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Thread: Finding Lost Tiny Parts

  1. #1
    rgsparber's Avatar
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    Finding Lost Tiny Parts

    Have you ever had a tiny part shoot across the room and land in a pile of swarf? Or did it miss that pile, bounce off the wall, and land a few feet away? Here is how to find that part.

    If you are interested, please see

    http://rick.sparber.org/LTPT.pdf


    Your comments are welcome. All of us are smarter than any one of us.


    Thanks,

    Rick
    Rick

  2. #2
    mklotz mklotz's Avatar
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    The swarf behind my lathe probably contains enough tiny parts to make a whole new engine so I'm intimately familiar with this problem. My approach is more prevention than after-the-fact but future readers of this post may benefit from some of the ideas.

    'Sproing' prevention...

    When disassembling small mechanisms, do it on a "dead", very short fiber substrate so a dropped part won't bounce. I use a well-worn baby blanket for larger jobs and those freebie, Harbor Freight "micro-fiber" cloths for smaller tasks.

    If disassembling something you fear may contain hidden springs, etc. that might try to get away, do the disassembly with your hands and the object inside one of those clear plastic clothes covers the dry cleaners provide when you have your clothes cleaned.

    Tweezers with metal tips can propel tiny parts long distances if the part 'squeezes out' of the jaws. Coat the tips of the tweezers with liquid insulation or such to make them a bit sticky.

    Make small weighted cups from the bottoms of soda cans...

    Small parts cups

    to contain parts removed so they aren't accidentally swept aside off the bench.

    Make a fence on the edge(s) of the bench from weather-stripping to prevent roll-off...

    One liners

    Attach a piece of brightly-colored pipe cleaner (available in craft stores) to high escape risk parts as soon as they are removed. If they get away the bright color will make them easier to find.*

    Turn off the shop radio so, if a part escapes, you might hear the 'ting' when it lands and thus have a general idea of where to look for it.

    'Sproing' recovery...

    Check your lap before you get up, then check your clothes. Don't wear pants with cuffs.

    Lay your flashlight flat on the floor. Even tiny parts will cast a long shadow that's often easier to see than the part itself.

    Make a catcher jar for your shop vacuum. It's easier to clean than the vac itself and easier to dump.


    ---
    * This is a good trick for small tools you might use out of doors. Grass is just a natural deep pile carpet. I do this with all the small Allen wrenches I keep in my shooting bag for adjusting sights, etc.. (Just don't use green pipe cleaner; fluorescent orange or yellow is best.)
    ---
    Regards, Marv


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  3. #3
    Frank S's Avatar
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    Rick that is a good solution for a bad situation. the one thing you might want to mention though is before using the shop vac as an assistant for locating the errant part the process of sifting through the debris can be greatly shortened if the shop vac is thoroughly cleaned prior to its use.
    The reason I mentioned it is I have used a shop vac to find things in th epast only I didn't think to clean it out first. I found what I was searching for bu tit took a long time since the drum was half full when I started, OOPs.
    Never try to tell me it can't be done
    When I have to paint I use http://kbs.justoldtrucks.com/

  4. #4
    Frank S's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mklotz View Post
    The swarf behind my lathe probably contains enough tiny parts to make a whole new engine so I'm intimately familiar with this problem. My approach is more prevention than after-the-fact but future readers of this post may benefit from some of the ideas.

    'Sproing' prevention...

    When disassembling small mechanisms, do it on a "dead", very short fiber substrate so a dropped part won't bounce. I use a well-worn baby blanket for larger jobs and those freebie, Harbor Freight "micro-fiber" cloths for smaller tasks.

    If disassembling something you fear may contain hidden springs, etc. that might try to get away, do the disassembly with your hands and the object inside one of those clear plastic clothes covers the dry cleaners provide when you have your clothes cleaned.

    Tweezers with metal tips can propel tiny parts long distances if the part 'squeezes out' of the jaws. Coat the tips of the tweezers with liquid insulation or such to make them a bit sticky.

    Make small weighted cups from the bottoms of soda cans...

    Small parts cups

    to contain parts removed so they aren't accidentally swept aside off the bench.

    Make a fence on the edge(s) of the bench from weather-stripping to prevent roll-off...

    One liners

    Attach a piece of brightly-colored pipe cleaner (available in craft stores) to high escape risk parts as soon as they are removed. If they get away the bright color will make them easier to find.*

    Turn off the shop radio so, if a part escapes, you might hear the 'ting' when it lands and thus have a general idea of where to look for it.

    'Sproing' recovery...

    Check your lap before you get up, then check your clothes. Don't wear pants with cuffs.

    Lay your flashlight flat on the floor. Even tiny parts will cast a long shadow that's often easier to see than the part itself.

    Make a catcher jar for your shop vacuum. It's easier to clean than the vac itself and easier to dump.


    ---
    * This is a good trick for small tools you might use out of doors. Grass is just a natural deep pile carpet. I do this with all the small Allen wrenches I keep in my shooting bag for adjusting sights, etc.. (Just don't use green pipe cleaner; fluorescent orange or yellow is best.)
    Marv I used to re-man hydraulic pumps , valves and motors, as well as a few diesel fuel injection pumps. As any old injection service tech will tell you it is absolutely imperative to reassemble injection pumps in a pan filled with clean diesel. I found it equally important on some things to disassemble them within the depths of a clear fluid substance as well. It helped to reduce the velocity of bits being propelled into outer space once the last thread on a screw or bolt was reached.
    Never try to tell me it can't be done
    When I have to paint I use http://kbs.justoldtrucks.com/

  5. #5
    Content Editor DIYer's Avatar
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    Thanks Rick! We've added your Lost Parts Locating Method to our Miscellaneous category, as well as to your builder page: Rick's Homemade Tools. Your receipt:



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