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Old 03-11-2015, 02:51 PM   #1
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Tools: Required, Nice to have, and overkill but I have it anyway

Folks,

As you may have read, I'm doing a lap of america (most of it) this summer, with my two daughters and occasionally my wife, when she can fit it in her work schedule. To that end, I was wondering if all you more experienced AI travelers would chime in about tools/spare parts/supplies to carry for such a voyage in the following categories:

REQUIRED

NICE TO HAVE

OVERKILL BUT...

I will compile a composite list and post it as a PDF after we get some responses.

I'm also taking our first multi-state 5 hour away from home trip in a week and half and will be the maiden voyage with overnight accommodations in Elliot (thats what my 8 yr old has named our AI and I guess its stuck).

Thanks to everyone on this forum, and I look forward to maybe meeting some of you on the road this summer.
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Old 03-11-2015, 03:04 PM   #2
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I carry two tool bags. One with all kinds and sizes of ratchets, both SAE and Metric. I have adjustable wrenches, full sets of screw drivers etc. I also carry two of every fuse, including the very hard to find electric jack fuse. I burned one out and had to hand crank it.
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Old 03-11-2015, 03:47 PM   #3
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Hello Scarlet

That's an often asked question and inevitably the replies are as varied as the people here and the trips they take. Some people carry quite a bit of stuff.

For spares, I carry these:
1) tire
2) shore power cord
3) "umbilical" cord connecting to the tow vehicle
4) spare key.
5) 30a fuses for shore power pedestals that still use these (they're rare but out there)

For tools I will suggest an approach to this rather than a list.

* In general you will be best served by high-quality, compact, multipurpose tools.
* Bring tools that are a good match for your mechanical abilities. For some people the best tool is a coachnet card.
* The most critical tools are ones for fixing problems that could interfere with moving the Airstream.
* Safety equipment including first aid supplies appropriate to your situation is important too.

In that light I suggest that you construct a tool kit that will deal with these common problems that can delay a trip:

1) Flat tire.
2) Damaged umbilical cable or connector.
3) Electric tongue jack failure.
4) Awning damage requiring awning to be removed or measures to be taken to secure it in place.
5) Loose fasteners on the hitch assembly.
6) Damage to or failure of the tow vehicle electrical connector.
7) Electrical problems in the brake, running light, or brake/turn light circuits.

Less important but nonetheless worth considering due to their ubiquity:

1) Tools for diagnosing shore power problems.
2) Tools and supplies for dealing with routine plumbing problems, such as loose sewer hose clamps or stuck water hoses that won't come off.
3) Tools for dealing with basic 12v system problems.

Most Airstream wheels have limited socket clearance, be sure your socket will fit down on the nut while it is on the wheel. Be sure you have some means of lifting the trailer.

If you boondock bring whatever stuff you like to use to get out of a mudhole or to cut up a tree limb blocking your forward progress or escape.

I pack a Gerber 600 multi-plier and a Gerber folding shovel, also their little flashlight. Expensive stuff but you can depend on all of it in a pinch which isn't true of the cheap stuff in the boy scout section at Walmart.
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Old 03-11-2015, 03:50 PM   #4
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If I may be so presumptuous as to post a reminder for later responders, the OP has an Airstream Interstate. Tools, supplies, and spares for a trailer will not be pertinent unless they're also useful for a motorhome.
Quote:
Originally Posted by scarletbison View Post
REQUIRED
The list will of course depend on how much of a do-it-yourselfer you are. So starting from the assumption that you're NOT a do-it-yourselfer I'll stick mainly to supplies and spares rather than tools…

Fuses. If you carry nothing else, carry spare fuses. Nothing can bring your trip to a screeching halt like blowing an essential fuse and having no spare. My first-ever outing in my Interstate, that's all I carried in the way of tools and spares, and it's a good thing I did because I blew the hose reel fuse, twice.

Circuit polarity tester. Plugging into a reverse-polarity service pedestal is always a possibility and not good for your appliances.

First aid kit. New-model Airstream Interstates have one in the passenger-side front door, but it's pretty basic. You will be camping in areas where it could take a while for an ambulance to get to you, so get a good kit. I prefer this one:WEST MARINE 5.0 Medical Kit | West MarineHopefully you'll never need it, but if you do…

Quote:
NICE TO HAVE
Leveling blocks. I got by without for my first year, but spent some uncomfortable nights camped in un-level spots.

Portable grill. Weather permitting, cooking outside is better than cooking inside, and not all campgrounds provide a grill for you.

Quote:
OVERKILL BUT...
A reflective vest like construction workers wear. If you have to do a repair by the side of the road you'll be glad you had it. By the same token, collapsible orange cones or triangles.

That's a decent start. I'll let others chime in before I post any more.
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Old 03-11-2015, 03:58 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Protagonist View Post
If I may be so presumptuous as to post a reminder for later responders, the OP has an Airstream Interstate. Tools, supplies, and spares for a trailer will not be pertinent unless they're also useful for a motorhome.
Oops. Some of what I wrote upthread won't apply.

Specific to motorhomes, I would bring a DC clamp-on ammeter, because trying to diagnose charging system problems in a motorhome without one is nearly impossible.

I'd also consider a spare alternator. Big, heavy, and expensive, but can fail without warning and leave you stranded. Most useful spare aside from the tire.
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Old 03-11-2015, 04:07 PM   #6
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I have only used 2 "tools" so far

Tire pressure gauge
Stubby phillips screw driver

I carry a bunch more though
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Old 03-11-2015, 04:15 PM   #7
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Another "Nice to have" for an Interstate:

If you're not using your hitch for anything else, a cargo box or cargo tray. Boxes tend to be more weather-resistant, but trays can hold more odd-sized or odd-shaped items. Given the limited amount of storage space inside even an extended Interstate, having some sort of outside storage like this allows you to carry your outside gear outside and your inside gear inside, thus minimizing the amount of clutter you have to shift about when you switch from driving to camping. But even then expect to do the "front-to-back shuffle" when you have to stack gear on the rear seats for travel and move the gear to the dashboard or front footwells for camping.

And essentials:

One or more rolls of quarters. You can't pack enough clothing for an extended trip without doing laundry, and your galley sink is too small to hand-wash anything more than socks and undies. And you can't count on your camp hosts to have change for a coin-op washer and dryer.

Duct tape, cable ties, heavy-duty rubber bands. 101 uses each, limited only by your imagination.

For the opposite extreme, WD-40. If something should move and doesn't, WD-40 is the default answer.

Flashlights. I have a 4-cell Maglite on a holder clipped near the sliding side door, and a mini-Maglite in the glove box. One or the other, or both, get used on just about every trip.
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Old 03-11-2015, 04:19 PM   #8
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Just remembered another nice-to-have that's almost an essential…

Valve stem extensions for your dual rear tires. Straight metal ones for the inside tires, J-shaped ones for the outside tires. That way when a tire gets low you don't need to hunt up a truck stop with push-pull air chucks, and can air up your tires at any service station.

Your inside duals already have straight plastic extensions, but aluminum ones are better. My plastic ones bled out about 5psi per month, every month, from the inside rear tires until I replaced them.
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Old 03-11-2015, 05:11 PM   #9
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One essential tool we have found in our Rally-support efforts (race car, not the caravan "rally" meaning") is a battery-operated impact wrench. Changing a tire in the rain by the side of the road at night is much easier when you can unbolt/bolt the wheel without herculean strength.
Harbour Freight usually has them for about $100.
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Old 03-11-2015, 05:43 PM   #10
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Protagonist mentions zip ties. These are absolutely essential, in a variety of lengths and sizes. Also recall that you can stick them together to make a longer one if needed.


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Old 03-11-2015, 06:52 PM   #11
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At least 2 credit cards and a paid up Emergency Road Side Assistance program like CoachNet. Also at least 2 $100 bills. I have found that a $100 bills talks loud and clear when you need help. Whats in your wallet.
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Old 03-11-2015, 07:21 PM   #12
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There are really three separate headings to this list, as there should be: Tools, hardware, and gadgets.

In the gadget category:

- Lots and lots and lots of magnets. Strong ones. Some with attached clips.
- A big roll of Velcro.
- Mini-bungee cords. Three bucks a bag in Walmart.
- Back-up water supply container that does not depend on your pump remaining in a functional state. I bought a 10 liter.

In the hardware (parts) category:

- A spare fuel filter. I'm guilty of not having procured one yet.
- A spare key that is not necessarily electronically fobbed (the cheap one, not the expensive one). Protag talked about this a few months back... for if you get towed, you need to leave one in the ignition but the doors might auto-lock and if it's your only key you left in the ignition, you're screwed. Did I say that correctly? Because I've slept since I read that. Also guilty of not having procured an extra key yet.
- Spare turbo resonator if your Interstate is is built on a T1N and you haven't replaced yours yet. You won't be finding one out on the road.

I'm sure there's more. I would suggest doing a draft list to start with, then we can review.
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Old 03-11-2015, 07:56 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Protagonist View Post
Fuses. If you carry nothing else, carry spare fuses. Nothing can bring your trip to a screeching halt like blowing an essential fuse and having no spare. My first-ever outing in my Interstate, that's all I carried in the way of tools and spares, and it's a good thing I did because I blew the hose reel fuse, twice.
About that hose reel fuse; I have blown three so far, because when reeling in the hose the motor sometimes jams if the hose doesn't go in perfectly smoothly and then the fuse blows instantly. So, I called my buddy at Airstream, and he informed me that it was perfectly OK to up that one to 20A from the 15A that comes already installed. As an alternative, he suggested a "slow-blow" fuse, but until I go to the auto supply store, I'm not so sure those are made for 12V systems.
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Old 03-11-2015, 09:17 PM   #14
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Quote:
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About that hose reel fuse; I have blown three so far, because when reeling in the hose the motor sometimes jams if the hose doesn't go in perfectly smoothly and then the fuse blows instantly.
Well, after blowing two fuses on my first trip, I haven't blown one since, so I must have learned the trick to getting the hose to wind up properly.

I blame the hose reel maker for this. It would not have been difficult to design it with a reduction gear to slow down the rewind speed to something manageable.
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