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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
We're coming up on another mowing season, and a lot of us will be tackling the task of getting our outdoor equipment ready for the new year. So, I thought it might be good to start a general "these things help me" thread.

If you're like me, you begin fiddling and adjusting things, and are quite pleased with yourself and the job you are doing. Then comes that uneasy feeling as the cold chill of the "Uh Oh" moment runs down your back and you can't quite remember where this goes, or what that might have been attached to, or oops, I thought I had it put back together so what's this piece that's left over? These are a few things I do, or at least try to do, when I work on things mechanical.

It's always handy to refer to the owner's manual when it comes to having a pretty darn good understanding of your machine and it's basic maintenance. I might be strange, but I like reading owner's manuals, even all the cautions and warnings. I figure they're all there for a reason, and it doesn't hurt to remind myself of them. If you don't have an owner's manual for your piece of equipment, most companies will provide one on their web site, often as a pdf, that can be reviewed on a computer screen, or printed out to have in your hand while you work.

Exploded diagrams are great to have too. A lot of times you can figure out the order of things from looking at them. I like to have shop manuals for my most used machines too, though they can get pricey, there's nothing like them for detail.

I discovered, pretty much the hard way, that there is a lot to be said for taking it slow and looking closely at stuff before I start taking anything off. Look things over and figure out how everything works together before even touching the contraption with a wrench or screwdriver.

One of the most helpful tools to have when it comes time to put things back together isn't even a wrench, but are lots of digital photos. Take them before, and during the disassembly. I don't remember how many times I got to a certain point and couldn't for the life of me remember where a spring hooked, or which piece went on first. By having a picture you can at least take a lot, if not all doubt out of the equation. You can always delete the photos from your camera later if you don't want them mixed in with the ones from the kid's birthday party, or save them for reference the next time you tackle the same job. Better yet, because now you've been there done that, share them with fellow forum members and maybe they can avoid the Uh Oh moment.

If I left the camera in the house, or more likely forgot to charge the batteries in it, every now and then I'll jot down a few notes about the order things came off, and draw a sketch or two. Sometimes a sketch is easier to draw than getting the camera where you need it to take a picture. Like noting the routing of a belt, or which hole those pesky little governor springs go in. Another thing I try, mind you try is the key word because it doesn't always happen, is keeping everything I've removed in one area, and maybe even arranged in the order I took them off. I like those magnetic parts trays for holding the smaller bits, and I save some of the old plastic food containers, like what yogurt comes in to hold parts so they don't get lost or roll away from me in the garage.

These are just a few things I find that help me, and mind you, I'm not claiming to be an expert, I just like to work on my own stuff. Hopefully others will chime in with helpful hints that work for them. I know I'd like to hear them because I can use all the help I can get too.
 

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Good post and thread idea! :cool:

I definitely agree how taking photos before you dismantle or work on something is truely invaluable. I've learned this lesson all too many times the hard way. Only trial and error gets you out of that situation. :)

I suppose another thing I might add is the confirmation that you have all the right tools at hand to complete the project or else plan on buying it, whatever it might be. It is discouraging when you're working on something only to find out that you need some special tool that you don't have and have to call it quits until you get one.

Also, if you are working on some antique piece of machinery, do a little research and see what parts are available and what's not readily available, not too mention, their costs. It will make you an even more careful and cautious mechanic. I always like to think that I have a 'soft touch' when working on this type of thing, but I do find myself being extra extra careful not loose or break any parts that I know I will not be able to find again.

Depending on what it is, sometimes it's just best to go by the old rule of "if it's not broke, then it don't fix it!":D I'm always in the habit of trying to improve my machines one way the other, it could be anything really. While most of the time these little projects turn out to be a success, every once in a while I'll get into a pedicament and realize, "man, what have I gotten myself into!? Had I just left this alone or had a better plan of how I was going to do it in the first place, I wouldn't be having to spend this extra money to redo what I just did!" In other words, work within your own limits, have a game plan every step of the way and use good judgement. Always.
 

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OH NO!!!! You mean I was supposed to take pictures of my 38 Rocket BEFORE I took it apart? I have nearly all the parts cleaned and painted and will most likely start reassembly soon. I'll be lucky if I can remember where all the parts are at, not to mention how they go back together!!!
 

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Something tells me you could reassemble these mowers in your sleep. :rolleyes:
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
No doubt you could bs23uo. What sort of things have you learned along the way of disassembly to help you remember how to put these old machines back together, and what might you recommend to other folks wanting to tackle a job like that? How about a post over in the paint and restoration forum too? I know you've got a lot of knowledge that would be great to know about in that field.
 

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One thing I've learned recently as I've been trying to fix my friends' chainsaw is to always clear my work table before stating another project. Especially when working with small parts such as to carburator on this chainsaw it is helpful to cover an area of the able with white paper towel an lay all my tiny fasteners on it so that they don't get overlaid among the tools and other parts. I've learned this the hard way more than once now; when I started on the chainsaw I had no idea what I was getting into, so I just put it onto my messy work table and started disassembling it and before I knew it, my mess was worse than ever, plus, there were a few little parts in the mess that I had a problem finding than when I was ready to reassemble it.

So from now on I'm going to remember to keep my work area clear and clean so I don't have such a problem with losing things.
 

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Good thread idea.
The dealer will always tell you to LOOK IN THE OWNERS MANUAL/PARTS BOOK!! Not literally all the time but they will want you to and maybe imply it. A guy I know that works at the dealer gets very frustrated with the people who have no idea what they're looking at.
 

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One thing I've learned recently as I've been trying to fix my friends' chainsaw is to always clear my work table before stating another project. Especially when working with small parts such as to carburator on this chainsaw it is helpful to cover an area of the able with white paper towel an lay all my tiny fasteners on it so that they don't get overlaid among the tools and other parts. I've learned this the hard way more than once now; when I started on the chainsaw I had no idea what I was getting into, so I just put it onto my messy work table and started disassembling it and before I knew it, my mess was worse than ever, plus, there were a few little parts in the mess that I had a problem finding than when I was ready to reassemble it.

So from now on I'm going to remember to keep my work area clear and clean so I don't have such a problem with losing things.
Good points!

Another thing that is similar to what you mentioned is that when you're taking things apart, put them in bags or boxes so that you don't lose them. Categorizing is a great thing to do as well so that when it comes time for reassembly, all the carburetor parts for example will be in one bag vs. having everything mixed together which can take time sorting out what goes where. ;)
 

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When I remove screws to take off a part, I put the screws and associated washers etc, BACK into the holes they came out of while I work on the part, removed. I don't lose screws and sometimes the screws are slightly different lengths, etc. Before I remove any linkage I make a quick sketch and MARK the hole it came out of. A clear work area, always helps.
 
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