By: Trish Horstman
At the end of the summer Evan, a handful of our friends and I all hopped on our bikes and rode into downtown Detroit for the Oily Souls motorcycle show in Corktown. The show was great Tons of cool chopped bikes; music, friends and a few beers were everywhere.
By the time we wanted to leave, though, the Hellcat wouldn’t start. It had run a little choppy on the way to the show and had a fouled spark plug, so initially we thought perhaps it wasn’t getting spark again. Evan and I knelt down beside it and pulled the plugs. They were clean. But after turning the motor over with the plugs out, we could see that indeed, it wasn’t getting spark. Where was the break in the juice? Luckily I carry small tool kits that contains everything we needed to McGuiver a makeshift test light to find the break in the wiring. We made it using a length of wire I carry for polarizing my generator, and a spare taillight bulb; it’s that easy! With the few tools, electrical tape and spare wiring I carry, we had the bike running in a matter of minutes and the ride home was flawless!
My tool bag is small, about the size of a fanny pack (don’t pretend you don’t remember what those looked like!). My bike is a chopped ride, so I don’t have bags or anything crazy to stow away tools and such, so I strap it to my triple trees just under my headlight. And though it’s small, it carries truly almost everything I need to get myself out of sticky situations – which can happen often with an older vehicle!
Whether you have a bike or car or truck, it’s smart to assemble a small emergency tool kit that can get you out of these kinds of situations. It will vary based on vehicle, but here is the general basis that might help you get started assembling one for your ride!
Multi Tool: These usually have a lot of options for tools and take up a small amount of space. If you cant get your hands on one, you’ll want to gather at least a nail file, flathead screw driver, Phillips screw driver, small pliers, and a pocket knife. Those are the best parts of the multi tool that you’ll use.
Spare light bulb for headlight and taillight: If you have room to carry turn signals, that’s good too. My bike doesn’t have turn signals because they clutter a chopper and in Michigan you can legally use hand signals.
Wire: I carry about a foot and a half of wire. It can polarize a generator, or replace a broken wire when you’re stuck on the side of the road!
Spare plugs: It’s always important to have a set – not just one!
Plug gapper tool: Most plugs come pre-gapped but it’s smart to make sure they’re gapped properly for your motor. Many times you can find these that go on a key chain even!
Electrical tape: You would be surprised what you can hold together with this!
Flashlight: It seems the breakdowns always happen in nasty weather or at night – call it Murphy’s Law!
Zip ties: A good dozen or so can save a dangling part easily!
Rag: You never know when you may need to clean something off to put it back together! It can also serve as an “oven mitt” for hot plugs, etc.
Spare set of points and a condenser: If you run a points ignition.
Master link: It’s very helpful when you have a chain break!
Car Kit: Very similar to a bike kit, but I’ve added a few suggestions:
Jug of water: not for drinking but for helping if your car is overheating!
Fix a flat: for obvious reasons
Tire iron: for prying, jacking or changing a tire
Jack: make sure you know how to use it! Changing a tire is easy, but often times folks don’t know how to, or haven’t had to in so long they have forgotten how – refresh yourself every few years!
Jumper cables: Again, obvious reasons. And there are emergency jump boxes that are small and easy to use in case there isn’t another car to jump yours.
During the winter months add:
Blanket: A non-running car will not have heat.
Kitty litter: It’s the easiest way to get traction in case of a slippery situation!
Shovel: for digging out of snow or mud.
These kit suggestions can help you assemble a proper one for your vehicle!