Survival Tools, by SJH

I’ve read many articles regarding “survival “ and “preparedness” topics, my conclusion is that an important area has been missed. Lots of planning seems to focus on food storage, water, supplies, and so on, yet I have not seen or read anything about “survival tools — how to be prepared for anything mechanically”. So after considering this topic for several years, I’ve decided to introduce my own topic as far as tools for the self-reliant individual. My background includes 30 years of mechanical equipment repair on automobiles and trucks/trailers to heavy construction equipment including dozers and cranes. Having been exposed to working independently while on the road performing field work, you soon develop a survival sense that allows you to think through repairs and situations, even before you actually arrive at the work site.

Planning as we all know is the key factor, when considering what tools and equipment are  necessary.

  • What are you planning on keeping running, is it your vehicle/boat/plane/ATV/snow machine/camper?
  • What maintenance is required for each of these pieces of machinery?
  • What supplies will be required, what spares are necessary for repairs?

Lastly, yet most important of all, will be the tools necessary to keeping your equipment up and running. Transportation is critical as for preparedness situations, as we all know. Once you have determined your needs, your spares, supplies, think through what tools will be required.

For example, to replace disk brake pads, you need to remove the tire/wheel assembly, compress the caliper, unbolt the caliper, install the pads, and reverse the process to put it back together.

Just for a simple job like this, you will need a lug wrench for the lug nuts, a large C-clamp to compress the caliper and a wrench or socket to remove the caliper. You need to sit down and consider what will be required in whatever contingency or jobs may arise, and how to deal with it. I have a list of tools that, over the years, I have found will suffice for most basic repairs. These tools are carried in what I call my “road box”. This road box has been with me a long time. Even though the original box has long since rusted away, most of the tools have lasted.

This set of tools is my choice based on my needs as well as the fact that you may have to improvise to get the job done. Here is the list that we can call our “survival tool set”.

  • Storage box, a two-tray nesting type box made of durable plastic, now many years old.
  • ¼” drive socket set, used on small nuts/bolts in tight places.
  • 3/8” drive socket set, handy for removing nuts/bolts.
  • ½” drive set including 12pt short sockets as well as 6pt deep sockets, include a “breaker bar.”
  • Assortment of pliers (slip-joint, locking, needle-nose, side-cutting and electrical crimp type).
  • Wrench assortment, my favorite are the “ratcheting type” as well as adjustable type in different sizes.
  • Screw drivers an assortment of straight, cross and whatever else you may need depending on your needs.
  • 12 volt test light, extremely handy for troubleshooting 12v troubles.
  • Good hammer, I carry a 16oz Ball-pein type which works wonders when you need it.
  • Ignition wrench set, allen wrench set and a “feeler gauge set.”
  • Lastly, I carry an assortment of what I call “goodies”, clamps, bulbs, fuses,  spare wire and connectors, nuts and bolts, electrical tape, duct tape, Teflon tape, silicone gasket material, rubber freeze out plugs, tire plugs.

As I mentioned before, this set of tools has been my choice over the years to keep things going. I’ve changed oil and filters with the addition of a universal-type filter wrench, replaced spark plugs, changed fuel filters, replaced brake pads, repaired broken wires, plugged leaks on everything from fuel to water and air as necessary. I’ve improvised wiring for a trailer to keep the lights going and replaced a busted heater hose a few times. The size of my tool box is approximately  9” x 15” x 13” tall and there is room for more inside. Another consideration should be the need for “metric” tools, depending on you individual needs. Many vehicles today are metric and will require you to adjust your tool inventory as such. This tool set will also cover a great deal of home/shelter/retreat repairs if you again plan what you may have to do. An example would be with the addition of a pipe wrench you would be able to tackle plumbing repairs such as cleaning a  water well pump strainer from debris. As mentioned in the beginning, plan for all sorts of mechanical problems, consider what tools are required and adjust your inventory accordingly. If you carefully think all situations out thoroughly, your tool supply should be able to handle most anything that happens to arise.

Now to really complete your tool supply , you need to consider what special requirements that you may need. How about jacks as a beginning point, you should have a hydraulic bottle jack  and/or what I call a “farm jack” included in your tool supply. The bottle jack depending on its lifting capacity can solve many “lifting” situations. It will raise a vehicle including trucks/trailers, jack up a building if necessary. The farm type jack is versatile because it can “push” or “pull” as well as lift/raise. So with the easy addition of these two items you have the ability to raise, jack, push, pull and even if necessary use in some sort of improvised rescue situation. As I mentioned before that a 12VDC test light can assist in 12V repairs but the ideal choice would be a “multi-meter”, they are available everywhere from the basic variety to the extravagant type. Let your budget guide you on this, bottom line is that they are indispensable for troubleshooting various electrical problems. These types of meters can test DC (low voltage) as well as AC (high voltage).The important thing  to remember is “know” how to use it and what you are working with. Obviously if you need electrical training check out your community college for a class on basic electrical skills/repairs. My personal favorite add on equipment would be an air compressor. With this addition to your tool “cache” you will be able to air up tires, perhaps inflatable boats, blow out wet items, run pneumatic tools and the possibilities go on and on. Compressors come in all types and sizes, my favorite is the small electric variety, I used this type for the above mentioned as well as to run pneumatic nailers for remodeling work. There are all types of tools available for drilling, grinding and cutting. Again think about your needs then plan out the tools required.

Tools are just the beginning, you may need some type of mechanical training but common sense will cover most of the items that will need to be repaired. Shop manuals are really the key to preparedness, if you have the information required all should proceed according to your plan. Again as in all preparedness plans, look at all the “what if” scenarios, to determine what tools you will need to handle what needs to be repaired.

Good luck and head out for your local tool store to start “stocking up” your tool supply.