It doesn’t take much to assemble a tool kit to suit your vehicle and RV; however, to assemble a great tool kit, you need to carry the top 10 RV essential tools
You’re sitting on the side of the road, head in hands. Your wife is sitting in a chair under a shady tree, no longer talking to you (of course). The kids? Well, they’re filthy and wasting water, continually using the tap, thirsty from running around the scene of simmering tensions. Why? Because you left the one bloody tool that would have gotten you back on the road, on the bench in the garage! These all-important pieces of equipment should never be left behind. You need them, you don’t have them, you look like a non-essential tool.
1. SPANNER (better to have one than be one)
Most people have a set of spanners lying around the bottom of their toolbox, but do they fit the size of nuts and bolts you have on your RV or vehicle? Why carry imperial if all you need is metric? I carry a set of ratchet spanners as they’re handy in tight spaces, and a 24mm spanner to fit my diff plugs. Wrapping your spanner set up keeps them together and helps prevent you from losing any.
2. SCREWDRIVER (not the cocktail version)
A set of screwdrivers are worth their weight. Comfortable handles and strong blades. There is nothing worse than stripping a screw or damaging the screwdriver. A screwdriver with interchangeable heads is handy; it saves space and the heads can also be used with your drill. A good tip is to magnetise your screwdrivers so there is a good connection between the screw and the driver.
3. SOCKET (no, not your eye socket)
A decent-quality socket set will last a lifetime, and then some. Make sure the sockets suit your vehicle and RV (same as the spanners). Carry metric or imperial, not both, unless you tow something modern with a Series Land Rover (in which case you will have a support truck too). It is handy to have extension bits and a good crank handle (and not to start the Landy). Buy some extended sockets to access long bolts and store them all in a container to make it easier to find what you are looking for.
4. CORDLESS DRILL (can be used for surgical procedures, too)
An 18V cordless drill is the one ‘must-have’ power tool and having a couple of batteries is beneficial also. A drill is handy for tightening screws, nipping up bolts, drilling holes and winding your stabiliser legs up and down. It makes short work of many small jobs; just ensure your batteries are charged for when they’re needed. Keep the batteries on charge whenever you are in a powered site (or if you have an inverter, plug in the charger while travelling).
5. TYRE REPAIR KIT (not the lilo repair kit)
The further we venture off the blacktop in search of that perfect campsite, the higher the chance of puncturing a tyre. A tyre repair kit is cheap insurance in these situations. Most times, you can plug the hole without having to remove the wheel. Not only should you carry a good tyre repair kit, but you should also know how to use it. A portable air compressor is handy to have in these situations, too. You will know how handy the first time you’ve left it at home when it’s required.
6. CABLE TIES
How is it that something so small can save the day, time and time again? Cable ties punch above their weight. They can tie a camping pass to your awning, hang a flag, tidy up cabling or hold your suspension together in the extremes. Carrying several different sizes is a good idea but keep away from the cheap and nasty multi-packs. Paying more for cable ties does mean getting better quality. They pack light and you can never have enough. Who’s never needed emergency handcuffs?
7. LUBRICANTS (not for that!)
Wheel bearing grease, WD-40 and silicon spray all have a use on your RV or tow vehicle. It is important to carry a tub of High-Temperature Bearing Grease (HTB), you never know when you may need to repack your wheel bearings. WD-40 helps loosen rusty bolts, stops a squeaking cupboard or door, removes water from electrics and even stops your mirror from fogging up in the ensuite. Silicon spray is handy for stubborn zips on your annex or rooftop tent.
8. MULTI-GRIPS/SHIFTER (handy as a last resort)
Multi-grips can be used to clamp your fuel line or brake line in an emergency. Shifters come in handy if you happen to have a nut or bolt that doesn’t fit your sockets or spanners or to hold a nut while you tighten a bolt. Make sure the nut is held tight though; shifters are renowned for rounding nuts and the heads on bolts. Having a shifter large enough to use on your towball is a very good idea, as having a loose towball is, er, particularly unsafe.
9. TAPE (of the sticky kind)
Gaffer, electrical and plumbers’ tape are all very useful and don’t take up room. Gaffer tape can be used as a quick repair for rips and tears or hold your front fender on after an animal strike. Electrical tape will neaten up any cabling work or protect soldered cables. Plumbers’ tape is useful for stopping leaky water connections at caravan parks.
10. ELECTRICAL TESTER (like my American Express…
…I never leave home without it). The number of times I have had to check battery connections, test the pins on the caravan plugs, confirm that the alternator was sending a good charge to the Anderson plug… Mine even has a temperature prong – perfect for testing the internal temperature of a camp oven roast. A good tip is to carry spare batteries, too. A test lamp is also handy for determining the presence or absence of an electrical current when switching a source on and off.
And, just in case, add these in too – there’s always a just in case!
ODDS AND SODS (you will use these one day)
It’s generally the odds and sods that take up all the space, but it is better to include these items than leave them behind. You just never know when you may need:
A hand-held light
A hammer/rubber mallet
A rivet gun and mixed rivets
A Stanley knife and blades
A hacksaw and blades
A hand saw
A container of spare nuts, bolts & screws of various sizes and lengths
A soldering iron
A wire brush
A magnetic helper
Whether it be to help yourself or to help others, make sure you carry the top 10 RV essential tools.
Words and images Glenn Marshall.