A simple trick - easy finding of model parts

Discussion in 'Tips, Tutorials & Tools' started by Tonino, Sep 10, 2004.

  1. Tonino

    Tonino Member

    Once more time, I don't know if I am reinventing the wheel. Perhaps this one I am going to explain is another stupid trick but I think this can help a lot especially in modern paper models with A LOT of tiny parts.

    I start from the beginning so you can tell me if you had the same experience with your brand new paper wonder just arrived in mail box.

    I recently bought the Modelik's OL 49, a big steam locomotive in 1:25. It's a very big and detailed model with a lot of pieces all spreaded in the 26 pages that compose the kit. I think this is a common finding with large models (I think, for example, about large warships, with more than 1000 things to cut away)

    Like everyone of you, I think, the first thing to do is an accurate study of the drawings, trying to figure how the model is intended to be done. The drawings can be more or less easy to understand, but if you want to imagine how the thing is to be done you probably want to look at the real part the figure refers to. And here is where the nightmare starts...
    Sometimes it take me several minutes to find a specific piece and, very often, when I finally find it (IF I find it...), I have forgotten why I was looking for it.

    And this is what happened with the big locomotive.

    I then had an idea :idea: . It's pretty simple but effective. I started numbering the pages (they wasn't) and then turned on my PC, loaded Word and created a table with two columns: one for the pieces and one for the pages. Then, starting with page 1, I recorded all the numbers of the parts in this page in the first column and put "01" in the second. Then continued doing the same with the second page and all the other till the last one. At this point I had a complete list of the parts ordered by page. Simply re-ordering the table by the content of the first column (the parts) gave me several effects in one time:

    1) I had an easy guide to find rapidly any part recalled by instructions (look for the number and you have the page...)
    2) I realized that several part numbers was repeated twice (or even 3 times! :shock: ) for different pieces (looking at the actual parts)
    3) and, obviously, several part numbers was missing (probably the ones referring to the misprinted numbers of above)

    This was an unexpected side-effect of my table, very appreciated indeed, because now I'm aware of all the mistakes that could have drive me crazy during assembly.

    That table was pretty easy and rapid to do and now it could be a valuable help for anyone who is going to build that model, so I think it could be useful to share them somewhere in our forums. And everyone could easily contribute with new tables like this to create a database for future reference. It would be possible to even create a new category (in parts bin?) called, who knows, "parts finding reference tables" or somewhat like this.

    What is your opinion?
  2. Leif Oh

    Leif Oh Member

    Impressive work - particularly how you found out that several parts were missing/misnumbered. Got to remember this neat trick if and when I get to that level of complexity.

    Best, Leif
  3. Gil

    Gil Active Member

    Simple but effective idea...,

    Tonino, you would think that the manufacturer's would do this as a check point in the production of their models. Including it as a reference would be a great help. One step further would be to break the list down into a list of pieces for a particular assembly.

    Best regards, Gil
  4. Tonino

    Tonino Member

    effectively I've sent my table to the producer, asking some questions about some of the mistakes (and about a piece that is missing at all).
    In that occasion I suggested to consider the utility of such a table and that should be greatly appreciated by all modelers if they will include something similar in every new issue.
    Mr Janusz Oles, from Modelik, answered me very soon, very kindly, and this was his answer:

    ...there are many little mistakes in OL-49 which have been remarked by other modellers as well. I'm not the author of this model and that's why I'm not able to find each problem you're talking about. There are many OL-49 models constructed and those problems are to solve, but corrections and additions are to be made on one's own - following one's intuition. I believe you have one (your idea with Word table is very good) and that you are able to do this job somehow. My job must be only saying that I'm very very sorry for inconveniences and trouble. And I can also promise that next models of rail, which I plan to publish in the future, will be very well checked and corrected before printing them.
  5. Gil

    Gil Active Member


    Good! I wonder if the designer's are listening. This could make their final checking task much easier. I will use it in all future designs.

    Thanks, Gil
  6. Nice idea. One thing I've been doing is to place parts for various sub-assemblies in the same envelope so that they don't get misplaced. And LABEL the envelope :D :D
  7. Gil

    Gil Active Member


    I use clear quart and gallon size resealable "baggies". The bags have a white out area for labeling.

  8. jrts

    jrts Active Member

    This is how I store small bits cut out and ready made parts.
    These are old ice cream tubs 1lt in size and fit thogether well.

    I always have an odds and sods box, never know when the bits off other models will come in handy :lol:


  9. charliec

    charliec Active Member

    There was one part of the original message which appears to have been lost amongst some related messages.

    "<<From the orginal message>>That table was pretty easy and rapid to do and now it could be a valuable help for anyone who is going to build that model, so I think it could be useful to share them somewhere in our forums. And everyone could easily contribute with new tables like this to create a database for future reference. It would be possible to even create a new category (in parts bin?) called, who knows, "parts finding reference tables" or somewhat like this. "

    Personally I think this is a good idea - how can we progress it? I'm not sure about the Word solution - not everyone has Office - I guess a browser solution would be better.


  10. Peter H

    Peter H Member

  11. charliec

    charliec Active Member

    That's an interesting thought - thanks Peter - OpenOffice uses XML as a universal file format for all it's applications (Microsoft finally caught up with that idea recently in Office 2003). I'll have to give it some thought in my (not) copious free time.


  12. nebeltex

    nebeltex Member

    T....U R CORRECT!

    some models of some scales can be very challenging with umpteen parts. i always recommend a modeler read and try to understand the directions in full before starting. also, for your own use and sanity, photocopy parts pages on regular paper and associate them with the relevent stages of the build. do not be reticent about contacting the designer about their creations. most are very accomodating and stand behind their work. by doing a model well, you honor the designer(s) and others. imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.
  13. charliec

    charliec Active Member

    I've given Tonino's suggestion some thought and I think it's doable with current Web technology. A first cut at the scope of this:

    The concept is to produce a searchable parts/sheets/location parts list of papermodels so that if one person produces a list it can be shared by download to anyone else starting a build.

    The objectives are:

    1. To reduce the frustration (and build time) of modellers trying to find parts which are scattered over multiple pages.
    2. To identify part numbering errors.
    3. To use technology which is neutral for different operating systems/ environments - probably Web-based.

    Does that make any sense?



    ( You can probably deduce what industry I work in....)
  14. 57townsman

    57townsman Member

    This is a great idea and I for one would find it very helpful.

    How about incorporating a page quadrant number also to further speed up part location? Beginning with 1 (or A) being the upper left and the rest following clockwise. Page number format could be 1-1, 2-C, etc.

    If the web format doesn't pan out how about a simple text file? Most word processors can save in a .txt format.

  15. charliec

    charliec Active Member

    The quadrant idea is worth pursuing - it would certainly help locate parts on
    model kits on A3 (ie.e big) sheets.

    The reason I'd like to pursue the Web idea is to allow searches and also possibly to have component searches like "show me all parts starting with 25 (or whatever) and where they are". Some of the Polish kits use letters to indicate components of an assembly would be nice to be able to pick all of them up in one search.


  16. Tonino

    Tonino Member

    Hi Charlie,

    I was away last week and didn't see this thread was having a continuation...

    I'm glad you liked my idea of putting togheter a database of such reference tables to be shared somewhere around here.

    The html format seems to be a good idea, everyone could import it in his usual word processor (or other program) to make searches with the tools he have available. It wouldn't be a problem to convert a Word table to html format. And every (lucky) Microsoft-free user could read it with no problem.

    I agree, we just have to write down few basic rules and we can begin putting in the tables....

    Perhaps we have to hear the opinion of someone of the administrators?


  17. rickstef

    rickstef Guest


    Go for it.

    I think this will help everyone who builds models, as complex as the polish and czech kits out there.

    I think Ron can come up with some space for a folder of sorts for all the files.

  18. charliec

    charliec Active Member

    You don't have to import html into Word to search if you use a modern browser like Firefox - it has it's own page search capability - even IE's find
    function works reasonably well.

    It seems to me that the simplest way to tackle the formatting of the data would be to use html lists - these are pretty simple to construct and capture the hierarchical nature of the data pretty well and format it as a hierarchy in a browser as well. As a first cut at a template:

    <title>Cardmodels.net parts template</title>
    <h3>(Model identification here) </h3>

    <p> (additional comments here ) </p>

    <li>Page 1</li>
    <li> (part no. and optionally location and what ever else you want) </li>
    <li> (the rest of the parts on the page) </li>
    <li>Page 2</li>

    <li> (etc for all parts pages) </li>

    We could play around with it to make it look like a cardmodels page.
    I'd recommend not using Word to generate html - the stuff that comes out of Microsoft products claiming to be html is awful. A simple text editor (like Notepad on Windows) will do the job well.

    (Now digs hole, jumps in, to avoid the flak )


  19. Tonino

    Tonino Member


    I had the suspect your HTML knowledge was something better than mine... :roll:
    then I jumped to your profile and understood :)

    Jokes apart, I personally don't feel much confortable editing directly in HTML, and I don't know how many of the other guys feel the same.
    I would prefer entering the data in a table (any kind of table, I think any word processor or even applications Excel-like would be good). This only to keep easy as much as possible the (boring) phase of data entry.

    This would as well simplify the sorting of data for page or part number without needing to perform a find for every piece you want to search for (you order by part, print the table and keep it for reference along with instructions).

    I made some tries with the export functions of Word. I prevent your (absolutely right) objections about the "Microsoft style" in doing things, saying that, effectively, the "save as html" function generates an incredible lot of trash in the html code (all to be used by Microsoft application who should even open it...), horrible indeed.
    But there is a second options, the "save as html (filtered)" that, although not as clean as an "hand made" code, is pretty light and has only the commands necessary to display the table in the same way as it appeared in the display.

    Now perhaps we don't need to give exact file specifications fon any future table released, (or we won't see any of them I'm afraid), just few basic rules on the contents, the data, that are the important stuff.

    I'll try here to give a proposal on the characteristics of those tables:


    1) The document should be posted possibly in html format to assure cross-compatibility between PC and Mac users

    2) The first line of the document should contain the subject (as complete as possible, with type and/or version or any information who can contribute to identify it exactly).

    3) Following the title should be entered the references to the model: make, scale, year of edition (to help locate the exact model if a publisher has more than one with the same subject like for many MM for example)

    4) The table itself should have at least 4 columns for, respectively, Part number (required), Page number (required), Quadrant (where applicable), Notes (where applicable). If possible the table should be sorted for part number.

    5) For each part of the model must be at least entered the Part number and the Page number. Other info are optional.

    6) PART NUMBER AND/OR LETTER: are entered like they are printed next to the parts they refer to, even if they are clearly wrong (misprinted/repeated) this can be reported in "notes" space. It's better to enter numbers with the same format (number of characters) so write 001 and not 1 if the model has less than 1000 parts or 0001 if it has 1000 parts or more, otherwise the sort function will not work properly (the 10, 100 and 1000 will come prior than 2). When parts are identified with numbers AND letters is better to let all the numbers to the left and all the letters to the right to allow the sorting operation to let adiacent numbers not to be spreaded in different part of the table (for example a part that is identified as W120a is entered as 120Wa so the number remains the first data and the sorting operates on it. So all the "120" sub-components are left togheter). Hope I was not too complex here.

    7) PAGE NUMBER: if the edition doesn't have numbered pages the numeration will be manually realized starting from the first page containing parts of the model (covers and instruction pages are excluded) and counting only the printed faces (the back of the pages with parts are not counted)

    8 ) QUADRANT: if you want you can enter the quadrant of the page where the part is printed (useful especially for big pages with a lot of tiny parts on it). Let's say quadrants are A (upper left) B (upper right) C (lower left) and D (lower right). Parts that are placed across two quadrants can be identified with the two letters (A-B, A-C, B-D, C-D) and a part that is near the center of the page can be identified as X.

    9) NOTES: here can be entered any remark about the single part. For example to report the errors (part number misprinted or missing or switched with another one...) or any other info that can be useful for the people who are going to put their hands on the model...

    I started telling we should not give too many rules or we discourage any future table-builder, and now I realize I've collected almost as many laws as Moses did. :oops:

    I Hope I didn't complicate the thing too much and wait for your (and other guys') comments.

    By the way, Ron, what is your opinion? Should we have a new parts-bin category for this stuff?

    Ciao to everyone


    PS I'll post in part bin my first (and only) table realized: the one for the Modelik Ol 49. This can be considered a sample to understand the principle of the method.
  20. jrts

    jrts Active Member

    Hi all

    This is a great idea the amount of models even the good ones out there that have part numbers duplicated and spread over multiple pages resulting in loss of build time and hair being ripped (if you have it) in
    frustration is amazing.

    But one quick note on how to do this, its alright if the computor wizz kids can use it, if you want input from all members it must be in a form that even thick heads like myself can understand and use. Other wise its just a waste of space on the site.

    The point Iam making is that with all the stuff I have to do already, learning programs, skills from ideas already posted, work and life in general if its hard to use or enter data I would give one look and never go near it again. All the work that you guys put into it will have been wasted if its not used!!!

    The whole point of this great idea is to make it easy to find what you want.

    Just a thought from a thick head with the old computor :oops:

    Can't wait to see the results


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