Meet The ToughVan
We’ve been lucky enough to get an exclusive look inside the one and only #ToughVan, the story behind it and the work that’s been done to make it into the masterpiece it is now! We’ll take you through the journey that award-winning Gus from Couple a’ Tools has been on to transform his 2012 MK7 Ford Transit Jumbo into one of the most innovative and best-looking vans. It has helped him pick up some of the most prestigious awards across Scotland and gets the job done in style!
A growing concern amongst many tradesmen nowadays is a tool and van security. Not to be taken lightly, Gus has kitted the #ToughVan out with more security systems than a bank vault! He started by reinforcing the van doors and fitting a new internal lock system. The exterior has also been fitted with a Garrison Hykee TVL lock on the driver’s door and Garrison rear and side deadlocks to secure the remaining doors. Clifford Concept 650 MKII Alarm with proximity sensors, GPS Tracker with a fuel kill switch and microphone have also been fitted in the #ToughVan. Finally, 6 CCD camera systems run on 2 separate DVRs in locked & welded cases running 24/7 with remote access. There’s no messing around regarding all the equipment tradesmen need for their work, and Gus is a shining example of keeping your tools safe.
For anyone who spends many hours on the road, you know how important it is to have a decent sound system to enjoy your music and listen to the radio. However, if you’re anything like Gus, a musician and tradesman, you’ll go that extra mile and kit yourself out with some extras! With an ICE – 2 x 86Ah Batteries, a double DIN touch screen head unit with access to all cameras and a host of audio input features (even includes 3G internet access), 4 x JBL 12″ 1000w subs in the bulkhead, upgraded 5″ x 7″ 220w door speakers, 4 way 6.5″ 200w ceiling speakers, 4000w monobloc amp running at 1ohm and a farad capacitor! Pretty impressive stuff, with almost enough audio equipment, loaded in the cabin to host a festival, and of course, it’s all custom fitted.
Planned out for over 5 years, Gus knew exactly where everything was going to go and how he wanted it to look to make the most of the space he had available. First, he painted black ply sidewalls and put commercial-grade penny round rubber on the floor. He then hand-built the racking from phenol-faced birch ply to hold its shape and not degrade over time. To hold the weight, the #ToughRack has been welded with a 25mm box mild steel frame to take the Tough System arms and 19 boxes plus a Tough System radio.
The FlexVolt section was built to fit a mitre saw and table saw; there’s also space for Dewalt tote bags and storage space for spare blades, batteries & chargers.
The rear of the bulkhead has been fitted to carry all the saw stands, plunge saw rails and a gazebo. There’s also room for a Karcher pressure washer, Dewalt laser, fire extinguisher and 12v charger for on-the-move charging.
At the rear of the Van are a rack for holding Dewalt levels, a Stanley laser pole & laser, steam mop, bulldozer brush, Dewalt bluetooth speaker, large Stanley T square and Dewalt LED torch.
A custom-built drawer system sits behind this rack with Ikea yellow and black drawers to keep plumbing and electrical fittings, brushes and rollers, tiling equipment, PPE, and other things. More shelving holds Stanley FATMAX boxes, cabling, vacuums and extractors.
The last bit of storage is a neat silicone holder, which has been powder-coated black; easy access across the board is key to this design, and you can instantly tell that a lot of thought has gone into where to position everything.
In the centre of the van are custom-made adjustable supports made from shoring bars and clamps with yellow safety foam. These hold sheet materials, doors etc., in place without damaging anything in the van and still give full access to everything in the #ToughRack.
The Finishing Touches
The exterior was resprayed and fitted with a full-length roof rack with a centre walkway to hold the Dewalt fibreglass ladders; the roof rack can be accessed via the rear ladder.
To keep the #ToughVan stuck to the road, it’s been fitted with commercial grade black gloss ST alloys and sports tyres, and of course, to stick with the yellow and black theme, the callipers have recently been sprayed yellow.
All the original Ford badges have been replaced with carbon and yellow inlay.
An acrylic sun visor & bonnet guard have been fitted, the headlights were split open, and the casing changed from silver to black before being reseated along with a chrome bullbar to give it that killer front end!
Finally, the seats in the cabin have been covered with custom two-tone yellow and black neoprene and headrests embroidered with #TOUGHVAN.
I’d love to show even more photos of this beautiful machine, but you can go and check out the entire gallery on Facebook – here.
Couple a’ Tools
We caught up with Gus and had the chance to ask him some questions about his business and the #ToughVan; here’s what he said:
Q. Tell us a bit about Couple ‘a Tools, how long has it been going, what was the vision when you started out?
Gus – I founded Couple a’ Tools in 2009. The name was a passing joke & meant to be temporary until I found something else, but clients loved the pun & have always said it’s a name they’ll never forget, so it stuck.
I wanted to be a professional one-stop shop for all Home Improvements & renovation needs. Anything from changing a lock or light switch to a full kitchen, bathroom or bedroom remodel. Standards across trades have slipped over the years, so I wanted to bring that back by setting an industry standard. I cover all Joinery, Electrical, Plumbing, Tiling, Plastering & Decorating without the need to subcontract the work. Doing so keeps costs down for the customer & means everything is done right & in the right order.
I am booked up to 24 months in advance, with most clients happy to wait to know the service, finish & guarantees offered.
Q. When did you start working on the #ToughVan and what was the motive for making such an awesome machine?
Gus – I purchased the van exactly a year ago today, 01/06/16. My vision was quite simple. I had seen a similar style setup in a yellow Sprinter in the Netherlands by Michel Gassbeek over 6 years ago. It blew me away & I was determined to have a bigger & better version here in the UK to suit my needs. A few have tried much smaller versions here in the UK, claiming to be the first, but all inspiration has come from Michel.
Over the past 5 years, I’ve been building my collection of DeWalt tools & boxes after my van was broken into & everything was taken. After this, I had a mini #ToughRack system in my old van, but the time came to do it right from a bare shell.
So I purchased a 2012 Mk 7 Ford Transit Jumbo XLWB Trend & started my planning from there. I took 6 weeks off work using the sale of my old van as a wage & to purchase some other stuff I needed for the #ToughVan & began my build from lots of drawings and plans I had done.
Q. What’s been the biggest difficulty when creating the #ToughVan, has there been anything you wanted to do that you weren’t able to?
Gus – To be honest, there’s only one thing that I’d love to do, which I can’t do due to weight & that’s to fully lower it. Everything else has been built in the van to my exact spec & as this has taken over 5 years of planning, there’s nothing at all I’d change. I’ve not found anything too difficult on the build as it’s not much different to any fitted bedroom I’ve ever done. Car & van modification has something I’ve always enjoyed doing & very familiar with auto electrics for lighting, sound system, CCTV, alarms etc.
Q. #ToughVan has picked up quite a bit of attention on social media, have you ever thought of starting your own ‘Pimp my ride’ type workshop or did you enjoy this more because it was yours?
Gus – A few have said I should look into doing it, but like most jobs, I don’t like repetitive work. I like my scenery to change hence being a multi-trader. I’m sure I’d get bored doing racking after racking after a few months.
Q. What tips would you give to our readers who might be thinking of doing something similar with their Van?
Gus – Do it!! Don’t just talk about it & say I’d love that; just do it. It’ll be the best thing you ever do. Take time off & plan it out first. As well as making life 100 times easier as everything has a place, it looks great to customers. Shows great work ethic. Do it once, do it right.
So there you have it. I hope you take some inspiration from Gus and build your own #ToughVan.
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