Renovation & Design

Truck accessories ease reno jobs

Extra space on board great for work and play

Photos by Marc LaBossiere / Winnipeg Free Press

The eight inches of interior space lost downsizing from a Crew Cab to the 2018 GMC Sierra 1500 Double Cab (above) is gained in box length.

The Switchblade retractable tonneau cover by Pace Edwards and Swing Cases add extra storage.

For years while touring on the road with my band, one thing became very clear — a reliable mode of transportation is essential. And now, within the construction and renovation industry, this fact remains just as relevant. Moreover, the vehicle’s amenities have now become the dominant factor.

Despite a healthy roster of local bookings from the onset, the "LaBossiere" band intermittently toured throughout Canada, on occasion. And when on the road, the odometer could easily increase by 5,000 or 6,000 kilometres in just a few weeks when travelling to a variety of venues strewn throughout the adjacent provinces, mitigating the 60,000-75,000 kilometres per year of wear and tear on the vehicle(s) being used. A vehicle breakdown can be detrimental to a tour’s success. As such, I had adopted a set of protocols that promote vehicle confidence — conventions which I still use today.

A new vehicle has warranty — the foundation upon which my vehicle confidence has evolved. If a vehicle required servicing while on the road with the band, knowing it had warranty gave me a sense of comfort — I mean, who wants to drop $3,500 on a new transmission unexpectedly? That said, warranty on most vehicles (at the time) was loosely based on 24,000 kms per year, albeit bumper-to-bumper coverage, over 48-60 months (give or take). Given the mileage the band would accrue, the warranty would erode much too quickly. Although extended warranty could stretch out the lifespan of vehicle coverage, our travel schedule far exceeded the warranty’s potential. So, whenever nearing the end of the coverage, I’d trade in my existing vehicle for a new one.

Now that my renovation and construction demands supersede my touring and performance schedule, my vehicle requirements have morphed slightly. I’ve always been a GM guy. First the smaller Sonoma pickup trucks, eventually settling into a series of GMC Sierra 1500s over the past two decades. And up until the most recent transition from old to new, the crew cab best served my needs. While touring with the band, the truck is just as much of a people mover as it is a gear hauler — four bandmates could comfortably (more or less) squeeze into a crew cab, while all stage gear was packed neatly into the truck box. And when we began touring as a three-piece version of the band, the cab become quite spacious.

In recent years, touring has slowed. However, contrary to my suspicions, my mileage continues to exceed average warranty expectancy, thereby compelling me to enforce my previously established protocol of trading in my vehicle before the warranty expires to avoid unexpected financial burdens, if the vehicle were to require major servicing. While speaking with my truck representative, James Rempel at Jim Gauthier Cadillac Buick GMC, early this past fall regarding the next impending truck upgrade, we briefly discussed a realization I had made on more than one occasion, at a few job sites — the extra space provided by the crew cab version of my truck could be better served in the truck box. Rempel had the answer: the double cab. The overall length of both the GMC Sierra Crew Cab and Double Cab are exactly the same. The eight inches of extra interior of the crew cab is redistributed to the box length of the double cab. Because I was no longer using my vehicle as a people mover due to diminished touring, I opted for the double cab this go-’round… and I love it! The added box length has eased my daily reno and hauling activities.

A few other truck improvements have been invaluable: tire warranty, the retractable tonneau and the swing case.

For obvious reasons, tire warranty is a good idea. But, when the vehicle is subjected to multiple job sites on a daily basis, it is inevitable that tires will pick up a few nails now and again. With the tire and rim warranty I opted to purchase when I bought my new 2018 GMC Sierra Double Cab, tire repair is covered. Moreover, if I were to hit a curb and blow a tire and/or damage the rim, the coverage will replace both the tire and rim if required. When I traded in my 2015, we determined that my tires had been repaired no fewer than a dozen times, justifying the warranty cost investment.

My previous two trucks also had Switchblade retractable tonneaus, made by Pace Edwards — since ordering my first tonneau via Hawk Auto & Truck Accessories, I’ve realized I can’t survive without it. My tools and building materials often fill the truck box from front to back — the tonneau protects the box contents from the elements. When fully closed and the tailgate locked, the box also becomes a mobile safe for my tools. Its operation is effortless.

The Switchblade tonneau glides along tracks affixed to either side of the box and quietly disappears into a cannister near the cab. It truly is a beautiful thing.

The driver-side or passenger-side Swing Case, essentially a (removable) mounted case that pivots on a brace near the tailgate, tucks and locks into position along the side of the box above the respective wheel well. I’ve installed both on my 2018, allowing for supplementary storage for tools and/or materials and fasteners. The only disadvantage: they must both be removed temporarily when four-by-eight-foot sheets are loaded into the box. Because they are easy to remove and set back into place, the benefits far outweigh this drawback.

Hawk Auto had them shipped overnight, and it only took me about a half-hour to install both. They are extremely suitable for the box of a work truck.

My truck is both my mobile office and workshop-on-the-go. I always do my best to maintain a regular servicing regimen, to ensure that the truck’s systems and components remain healthy and to try to avoid unnecessary delays due to potential vehicle issues. And although this new truck came with all the bells and whistles, it is the added features of the retractable tonneau and swing cases that truly ease my daily work activities. What will they think of next? Ingenuity fascinates me — these innovations continue to raise the bar.


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