Finding a part for a late-model machine can become an impossible task. We know how hard it is because we receive hundreds of letters and e-mails from readers who are desperately searching for an item even their dealer can't locate.

We found a new Web site that gives you access to one million discontinued or specialty parts from more than 1,000 well-known manufacturers and suppliers.

PFW is a 20-yr.-old Canadian software company that started its parts database, called PartFinder, just 12 months ago. What began as a few dealers listing their slow-moving parts has quickly expanded.

By last September, we had parts from 30 dealers listed, says Dave Fulton, manager of product support for PFW. Now we have 103 dealers with over 350 locations in Canada and the U.S. that represent over 1,000 parts vendors.

And that equals one million parts waiting to be found.

To find a part, locate the company's database at www.partfinder.pfw.com. The database searches by part number and location (you can narrow your search to only your state). Enter, in sequence, as many numbers or letters of the part that you know.

The database has a wild-card search, so even if you have only a couple of numbers from the part number, it will bring up any item that has those numbers in the same sequence. It then shows a description of the part, the vendor, any dealer who carries the part and the quantity available.

After you find what you need, click on the name of the dealer listed as having that item. The next screen will list the dealer's Web address, phone number and mailing address. You can either purchase the part online or call the dealer.

You are not charged for using the database; only vendors that list their parts pay for the service. You negotiate shipping and handling costs with the dealer.

About 95% of our listings are parts that have been sitting on dealers' shelves for over a year, Fulton says. Dealers don't want to list parts that move daily. They like the idea of listing obsolete and hard-to-find parts.

For more information, contact PFW Systems Corp., Dept. FIN, 850 Medway Park Crt., London, Ontario, Canada N6G 5C6, 519/474-3300, ext. 237, www.partfinder.pfw.com or circle 210.