Taking Stock in Your Toolbox

| December 03, 2001

How many times have you been stranded because a hose sprung a leak, a critical lamp went out, or a bolt got loose? Little problems can become a danger, or cause the alternator to stop charging or the water pump to stop pumping. A DOT inspection might leave you out of service even though a simple wrench or pair of pliers might have made it easy for you to make the truck legal again. A truckstop might have the new radiator you need, but no shop time to fix it. Why travel unprepared for such common problems?

Where to start
We asked Jim O’Hara, marketing manager of SK Hand Tool Corp., what a trucker would want to carry in his onboard, hand-carried toolbox. He came up with a number of suggestions designed to be “as universally applicable” as possible.

His first recommendation was some sort of complete bit driver set to drive screws and the like. SK has a 29-piece, ratcheting, T-handle bit driver set. The set includes a ratcheting T-handle bit driver and slotted, Phillips, and Pozidriv screwdriver bits, fractional-inch hex bits, Torx bits, and Robertson bits. Such a tool set would enable you to tighten (or remove and replace) many unusual little fasteners on the dash and other cab parts.

Next, O’Hara suggests a quality set of sockets with a 3/8-inch drive, something similar to the SK 47-piece 3/8-inch-drive socket SuperSet. It includes ratchet extensions and standard depth, deep fractional inch and metric sockets in a molded plastic storage case. Such tools let you quickly remove and install bolts all over the truck – handy if you have to install an alternator or radiator in a truckstop parking lot.

Adapters such as the SK socket spinner adapter and the 1/4-inch F-to-3/8-inch M increasing adapter would allow you to use the ratcheting T-handle with the sockets from the 3/8-inch-drive set to speed your work.

O’Hara’s third suggestion is a good set of combination wrenches – open on one end, and box on the other. The SK offering he recommends here is the 15-piece SuperKrome combination wrench set, which includes fractional combination wrenches from 1/4 to 1 inch. Such tools often get you in to work on bolts whose heads are in a spot where a socket and drive won’t quite fit.

Next, he recommends something along the lines of the SK five-piece general maintenance pliers set. After all, you may very well need to twist or pull something on the truck that does not have a bolt head with flats.

Many truckers change their own oil and filters, at least occasionally. And replacing a fuel filter is often necessary if you get dirty fuel or even as a short-term solution in case of cold-weather fuel waxing. You might even get an oil filter that develops a leak and needs replacement. So, get a good strap-type oil filter wrench. SK makes one with a maximum diameter of 9 inches. Quality is important because if the geometry of the design isn’t right, the strap won’t grab the filter tightly enough to loosen it if it’s been put on snugly.

O’Hara also thinks you might periodically find use for a ball peen hammer and a pry bar.

A simpler way to equip yourself might be to substitute a master set that’s already marketed and packaged by a tool manufacturer. O’Hara’s company makes SK No. 86167, which provides the drives and sockets, metric and fractional-inch hex bit sockets, Torx bit sockets, combination wrenches and screwdrivers specified in the longer list above.

Heavy duty account managers at SPX Service Solutions also suggest safety goggles, gloves, electrical tape, and light bulbs that will fit many of the lamps inside the cab, and the marker lights outside on the tractor and trailer.

O’Hara suggests when moving up into a home-based toolbox that your first step be an air compressor and impact tools.

The Fluke 87 multimeter from SPX Service Solutions can test engine and ABS sensors, in addition to finding wiring shorts.

Taking Stock in Your Toolbox

| December 03, 2001

How many times have you been stranded because a hose sprung a leak, a critical lamp went out, or a bolt got loose? Little problems can become a danger, or cause the alternator to stop charging or the water pump to stop pumping. A DOT inspection might leave you out of service even though a simple wrench or pair of pliers might have made it easy for you to make the truck legal again. A truckstop might have the new radiator you need, but no shop time to fix it. Why travel unprepared for such common problems?

Where to start
We asked Jim O’Hara, marketing manager of SK Hand Tool Corp., what a trucker would want to carry in his onboard, hand-carried toolbox. He came up with a number of suggestions designed to be “as universally applicable” as possible.

His first recommendation was some sort of complete bit driver set to drive screws and the like. SK has a 29-piece, ratcheting, T-handle bit driver set. The set includes a ratcheting T-handle bit driver and slotted, Phillips, and Pozidriv screwdriver bits, fractional-inch hex bits, Torx bits, and Robertson bits. Such a tool set would enable you to tighten (or remove and replace) many unusual little fasteners on the dash and other cab parts.

Next, O’Hara suggests a quality set of sockets with a 3/8-inch drive, something similar to the SK 47-piece 3/8-inch-drive socket SuperSet. It includes ratchet extensions and standard depth, deep fractional inch and metric sockets in a molded plastic storage case. Such tools let you quickly remove and install bolts all over the truck – handy if you have to install an alternator or radiator in a truckstop parking lot.

Adapters such as the SK socket spinner adapter and the 1/4-inch F-to-3/8-inch M increasing adapter would allow you to use the ratcheting T-handle with the sockets from the 3/8-inch-drive set to speed your work.

O’Hara’s third suggestion is a good set of combination wrenches – open on one end, and box on the other. The SK offering he recommends here is the 15-piece SuperKrome combination wrench set, which includes fractional combination wrenches from 1/4 to 1 inch. Such tools often get you in to work on bolts whose heads are in a spot where a socket and drive won’t quite fit.

Next, he recommends something along the lines of the SK five-piece general maintenance pliers set. After all, you may very well need to twist or pull something on the truck that does not have a bolt head with flats.

Many truckers change their own oil and filters, at least occasionally. And replacing a fuel filter is often necessary if you get dirty fuel or even as a short-term solution in case of cold-weather fuel waxing. You might even get an oil filter that develops a leak and needs replacement. So, get a good strap-type oil filter wrench. SK makes one with a maximum diameter of 9 inches. Quality is important because if the geometry of the design isn’t right, the strap won’t grab the filter tightly enough to loosen it if it’s been put on snugly.

O’Hara also thinks you might periodically find use for a ball peen hammer and a pry bar.

A simpler way to equip yourself might be to substitute a master set that’s already marketed and packaged by a tool manufacturer. O’Hara’s company makes SK No. 86167, which provides the drives and sockets, metric and fractional-inch hex bit sockets, Torx bit sockets, combination wrenches and screwdrivers specified in the longer list above.

Heavy duty account managers at SPX Service Solutions also suggest safety goggles, gloves, electrical tape, and light bulbs that will fit many of the lamps inside the cab, and the marker lights outside on the tractor and trailer.

O’Hara suggests when moving up into a home-based toolbox that your first step be an air compressor and impact tools.

The Fluke 87 multimeter from SPX Service Solutions can test engine and ABS sensors, in addition to finding wiring shorts.

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