Every restorer has his or her own way of keeping track of parts taken off a car. We have marveled at mechanics that take things apart without a single note, tag or photo and then re-assemble the parts into a working machine. Some of them won’t even use a shop manual 90 percent of the time.
That’s not us!
When we work on a car we go slowly and try to document everything we touch. Where practical, the parts that come off a car are attached to a piece of cardboard via various methods. Bolts can be poked through the cardboard. Nuts can be attached to the cardboard with electrical ties. Re-assembly notes are written right on the cardboard with a marker or pen.
If a wire is pulled from a certain connection, similarly colored electrical ties are attached to both the wire and the connection point. During re-assembly, the colored electrical ties are matched up to make sure that proper connections are made. Red to red, green to green, yellow to yellow, etc. When we run out of single colors, combinations are used such as green and red to green and red.
Electrical ties can also be used to indicate the order to connect things together in. For instance, one tie on the No. 1 spark plug wire, two ties on the No. 2 spark plug wire, three ties on the No. 3 spark plug wire and so on.
Other parts are labeled with string tag and sometimes we write notes on the tags themselves. For instance, “connect this wire to the terminal on the back of the starter that is nearest to the left side of the engine block.” Tags can also be labeled 1-2-3 or A-B-C to indicate the sequence to assemble parts in.
We back up our cardboard organizers, color coding and tagging with digital photos. At the end of the day, we take the photos into the office and fill out a notebook that documents the number of each image and gives (in a brief way) a description of the important things each photo shows.
Keeping track of what goes where is one of the most important jobs in an automobile restoration.
Unless you take steps like these, you are likely to forget how things go back together when you start re-assembling the car a year or two in the future.