Tools & Storage Solutions, part 1.
Part one of a multi-part series about how to keep things from getting lost while building, store your spare parts, eliminate (some) frustration, and generally stay organized.
I'm sure that every single one of you have encountered that sinking feeling of knowing you had a specific part, but couldn't find it. It happened to me yesterday when I was building my Nervis 2.0 and I was looking for a 0.3mm shim that fits between my servo and servo horn. Luckily I found it in a plastic bag in the Nevis 2.0's box, but it could have ended very poorly as that particular shim was sized for this specific purpose and Wrap-Up only included one.
Keeping Parts off the Floor and Out of the Carpet
When building an RC car kit, whether it be from MST, Overdose, Tamiya, 3Racing, or Yokomo (the brands I have experience with), the parts normally come segregated in plastic bags that are numbered. These numbers often correspond with the step in the instructions where they are used. However, sometimes parts from one bag are not used completely and are later used in a subsequent step. Therefore, you're going to have to store them for later.
What I used for storing parts during construction are Plano 3600 ProLatch StowAway boxes. Plano makes StowAway boxes in three series- 3500, 3600, and 3700. The 3500-series has the smallest boxes, the 3700-series has the largest boxes, and the 3600-series has boxes that are in the middle. Additionally, the 3600-series of boxes has the greatest variety of boxes, which is more important than actual box size in my opinion.
You can buy the boxes by themselves, or you can buy them with a carrier such as the Plano 1364 3600 Stowaway Rack System, which comes with 4 of the 3600-series boxes. I bought one off Amazon and it is currently holding my spare parts and hop-ups. I have one box dedicated to just hardware and shims, another dedicated to suspension components, another dedicated to drive train components such as axles and gears, and the last box dedicated to miscellaneous parts. At $40 shipped, I think it is a good investment as it is a pretty big step up from storing parts in plastic bags in cardboard boxes. I have a Plano 7271, which also uses the 3600-series boxes, which means I have 7 of those boxes that I can swap from one box to another, depending on which items I'll need (building vs upgrading & maintenance). I keep one on my workstation and the other under it so as not to take up too much space.
Another items that I find useful is a magnetic parts tray. While we work with aluminum, stainless steel, and other non-magnetic items, the vast majority of parts that we use are magnetic and had a tendency to end up rolling around on your desk after you've removed them from your plastic parts bag. You can use a plastic cup or the large section of the 3600-box for this, but I find the former aren't really big enough and the latter has the lid which takes up space. I think the rectangular ones, such as this TEKTON 1903 Rectangle Magnetic Parts Tray, do a better job of using space than the round ones and would recommend that you use one that is large enough to hold everything in the bag without clumping them together. Often screws look very similar and if you take the time to sort them out on your parts tray, you can avoid having using the wrong screw.
My next article in this series will be on the tools that I use to work on RC-cars.