Tools and repair supplies are usually the first things we put into our RVs. You never know when you are going to have a mechanical breakdown or have something go wrong in the RV that needs fixing.
When we were full-time RVing in a 29-foot Holiday Rambler travel trailer with a 15½-foot cube van as a tow vehicle, I had every tool I owned with us. I even had what I needed to install 1000-pound heavier springs in the front and add two extra leaves in the back of the cube van to handle the extra load.
RV life and travel doesn't always allow us to have every tool we'd like, though. Sometimes, we have to make-do. Here are some random thoughts about tools and supplies while RVing:
• In a pinch, run two or even three strands of electrical wire, if you don't have heavy enough wire on hand.
• My ground cloth is a scrap of rubberized pond liner.
• Buy good tape (3M) if you might be anywhere cold.
• Some DeWalt chargers will not work on some inverter power.
• Some hacksaw blades are very hard and brittle -- bring extras.
• Some brake calipers take a 3/8 allen wrench, which is usually larger than what is in most sets.
• I didn't take a tubing cutter; I used a hacksaw and deburred the end with a jackknife.
• Vise Grip is better than most locking pliers I have seen; don't over use them; use the proper sized wrench whenever possible.
• A stainless toothbrush used on rusty threads before you spray it with penetrating oil does wonders.
Ryobi is not the best cordless tool on the market, but I have some because:
• The 18+ battery system is compatible with over a dozen different tools.
• They are inexpensive.
• You can purchase them separately or as a set.
• Home Depo all over the USA carries them.
• They are on sale often; at times, you can get a charger, a tool, and a battery for the price of some other brand's battery.
• There are a lot of them out there; you can often find them at flea markets without a battery or charger really cheap.
I try to get my tools before I need them. Like many things when you really need them, it will usually cost you more than if you buy them at your leisure.
If you don't want to collect your tools over time, it's easy to get a set of Craftsman tools at Sears on sale at Christmas, or a set of Channel Lock or other reasonable brand at Costco and have them all at once.
However you do it, I believe everyone should have some basic tools onboard his recreational vehicle (or any other vehicle, for that matter).
Editor's note: My husband, Bob Nilles, wrote this article. He's the one in the family who does most of our recreational vehicle maintenance and mechanical repairs. He also does fix-it jobs around the RV, including some remodeling and customization.