Tools

Selecting what tools to hit the road with has been a harder decision than I expected.  Watched all the YouTube videos as to what others are using and talked to a lot of friends in the process.  It became apparent that until we are on the road we may not have a great idea of what tools will come in handy. For sure, the types of tools one keeps depends on how much of the truck/RV maintenance and modifications one plans to perform on their own compared to hiring it out. For me, I plan to learn as much as possible and do as much as possible.

For me, the starting point is taking inventory of what tools I already own. I sold off some of the larger items in our first garage sale, keeping for sure what I know I’ll need to finish home repairs before our house goes on the market.  Then I looked around at all the boxes and bags, sorted by tool type, and wondered how to consolidate all those into just a few bags for the road.

After years of reading other’s blogs and the Facebook users group for our trailer brand I’ve got a reasonable idea of what to expect. For example, common problems where bolts were not checked and may have led to mechanical failures in the suspension systems.

As our 35′ fifth wheel has a smaller basement than a 40′ model, I suspect the bed of our truck will someday include a larger container for whatever will fit in it.  Here are a few of my tool decisions and what I’m wondering about keeping or not.

Tree branch trimming and wood cutting:  This is a hard one for me. Do I keep the battery operated Sawzall, longer axe or hatchet, buy an electric chain saw or just keep the ratcheting  loppers?  I suspect, but am not sure, there will be times when we at least collect small dead tree branches to start fires and for sure there will be those times when low hanging tree branches may need to be cut from the roof of the fifth wheel before we back in?

Hand tools and electrical stuff: This was an easy decision. I took my two boxes and consolidated what I thought I would need into a single bag. I should have done this a long time ago because more times than not I ran back to the garage for yet another small tool that happened to be stored in a different bag than what I had with me.  I kept a couple extras of some tools, such as a screw driver, for a drawer in the fifth wheel for quick work and a spare set of pliers to store outside with the RV water hose connection rather than having to get the entire bag of tools out. I ended up buying this bag to consolidate everything into:


Mechanics Set of Tools:
  Over 30 years ago I purchased my first set of 3/8″ sockets. Over time I bought a small 1/4″ socket set and had amassed dozens of miscellaneous sockets which I kept in a box, bought more than likely at yard sales.  I would purchase a wrench here and there.  It was time for something more substantial and all inclusive.   Something in a single box I could grab and run with.  Adding a mechanics tool set, along with my new single bag of hand and electrical tools, brings together 90% of what tools I think I’ll need.  Keeping weight in mind, or something reasonable to carry around, I researched a new mechanics tools set. I decide on a 1/4″ and 3/8″ set.  I just do not think I’ll need a full 1/2″ drive set so why add the weight to the box.  I discovered mechanics sets after watching a YouTube where a guy was changing fuel filters on his diesel truck. This is what I purchased:

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Dewalt DWMT73802 142 Piece Mechanics Tools

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Lifetime Guarantee

 

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No One Builds Better Latches than Dewalt

Power Tools:  Of course I’ll take along a cordless drill. But what about the remainder of the set I already own that include even a small skill saw?  I’m still undecided and might just keep what I don’t take in our 5’x10′ storage unit until I see if I miss them.

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Not Sure If I’m Keeping These?

Other ToolsFor More Specific Usage: Following the Facebook user’s group for our brand of fifth wheel has netted some great advise. Folks provided specific recommendations for various tools and sizes of wrenches. Adding a torque wrench and one single 1/2″drive deep socket with 6″ extension is apparently all I’ll need for the major suspension components. I’m hoping to avoid bolts backing out while bumping down the road by keeping them tightened at the manufacturers recommendations. Of course take a caulking gun and make sure to have tape and caulk for repairs. I’m also wondering if it’s worth keeping my electric buffer for waxing the trailer? And what about a small shovel, maybe a folding entrenching tool would work. I’ve got a heavier 25′ extension cord which will work, especially as I can pull out the generator if I need to be closer to something. Here is what I bought:

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Tekton 24335 1/2″ – 10 to 150 Pound Torque Wrench

Air Compressor: I own a pancake model with a small tank that is capable of the air pressures I would need. But it’s heavy and takes up space. I’ve looked at the popular Viair portable brand, but they are expensive and slow to inflate. I might get a smaller pancake model that has a tank now that I’m not running any air nailguns nor plan to use air tools. Finally figured out how to air up dual wheel tires and have the basic chucks for that, along with a quality air gauge attached to the air hose. Might write a blog post later on that. I’m not concerned with having a model that hooks to a car battery because we have a generator if needed. I’ll be taking another look at the hoses that are available, especially the space saving type. Although it makes since to go with what I have for now.  I also have a gun attachment that blows air which is invaluable for cleaning dusty parts and even blowing out the garage floor. Wonder if that might work for blowing off the tops of slides? (update 6/19/19 need to replace current pancake model which apparently is to old to inflate anything higher than 104 pounds.  I’ll sell the old one grouped with my nail guns).

Gas Powered Equipment: Figure these are not coming along but not sure yet.  We have a 3500 Watt gas generator already so will already be hauling around a few gallons of gas.  What about keeping my gas leaf blower and collapsible weed trimmer?  These two items come apart for storage. The leaf blower could come in handy for blowing off the slide tops or outside mat. I’ve stayed in more than one camping area that needed weeds trimmed.

Ladder and Stool:  Not technically a tool but something to consider. We have a two step folding stool to be used to reach high shelves in the RV and I use it to get in and out of the truck bed. Really thinking about keeping the two step stool in the camper and buying a shorter three step model to keep in the back of the truck. I also have a 12′ heavy folding Werner ladder. I’ve considered going to a collapsible ladder in place of the folding ladder:

Two steep

 

LadderLAdder 2

 

I’ve got a place at home we are storing tool and camper accessories we are not using right now. We plan to take several boxes with us when we pick up our fifth wheel from the dealership. There is time now to put all this together.

Karen and I were talking yesterday about pricing items for sale. We both agreed although we had paid X amount for something new we had, for lack of a better word, joy in using it. That joy cost something and the item is now worn. For me, some tools are harder to dispose of because even after years of usage they are not even close to worn out.  So when you are downsizing it might be helpful to keep in mind you had joy in owning and using something. You can always buy the same worn item again later at a yard sale or any of the same places you used to dispose of them.

Thanks for following along and providing comments. I’ve been shopping for a new truck hitch and still considering a truck bed cover for all the stuff we want to secure. More on all of that later.

9 thoughts on “Tools

  1. Hi Mark. I’m an Engineer and love my tools. However, after owning an RV for 11 years now, there are tools I have just permanently removed from my kit that I have not used once in that time. These are typically the larger tools, wrenches etc, that would be required for a major repair. The thing is, now I’m knocking 70 years of age, I’m tending to get others to do these big jobs for me now and so these heavy tools are no longer required. I do carry a four step ladder and have used it often to deal to the awning, rather than tackle it from the roof. The most common tools that I use on the road now are small hand tools, that take up very little room. I enjoy reading your blog always. Best wishes to you both.

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    • Thanks for the feedback Rob. I’m not yet sure if I’m creating unrealistic expectations of myself; wanting to repack wheel bearings, brake pads and “simpler” maintenance like that. I’m not much of a mechanic but can learn fast and figure it out. Especially if I find opportunities to help others who can show me how.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I, like Rob above, love my tools. I have tried to reduce what I carry, but I often find myself asking another RVer that is working on their rig, if they have everything that they need. Very often they say, Boy I wish I had one of XXX. I enjoy the fact that I can usually help them out. It does give me piece of mind that if something goes wrong, I can probably fix it myself. You are smart saying you don’t know what you don’t know. After some time on the road, you will learn what will work for you.

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    • Thanks Shawn. Another advantage of keeping a small storage locker is going to be keeping a couple tools I’m not sure If I’ll need or not. I’ll be keeping an eye out to see what others are doing in the way of maintenance and such to figure it out.

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  3. Just an aside from the wife of a tool loving man, I am very thankful to Mark for consolidating and organizing his tools. Mark tends to leave tools laying around during and after a project or repair. To avoid his frustration (lol), I typically would trail along during a repair and keep his tools within reach for him and return them to his workbench when he’s finished. Now, he carries the bag and replaces the tools immediately so I can walk / play with the dogs instead of gathering tools. Thanks Mark 💕

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  4. Dave was a maintenance tech, he knew he’d want to do his own repairs and maintenance. We have a 5th wheel took box between the hitch and tailgate, he has tools in the rv under the dining room chairs. Lubricants, seals and other stuff are in a large tote in the basement. For wood, we have a small tree saw and an electric chain saw, along with a pair of small nippers. Between his ancient Craftsman tech kit to his DeWalt cordless tools…recip, circular, skill and drill. We’ve used them all, whether repairs or upgrades we’ve been glad to have them. Dave is the guy that they come to if they’re looking for a tool. He does have a buffer he uses at least once a year, we have a regular shovel that gets used often enough. At this point Dave opts to go on the roof and sweep the slides, gives him a chance to also check the roof. We have an 8′ ladder that rides on the ladder and one step stool inside. Also don’t forget electrical stuff, like voltage meter and tester, tape and various fuses.

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  5. Like you I’m not what you’d call a mechanic but I’m not afraid of it either. In my youth I dabbled in some mechanical stuff borne out of my desire to learn how things worked. I’m still pretty handy but now I plan to get more proactive on minor to moderate vehicle maintenance and the same for a good portion of rig repairs and maintenance. When I learned how much dealers want to charge for both the fuel filter/water separators replacement on the RAM… I Youtubed the job… oh hell yeah I can do that. The savings alone make learning how to do it worth it. YT will be your repair friend. Same for the oil change and filter change. I’m all for saving money… besides it’s not like I have to go to work and I need the truck to go anywhere right? I’m retired… it’s a new hobby to keep the mind sharp.

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    • For sure, seems like a good us of our time to figure out how to do more ourselves. Anyway it’s rewarding. I might go down to a local shop for my first oil and filter changes and watch how they do it. The owner is a friend of a friend:)

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