Carl Heideman
Carl Heideman
9/14/20 9:40 a.m.

We’ve restored scores of cars and found that organization is a key component to success. Countless stories and books have been written about restoration organization. Most advise keeping lists, making sketches, and using plastic bags to keep parts organized in boxes. 

While we can agree with all of that, we’ve found three innovations that border on making the previous methods obsolete: digital cameras, inexpensive plastic storage bins, and low-buck wire shelving. 

No doubt all of these innovations are so ubiquitous and cheap thanks to our ever-increasing addiction to Chinese products. Nonetheless, we’ve found them indispensable and irresistible for our restorations these days.

We’ll get to a step by step very soon, but here’s an overview. While making sketches can still be important, we find that we can usually take digital pictures to replace the sketches, especially if they’re supplemented with a good service manual. However, digital photos help us probably even more by keeping track of all our parts in inventory. Photos pretty much eliminate the need to keep lists, and they certainly make it easy to find parts when necessary. Where do we keep those parts? In our low-dollar plastic storage bins on our wire shelving, thank you very much. 

Because of our country’s obsession with cheap Chinese goods, it seems we have developed an even greater need for storing all the cheap Chinese goods we bring home from the big-box stores every week. Fortunately, Chinese manufacturers have come up with a great solution for us by providing cheap, attractive plastic storage bins and cheap, attractive wire shelving to keep the bins on. These bins and shelves are perfect for storing car parts. The bins come in just about every size you’d ever imagine. The shelves are sturdy, long-lasting and very easy to assemble. The result is that you should never have to use a cardboard box or homemade shelf again. 

So here’s what we do: We sort all our parts into appropriate groups, like electrical parts, trim parts, engine parts and gearbox parts. Next, we put nearly every group of parts into an appropriately sized plastic bin. Then, we put every bin on our shelves. We usually buy shelves with wheels so we can roll them around when we need to. We label all of our bins, but more importantly, we lay out the contents of each bin and photograph them. That way, we’ve made an instant inventory of our parts. 

We keep the digital photos nearby on a computer, but we also print them out and put them in a binder. The fastest way for us to find a part isn’t to search through the bins; instead, we quickly flip through the printed photos of the appropriate bins. Once we spot the part in our binder, we open the appropriate bin and put it to use.

This all sounds trivial, but we figure these methods save us 30 to 50 hours of searching for parts and dealing with other details over the course of a restoration. It also saves us cash because we don’t have to replace lost parts. What would you rather do: Look for parts, or work on your car? Follow along and we’ll show you how we stay organized.

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Torqued
Torqued New Reader
9/14/20 9:16 p.m.

After a few costly mistakes, I developed a similar system myself.  I had a lot of extra parts for my MGA because a friend and who also owned an MGA moved out of state and give me all of his extra parts.  Over the years of work and travel while the MGA sat waiting prioper restoration I had ordered parts I knew I would need as they came on sale.  Finally retired, I began spending serious time on the project and I discovered that I had purchased parts that were already in the donated stash and were in perfectly good condition.  That was when I decided that I needed to go through it all and catalog everything.  I use an excell spreadsheet for the box numbers and contents. Makes it easy to sort and find parts.  With the extras I actually have three large shelves full plus some larger parts stashed in the loft, but that includes extra transmissions, wheels, hubs, trunk lids, fenders...  With it all organized and cataloged, I have avoided buying a part that I have in the stash several times now.  The shelves on wheels really help.  With limited space, the three shelves can be put side by side - no space between - then moved apart for access as needed.

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