This is part two of a series of Articles on Tools, spares and gear that people living in a van or motorhome fulltime should carry.
If you haven’t seen the first part in this series please read it first.
Whilst carrying powertools are not essential they do make life easier when that inevitable emergency happens. From drilling a hole to getting a new pipe or cable through, wire brushing a siezed or dirt cover part to polishing a window or other surface having a power tool makes the job trivial. There are really only two power tools that I carry all the time, the rest are in storage for when I need to do more than routine maintenance. I will only cover the ones I carry all the time.
The drill is my go to tool. It is not only useful for making holes. With a few accessories it can be used for buffing out scratches on plastic and cleaning glass. With a wire brush attachment it can be used to clean the heads of bolts prior to applying WD40. I also carry a full set of driver bits for rapidly screwing and unscrewing a variety of screws and bolts.
On this particular item you can go cheap and get a budget drill, but they will let you down when you most need them and will need replacing every few years. I have been through quite a few Brands over the years especially when I was a tradesman. For me the top of the line is Bosch, however I can’t warrant spending £100’s on each tool these days. The next up is Makita which are about halfway between disposable hobbyist kit and full blown pro gear. Makita have an excellent reputation but I am not a fan. About 4 years ago I decided to take a punt on Ryobi gear and it has been fantastic. The drill is as powerful as my Bosch (which I still have). It doesn’t feel quite as solid but it does feel better than my old Makita gear. So much so I have since sold on my Makita gear and standardised on Ryobi.
Ryobi have a range of tools called ONE+. This is where you buy one battery/charger and then just buy the tool bodies on their own to make up your own kit
I bought the Drill, the Torch and the Vacuum cleaner along with a 4Ah battery.
The drill which you can get here is under £40 and has a few features which I thought were gimmicky at first. It has a magnetic plate on the top of the base for holding screws. this turned out to be an extremely useful “gimmick” and then there is a little light which shines when ever you depress the trigger. Both these features have proven to be extremely useful in a motorhome when you tend to be working on your own in confined spaces.
Combine this with a 4Ah battery and it stays charged for months or can do a whole days work without a recharge. There are smaller batteries which are much cheaper and lighter however so to keep the costs down these might be worth considering. I went for the fast charger which is a bit more expensive than the normal charger.
If you go for the cheapest options on each of these you can buy the kit for under £100. This sounds a little pricey but it is a solid tool that will provide years of great service. The bonus is though that once you have the battery and charger other tools sold in body only kits are extremely pocket friendly.
You can then buy these motorhome friendly tools such as the Torch, The vacuum cleaner and the tyre pump all of which use the same battery meaning you don’t have to have multiple chargers plugged in and multiple batteries. This is especially important as a fulltimer as space is at a premium. The torch is less than £15, the vacuum less than £20 and the tyre pump a bit pricier at around the £55 mark.
I know I am at risk of sounding like an advert for Ryobi here, however having the one battery and charger and a range of tools has proven to be major advantage while fulltiming. In addition the low prices makes it more budget friendly to have a range of tools to hand. It is worth noting that they do everything from lawn mowers to impact wrenches etc etc. So not only good for the van.
The drill bit set is not worth going cheap on. The cheap drill bits tend to go blunt very quickly and some of the really cheap ones have material defects and tend to break as soon as you look at them. Buy a good quality branded set and they will last you a long time for your DIY needs. Ensure you have some HSS and wood bits and at least a couple of larger hole cutters. Having a countersink bit won’t hurt either.
The screwdriver set should include not only flat head, phillips and posidrive. You should also make sure it includes the more common torx and security bits. Fiat vans seem to be particularly fond of Torx bits. For instances to get the side door panels off to get to the wing mirror mounts requires torx bits as does getting behind the dash board. Both of which I have had to do in an emergency.
The buffer wheel comes in handy for when you want to clean up the plastic in your bathroom for example. My toilet developed a bit of a rough surface possible caused by the cleaning chemicals I used. That is a story for another time though. The roughness led to limescale build up and nasty looking staining. I cleaned this up then buffed the toilet surface using the buffer wheel and peek polish. It is worth noting that you shouldn’t concentrate in one area for too long nor apply to much pressure as it will get hot and melt the plastic. However my toilet came up almost as good as new. This is also handy for polishing scratches out of your windows and marks from your glass hob cover. These should not be undertaken lightly however and a bit of research on the internet will guide you in the right direction. However I have had great success with this.
That is it for #19 on my list, please come back soon to see #18 on the list. It will start getting more interesting I promise.