Reassembly: Remembering How You Pulled It Apart

Take something apart and put it back together. Anything left over? Not what you intended? To prevent turning your super-server into a full trash can, emulate a burst diagram. Here’s how.

Use a large table, or maybe the whole floor, indoors. No wind, no breeze, not even a fan should roll a loose screw around the floor. As you disassemble the hardware, lay the parts out in the way you would reassemble them. For example, if two plates are attached with a bolt and a nut, which means the two plates have holes that line up for the bolt, lay everything flat like this: Lay the bolt somewhere, lay one plate with its hole next to the tip of the bolt, lay the other plate farther from the bolt but so both holes line up with the bolt, and lay the nut so it’s in line with the two holes and the bolt. Don’t have anything overlapping or touching.

Occasionally, you’ll see a diagram drawn like that, often with dashed lines showing the connection of the bolt through the two holes and into the nut, everything spread apart. That kind of diagram is called a burst diagram. It shows the disassembled item as if all of the parts had burst apart. If you have to do the same job a few times, you might draw your own burst diagram and keep it.

Only add measurements, colors, and other distinguishing characteristics if you need them. If only one piece is a triangle, don’t waste time measuring it, but if you have several screws that are not identical (maybe one has tighter threads), then your diagram should show or tell enough to make clear which screw you need for a certain hole.

You can add other notes. For example, cautions you’ll want to remember later can be written right there, like that a surface is sticky or oily or about electricity. If a spring may surprise you and fly to Mars, a warning and a description of the replacement type you might need to buy could help. If a special technique for reassembly might not be obvious, state it.