that resulted from improper assembly order or a wrong part that looked a lot like the correct one. Some years ago I had a couple of professionals overhaul a professional (TV style) 16mm projector at a station I worked at. They were sloppy and lost a single nut so they substituted one from station's stock. Trouble is, the proper part was a very non-standard 1/4-27 (don't ask as I have no explanation for that) and the substitute was a standard 1/4-28. They got it on nice and tight, but it was not tight against the oil impeller it was supposed to secure so the impeller was loose on the shaft. The projector got little or no oil and needed to be overhauled again about 2 or 3 weeks later. I did it myself that time. Keeping track of the original parts is important. "Looks like" is not good enough. Some times parts that look completely symmetrical should only go on one way so not only is the order of assembly important, but sometimes even the way a part faces is very important.

danlb
10-15-2011, 03:39 PM
Reading Paul's post reminded me.

When doing a job that will finish in a few hours, like working on a laptop PC, I will lay the screws and nuts down on the counter in the same ralative position that they are when in use. The 1/2 inch long one from the upper left corner does not get confused with the 7/16 long one from the upper right this way.

I learned the hard way that some things use shorter screws in shallower holes in some places. Tightening the longer one in the shorter hole makes unsightly pimples or even holes in the case when they poke through.

Dan

darryl
10-15-2011, 05:10 PM
I'll almost always draw a diagram when there's a hint of confusion, a complex assembly process, etc. When I did the valves on an engine some years ago, I pleated up some corrugated cardboard and fastened that to a scrap of plywood- that made channels so that I could keep all the parts in order per cylinder so they could all be put back in their original positions.

For things with very small parts, like electronics, I used to use plastic containers like tackle boxes, and the parts would also be placed left to right in the order in which they came out. I actually had made some shallow trays that had dividers in them, plus room for the item itself, in its relative state of disassembly. This was great for car stereos, walkmans, etc- you could file the tray away under the bench while parts were on order, and the paperwork was just as easily kept with it, yet instantly available. I had well over a dozen 'cubbyholes' for these trays, and some of them held my personal electronics projects. I'd just clear some bench space and bring one of them out when I wanted to work on it.

I've never gotten into taking pictures of things- I guess I find that somewhat cumbersome, although there are times when it would be the best thing to do. You can't always draw a quick diagram which shows things as you might need to see it- but you might want to be able to refer to a picture without having to go through the lengthy process of firing up the computer, transferring the photo file, saving, remembering where it is, etc. For something like that, it might be handy to have a printer which will automatically print from the camera in an easy one-step button push- 'print last picture taken' would be an ideal button.

I don't know- maybe it's just me, but when I'm working on something, the last thing I want to do is spend time manipulating cameras, wires, photo files, etc. A quick drawing on paper is so much faster, and there it is, already 'printed'.

T.Hoffman
10-15-2011, 06:25 PM
I've never gotten into taking pictures of things- I guess I find that somewhat cumbersome, although there are times when it would be the best thing to do. You can't always draw a quick diagram which shows things as you might need to see it- but you might want to be able to refer to a picture without having to go through the lengthy process of firing up the computer, transferring the photo file, saving, remembering where it is, etc.

I don't know- maybe it's just me, but when I'm working on something, the last thing I want to do is spend time manipulating cameras, wires, photo files, etc. A quick drawing on paper is so much faster, and there it is, already 'printed'.
With even the most basic digital camera, no need to even have a computer.
Digital display screen on most any camera let's you quickly scroll thru photos and zoom in within the frame.

I actually have found it to be way faster than drawings or notes. Especially when you have the date/time stamp enabled on the pics.

I was very glad I took as many pics as I did while tearing down a cycle to an engine and frame. When it came time for putting it back together months later, I was referring to those pics all the time. Camera was right there at arms reach to peek at pics, no computer needed.... ;)

vpt
10-15-2011, 07:05 PM
I put the nuts and bolts and small brackets and whatnot in a ziplock bag and zip tie it to the part they coincide with.

LHC
10-15-2011, 07:09 PM
Digital camera suggestions reminded me of the smartest thing I ever did (well....probably just blind luck but I tell people I was smart in doing it).

When I put an extension on the house 7 years ago, I also did a little workshop on the back of the garage. Before the sheetrock went on the walls, I took high res digital pictures of all the walls, showing where the wiring etc. are located. I cannot count the number of times I have referred back to those pictures years later. I did a similar thing with a wall in the basement where there were so many pipes and wires, it looked like a submarine. Again, they have proved very valuable prior to drilling into the wall years later.

jhe.1973
10-15-2011, 07:56 PM
Hi Everyone,

A lot of good ideas here so far. Have used a few myself as the need arises.

I would like to add a detail not mentioned yet.

No matter how carefully you keep track of everything, never blindly follow the re-assembly in the reverse order.

Assume nothing!

Compare/inspect every detail because you often have no way of knowing if someone before you assembled things correctly.

Look closely for rub marks, shiny areas, discolorations on mating surfaces etc. to play detective & assure that the way it is going together is correct.

I just recently had to R&R the spindle in a new to me tool & cutter grinder because the end play seemed excessive. Sure enough, someone installed one of the angular contact bearings backwards.:eek:

jhe.1973
10-15-2011, 08:01 PM
I learned the hard way that some things use shorter screws in shallower holes in some places. Tightening the longer one in the shorter hole makes unsightly pimples or even holes in the case when they poke through.

Dan

Oh yeah, this reminds me of another point.

I've seen castings cracked because some 'mechanic' lathered on the silicone sealant and screwed a bolt through the goop making a plug ahead of the screw.

Check/clean screw holes because silicone doesn't wash out easily - if at all.

darryl
10-15-2011, 08:41 PM
Viewing the pictures right on the camera- well that's probably fine for those who can still see:(

Maybe with a viewscreen about 6x8 or so, I might be ok.

Pictures in digital format are volatile- they might accidentally get erased. Something to think about if you're going to refer to them days or months down the road.

I guess another thing that bothers me is having the camera in the shop. I suppose if I had a 'clean' cabinet in which to keep it, it would be ok. In my shop it's likely to get damaged.

Lu47Dan
10-15-2011, 09:48 PM
For storing small parts, nuts,bolts and washers where the is not much weight involved I use cheap ziplock freezer bags from a chain supermarket we have here. They also sell reusable food keepers that come three to a pack in various sizes and shapes. They work great for larger heavier parts that the ziplock bags would not hold up to. I use a piece of blue painters tape to mark them as to what is in them. When I do a big job like tearing down a whole tractor or crawler I use heavy duty hinged lid totes to store the bigger parts until I can get to them. Once the project is completed I clean the totes and the food keepers. I then use one tote to store the food keepers in and stack the other totes together.
I keep a SD card for each project, I store the card in a file folder with any pictures I print out.
Dan.