Key Up On A Useful Tool

Cotter Key Puller As a cotter key “puller” for the base of a Hi-Lift Jack. Leave it there for the next time.
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We four wheelers are known for being resourceful. You know, fix just about anything anywhere – especially while off road – using the most unusual tools or items. Sometimes you need to use what you have to get through a pinch.

But it is true that we can make use of the oddest items laying around: rubber bands, paper clips, duct tape. To that list I’d like to add the split key ring. If you’re like me, you’ve collected a bunch over the years. You can pick up a pocketful walking the floor of any trade show. Do you actually use them? Probably not. My guess is you toss ‘em in a junk box or drawer, rarely to be seen again.

Turns out that humble key ring can fill many roles. As you’ll see from the images, I’m referring only to the split-ring type of key ring. Throw away whatever plastic doohickey is attached; all you need is the ring. Herewith, in no particular order, are some ways to use the split key ring beyond the norm.

Dutch Oven To identify pieces of gear and cooking items like a Dutch oven. Inscribe your initials in a piece of metal (brass or aluminum are fine), then attach that to the item with a key ring.
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Zipper pull Replace the handle of a zipper that’s broken off. Loop the key ring through the eyelet on top of the zipper, and—voila!—you have a new handle. And a better one, in fact. You can grab it with a finger. On a jacket this is much cleaner than say a zip tie solution.
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Light cord At the end of the pull string on an overhead light. Tie a key ring at the end and, like with your zipper, you can loop a finger through and easily turn the light on and off. This can work in the garage too as an indicator of where to stop the car.
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Swivel on a sling In place of a broken or missing swivel on a gun sling.
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Strap buckle Use two as a quick way to make a belt buckle or cinch strap around your bed roll.
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Lock a latch A key ring will also work in place of a lock for a clasp on a foot locker or similar storage unit. Secure a latch and keep crows, burros, and vagrants out!
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Key Ring gang Gang them together to gain some additional length for something. DO NOT use key rings on tools that generate force or tension (like a winch). As you can imagine, the key rings aren’t strong enough to withstand that force. Use the proper size of chain, rope or strap for those types of applications.
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Hitch pin As a temporary replacement for the trailer hitch pin clip. It may take a little finessing (and a few choice words), but a sturdy key ring works in a pinch. Replace it with the real deal when you get home.
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Hang a wrench Do you have an ongoing problem or need for a small wrench? Use a key ring to hang a wrench under the hood for quick access. Put it somewhere it doesn't rattle or short out the batteries.
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Some other ideas:
  • Hang a banner. Slip the ring through the grommet holes. This will work for either wall-mounted or suspended banners.

  • As part of the anchoring system for a tent. Plant the tent pole and stake inside the ring. The ring is particularly useful in cold climates or other areas where the tent stake tends to get stuck in the ground. Just grab the ring and pull the tent stake loose.

  • To attach gear to something. Some shirts and jackets have D ring sewn in. Want to carry a flashlight or whistle? Use a key ring to attach the item to your clothing, including a belt loop.
  • Of course you can always put keys on it!

As you can see, the split key ring has many important uses around the home and in the great outdoors. Dig through your junk boxes to see if you saved any key rings. If so, add two or three to your survival kit, tool box, even your camp box. You’re sure to find a use for one someday.

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On the way to Titus Canyon
Death Valley National Park
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Related Articles from Badlands Off-road Adventures

Did you miss the previous articles?

Some Upcoming Events

(click on the link for details)

Early morning in the Desert.
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The 7th annual Toys for Tots event will be held December 7th at Hungry Valley SVRA. See the flyer below.

Be sure to read the letter requesting Applicants for the Recreational Resources Advisory Committee following the calendar of events.

The 2014 schedule of events (as we know them today) has been populated on the web site. Since we are planning these events anywhere from 5 months to 17 months in advance, there are times when we have to make some adjustments.

Next year we are bringing back the Wine Safari. Look for it in the July time frame.

New in 2014, will be several months when students (particular those traveling from out of town) can sign up for a 3 day block of clinics to maximize their travel. The 3rd day will be the Monday following a Getting Started and Advanced Beginner weekend. The third class will offer either a Winching Clinic or a Tire Repair Clinic.

It is not too late to sign up for the Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad Adventure just after Thanksgiving.

The schedule of events through the end of 2013 is listed below.
  1. October 25 T&T (Tonopah & Tidewater) Railroad Adventure

  2. December 07 Getting Started Off-Road - LA:

  3. December 08 Tire Repair & Hi-Lift Mini Clinic

  4. December 14 Getting Started Off-Road - San Diego:

  5. December 15 Advanced Beginner Clinic- San Diego:

Toys for Tots 12-7-13

Toys for Tots
Toys for Tots
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T&T Rail Road Adventure in November

Death Valley

Our goal is to cross through Johnson Valley, enjoying what it has to offer, and making our way North along the old Tonopah & Tidewater (T&T) Rail Road bed to the Rasor OHV, Afton Canyon and the western edge of the Mojave Preserve. On the way we will skirt the Rodman Mountain Wilderness and cross I-40. This adventure is 2 days of scenic, historical, light wheeling and a night of primitive camping under the stars.
Check out the details and sign up on the website: http://www.4x4training.com/Adventures/TTRailroad.html

You can register directly at http://www.4x4training.com/calendar/calendar.php#TTRailroad

Started thinking about Christmas gifts? - A Winch Recovery Bandana is a good stocking stuffer.

Winching Recover Bandana
Click for higher resolution image
We have our new stock with many new colors (Red, Orange, Green, and Blue) on hand. The Bandana is packed full of useful information and is a quick reference in the field when no DVD player is available."

The Bandana layout follows the “Vehicle Recovery Plan” with pathways to more detail. A unique section of the Bandana, gives the steps for a “Winch Rigging Check: Walk through” so that you verify every element of the rigging before you commit to the pull. Stuff this in your recovery kit and you will always be ready!

Pick up or order the Winching DVD too! There is no substitute for hands on training. If you can, sign up for one of Badlands Off-Road Adventure’s Winching Clinics.

Warning – the Bandana and DVD are not a substitute for proper training and use of quality equipment that is used within the bounds of their safe working load. We advise you to use the information provided in both the Winching Recovery Bandana and the "Basic to Advanced Winching and Recovery DVD" at your own risk. We cannot control the quality and specifications of the equipment used and the methods actually employed.

Winch Recovery Bandana Order Button

Order a Basic to Advanced Winching & Recovery DVD too!

Winch DVD
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I hope to see you on the trails!
Tom Severin, President
Badlands Off Road Adventures, Inc.
4-Wheel Drive School
Make it Fun. Keep it Safe.
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Want To Use This Article In Your Magazine, E-Zine, Club Newsletter Or Web Site? You are welcome to use it anytime, just be sure to include the following author/copyright information: Tom Severin, 4x4 Coach, teaches 4WD owners how to confidently and safely use their vehicles to the fullest extent in difficult terrain and adverse driving conditions. Visit www.4x4training.com to develop or improve your driving skill.

Copyright 2013, Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Inc.

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