by Alain Hoffmann
The emergency box
So you're a big boy now and drive an full-size Land Rover. This means however you WILL need some tools and spares sometime. It's not an matter of IF, it's WHEN. All Land Rovers break down from time to time, that's just the way Solihull designed the buckets. It splits the MEN from the BOYS. Gee, I wish someone had told that to ME beforehand.
So this is what I suggest you take on a trip. I have a small box with those things tied up in the back of my Land Rovers all the time so don't have to load it when I intend to break down :-)
Of course you can also do like a fellow I know. He carries 3 'tools' in his glovebox: An mobile phone to call for help, a bottle of good wine and a bottleopener for the wait. Sadly one night he broke down and found his phone was dead. Makes a grown man go wimp...
Use an waterproof box as it will inevitably get covered in mud, dust and other things I don't want to mention if you have a dog aboard. Also choose a resistant one as there will surely be a fat buddy who sits on it when you just don't watch. The army has some good plastic heavy duty stuff. They don't hurt as much when you smash your knee against them as ammo boxes do. In the same idea you can buy soft pouches with zipper closings. Great- they don't rattle half as much as the metal ones even if you put some small metal boxes inside for those loose parts. However they don't like water and mud half as much as the plastics - they just drown while plastic boxes swim on the surface and can easily be recovered with a stick or dragnet.
It depends a lot of the remoteness of the places you go to, the age of the vehicle and your skills. So I tell you what works for me although old Desert Fox aka late Granville King wouldn't probably agree with me on some of those.
Go into a tool shop and buy some medium priced tools. Don't go for the cheap ones as they will not take the load. And keep the expensive ones at home. You need the following (for coilers with metric treads):
Open/boxed ended wrenches 8, 10, 13, 14, 17, 19. Best 2 of each, they don't take that much place.
Water pump pliers, a good quality sidecutter, an good large Vise-Grip (self-clamping pliers). Maybe an an universal plier of standard size can come in handy too.
3 sizes of flat screwdrivers (small, medium and heavy duty), one size 2 Phillips screwdriver (x-head)
An needle-pointed 12V control light.
An good argument aka 3-pound hammer with short handle, a small flat chisel
If you want to add a ratchet go for the 1/2 inch ones and forget the 1/4 and 3/8 inchers, they are good for playing but not for the hefty requirements an emergency repair will take. Don't buy one of those 30-pieces 'sets' you come across for 9.99 on sale. Buy an good ratchet. The finer the quality ratchets the better for working but the weaker they are if not made of high grade steel. So watch for lifetime warranty.
Above: Left the new Hazet 5° ratchets, right the Facom ratchet. On the Facom you can slide that rubber grip off and easily fit an size of steel tubing.
I particularly like the Facom ratchets as they are very finely dented and can take a tremendous stress. And they are rebuildable. Add to the ratchet the according LONG REACH nuts in the same size as the wrenches above plus standard reach 21, 24 and 27 nut (27 is for the wheel nuts) as well as a 2 inch, 4 inch and 10 inch extension. Buy an good flexible head (wobble joint) from he same manufacturer your wrench comes from if your heart feels like it. I have one but didn't use it more than once or twice in years. Add a lenght of iron water pipe tubing large enough to fit over the handle of your ratchet and as long as your box can handle. Sure it will void your warranty if they find it out but, hey, it's intended for emergency use only. If you're unsure get an T-handle for the 1/2 inch sockets. They can take much more load than an reversible ratchet.
Universal wrenches: They are advertised on TV and in magazines like being the hot number but in real they are useless. Once you tighten them up you have lost the working room. Leave them where they are.
An crowbar- but that will probably not fit into your box. So get an tyre braker bar as large as it can be for your box. BTW, I've seen the hollow handle of the Hijack being used for storing 2 tyre braker bars. Spray them with WD40, put them inside the handle, put some sort of plastic cover on the handle and slip an preservative over the whole thing. The rubber holds everything nicely in place. Plus it will make for an interesting story around the campfire in the evening.
This depends even more of your vehicle. Normally I carry a small box of spare bulbs and fuses with me. They can save you an ticket if you can change the burnt out bulb on the spot - most of the time. I also carry spare belts. For this I collect the old belts, clean them (oil and grease consume them when stored), spray on a bit of talkum powder or baby powder and put them in a plastic shopping bag. Make a knot in it and put it in a second bag also knodded together. A good place for storing those little items is on Discoveries the space behind the front lights. It's easily accessible, not too exposed - and you will not loose them.
What else do you need? For short trips and on tarmac I recommend you leave most at home. Packing spare parts for your distributor on petrol engines may be a wise idea. Diesels don't need many 'urgent' parts to limp back home. On elder diesels you will have a hard time when your glow plugs go bad so you may want to pack spares (old ones are ok as long as you're sure there's life left in them). All the TDi's will start without preglowing.
Fluids: On everydays' travel you need just a small bottle of engine oil for topping up. For longer trips I pack an 4-litre canister of oil (enough to bring you back to tarmac), some litres of water (mostly for the dog) and 1 litre of brake fluid in a sealed container. Don't bother with W90 or some other exotic stuff except for automatic trans oil if you have one of those slick shifter. All manual trans will happily life with engine oil for some time. No need to carry too much.
So you now have a nice hard box, clean and all tools right at hand. Good? Naw! Get a jar or whatever you use of old nuts and bolts and spread them on the floor of the box. Throw a handfull of electric crimp connectors of various sizes onto it, add some old pliers and hacksaw blades and spark plugs, cable tie downs and some bailing wire, you name it. Last throw an oily rag onto the hole stuff to prevent it from rattling around too much.
Other nice additions are duct tape (the best inventions since Lucas invented the self-dimming headlamp), a can of WD40 (the second-best invention, it also keeps moskitos at large) and some sort of non-hardening silicone sealant. The rubber-like stuff usually seals better in an emergency when you don't have your new paper gasket at hand. Other gear I carry for years now are a tyre repair kit (the professional stuff for tubeless tyres, works great for radiator hoses too), a stick of 2 components epoxy (great for mending radiators, fuel tanks and oil sumps) and a spray can of brake cleaner. This is VERY usefull for cleaning brakes (after servicing the hubs) and areas where you intend to work with the epoxy. Also good as starting fluid and to start a camp fire. Be carefull though as it's highly flammable and it crosses right through your skin into your blood.
An tool I always carry is one of those expensive multi-tools. Choose only the best, read most expensive. Leave that cheap junk for 5.99 where it belongs - in Korea. For that heavy work we do you want only tools that do not fall apart when you have to rely on them. Gerber and Swisstool make good ones while the newer versions of Leatherman failed to convince me - too soft an metal. A good test is to cut an piece of fencing wire with the tool. If you see any noticeable change on the cutting blade don't buy it.