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Wilson's Auto Restoration Blog

Classic Car Tip: Remembering How to Put Parts Back Together


We have all been there at least once. We’ve disassembled a shaft or some other multi-piece component for maintenance or repair. We have fixed and/or cleaned the pieces and now we are looking at a pile of parts and trying to decide how to reassemble them. We swore to ourselves that we would remember the order, direction and orientation, but low and behold we can’t recall.

Struggling with reassembly of transmission gears, alternator parts, rocker arm sets, etc… this scenario happens all the time, even to the best of us. Not to worry however because we have a few tips to help you avoid this headache and frustration.

First of all it is a really good idea to take photos prior to disassembling and during the disassemble. Smartphones are small, lightweight and can take hundreds of images. It can prove to very useful to reference an image of the finished puzzle put together so you can visually confirm how and where the parts are supposed to be.

Photos aren’t always going to provide you with every detail necessary. For example, did that gear face left or right? Did the spacer go in front of this piece or behind? Sometimes it can be hard or impossible to tell from an image alone depending on the part.

One of the best tricks for keeping parts in the right order and orientation is to use a piece of coat hanger or sturdy wire. As you are taking an assembly apart for cleaning, thread each piece, in order and the proper orientation onto a sturdy wire.

Be sure that you give the parts enough space between pieces so a proper cleaning can be performed. Lastly, don’t forget to tie the end of the wire together to prevent the parts from sliding off. If necessary use a piece of masking tape on the first part of the assembly sequence to remember which will go on first.

There ya have it. Two really simple ways to help you disassemble parts on your classic car or truck and keep track of how to put it all back together.

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