I've finally wrapped up my project to assemble a comprehensive one-case field tool kit—and I’m really glad I restricted myself to a Pelican 1550.
It’s absolutely axiomatic when assembling a tool kit that it will expand to fit the available space, and it would have been effortless to fill a much larger container with Oh-I-should-have-this items, to the point where any notion of portability went out the window. As it is, the case and contents had nudged above 55 pounds by the time I was satisfied.
But after over a year of playing stump-the-tool-kit, I have yet to come across a task the contents couldn’t handle. It’s been employed successfully for jobs ranging from repairing a Honda generator in Mexico’s Sierra Madre (used, critically, to power UV lights for an insect survey) to replacing the dreaded trap oxidizer on our old Mercedes 300D at home (which incidentally resulted in a good 20 percent power increase). One fiendishly positioned nut on that device eventually required the Snap-on 18-inch ratchet, two extensions, a universal joint, and a socket to access—all there in the case. The closest I came to being stymied was removing the 10mm allen-head bolts on a Porsche 911SC anti-roll bar. The swiveling allen key in the kit baaarely got those loose; I’ve decided to add a set of 1/2-inch-drive allen-head sockets, which will take up scant room.
So: What’s in it? Here is the complete list (see previous installments for the justification for each):
- Britool 748267 3/8ths-inch socket/ratchet set (1/4” to 1” SAE sockets; 6mm to 24mm metric sockets, Torx sockets T8 to T16, assorted driver bits)
- Facom S.200 DP 1/2-inch socket/ratchet set (10mm to 32mm metric sockets)
- Snap-on SX80A 18-inch flex-head ratchet
- 1 1/2-pound sledge-head hammer
- Craftsman replaceable-head soft-faced hammer
- Combination wrenches (7mm to 25mm plus 27 and 30)
- Facom torque converter
- Facom Pro-Twist Shock screwdriver set
- Assorted Craftsman screwdrivers including stubbies
- Snap-on replaceable-bit ratcheting driver
- Brass drift
- Three cold chisels
- Two punches
- Small pry bar
- Knipex and Channel-Lock pliers
- Two pairs needle-nosed pliers
- Vise-Grip pliers
- Small self-adjusting plier
- Side cutter
- Electrical stripping/crimping tool
- Six-inch adjustable wrench
- Three snap-ring pliers
- Adjustable hacksaw
- Combination flat/half-round file
- Round file
- Tin snips
- Two LED flashlights
- Box cutter
- Spark-plug puller
- Radiator-hose pick
- Feeler gauges
- Power Probe voltage/resistance tester
- Continuity tester
- Swiveling hex-key set
- Small wire brush
- Mechanic’s gloves
- Tube of hand cleaner
- Safety glasses
So—while the selection is meager compared to what I have available in the rollaway chest in the shop, even I, who had high hopes, have been surprised at how effective it is. Yes, if I need a hammer at home I can choose among nine or ten to get exactly the right weight and head, while in the case I must make do with two—but so far I’ve been able to make do nicely.
Believe it or not, there’s a bit of room left over in the Pelican. If I were to embark on a really long journey, I could still fit in, say, a hand drill and bits, a pickle fork to separate ball joints, a hub socket to fit the Land Cruiser, and a couple other more obscure items.
I don’t consider this selection definitive. I have absolutely no doubt that sooner or later I’ll run into a situation I can’t handle (although I’d allow myself a pass on true special tools required for certain specific tasks on many vehicles). But for now I’m convinced I have put together a pretty good one-case tool kit. Is it "The Ultimate One-case Tool Kit?" I guess that's open to a challenge . . .
At the Overland Expo, May 17-19 2013, I'll be demonstrating the one-case tool kit for Overland Experience package holders on Friday at 2:00 PM and Saturday at 4:00 PM. Overland Experience attendees can also attend my class on assembling a basic tool kit, Friday at 1:00 PM and Saturday at 3:00 PM. Find out more about the Overland Expo HERE.