The Agri Giftbox, mobile gift shop

In November 2016, we purchased an old rice treble horsebox, with the dream of turning it into our very own mobile gift shop - The Agri Giftbox! After attending several shows with our gazebo, it really was on it's last legs. We could either buy a new gazebo, or try and do something a little bit different.
When the box came home, it was in a sad, sorry state. One of the axles was, as we say, 'knackered', it had rotting aluminium at the bottom, tyres were done, and all in all, it really needed some major TLC.



Luckily, I have the best mechanic fiancé in the world (bias of course!), so as soon as the box was home we began work on it. Stripping it down, back to it's bare bones. Axles off, rotting aluminium off, the grinder saw many hours of work! We saw many a dark, late night. (Scott, my other half, more than me!) We wanted to save whatever we could, so it could still retain it's original horsebox 'charm'.



Trying to save as much of the floor as we could was not easy. Some bolts were so old they has seized, much of the wood was rotten and split, but somehow a few good pieces remained, put to the side for later!
 
Needle gunning wasn't the best job, but it had to be done. All the metal frame was needle gunned, all welding work took place, and new metal was added to strengthen the original frame. Once the new metal was added, red lead paint was applied to protect the new and old metal. Finally it was starting to look better, rather than worse!



After all the stripping back, grinding and welding, it really needed a good wash. Not to mention the mess it had made to our car park, haha! So the box got a good scrubbing, thoroughly power washed to get rid of all the grime and years of dirt. Then we went through what felt like miles of sandpaper, and several wire brushes to strip the top layer of blue paint off to prepare for painting.



Painting, well this was my main job. Oh the hours of painting. First off, we wanted pillar box red, however once we had painted one side, we didn't like it. It wasn't the right shade of red, and it really didn't make the box stand out at all. If we were going to do this, it needed to be right, it needed to look different, stand out and catch your eye. So back to the drawing board, and it was finally decided, we would go gold! Painting, painting, and more painting. Since the original sides were ridged, a roller wasn't really an option. I have no idea how many paint brushes met their fate whilst painting this horsebox - let's just say, a fair few!



 And finally it was starting to look like something a little bit different! One of the original axles was broken, and the other one could not be replaced due to it's age, they were also fitted with a rod breaking system which is many years out dated, so we decided to replace both old axles with a sparkly new one. Made to fit, our new 1800kg axle took a while to make and arrive, but once it did, Scott fitted it, and it was back on wheels again after months of sitting on axle stands. We decided to use one axle instead of two, so that it would be easily manoeuvred by hand into small spaces, which proved very helpful at our first show!

We also had checkered metal plate cut to size to fill the gaps that were made due to cutting off the rotting aluminium along the bottom of the box. Primed and painted them white, and bolted them on.



Still looking a bit rough around the edges. but this was before, yes that's right, even more painting, and more paint brush sacrifices! Then the floor was returned. Huge big thank you is due to Scott's step-dad, Ian. He took the floor away, stripped it and finished it beautifully. Then gave us a visit to shape it into place ready for varnishing.



It took 4 layers of yacht varnish to cover the floor. It needed to be varnished on top, underneath, and the edges to protect the floor. With every coat, the floor looked more beautiful. This was a satisfying job, and I love the smell of varnish - so that helped! We unfortunately lost of a lot of the original floor to rot, and seized bolts, so the remaining space was filled with marine ply wood. We stained it to match the floor boards, and varnished it up.

I lost count of how many tubes of power flex silicone sealant we used to fill up all the gaps and keep the weather out. But Scott did an amazing job on this and left a beautiful finish.



Then came a job that wasn't Scott's favourite. The roof inside needed buffing down. This was difficult as the floor wasn't in yet, but he got the job done and was ready for painting. Looked brilliant when the paint went on, started to look like a proper little room rather than a metal shell.



I was so excited when the floor could finally go in. It felt like we waited a lifetime for that moment. Team effort from my other half and my Dad! (And me running around grabbing whatever tool was needed next!) We also managed to save some of the wood that was hidden behind the horsebox lining when we stripped it down. So this was also varnished, and placed on the very front so create a sort of feature wall.



Then it was time to line the walls. A local joiner provided the wood all cut to size, it was braced and the wood was fitted. Due to the bowed shape of the walls to the rear of the box, the braces had to be contoured, to keep the walls straight and tidy. Thankfully my Dad is good at all sorts of things, so with his guidance, team work made it happen.



Next was more painting, yes my job again! Wasn't sure what colour to paint it, and looked at so many colour charts. We wanted something that would fit the country look, but also fit a shop scene. Olive green was an idea but they tend to be too dark for such a small space. Finally came across a green that we liked, looked good against the wood, and didn't make the box look smaller than it was. Win win win!



Next the original rear doors needed to be finished and painted. They were sanded down (again, thanks to Ian!) and the hinges were buffed. A quick lick of paint and they looked so much better and ready to go on again. The wooden frame of the ramps were then buffed and sanded down and varnished. This kept them tidy and gave the ramps a new lease of life! We also had the non-slip rubber matting that was in the floor when we bought the box cut to size, to use on the ramps! Ready to fit once all the 'dirty' jobs were finished.



Next the shelving, good old Dad and I spent two days, contouring, finishing and putting up the shelves. Again, with the box being a bowed shape from years of use, the top shelves had to be contoured into shape, which took the most time. Dad made nice curved edges to the shelves at back of the box which looks great when you walk up the rear ramp.



Then it was a case of finishing touches, Dad's good ideas strike again! I had two metal electric fence posts lying the garage which fit perfectly into the gaps between the ramps and the floor. We cut out notches to let them fit into place, and added safety black and yellow tape to them. Added lovely hanging brackets to bring it all together, and painted the top shelf to protect. The new wheel arches were fixed into place, along with all the electrical wiring, and the number place was attached.



Last couple day's left before the box's first show appearance. Time to take it a test drive. Success!



The final jobs included touching up the paint, adding various hooks and a display rail, putting the stickers on, and all the lovely little finishing touches that make the box what it is.




And we were finally finished! As always, there was still a small list of little jobs we wished we had had time to do, but it looked great, it was time to reveal the Agri Giftbox at New Deer Show 2017.



If you have made it though reading this whole write up, thank you! I hope you have enjoyed it. I would like to personally thank my other half, Scott, and my Dad, Harry. Without you the Agri Giftbox would not exist and would continue to be a pipe dream. I am so blessed to have such incredible people in my family, and in my life.

So if you see the big gold horsebox when out at events or shows, please come and say hello and have a browse. Because you now know where we've been, our journey, and hope you will join us in our future.

-Pamela (Agri Gifts Founder)