There are two things that I've never had too much of … fishing equipment and tools. When it comes to fixing, building, or remodeling something in the RV, I have what I need to get the project done.
Late last fall, we left our home base in Alaska, heading through Canada, to the southern states. We were in our 22-foot class C motorhome that we had purchased for shorter, local trips around Alaska. Coleen refers to it as "vintage" -- that means "really old." Mechanical problems were a very real possibility.
We knew there could be long distances between areas with services that were open that time of year. We knew we could face double digit below zero temperatures. We packed to be prepared to take care of ourselves. We took arctic quality clothing, extra food, supplemental heat sources, extra gas, and some basic tools to assist with any breakdowns we might incur.
Here is a list of the tools I chose to take with us on this road trip:
• 1/4 and 3/8 drive socket set, SAE 5/32-3/4, Metric 4mm-19mm
• 3/8 drive deep sockets 3/8-7/8
• long handled swivel head 3/8 drive ratchet
• 3/8 drive extension 10 inches long
• 12 inch adjustable wrench
• 8 inch adjustable wrench
• 4 assorted size flat screwdrivers
• 3 assorted size Phillips screwdrivers
• interchangeable screwdriver set with torx (star), allen (hex), and Robertson (square) bits
• 20 once framing hammer
• wire stripping and crimping pliers
• large folding allen wrench set
• hacksaw and 6 blades
• needle nose pliers
• combination wrenches 3/8-7/8 with extra 7/16, 1/2, 9/16, and 3/4
• #420 Channel Lock pliers
• 8 inch file with handle
• 7/32 round chainsaw file with handle
• flaring tool
• wire cutter
• 16-foot tape measure
• stainless steel toothbrush
• cordless drill, battery, and charger
• drill bit set
• Vise Grip locking pliers
• standard pliers
• 3/4 wood chisel
• 1/2 cold chisel
• utility knife and extra blades
I also took the following supplies with us on the trip:
• assorted wire ties
• electrical tape
• duct tape
• assorted crimp on wire connectors
• Scotchbrite pads
• 5x7 ground cloth
• assorted bulbs: RV interior lighting, tail light, turn signal, etc.
• Permatex ultra gray RTV silicone
• gold tone deck screws, assorted sizes
• two partial rolls of 14 gauge electrical wire
• two fuse holders and 13 assorted fuses
• old towels for rags
• spray penetrating oil/lubricant
I put most of this in a large, gator mouth style tool bag. It fit in one of the motorhome's outside storage compartments.
These are what I acquired along the trip:
• A Ryobi cordless circular saw - I needed one and found it for five bucks at a flea market.
• A 10-inch adjustable wrench, an older Diamond with a perfect jaw -- two bucks at a garage sale; couldn't pass it up.
• Framing square -- needed one and found it for 25 cents at a yard sale in the RV park; it was rusty.
• Swanson square -- 25 cents, same sale.
• Folding saw that uses Sawzall style blades and 4 blades -- one buck, at a church sale.
Most of my tools are American made. Although I would like to have Snap On, Mac, Matco, and Klein, I'd really need to use these brands every day and be able to use them for a tax deduction to justify their cost. I like and own a lot of Channel Lock, Crescent, Diamond, Craftsman, S-K, Proto, and some Blackhawk. I have some other good and some older brands like Plumb, New Brighton, Herbrand, Wright, P and C, K.D., Williams, Armstrong, Bonney, and Vlchek, mixed in. I shy away from imports, but occasionally I will buy one due to price.
As you can see, I am not very brand loyal, as long as the tools are good quality.
Editor's note: My husband, Bob Nilles, wrote this article after leaving on our RV trip from Alaska to southern Texas in 2010. 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.
His list of tools for the RV remains much the same today.