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airstream tool kit

Airstream tool kit for safety, repairs, maintenance, preparedness


Ralph has essentially severed all ties with the DWR. He’s never backed it up, no longer even tries to, and after attempting various repairs (including The Winterizing Fail of 2013) we’ve mutually agreed that the sole responsibility for the Airstream has now fallen to me.


Undaunted-slash-relieved, Ralph packed all of his outdoor gear into a new Ford Transit “man van” that he now uses for camping. After a long day cycling or fly fishing, he can park it at a WalMart and happily sit up inside it on a folding chair and eat Top Ramen while listening to MLB on satellite radio. “Tranny” has no appliances that might malfunction, no bedding to wash, no propane tanks to wrestle with, no plumbing to ponder, no rivets to leak. It’s perfect for him. And if something ever does go mechanically wrong with it, it’s my belief that he’ll simply remove all his gear inside, push it over a cliff, and buy a new panel van just like it.


He and I both know that an Airstream isn’t quite that disposable, and I know less—if that’s possible—about vehicle and appliance repair than he does. So I printed out the Newbie’s Tool Kit—published in Issue 15 of Outside Interests (the free online newsmag for Airstreamers), took it to the local bigbox hardware store, and obediently purchased every single item. 


A very helpful saleswoman (yes, woman—you go, you tool woman) led me briskly through the store and tossed the specified products into my cart as I called them out from the list. “Uh, butt splices?” I read. “Yup, aisle four,” she chirped. “And here’s your crimping tool. Let’s go. What else?”


Total expenditure: about $280. (Later, at the drugstore, I found a little tote to put it all in on back-to-school sale.) Does that sound like a lot of money? Not to me. What price peace of mind? Not to mention autonomy.


Though I could’ve scraped together most all of the items from the motley assortment of tools and tape and drill sets I already have in the garage, I wanted a fresh, clean, color-coordinated kit for dedicated use in the trailer.


You’ll notice that I’ve kept everything sealed in the original packaging from the manufacturer—and included a can opener to saw into the impenetrable plastic should the need ever arise. It is my sincerest wish to never use any of these items, but as a former Red Cross preparedness professional I know how to expect the unexpected. As a superstitious believer in unseen forces that are working on my behalf, I also know that just having this toolkit cuts my likelihood of needing it roughly in half.


Just in case, I packed the emergency gear near the top of the backpack, including a quickly-accessible first aid kit (with CPR mask) and a reflective vest and headlamp. If I’m using these tools, there’s probably an emergency underway.


I’ll toss the kit into the tow vehicle along with the folding chairs and everything else I take on every camping trip. Now I’m ready to tackle almost any repair project on my own—especially with my pre-ordered copy of Airstream Life’s (Nearly) Complete Guide To Airstream Maintenance on its way to me. If I can’t fix something myself, at least I’ll have the proper tools available if I have to play my Helpless Girl card and prevail upon another RVer for help.


Next year at Alumapalooza I’m told there will be several fun, hands-on practice repair sessions where I’ll actually learn what these tools are for. Maybe then I’ll put that can opener to use.



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