Jul 132009

After sharing my experiences with tools in my Nick’s Tool Box blog  on Saturday, a couple of new RVers wrote to say that even though they now knew I wasn’t the right person to ask, would I check with Miss Terry and some other experienced RVers and ask what they considered the basic to carry in an RV toolbox.

A lot depends on your abilities and your own RV. Most of the bus nuts I know running around the country in converted buses (myself excluded) are pretty handy with mechanical things, and it is not unusual for them to carry a wide selection of tools with them; everything from a full collection of wrenches, screwdrivers, and a socket set, to caulking guns, and even power tools.

My pal Howard Best, who is the guy the rest of us bus nuts call when we’re in trouble, seems to have one of every tool ever made in the cavernous bays of his MCI bus conversion, as well as a pretty well stocked spare parts supply. One time when our 24 volt alternator died, Howard rummaged around in one of his bays and pulled out a brand new replacement, and then fabricated a mount for it!

Other fulltime RVers and extended time travelers we know carry much less, sometimes no more than a couple of screwdrivers, a pair of pliers, and an adjustable wrench. They figure if something needs more than just tightened, it’s time to limp into a garage or call their roadside service company.

Even a non-mechanic like me carries a decent assortment of tools. (Okay, let’s be honest, they’re Miss Terry’s tools.) We have a basic assortment of box and open end wrenches, a few adjustable wrenches, various size vise grips, pliers and channel locks, several sizes of standard and Phillips screwdrivers, a collection of standard and deep well sockets, a hammer. Miss Terry also has a set of Torx head screwdrivers in several sizes.

Then, of course, there are certain non-tool items that everyone should have; WD-40, duct tape, and Rescue Tape, which can be found at many RV rallies and is handier than a Swiss Army Knife. We have used it for everything from mending a leaking sewer hose to sealing a power steering canister. We also carry a spare fan belt, as well as replacement turn signal, brake, and taillight light bulbs.

Keep in mind that very few RV parks will allow you to do much in the way of RV repairs on the premises, so you probably don’t need to bring along every tool from you garage at home. In most RV parks, you can get by with some basic things like replacing a headlamp or taillight bulb, but most are not going to allow you to change your oil in your RV site. But you should still have a basic complement of tools to handle emergency breakdowns on the road. 

What kind of tools do you carry in your RV and find you can’t do without?

Thought For The Day – Nothing’s impossible for those who don’t have to do it.

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Nick Russell

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  9 Responses to “The Basic RV Toolbox”

  1. Nick,

    I also carry:

    A Dremel, a Fluke meter and a cheapie Radio Shack meter for testing batteries and 12V wires, a cordless drill, small hand saw and an assortment of screws, nuts and bolts, a putty knife, hammer, Allen wrenches, small level, and quite a bit more. But like so many others, I know my limitations and will call in the pros.

  2. I did not see it listed, but I don’t know how you get along without a multimeter. Check AC / DC voltages, continuity, polarity (although I do have a simple plug in) and other functions I use less frequently.

  3. Escapees friend Odel King says his tool box consists of a pen and checkbook.

  4. In my “toolbox” is an expert mechanic – and he seems to have EVERYTHING he needs:-)

  5. 4 years ago we started fulltiming with almost all the tools I had in our house. Thought I could not live without them. I soon found out I could. Having our Ohio base gives me a place to keep most of them now. We carry about 1/4 the tools we use to carry and only those I need for special projects. We have shed lots of pounds thru the years, wish I could say that for myself. John

  6. Peter has spare parts (belts, hoses, alternator, inside & outside replacement lights, spare house water pump, boxes of screws, bolts, electrical connectors, etc). Pete also has the usual tools & volt meter, connectionless electricity sensor and non contact thermometer. We can handle small stuff but as everyone else points out the big stuff needs to be done by the pros.
    We do carry spare oil filters, coolant filters, Dahl filters, generator filters & fuel filters. We do change our own oil most of the time. Cost for an oil change is astronomical. If we do it ourselves, oil and filter cost about $90 (we have a Cummins diesel 250 HP engine). Anyone (well, except Nick) can do minor repairs as necessary.
    We tend to carry spare parts which are hard to get and tools which allow Peter to do minor repairs. It sure came in handy in Alaska as our alternator went out and we had a spare which took Peter about 30 minutes to install.
    I would really like to plug the Dahl filter here. I once had a diesel rabbit car which I loved (53 mpg). I got a bad load of diesel one time (debris in fuel). I never really got it all out of the tank and had to change fuel filters every time I changed the oil filter. We have added a Dahl fuel filter on the RV as another filter for the fuel before it goes into the engine and we have a smaller Dahl for the generator. All it takes is one load of bad fuel and the dinky filter that came with your coach will not save you.
    Connie B.

  7. I haven’t seen anyone mention a rubber mallet and a large Leatherman. I use the Leatherman for most anything I can repair and the mallet takes care of most everything else 🙂

  8. RV toolkit: Corkscrew and/or church key — anything more complicated, I let the “big boys” handle! :>)

  9. These are all great ideas but I have been looking for days for somebody to send me in the direction of an actual toolbox. I am looking for something to give my husband for Christmas that is a good size (he is a tool nut). He wants a toolbox to fit in the basement storage compartment of our RV. It has pull out storeage and I am looking for the tool box to fit there snuggly (is that a word?)

    Thanks for any help.

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