We find many reasons to enjoy boating, but working on the boat usually isn't at the top of the list. Keeping the multitude of systems aboard a boat in good working order brings great satisfaction to many boaters. You may be the type who satisfies that need with a proven list of qualified mechanics. But if you're the type who doesn't mind or even enjoys getting your hands dirty, then nothing is better than a well-stocked tool kit to help complete the job.
When a day of fishing is threatened by a leaking water pump or a broken alternator belt prevents you from going home, it's reassuring to know you can save the day by performing a repair to get underway again.
Boats come in a variety of sizes and levels of complexity. That's why the tool kit in a 34-foot express cruiser could be very different from one in a 60-foot trawler. Beyond the common wrenches and screwdrivers, here are unique tools that are quite valuable for a special job.
ADJUSTABLE PLIER WRENCH: A bolt or a nut that won't budge can be the ultimate frustration. Handled improperly, you can round off the flats, and then you're in real trouble. When that happens, forget the vice-grip locking pliers, because of this adjustable plier wrench grips the bolt or nut tighter the more force you apply. They are widely adjustable and come in a variety of sizes. Available from Snap-on Tools. (snapon.com/EN)
COMPRESSED AIR: Alternative to heating, freezing may loosen a reluctant nut or bolt. If you hold compressed air in a spray canister upside down and allow the propellant to escape the nozzle, you quickly bring something to freezing temperatures. Be careful to keep it away from your skin when using. The compressed air used in the upright position is also helpful for cleaning small debris out of components before reassembling.
SPECIALTY DRIVES: The variety of items that need to be fixed on a boat is as wide as you will find collected in any one place, from engines to electronics or appliances. In the past, screws holding all these items together came in primarily two types, slotted or Phillips. Today you encounter a dozen different kinds of screw heads in fasteners, including Allen/ hex socket, Robertson/square recess, Double Square, Torx, Polydrive, Spline, the list goes on and on. Having a variety of drive tips to accommodate all screw types is easy today, as they're sold in pre-assembled kits in exchangeable screwdriver handles or a small socket wrench. (wihatools.com/bitsets)
BUTANE TORCH: Applying heat can go a long way to help the grip wrench above. Enabling items to expand and contract can help break them apart, and a small butane torch is the best way to apply heat in a very precise way. These torches come with a variety of tips, so you can use them to heat shrink-wrap tubing on an electrical connection and solder wires together. MagTorch 780 (magtorch.com)
CLAMPTITE TOOL: Spare parts are as important as good tools to get the job done, and spare hose clamps are among the essential items to keep on a boat. However, if you're caught without the right size or you're assisting another boater without spares, the ClampTite tool allows you to make a hose clamp out of any kind of wire, even a coat hanger. (clamptitetools.com)
FORMABLE FUNNEL: Pouring fluids can make a mess on a boat, whether it's oil, coolant, hydraulic fluid or just distilled water into a battery. Frequently the opening is behind or under something that prevents you from pouring into it without spilling. A formable funnel is perfect for shaping around obstacles to get liquid into the opening without pouring half of it into your bilge. (formafunnel.com)
MAGNETIZER/DEMAGNETIZER: Holding different types of screws in place when installing or removing them can be a challenge. Magnetizing the screwdriver or drive tip may be the solution, but you may not want it to stay magnetized for every application, especially when working on electronics. This handy item magnetizes and demagnetizes tools quickly and easily. (wihatools.com/magnetizer-and-demagnetizer)
BORESCOPE: Frequently what you need to see on a boat is behind or under something else. Smartphone technology has made this simpler with small flexible borescopes that you connect to your phone or tablet via a Wi-Fi connection. These enable you to place a high-quality camera in places previously impossible to reach. (depstech.com)