After reading my blog about repairing a broken radiator hose on our MCI bus conversion earlier this week, a soon to be fulltimer e-mailed to ask me what basic tools I carry in our rig to keep us out of trouble.
Obviously this is a brand new reader, because anybody who knows much about me at all knows that in my case, the more tools I have available, the greater the opportunity for me to create disaster. For me, less is better.
Keep in mind that when we were in the early stages of converting our bus, I set fire to it with sparks from an angle grinder. That I once fried our inverter when I fired up the big air compressor we carry in one of our bays while we were dry camping and overloaded the circuit. And then there was the time I decided to polish our stainless steel with a rotary buffer. The pad flew off and hit me in the mouth, I stumbled backward and tripped over a toolbox, and knocked a nasty hole in my skull on a rock. I think the rock fared even worse.
That being said, the only power tool Miss Terry allows me to play with is a small Dremel tool, but she hides all of the cutting wheels and wire brushes that come with it, and only lets me have access to tiny little cotton buffing wheels.
As for hand tools, forget it! Saws and screwdrivers have sharp edges, I would probably snap a pair of vise grips on some part of my anatomy that wouldn’t respond well to the sudden intrusion, and I can scrape several layers of skin off my knuckles trying to use the wrong size wrench on a stubborn bolt.
Even something as simple as an aerosol can is a tool of destruction and mayhem in my hands. Our old bus has an oil bath air cleaner, which means that the metal air filter sits in a big canister of motor oil, and the oil is supposed to catch the dust and grit that would otherwise get into the engine. Periodically, the oil needs changed and the air filter needs washed out. In an RV environment, this should be done about once a year. It’s actually a pretty simple job. Yeah, right.
A couple of years ago I decided to tackle that chore, and in the process, I discovered a thick layer of crud and gunk that had built up on the inside of the big canister. By the time I scraped it all out with a putty knife, I was black from head to toe. I knew Miss Terry would have my hide if I tracked that mess through the bus, so I looked in the bay and found a can of engine starting fluid. I thought that should cut the grease and get me cleaned up in no time at all, so I pulled off my shirt and commenced to spraying.
Have you ever been on fire? I never have, but I think I came damned close to it that day! A minute or two after that stuff hit my skin, I felt a burning sensation that cannot be described. It was like a million fire ants were eating me alive. So there I am, outside the bus screaming my head off, Terry ran outside and grabbed a water hose and sprayed me down, which did little to dilute the chemical burning its way through my skin, but did help to spread this homemade napalm to other places on my body it had not yet reached, by way of the trickle down effect, if you get my drift. It was not my finest hour.
But, I have finally found a tool that even I can master, and so far, I have not been able to get into any mischief with it. And I have my pal Rick Lang from the Recreational Vehicle Safety Education Foundation (RVSEF) to thank for telling me about it.
My new Blackberry Storm smart phone has hundreds of applications, called apps, that can be downloaded, many of them for free. One Rick showed me is an electronic level, just like the levels many RVers use to be sure they have their jacks down properly and their refrigerators will work okay. Except now, instead of having to use some mechanical device to check our level, I just hit a button on my Blackberry and there I go. Isn’t technology a wonderful thing?
I just checked, and according to my Blackberry, I’m at least half a bubble off.