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How Do You Keep Track of Where Bolts Go During a Rebuild?

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Paul Olesen

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Alright guys, this week I just want to share a short and simple tip with you on how to stay more organized during an engine build.

 

When it comes to major engine maintenance or repairs, usually the engine covers have to come off or the crankcases must be split. The covers and cases are almost always retained using different length bolts. The repercussions of installing the bolts in the wrong order upon reassembly can be very damaging. This is especially true if you install a bolt that is too short for its location and only a couple of threads engage, ultimately stripping the threads when you tighten the bolt.

 

So what’s an easy way to keep track of cover or case bolts that are arranged in a pattern of different lengths?

 

My favorite way to organize these bolts is to take a thin piece of cardboard (think cereal box thickness) and then slit the approximate bolt pattern into the cardboard so that the bolts cannot get mixed up. A picture is worth a thousand words so check out the one below. You need not be an artist to apply this tip, simply slit the pattern, add a couple reference points and you’re done!

 

index.php?app=core&module=attach&section=attach&attach_rel_module=post&attach_id=313099

 

Do you have any organizational tips you’d like to share? Leave a comment below because I'd love to hear about them!

 

If you are looking for more helpful tips and engine building info, feel free to check out my book, The Four Stroke Dirt Bike Engine Building Handbook. You’ll find 301 pages filled with crucial and down-to-earth four-stroke engine building knowledge. You've got one more week left to use the offer code tt2016 and receive 15% off your order!

 

Paul


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Looks like a good system. LOL, I was an auto mechanic for several years, and have worked on bikes for years. Have never done a major job when there weren't some parts left over. I'll swear there must be some kind of ghost that puts them there.

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no matter how many different length bolts you have for side cases and similar stuff they should all stick out about the same before you screw them in 

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After cleaning "All" my parts and "Screws" I found that convenient size plastic Food Storage containers keep everything organized; ie LS case an screws in one container / Right side case and screw in another etc ,, even have one for my cyl block and head ,, 
My location is extremely dusty and if a rebuild takes longer than a few days its great !!

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no matter how many different length bolts you have for side cases and similar stuff they should all stick out about the same before you screw them in 

That's right, as a rule of thumb thread engagement should be at a minimum 1.5 times the bolt diameter.

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After cleaning "All" my parts and "Screws" I found that convenient size plastic Food Storage containers keep everything organized; ie LS case an screws in one container / Right side case and screw in another etc ,, even have one for my cyl block and head ,, 

My location is extremely dusty and if a rebuild takes longer than a few days its great !!

Thanks for sharing your tip!

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I always use egg cartons when working on my bike for anything. If doing a lot of work and going deep I will number each egg spot and write a legend. Works great if I am not back to the project for a while and I can always add more as needed and recycle when trashed.

 

This is the best method for side covers or different sized bolts that do not go back in a symmetric manner though.

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All parts for a subassembly go in a labelled zipper bag. Case bolts are numbered with a sharpie corresponding to numbered holes in the case. But I like the cardboard template idea.

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I use the cardboard method for cases but alot of my screws go in ziplock bags and I write where i took them out of.. its not the best method..but it works for me..ive rebuilt a 2008 ktm 85 and a 2009 kx 65 in the past year..and I have one more 2003 ktm 65 going to get rebuilt in the next couple weeks. 

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Sometimes I use the cardboard method, but sometimes I just tape the bolts to paper and label it. Ziplocs are always used also.

SDC11791.jpg

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All parts for a subassembly go in a labelled zipper bag. Case bolts are numbered with a sharpie corresponding to numbered holes in the case. But I like the cardboard template idea.

 

This is what I do too.

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hey i have a cr85r and i was riding it and i ran out of radiator fluid and my bike started to bog well i pu some in and it was runing goog and it started to bog and when i penit it will bog down and shut off and now it wont start at all

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hey i have a cr85r and i was riding it and i ran out of radiator fluid and my bike started to bog well i pu some in and it was runing goog and it started to bog and when i penit it will bog down and shut off and now it wont start at all

I think the first lesson here is that when your bike is consuming a fluid (other than gasoline) there should be cause for alarm and you should stop to determine what may be the problem. 

As far as what happened, your engine likely overheated due to the fact that it ran out of coolant. When the engine overheated the piston expanded and probably scuffed the cylinder bore. This compromised the piston rings ability to seal and has lead to a loss of compression.

Performing a compression test will confirm if this is the case.  

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I paper bag everything. Plastic can come apart and become a pain in the ass with oil etc. But I use paper for everything. The sub assemblies, the hardware..all labeled easily on the paper with a sharpie. And it stacks and stands easily too.

 

One thing about what bolts go where

 

Most of the time, there is 1-1.5 times the bolts diameter for thread engagement. So, if you put the bolt in, say a 6mm, and you dont have at least 8-10mm sticking out before it screws in, its the wrong bolt. If its 12mm out, its probably wrong bolt. So even if you throw them all in a can and mix them up...there ya go.

 

With chassis stuff, I just put them back in the hole where they came from until reassembly. No hunting, everything is where it came from. And you dont lose shit and it goes back the way it came apart.

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Good info , Paul.I've seen the bolts stuck in cardboard , but didn't know about the rule of thumb regarding 1.5 x bolt diameter = minimum thread engagement .

Always look forward to reading your articles , thanks !

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The question that I've yet to see answered is if you send all of the hardware out for plating, none of these plans work. All I can come up with is having a thread gauge and a ruler, and keeping a notebook of the style/finish/length/thread of each bolt and its location. Any other ideas for what to do if you send all hardware out for refinishing? Sending them in small batches would increase costs significantly!

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I do the same as the writer, small parts get put into zip lock bags that have what it contains written on them with a permanent marker.

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I love this idea for bigger projects. Normally I put the bolts in the work area (on floor or bench) in the pattern. Then either put the bolts back in the holes on the side case and move to an emtpy shelf I reserve for current projects or screw back in the threads. This all depends on what part I'm working on and if they'll be in the way. During the transition phase I've fumbled or kicked them in the past and have had to measure the exposed threads. The odd time a few bolts have recessed threads and that requires a beer break to make sure you get it right.

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Little late here... but I use duct tape.  No mess and takes up less space than a ton of baggies.  Simply rip a strip, but all applicable bolts on the strip, then fold it over to stick them together.  Works well when they come off with a part too, say PV cover.  Write what they are on the tape with Sharpie, then they can easily fit in a cup.  Don't have to worry about 15 bags floating around, and sharpie coming off the bags.  Working on multiple bikes this is super helpful, orange cup 1 bike, red cup another bike.  All chassis bolts go back in as Shawn said.

Love the cardboard idea though, as with side cases I put the bolts in a certain order (starting with a specific point), and tape them flat together in that exact order.  More intuitive with the cardboard, I'm just a fan of taking up less space.  I can easily see a bolt falling out of cardboard, no such worries with duct tape....although reassembly does require a sharp knife to cut them out at times.  At least they don't get lost!!

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Okay. Tried to post a pic of what I do but not working????

 

 I see your pic. But, you're still not doing it right. Looks like you're using the "insert URL" function, not "insert image". And, if you use the image button, you can't have the img tags already around the image URL. The image button is what puts the image tag around the url, so it shows as a pic, not a link to a pic.

 

If you're grabbing the image from photo bucket, just copy/paste the IMG link:

http://support.photobucket.com/hc/en-us/articles/200724324-Linking-and-Embedding-Images

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i have a ladder on the side of my garage i put the bolts and parts on the ladder that way i can get the order right when i put thing together

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I use metal baking pans that I get from the thrift store for a buck or two.  I throw parts from each assembly in to a different pan.  Works like a charm.

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