10 December 2009
THIS WAS, and hopefully will be, the most complicated construction in the campervan. We ended up spending quite a lot of time on it, much more than we planned. We borrowed the idea from Deep Red, another DIY camper (a bit more of a proper camper than ours). If you actually clicked that link, you’ll see that there isn’t really any instruction. We just had to look at the pictures and try to figure out how it was built.
The Bosch multi-tool, in sanding mode. Did I tell you I love this thing?
It’s a really cool design. The bed pulls out using a slats system and when it’s in sofa mode you can lift up the front to access storage underneath it. So what does this all mean?
A trip to Bunnings of course, our favourite store in the world right now. If you’re in the Port Melbourne Bunnings anytime soon, go find Roy and tell him we said hi. He was a super friendly cabinet-making professional who gave us some ideas.
As we aren’t engineers/architects/carpenters/mathmeticians, we didn’t really plan everything out to the last measurement. This was too complicated for that. Instead we ended up kind of taking it step by step. We knew we wanted it 6 ft (180 cm) long and that was easy enough. We wanted it 3 ft (90 cm) wide when pulled out, but that was harder to plan as it was hard to grasp the concept just in our heads. It was something that you needed to actually have in front of you to fully understand how it works.
We were close in the end. It’s 80 cm wide when pulled out (180 cm long). Comfortable as a single bed, and just big enough for the two of us to sleep on, but no room for much movement. It’s only for those rare times when we’re forced to sleep inside anyway, like on the streets in cities and such. The majority of nights will be spent in the rooftop tent.
This is the external frame. The top pieces are the front parts that slide out to make the bed. The second is the front part just behind them that is stationary. The last pieces are the sides, one slightly longer than the other to make up for the contour of the van side walls. Yes, the Bosch tool was used extensively to make the rounded bits pretty.
We used pine veneer edging strips for a nice finish, especially important on the plywood to hide the layers. The underside has glue and when you iron it melts it. We also stained the external pieces.
We used three internal rectangular pieces for the inner frame. These screwed into the external frame and into the van floor, holding everything together.
The horizontal pieces on top are the beginnings of the bed part; the finger-like slats are installed across them. It works in two parts: one half is stationary, and the other half slides out. The front parts that slide out are on the floor, just in front. You can see the other horizontal pieces screwed into them that will sit flush on the bed and flush against the other horizontal piece near the front.
The finished product. We used 15 slats on each half and two hinges per half for the lifting. It's important to make one of the slats extra long on each half, so that it latches on to the part that slides in and out, this will allow them to connect together when the "lid" is lifted to access storage. Confused? So were we.
The bed pulled out. See the slats that don't pull out? Count 4 from the right, notice the extra long one? That's what I was talking about. When the bed is pushed in. this will sit on top of that horizontal piece that's connected to the front. This is what makes the entire unit lift up. See top picture.