Red River Triumph Club

Road Trip Packing List

What to Take With You on a Long Triumph Road Trip

by Jiri Prevratil

Someone recently asked, “What should I take with me for this several-hundred mile road trip in my Triumph?”  This sparked a contest at the June club meeting, to see who could provide the most complete, and the most creative answers.  The prizes were leftover “classic” T-shirts from a club-sponsored event several years ago.  These prizes were awarded during the July club meeting to Dave and Kay Fox for the most complete answers, and to Bob Waddell for the most creative.  While the Foxes presented an extensive and thoughtful list of individual tools, repair supplies, and comfort items, Bob suggested simply bringing a spare parts car.  A summary of the list is discussed below, and the complete list of suggestions can be found at the end of this article.

I also remembered seeing a discussion of this topic a while back on the British Car Forum, an internet discussion site focusing on British cars. After some digging, I found the topic has come up there several times.  The suggestions, both in our club members’ responses and from the online forum, ranged from just a cell phone all the way up to a full parts car.

Before starting any long road trip, you should always make sure your car is in acceptable condition.  Check all the fluid levels (oil, water, brake/clutch fluid).  Check for leaks, especially in the hydraulic (brake/clutch) and water (cooling) systems.  Small oil leaks are virtually a fact of life for our old British cars, but you should have an idea of how much your car normally uses (whether by leaks or burning off during driving), so that you know how much oil you need to carry with you.  Some other major items to check are brake (pads/rotors/drums) and tire condition (including the spare).  Of course, normal periodic maintenance, such as oil changes, chassis lubrication, repacking wheel bearings, etc. should be up to date.

Now that your car is ready, what do you need to take with you?  One of the most frequent recommendations was a cell phone.  Of course, having a cell phone provides little benefit if you don’t know who to call.  A roadside assistance service, such as AAA or Hagerty Plus, is a popular option.  Another interesting option is VTR’s Traveler Assistance Program, which provides a contact list of volunteers around the country who are willing to help fellow Triumph travelers with assistance ranging from parts and tools to trailers and spare bedrooms.  And of course, your fellow RRTC members can be helpful friends to call, especially when traveling in a group to a club event.  And if you need to call for help, make sure you can stay comfortable while you wait, perhaps with a folding chair, reading material, an umbrella, and your choice of beverages.

When it comes to tools and spare parts, there was a wide range of suggestions.  Several respondents listed tools and parts for making relatively simple, quick repairs on the side of the road.  The tools included socket/wrench sets, combination wrenches, screwdrivers, various pliers, and a few specialized tools for things like carburetor mixture, spark plug gap, and ignition points adjustments.  And of course, don’t forget the tire tools, whether you need a lug wrench or knockoff hammer.  For spare parts, ignition components seemed to be a popular choice.  Consider taking items such as spark plugs, points, condenser, rotor, coil, and perhaps even a spare distributor cap with spare spark plug wires already attached.  The points and condenser may even be a good back-up choice for those who have converted to electronic ignition.  Other common items suggested for roadside repairs are motor oil, water or antifreeze, radiator/heater hoses, duct tape, electrical tape, and safety wire.  Repair and owner’s manuals for your car can also be useful.

A couple of exceedingly well-prepared travelers in the online forum presented lists that are surely hard to fit in the cargo space of a Triumph, although they claimed it was possible.  Just a few of the spare parts and tools these driver-mechanics carry are an alternator, fuel pump, water pump, U-joint, Stromberg diaphragm, master and slave cylinder kits, MAPP gas torch, and no less than 10 screwdrivers, in addition to all the more common components listed by others.  Well-prepared, or overly pessimistic?  One of these guys frequently drives his TR3 and TR4 through the Sonoran desert with no cell phone service, so perhaps his list is understandable.  The other is an MG driver, so maybe his experience is just a little different.

Obviously the answer to the question of what to take on a long road trip in your Triumph depends on several factors.  Making sure your car is in good condition before you go may be more important than anything you take with you. Once on the road, a cell phone (and knowing who to call) provides the most important safety net for many drivers, while some of the most skilled and self-reliant mechanics may take enough tools and spares for anything that might ever break.  But most drivers can make simple repairs like topping off the oil or replacing a distributor cap or rotor, if they have the parts available.  And remember, the more you drive your Triumph, the better you’ll know the car and the more confidence you’ll have to take those longer trips.

Now, all of the above discussion neglects one important point– the destination.  Don’t forget to save room for your luggage, a detailing kit for the concours event, a folding chair or two, and an ice chest.

What to Take With You
–The Unabridged List–


Screwdrivers: 1 long, 1 short, 1 small each of Phillips and   Flat Head
Adjustable wrench
Combination wrench set
Spark plug socket and ratchet
Socket set (3/8″ drive)
Lug wrench and/or knockoff hammer
Spoke wrench
Carb adjustment tool (SU jet wrench)
Jack (scissors type or the one that came with your car)
Diagonal cutters
Pocket knife, utility knife
Shop or Haynes manual
Owner’s manual
General purpose oil (e.g. 3in1)
Voltmeter with alligator clips
12V test light
Tire pressure gauge
Tire air pump (12V)
Feeler gauges
Tow chain/strap
DeoxIT electrical contact cleaner
Carb/choke cleaner
Gloves – rubber/disposable/leather
Duct tape

Repair Materials:

Tire patch or plug kit (depending on tube or tubeless)
Electrical tape
Spare 3′ electrical wire (with alligator clips)
Tire sealant
1/2″ pipe thread plug, to plug broken heater valve
Glass cleaner for windshield
Roll paper towels
Empty gallon jug
JB Weld epoxy
Liquid/silicone gasket   Beer can for patch
Hose clamps to hold what duct tape can’t
Duct tape

Spare Parts:

Points, condenser
Spark plugs
Rubber fuel line
Hose clamps (for fuel, radiator, and heater hoses/lines)
Radiator and heater hose
Fan belt
Quart of water
Premixed coolant
1 or 2 quarts oil
Automatic transmission fluid, if applicable
Brake fluid (small container for brake, clutch reservoirs)
Tie wraps (4″, 6″, 12″)
Bailing wire 6 ft
Fuel filter
Coil (and wire between coil and distributor)
Distributor cap
Spark plug wires
Water pump
Fuel pump (mech. replacement or electric bypass)
Voltage regulator
Battery clamps
Brake/clutch cylinder repair kits
Wiper blades
Duct tape
Spare car for parts

Life Support:

Cell phone (and list of whom to call)
Bug repellant
Shop rag
Safety glasses
Fire extinguisher
Baby or orange wipes
Ice chest
Folding chair(s)
Q-tips and black marker
Reading material, for the waiting
Beer, or $20 cash for beer, ice, etc.
Duct tape

Special Thanks to the RRTC members who contributed to this list:  Paul Higley, Dave and Kay Fox, Bob Waddell, Vernon Bland, Barbara Thompson, Dave Northrup, Rick Sweeney, Dennis Duke, Cathy Townsend, Jim Newbre, Debbie Patterson, Bo Morris

Thanks also to Geo Hahn and the other contributors at the British Car Forum.