Happy Thanksgiving everyone. If you’ve just watched our YouTube video showing how we changed our bed from low to high mode then the following will make more sense to you. If you didn’t catch the video click the following link.
Our first bed platform was made of wood 2x4s and plywood decking and was at a fixed height.
In an effort to carry bikes inside the van with the front wheels on and still be able to have a bed I built an adjustable system from tube steel and plywood. As you’ve seen in the video there are two bed panels which are transferred from the lower shelves to the upper bed rails.
I began by using 1” sqaure tube steel to create an “H” brace inside the window well on both sides of the van. I welded an angle support at the base of each vertical and then welded the “H” to the angle supports and to the van at the top of the vertical. These provide a very strong structure for the bed rails to mount to. I then welded the angle supports to the van and to the “H” braces. The bed rails have proven to be very durable with no flex to them. When the bed is in low mode we have hit the rails while rolling over at night but otherwise we don’t notice their existence as they only extend 1” from the walls.
The bed platforms are tig welded with 1-1/4” and 1” square tubing. The outer frames are 1-1/4” tube while the two center supports are 1” tube. I drilled holes from the underside of the center supports to allow the plywood to be screw fastened to each frame. To reduce the weight of each platform I left approximately 1-1/2” gap on all four sides of the plywood. With two adults and a dog in the bed the platforms do have some deflection but not enough to be concerned with.
Though we use the bed in low mode most of the year winter road conditions have me wanting the bikes inside where they stay dry and clean. Being able to have everything inside and being able to sleep in the van is a major bonus to this adjustable bed system.
I have had the idea of cutting the mattress in half and using the bed panels to create a couch to sit on while at camp. I’ve also thought about a hydraulic actuated lift system though I feel the cost and engineering may be more than I want to deal with in the near future. Maybe these ideas will be integrated into the next van somewhere down the road.
If you have questions about the materials I used or anything else about the van please leave a comment for us.