The Travelling Tool Kit

Capt. Mike

To discuss what tools to carry on trips -- the roadside repair kit. Use TOOLS forum for actual tool discussion.

Transferred to create separate topic.

prAna Junior Member posted June 08, 2004 01:08 PM

We are flying to Phoenix, buying and picking up a new to us '84 Westfalia and then driving it back to Colorado. We haven't seen the Vanagon in person yet, but it has been checked by a reputable mechanic and comes with a VW friend's recommendation.

Since I can't bring my whole tool box on the plane, are there certain tools that I should take in a smaller bag in order to solve the majority of possible problems? I'm not very mechanically inclined, but I can solve some basic issues and would like to have some tools that someone else might need if we do have any issues.

Capt. Mike Tech Writer Super Member Posted June 09, 2004 08:46 AM

Elsewhere in the forum is a discussion that includes some of the tools to take on a trip, which wouldn't be much different for your pick-up trip home. There is little to guide except experience. And then that tempered by what parts you intend to carry.

VW has made some excellent accessory tool kits and one of those is probably your best base kit. Since they are getting scarce, an inexpensive METRIC travel tool kit from one of the discount tool places like Northern Tool or Harbor Freight might get you through. Your VW should come with a 10x13mm wrench and a combo screwdriver along with the jack and lug-wrench.

scruffyboy Member Posted March 07, 2005 10:51 PM

I recently picked up an 82 Westy in Boulder, I WAS considering putting together a tool-kit to take along with my baggage but then I remembered the LAST time I tried to fly commerically with my tools; they arrived 3 days AFTER me! Seems TSA dosen't like the look of ANYTHING that even LOOKS like it might pose a threat to airline safety, I was informed that my bag was delayed because it required hand inspection.

Soloution? I got one of those cheapie "all in one" tool kits that WalMart sells for around $30. I was surprised just how much you get for the $$ Yes they are "cheap get ya home tools" but it sure beats sitting around for days waiting for the "good" tools to show up.

Capt. Mike

Traveller tool kit suggestions:

VW has made, over time, several accessory tool sets. Wolfsburg West sells the original pouch from the '50s & 60's. BFY Obsolete Parts sells reproductions of the old round metal kit for inserting into the spare tire of old Bugs & Buses. [5/21/10 Update: BFY link dead; numerous blogs & complaints including banks having to honor credit refunds, etc. CAUTION!]

I have VW's accessory kit from the '70s which is a metal, 2-tray box about 12"x8"x3", complete with VW logo. The bottom tray holds a slip-joint channel-lock pliers, a feeler gauge (for valve adj.), stubby #2 Phillips screwdriver, 17mm box end wrench with 17mm hex key on the other end (tranny drain plug), hub-cap puller, VW's combination valve adjusting screwdriver/valve nut tool, a set of 4 open-end wrenches 7mm - 15mm w/o 10x13mm. A large flat bladed screwdriver and an electrical test light. The upper tray is meant to hold the tools that came with most VW's: Side-cutter style pliers, 2-prong hub-cap puller, 10x13mm open-end wrench, VW's convertible screwdriver, the bar and long socket for lug nuts, the socket for axle nuts and a socket for spark-plugs. There were two additional tray recesses for things like spare bulbs or fuses.

I've added, for my Vanagon, a 17x19mm open-end wrench & 8mm hex key for V-belt changes, hand-cleaner, shop rag, disposable gloves, folded paper funnel and a blister capsule of WD-40.

These are a reasonable basis for making your traveller tool kit. There are a number of commercial tool kits with cases, from very bad China junk to overpriced yuppie designer kits. Cooper Tools is a reliable brand that offers their 148-piece Crescent® CTK148MP set that is combo SAE & metric in a fitted case. Large but flat, 38"x21"x5", it sells for about $75.

I'm sure you can find others in the discount & big-box stores. Sam's had a slightly smaller Crescent® set. For a traveller, this might be acceptable.

Cummins makes a traveller tool kit for their engines. But it only contains minimum tools necessary for the specified Cummins services. Somewhere along the line I've accumulated two cheapo kits. One is a small rachet set, SAE & metric in a box about ½ the size of the above VW kit. The other is a combo screw/bit driver. It has a racheting screwdriver that reverses and folds mid-handle. The bits include every conceivable screwdriver need, hex bits and a number of small sockets. These 3 form my Redneck Pickemup traveller.

For a convertible screwdriver, consider the ratcheting magnetic units with interchangeable bits. Whatever kit you choose, a pair of channel locks and an adjustable wrench are often the difference in a repair.

Two "tools" no vehicle should be without are the Swiss Army knife & multi-tool. Victorinox Swiss Army has a category for Do-It-Yourself that will blow you away. You can get a Swiss Army that looks like it would overhaul a tank. Pick the biggest you are comfortable with. Check out Sports & Liesure and Outdoors categories while you're at it. The newest everything Knife (is that the right word anymore?) is the Swisschamp XAVT. It's so big it comes in a box and has 80 tools including altimeter, digital clock and barometer!

The other is the multi-tool. Leatherman [] was probably the first but there are a number of copy cats on the market now, good & bad. Basically a folding pliers with tools in the handles. Combined with the Swiss Army knife, you'd be surprised at what you can accomplish.

All of the above is meant to guide you to your 'starter' travelling tool kit. You will need to adjust for your model and what you feel you can accomplish on the road. See also the topic on 'tools for your modifications' in the TOOLS forum.
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Capt. Mike

Essential to any tool kit is a flashlight. Mag-Lite has excellent, nearly indestructible units in regular and LED. Although I'd hope you have a big 6v lantern-style for camping in the vehicle at all times, a 2-cell AA is a minimum for night repairs. Don't laugh at the little accessory head-bands to hold and aim one hands-free -- they work!

Update 2/15/06: After making this post, I wrote Mag-Lite the following:
I'm a multiple product user (Solitaire, 2AAA, 2AA, 2D & 3D). I also write the tech boards for the VW Camper site. I've recommended your products on the site, for both camping and emergency kit use. Just need a fresh catalog.

Recommendations: We need a Mag-Lite version of the 6v lantern battery! -- 6V spring terminal square battery, not 4Ds.
What did I get? A SIX page legal release from Michele D. Fiorentine, apparently their attorney. For suggesting a 100-year-old, 6v lantern in the line-up would be nice? What a Jerk! Didn't even have the courtesy to address me by name -- I'm now "Mag Consumer". She should have said EX-Mag Consumer. My response was less than politically correct and I'll be purchasing other brands from now on. There are a number of hi-tech military spec units at the sporting good sources that I'm sure are equal. I've got one in my truck's traveler kit over 10 years old and going strong. Bass Pro & Cabella's have dozens to choose from.

[3/15/07 update: I wrote Mag-Lite president Anthony Maglica over a month ago, expressing what I thought of their attitude and the actions of their arrogant attorney. He didn't show the courtesy of a response.]

Capt. Mike

This is covered elsewhere but bears repeating in Traveller Tool Kits. Most repairs will happen in the most inopportune places and nasty weather.

Carry a flat board to serve as base for the jack -- essential to change a flat off the paved road. Carry some form of jump suit to protect you & your clothes -- the disposable paper suits are fine. Have a tube of the no-water-required industrial hand cleaner like Go-Jo and a roll of paper towels -- a couple of cloth shop rags, too.