Getting started with database/model relationships

Hey everyone... I'm just getting my feet wet with relational databases
using RoR models. The software I'm putting together relies on car
parts. Originally I had the database set up as follows

create_table :parts do |t|
  t.column :year, :string
  t.column :make, :string
  t.column :model, :string
  .
  .
  .
end

However, I now realize it's much better to do it using relationships
instead. Unfortunately, I'm not too familiar with this method and have
been reading up on it for a few hours. I just want to post what I think
I'm supposed to be doing here and hopefully get a little feedback as to
whether I'm approaching this correctly before I start programming it
into my application...

class Year < ActiveRecord::Base
  has_many :makes
end

class Make < ActiveRecord::Base
  belongs_to :year
  has_many :models, :through => something_else
end

class Model < ActiveRecord::Base
  belongs_to :make
  has_many :parts, :through => something
end

class Part < ActiveRecord::Base
  belongs_to :model
end

However, I guess what is confusing me is that if I try to set it up this
way, if I enter a part for a 1999 Jeep Cherokee, how would I link the
part (say with part_id = 1337) to 1999, Jeep, and Cherokee? Would I
need to refine my setup here and link the part directly to the year,
make, and model by adding belongs_to and has_many or would I simply add
a column for make_id, model_id, year_id to my "create_table :parts"
method? ie:

create_table :parts do |t|
  t.column :year_id
  t.column :make_id
  t.model :model_id
end

The other thing confusing me is the ":through => something" stuff. In
one example I see can see creating a friendship table that links two
users, but I'm not sure how I would apply it in this case or if it is
even smart to do it this way...

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

Hey Bernhard,

take a look first into this. There is a really good explanation, hope
you come along with this.

http://guides.rubyonrails.org/association_basics.html

Rafael

I think I'm making some progress here, but what I'm wondering about now
is whether or not my full-text search using acts_as_ferret will still
work. Right now, in the old database setup I have, the text search will
find everything in the parts table. However, lets say I link part1 with
model1 through a model_id (or part_id), will searching parts for
"model1" yield a result?

Okay... Here is what I have... Let me know if I should make any
refinements...

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3316/3471892268_47af8b016f_o.jpg

class Year < ActiveRecord::Base
  has_many :makes
  has_many :models, :through => :make
  has_many :parts, :through => :model
end

class Make < ActiveRecord::Base
  belongs_to :year
  has_many :models
  has_many :parts, :through => :model
end

class Model < ActiveRecord::Base
  belongs_to :make
  belongs_to :year
  has_many :parts
end

class Part < ActiveRecord::Base
  belongs_to :model
  belongs_to :make
  belongs_to :year
end