We all know them, the RVer that has every gizmo and gadget that comes along and is impossible to shop for. Over the years I’ve assembled quite a toolbox of unique measuring tools and every once in a while come across something else new that makes my troubleshooting and repairs easier. And not only that, but some of the gadgets help tell me what is happening in places that I can’t see such as wheel bearings, brakes, and electrical systems.
So here are some must-have tools and gadgets that will make you a hit with that hard-to-shop-for RVer.
The Infrared Thermometer allows you to pinpoint temperatures with a laser pointer to identify issues with heating, cooling, and axles. Every day you hit the road you should not only check the air pressure in the tires but also monitor what is happening in the bearings and brakes. Stop at some point during the day and check the hub of your trailer, brake drum, and tires. Then check the ambient temperature by using the side of your rig. If the hub temperature is extremely high, the bearing is most likely getting dry and need to be repacked. If the brake drum is extremely high, the auxiliary brakes are probably set too high. Record these temperatures and you will get to understand what is an acceptable temperature and what is extreme.
You can also use this device to get an exact temperature of what is coming out of the roof air conditioner rather than just guessing it’s not cooling enough. The roof air conditioner can only condition the ambient air coming in down 15 degrees so if it is 110 inside your rig, the air coming out can only be 95 degrees and that is not cool. You can also test the temperature of the air coming out the furnace vent to make sure it is acceptable. Knowing the exact temperatures will help with troubleshooting over the phone in case of an emergency.
You can get this device at any home improvement store or for a great value on Amazon here.
There are times I could really use a magnetized screwdriver, especially in those hard-to-reach places with a tiny screw. But I don’t like it sitting in the bag latching on to everything metal including nuts and bolts. Plus it seems that the times I do have one in the bag it’s not the right size or I need a Philips, not a flat head. This is where the Magnetizer comes in handy.
Simply run the head of any metal screwdriver back and forth through the magnetized (+) slot and you have a tool that will latch on to the screw going in or coming out. To demagnetize, simply run it through the demagnetize (-) slot and it’s a normal tool. You can do this with needle nose pliers and drill bits to help catch metal shavings when drilling in metal. I’ve also used it to magnetize a metal coat hanger and retrieve a screw or bolt that dropped down the furnace vent. Find it on Amazon here.
Universal Grip Wrench
For years I’ve called this a “puck wrench” and just recently saw the actual name on Amazon! This not only has both SAE and Metric deep sockets but a unique feature is the rounded 12-point teeth rather than the sharp ones used on most sockets. Snap On patented this years ago and when that ran out, everyone copied it. The rounded edge means it contacts the side of the nut rather than at the point so it will not only fit both Metric and SAE but will also loosen a nut that has been stripped! It has a slot for a screwdriver tip and can also tighten a rounded cup holder.
Find it on Amazon here.
One of the most important maintenance items you can perform on an absorption refrigerator is cleaning out the burner assembly, flue, and back cavity of the compartment
The more you use your absorption refrigerator on LP, the more buildup of soot you will get in the burner assembly and flue. Also, spiders like the smell of propane and can block the flow of LP weaving a web. Once a year it is a good idea to open the back vent panel, put on a pair of safety glasses, and blow out the entire back of the refrigerator. Take off the metal burner assembly shield and get inside to clean it out thoroughly and clean off the back fins of the cooling unit. Your refrigerator will run much more efficiently even on 120-volt power! You might want to add a ¼” flexible hose to get in tough-to-reach spots like I did with mine.
You can find them on Amazon here.
Anemometer (Air Flow Meter)
I get dozens of questions almost every day and many times I get very generic ones that state my air conditioner isn’t running efficiently, my heater is slow, or my airflow from my roof air is low. To diagnose any issue with airflow or temperature you need to know what is normal and what is happening. This inexpensive air flow meter is known as an anemometer which will tell airflow and temperature.
Most RV manufacturers that have ducted roof air will test the ceiling ducts during final inspection to ensure the ductwork is open and the air is flowing and use a much more sophisticated coned type device. As we discussed earlier, the roof air conditioner can only condition or cool the air 15 degrees lower than the air at the intake. Using this device will help tell what the temperature is inside and if it is actually working as designed. Testing the airflow when the unit is cooling efficiently will tell you what the normal speed is and when you think it is not running correctly will help identify what is actually happening. You may be getting good airflow out of a closer vent and very little out of the far vent which might mean there is an obstruction in the ductwork? It will also give you specifics that most tech support personnel at RV manufacturers appreciate.
Find it on Amazon here.
Brake Fluid Moisture Tester
Almost every truck, car and motorhome chassis manufacturer recommends changing the brake fluid every 5 years or 50,000 miles. But who does that? While writing the RV Handbook for Trailer Life Publications I did some research with chassis engineers from Ford and Freightliner as well as talked with several auto technicians and they stated that brake fluid will break down, especially when subjected to extreme heat conditions of RVing as well as ambient temperatures. It can also get condensation with temperature changes and make the fluid break down faster.
Take off the cap and place the tester probes in the brake fluid reservoir for 1 second and the LED lights will tell you the quality of the fluid. You can find it at Amazon here.
Air Conditioner Evaporator And Condenser Fin Comb
Your roof air conditioner draws warm, moist interior air up through the inside return air and draws it through the front evaporator coil. The compressor then sends the coolant to the evaporator coil to flash the air and draw out heat and moisture. The fins of this coil are straight and slotted to allow the air to pass through however if the coils get bent, it restricts airflow. It is more important in the back where the condenser coils draw outside air in to help cool the coolant lines and those outside fins can get smashed with hail or backing into a branch! Visually inspect the coils and use this handy comb to straighten them out. Find it at Amazon here.
About the author: Dave Solberg: Managing Editor, RV Repair Club
For the last 25 years, Dave has conducted RV maintenance and safety seminars, developed dealer and owner training programs, written RV safety and handyman articles authored an RV handbook reference guide, and logged over 100,000 miles on the road in an RV.
RV Repair Club is your go-to online resource for enthusiasts who want quality RV maintenance, repair and upgrade information – a community where passionate RVers can come together to gather knowledge and share their experiences.
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Karl P. ~ “Kurt from Quality Tire was exceptional. He came and pulled both sets of back tires. The inside tires on both sides of our motor home had 0 pressure. Both Valve stems had been damaged for some reason. He replaced the valve stems on both tires and checked and filled all 6 tires to correct pressure. He was a pleasant and pleasurable person to work with. We were called by Coach-Net several times to make sure everything went as it was supposed to. Thank you to all the Coach-Net Representatives and to Kurt from Quality tire. It took something that was a pain and made it a pleasure.”
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