Two lucky souls from PE’s product testing team get the chance to try out the Rhino Products PipeTube Pro van storage unit.
I’ll be honest and admit that I’ve been looking to get my hands on a PipeTube Pro from Rhino Products for a while now, so needless to say I was thrilled to have the opportunity to take it on trial for this review.
I should start by saying that the PipeTube Pro is unlike any of the other van tubes I’ve used over the years as it’s lined to minimise damage or discolouring to conduit and trunking. I’m sure many of your reading this will be familiar with the feeling that you’ve completely wasted materials when you leave trunking or conduit in your van tube over time, only for it to become discoloured over time.
To that end, I’ve had two lengths of white conduit and two lengths of trunking in the Rhino PipeTube Pro for over six weeks and none have discoloured or scratched during this time.
Over the past few weeks, I lost count of the times I’ve been on site and have either needed extra materials or one of my colleagues has needed extra conduit or trunking. It has been so refreshing to be able to go to the van and take out the materials required without having to rummage through everything to find a 1m off cut of trunking or conduit. Instead, I can carry spare trunking, conduit or oval tube as required.
The PipeTube Pro’s sleek look and design includes a new nose cone, which is perfect for any colour or size of van and it doesn’t look out of place with the new grey powder coated finish. Because the nose cone incorporates the locking mechanism, you no longer have either a clasp (which can snap off) or a padlock (which can hang down and either rattle or rust).
The locking mechanism also benefits those who are forgetful (like me), who may leave their van tube open and then drive off, either losing the materials or, worse still, causing an accident. The PipeTube Pro’s locking mechanism only allows you to remove the key if the lock is closed so you’re less likely to drive off with the tube open.
The product also has the added benefit of matching locks on the front and back of the unit, so you only need the one key to open either end. The dual opening also comes in handy if you’ve parked in an awkward place, as you can still get your conduit and trunking out of the front/back of the tube.
Unlike other competitor products I’ve tried before, the PipeTube Pro’s mounting brackets have an easy fit plastic cover over them to minimise rusting and to maximise the life of the product. This also means that if you own a fleet vehicle you can easily remove the tube at the end of your vehicle lease and not have to cut the bolts off to do so.
The slight downside I could find was that when mounting the unit (on my own) I had to hold the tube whilst attaching the bolts, which would have been an easier process with two people. After a bit of fiddling I had it mounted in around 25 minutes, but this would have been less with an extra pair of hands.
Steve Hewish, Approved Electrician, Turrells
“IT’S AS MUCH OF A ‘PRO’ AS THE NAME SUGGESTS”
Size isn’t everything when we’re talking roof tubes. Rhino’s latest offering, the PipeTube Pro, is the standard 3m length and features dual openings so you can quite easily fit all your common lengthy building materials in it, such as copper pipe and PVC/galvanised conduit.
However, this thing is also ‘girthy’. It can fit an impressive 66 x 15mm tubes in the unlined or 59 x 15mm tubes in the lined version, which means it’s also useful for carrying 3m lengths of timber, up to 50kg payload, while still leaving you plenty of space.
When you compare this to some market competitors it is nearly double the capacity while also offering greater flexibility with what you can store inside it. The printed instructions supplied are pretty basic at describing what to do with the various plastic spacers and if there’s one thing that can irritate me about instruction manuals, it’s when they contain little to no actual written instructions and rely on a series of drawings.
I can see Rhino’s logic here as it saves on multiple translations for each country of market, but although it’s nothing that a bit of common sense can’t resolve, you do want to be 100% confident that you’re not going to launch a projectile towards the car behind you on the motorway due to misinterpreting a drawing.
Those who have a roof rack with a full width ladder roll bar on the back may find they will need to mount the PipeTube Pro slightly further back to allow enough clearance for the hinged opening to move freely. This doesn’t impair its use, however.
I was testing the product on a 2016 Vauxhall Vivaro SWB with a competitor’s triple roof bars, wind deflector and ladder roll bar. The fixing kit supplied is relatively universal, but it’s worth checking compatibility before purchasing.
When you’ve figured out which spacer bracket will fit your roof bar best, installation is a quick and straightforward task. Strong metal brackets are covered with clip-on plastic covers which not only look aesthetically pleasing, but help protect the brackets from corrosion.
An optional full length PVC lining is also available, and this came pre-fitted to the unit I tested. It acts as a barrier between the uncoated aluminium inside of the tube and your pipes to prevent a surface reaction and keep your pipes and tubes looking new for every job. It certainly seems to help.
Rubber O-rings on sturdy hinged openings and integrated locks in the twin bulkheads supplied with two keys all help to keep your cargo secure and dry, even on those special occasions when the van gets the pressure washer treatment.
Despite its increased size there’s no noticeable wind noise and fuel efficiency doesn’t seem to be significantly compromised thanks to the aerodynamic design that can be fitted either way. There’s no denying this is a solid piece of kit that feels as one with the rest of the vehicle chassis and looks every bit the ‘Pro’ that its name suggests.
Howard Mitchell, Owner, H M Property Services
TO GET MORE DETAILS ABOUT THE RHINO PRODUCTS PIPETUBE PRO CLICK HERE