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Locksmithing 101 - New Van Setup

The very first virtual van tour from Dylan of Thomas Locks.


PJ: You're located up in Canada, right?

Dylan: Yep. Prince Edward Island, capital Prince Edward Island to Charlotte town and I'm based there. I service the entire province. It's not too big but four hours from one end to the other and I'm right in the middle. So yeah, that's where I am. East Coast.

PJ: Okay, on the east coast up there in Canada. That's a pretty big range that you service. Now what type of work do you do?

Dylan: I do everything basically, commercial and residential is what I advertise but I like to be able to try to do everything. There's not too many locksmiths here so if there's any way that I can help anybody, then I will make my best effort to do that. So most of my work is residential and I have the odd commercial job, even safer to here there because I am just a sole proprietor. It's just me, I feel more comfortable having a new van and I don't have to worry about things breaking down and I like having a nice new van. I've had some pretty shoddy van in the past. So having the new van is nice. And I think it's a very professional look so I'm glad that I can bring that to my customers.


PJ: Good stuff. Well, you know what? I'll go ahead and do you want to start in the cockpit in the front or you want to start in the back?


Dylan: Let's work our way from the front to the back that that makes sense.

PJ: All right, let's do it.

Dylan: So up front, you just got your standard Ford Transit interior here. When I got this vehicle, I tried doing a search on Ford Transit locksmith van and I couldn't really quite find anything so I've kind of just been building it from scratch and I got a few inspirations here and there. I know how I found Wayne Winton was actually typing in Milwaukee locksmith van and not linked to his video so that's how I got connected with him.


PJ: Okay, now is there any custom work or features that you've included in the front like maybe for taking notes or anything that kind of helps you with doing your job?

Dylan: Actually I'm a huge, huge fan of these bins. This thing was only like six bucks. I did at one point kind of have some kind of a custom little organizer here to organize my stuff but every time I had a friend or had to take somebody somewhere, I was dealing with all that so I just dropped it all in this bin. So now whenever I have a passenger, I can just take it out and throw it back in. If I want to keep it more secure. I can just pop it in the back so big fan of these bins.


PJ: Cool.

Dylan: Yeah, so I've got like my computer there, some catalogs and stuff, notepads, everything you need basically right there. If you have my standard notepad there and I love magnets. I got a magnet up there. Yeah, I can do my phone there on the other one. I don't know if that's relevant. Actually, here's something that might be interesting for you. I remember you had somebody asking about how you deal with moisture in your van and this was a huge issue for me in the winter. I came into my van one morning and almost everything was covered in frost so I immediately went out and ordered some of these. Also, you want to make sure the inside of your van is always dry. Try to kick your boots off. Well. AC is great for keeping your van dry, but go ahead.

PJ: Yeah, so what exactly is that in your hand there?

Dylan: It is a...I'm not exactly sure what the product was but it absorbs moisture. They're common in RV's. I bought five of them and just chuck them around my van. They do seem to help with fogging up and moisture, so I haven't had any problems since I got these.

PJ: Well, that's a great tip so if someone were to want to get some for their van, like a local RV dealer would probably have them then.

Dylan: Yeah, definitely. I did check one of the local hardware stores and in the RV section, they had a similar product but it was like these little pellets that are in a can and then that thing could fall over and they get everywhere. I wasn't able to find these locally. I had find those online but yeah RV moisture pack, I think is what you're looking for.


PJ: Good stuff. Honestly, that's a great little tip there so thank you.

Dylan: Yeah, no problem. Yeah. So I kind of got a rack in here. I'll just go around to the other side so this is actually the first thing I did. Very important to have your locksmith stuff secure. You don't want anyone getting a hold of that stuff and keep an extra shirt. You never know when you're going to need extra stuff. I love Wayne saying there, "One is none and two is one." It's a great thing which I try to go by as well. I put an inverter in actually that's one more thing. I did wire up a sinewave inverter. It's not easy in this vehicle, either. You got to take half the engine compartment out to get that in there. So not very easy access to the battery but I did get that wired in nicely.

PJ: If I can ask you about that for a second, how many watts did you put in?

Dylan: Only 1000. Now I know that's a little bit below the average of what some of the guys are doing but it's served me really well. No issues yet. I've got three LED light strips in here, actually for now and I charge my batteries. I run a bench grinder. I have a Framon 2 and everything's been working great so far. So 1000 seems to be doing the trick so far. Fingers crossed. Yeah. So my switch for my inverter is here and this is kind of in a central location. I can get it from the cab, I can get it from either side in the back so just turn that on there and then this guy has its own switch as well. I like a lot of light up front, I've had issues before with not having enough light, especially older vans, I don't know if you remember before we could get things like this, it was kind of a pain, you have that silly little light and I ran into some trouble with that so I didn't skimp on the lighting system so these are actually a grow light that are both 40 bucks and it's a big, big bright light. I figure if I can grow a plant that's good enough for me so that's what I want.


PJ: Yeah, that's actually a really cool hack there to put a light up front. So at night when you need to do paperwork or look at something, you can pop that on, and you have great light over just what comes standard on the vehicle.

Dylan: Absolutely. Yeah, the little light that's included is not nearly enough, especially if you've got stuff in the floor and your organizer, I definitely recommend putting a light up front 100%.

PJ: That's great. Cool.


Dylan: Okay, I'll come back around. And then we'll open up that side and start over there. Love the dual doors, and I did install slick lock system here. I don't know if you're familiar with that or I did have to slightly modify this. The door didn't quite clear the bracket there was included so this just had to be cut down a little bit. Funny thing nobody on PI has ever heard of these things. So pretty low crime here. It's pretty good place.


PJ: Here's the back.

Dylan: Yeah. So here we are. Now, I've had this van for about three months now. It's kind of a work in progress. I built it from the ground up.

PJ: Can I ask you a question about it?

Dylan: Absolutely.

PJ: When you got the van and you were setting it up, right? Everyone has different work, they do like their primary work, they do out of the van and preferences, really. And so you had to have one thing or two things that were most important to you when you were setting that up but I'm curious what those were, were they a good spot to rekey, easy to grab tools?

Dylan: I've actually got a pretty funny story for you about that. So I've been in situations before where I've been out on the road for like 10 hours and my one requirement or my one desire was that if needed, I could actually have a setup where I could lay down if I needed to. Yeah, so I thought if I'm on the road or a road trip, I want to be able to like be able to lay down in my van and take some time off if I need to so kind of a funny little thing I know and I haven't had to use that yet fortunately but I was kind of designing it in mind that I could have a center line through the back where if I needed to make some space. Hey, take a little nap, hasn't come up yet but there have been situations before where it would definitely be useful and I looked into to the packages for these things, and they're not cheap, they're in the 1000s of dollars so my initial plan was to build it from wood, and just customize and do it myself, that does take a bit of time. One of the things that was important to me, or another thing that was important to me is that if I need to make space in here and clear it out, that I can.I had considered custom building shelving and woodworking stuff but that stuff can be time consuming to make and remove and, whatnot so I kind of wanted to have a modular system where if I had to move it big safe all of a sudden, or even a door, I could just pull everything out really quick and put it back in so I did end up with a lot of Milwaukee pacote stuff, and a few other things that I custom did. So that was kind of my main thing - to be able to be versatile, can I make space in the van and, yeah, so and it's kind of been slowly building as the need arises so I've been adding shelves here and there, as I need them but it's a bit of a work in process, but it's coming along nice and I enjoy it.


PJ: So typically, how we do it at this point is that if you were to kind of hop in there and just give us like the two three minute tour all the way around.

Dylan: Absolutely, absolutely. Okay, so I'll just start by saying that I do prefer to stand when I'm working, I feel more productive when I'm standing. So with this setup, I can typically work standing up as long as the weather's not too bad. So going inside the van is kind of a backup plan or second resort but if I do need to go in, the first thing that I'm going to do is I'm going to grab this, and I've got my vacuum here, which doubles as a bench. So I had a bench in a vacuum then realized I could just sit on this, so why not? It's not a big fan, I've got to make the most of the space and I'm a big fan of kits so if I can just walk up I've got my lock kit, I've got my kind of general maintenance kit here and then I've got my install kit back there. Kind of just spare stuff here and then some more, just more tools here. I've probably got more stuff than I need but I'm kind of getting that, figured out as I go along what I need, what I don't. And then a few car open up tools like this just pulls out. We all know what this is. So love this. It's worked great for me. My drill here. There's my drill. I've got an eyewash station here. I've got a fire extinguisher here so safety first. Because I am just by myself. I think that's important and I also was a level three first aid attendant so I think that is carried over a little, couple little quirks here, if you can get up here I've got a paper towel roll, that's nice. I'm gonna get in the van now just to show you what that looks like and we'll go from there. So this is me in the van. As you can see I fit so I've got my pin kit here. Right now, it's set up for working on the other side of the van but as I said before, I do love magnets so this is actually magnet ties down so it's quite easy to turn around if I need to do some work here with that. Yeah, so we've got that there and then I've got this drawer system here so I've got some pinning tools here.


Just extra stuff here. All kinds of little things, could spend three hours going over every little thing so I'm probably just leave that out but I've got some mini pin kits here, spare keys. My main key supply wall is here and that's a work in process. I finally just got my labels out, some of them so got my main ones there. My key machine as you see here I have the Flash mobile and I had it on a wood rack that was kind of spinning but I didn't feel like it was sturdy enough so I just put in this metal one yesterday. So unfortunately right now, if I want to turn this around and work inside, I do have to undo these two screws and physically turn it around. I did have it on a swivel but didn't totally trust it so I'm just going with that right now. The weather's great. Maybe in the winter, I'll turn it around and if I can just work outside the van for now, that's what I'll do. Tons of extra screws down here, I built this little aluminum rack so all my extra screws down there. Now if I want to actually end up putting up a lock here, I got a bench here with my pinning mat there and this is all sitting on top of a Milwaukee packout system and you can just kind of get out everything as you need so spare stuff here. If I want to open this compartment, I can go like that and then here, I've got more stuff. In retrospect, I mean, I've went with drawers here, I've got drawers on the bottom with power tools and extra things there so the drawers might have been a little bit convenient but if I'm ever on a big job, and I just say hey, I need like all my mortise cylinder stuff, so I can just pull that off and take that go. So that's kind of cool.


PJ: That is great. That's really great. Now am I spotting a Framon 2 in the background there?

Dylan: Yes, sir you are. And thank you to your recommendation, by the way. So, kudos to that. This actually is on a spindle so if it's winter, and I can't work out of the back, then I can spin that around here and work on it. Yeah, that's what's happening there and then I think I got another little pinhole, so I've just got this. Clamps down there. This little rack I just put in for some stock. I do have a little welder kind of tucked in there. We've got just a couple things down there. Nothing too special but love the Framon.

PJ: Framon.

Dylan: Yeah, got it. Okay. Love it. Great machine so, yeah, I think that pretty much covers it for in here. I don't know if you have any more questions about what's going on in here?

PJ: No, I think that's absolutely great. We can switch modes here. If you want to stand outside again, we'll just do a little outtake and I think that's great.

Dylan: So I'll just show you the back. You want to see the back access?

PJ: Okay. Yup.


Dylan: Back here. These doors are kind of cool. They actually will go a little bit further if you need them to, have access to my Framon 2 and my code book here. I use this almost daily especially for a Kwikset cuts when I'm using my code reader.  So that's been great and I've got one of those little moisture packs I told you about just sitting there.

PJ: That is, yeah.

Dylan: Yeah. Got my bench grinder here. Little stock shelf, extra supplies. Yeah, drawers. tons of stuff, a little things. I like to fix things when I can, if I can fix something I will and this actually, I need to move this thing. Just come right off that around if I needed to take it somewhere.


PJ: That's great. You have a very modular system going on.


Dylan: Yeah, that's exactly what I was thinking too. It's nice if I need to change things up or make room for things I can do that on the fly. It's a dual door system so this is actually kind of my go-to at least in the summertime, this is where I come to do all my business here. So as you can see, I've kind of been slowly building this up. I just started with this bench here and then I added a nice stick piece of steel to it for stamping and then I added this guy here, which has a nice little LED below it and then these magnets are recent addition and these are really great. Like, if you ever go to drop something, 90% of the time this magnet will catch whatever it is so I've gotten a lot of little parts on those magnets so that's cool. Love the Flash mobile so yeah, little bench space here. I find it's good not to have this mounted down because sometimes you really got to pound on something so I'll just keep it loose and then if I have to get something on a sidewalk or something and whack on it, I just do it that way so that's pretty much it.

PJ: Well Dylan, I have to tell you, your van, I love seeing the fact that you've really took your time and you thought about how the best to use the space you have modular systems, magnets, extra lights, all of that kind of stuff. It is actually pretty cool. I wish I could see the van in person.

Dylan: Thanks very much.

PJ: Dylan, I have to say I am very impressed with your van setup. I love all the little tricks that you've put together with the light up front, all the different magnets, dealing with the moisture in your van, I think there's a lot of little nuggets that people in the industry can take and apply to their situation.

Dylan: Right on. I'm glad that I can help and I appreciate all the help I've gotten from you. And yeah, so hopefully someone can get something from this and make their day better.



PJ: Yeah, absolutely. Honestly, I wish I could actually see it in person because it's a pretty cool setup you got going on there. Now I have one last question for you that I have to ask and that is what is your vans name?

Dylan: I think I'm going to name Dell after my mother - she passed away. So this is Dell.

PJ: There we go. Good stuff. Thank you for doing our first ever virtual van tour. Really good setup, man and I wish you the best of luck and success out there.

Dylan: My pleasure, PJ. I really appreciate you having me on. This has been super fun so anytime.

PJ: Awesome. Well, sounds good and we'll talk soon.

I would love to know your thoughts on Dylan's van. It's a pretty cool setup, but I really want to know what you think in the comments of the YouTube video. Make sure that you include the #LockBoss to automatically get entered in to win one of five free prizes we give away each week on YouTube. Thank you, and we'll see you next time.

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