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  NEED SOME EXTRA STORAGE SPACE IN THAT NEW PICKUP?

  How about a tool box?

by Gene Gros

President
Highway Products, Inc.

Buying a tool box for your pickup truck used to be as simple as going down to the hardware store and getting a sheet of plywood and a hand full of screws. You already had a gallon of brown house paint left over from last summer and that old gate in the backyard had a padlock hasp and a set of rusty hinges good for one more go around. A few hours, a splinter or two later and “Viola”! – a tool box. It might leak a little but, what the heck, all you’re going to put in it are a set of jumper cables, jack, and a couple quarts of oil, right? Well, not in today's world.!

Now there are as many choices in truck tool boxes as there are things to put in it. You can get an aluminum, steel, stainless steel, or plastic tool box with single, double, triple, or sliding lids; lights, trays, shelves, coolers, push-button, paddle or tee handle locks; fuel tanks; and even some complete with dog kennels.

While there are plenty to choose from, how do you know which is the right one for you? First, decide what you want to carry in your tool box. Make a list, then gather these items together. For example, you might begin with sleeping bags, golf clubs, motor oil, WD-40, jumper cables, tow chain, lawn chairs, fishing rod, tackle box, hand tool box, tire chains, chain saw, skill saw, a pair of boots, maybe a raincoat, and, of course, duct tape. This will give you an idea of how large your tool box needs to be and how to organize it. Of course you won’t need to carry all your goodies at once so don’t get carried away on size.

The next decision is whether your truck tool box should be constructed of aluminum, plastic, or steel. Over the past few years aluminum has become very popular and with good reason. It looks good, is lightweight, does not rust, and requires no painting.

Plastic had its heyday a few years ago but received a bad reputation for sagging. Manufacturers then started reinforcing their plastic boxes with steel and are now using better grades of plastic. You will find them to be generally the most inexpensive truck tool boxes on the market.

Steel is still very popular and makes a strong, reasonably priced tool box. With the new paint methods and formulations, such as powder coating, you will get years of rust-free life from your steel tool box. If weight is not a problem and you want an extra tough, sturdy tool box, steel might be the answer.

There are many grades and styles to choose from, with prices ranging from less than $200 to more than $1,000. Some manufacturers will custom build a tool box for your special needs. Of course, this will cost more, but if the box performs better, it may well be worth it.

 

Take another look at the cargo you will be storing in the tool box. Is its total worth $10 or are those golf clubs priceless? Do you live in a high crime area? Are you going to work out of this box or joy ride on Sunday? If your cargo is inexpensive, an economy model should work fine and will keep the cab of your truck uncluttered. The economy models start at around $175 for plastic; $200 for steel; and $300 for aluminum. There are a few plastic models that are industrial strength, used mainly where chemicals are present.

The old adage, “out of sight, out of mind’ is most important when thinking of tool box security, but the more expensive models generally have better locks and are built sturdier. Thieves can see this too. You may have items which would be hard to replace.

Do you pull a fifth wheel or a gooseneck trailer? If so, you will want to get a tool box that sits down in the bed of your pickup so the trailer won’t smash into it when jackknifed. This is very important because you can do thousands of dollars worth of damage to your fifthwheel trailer too.

Check the lock mechanism. This is usually the first thing that goes bad, the hinge is usually next. How does the weather-stripping look? Is there an extra tray? (This might eliminate the need for a hand toolbox.) Make sure you ask about the warranty and what it covers. Many warrantys are short and only cover a small part of the tool box like workmanship, not parts. Remember, you could be transfering your tool box from truck to truck which means you may have it for many years. Pick a good one.

If you're like me, I'd be lost without my loyal tool box. It’s the only place I know where everything is. My wife doesn’t clean it or change things around, and my kids know this is one area that is off limits. It follows me everywhere I go and doesn’t eat much. I throw things at it, spill oil on it, and it never complains. When I get in a jam it's always there to help me out. Now, what more could a man ask for?

Here's an article you may enjoy that our president, Gene Gros, wrote for Surveyor Magazine that published in February of 2008.

It's about leaning your business out.

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