January 2015: We’re just beginning to rebuild our diesel engine. The first step has Dave getting everything disconnected and removing everything he can so that the engine can be removed through a tight opening.
While he’s doing the actual work, one of my jobs is to tag everything. Every bolt that is removed is either put back where it came from or, if it must stay out over the course of the project (motor mount bolts) gets tagged with exactly where it came from (port next-most-aft motor mount) and put into a bag with others from the same area (for example, all the motor mount bolts). All the bags are kept together in a “box” of some sort — in this case, a small paint pan I scavenged from the trash.
Anything that goes together stays together — that is, washers and nuts are put back on bolts, screws taped into mounting holes, brackets taped onto what they hold.
Exactly how I tag things varies by the item, but the most common way is to wrap some blue tape around the item and make a flag where I write the description. This also works well for wires and hoses in the engine compartment.
Some items I just tape the screws back into the item, as with the coolant overflow container:
Finally, we take lots of digital photos of how things went together. I always use the highest resolution possible so that we can zoom in later if need be to see details. I also take photos from a number of different angles as sometimes an important detail will be visible in one but not another. I try to download them onto the computer fairly quickly and label them (or put into folders) so that we can find them easily during reassembly.