Suddenly, the question of what I’m going to do about a bed is solved. It’s in! Years ago, my uncle Donny built a fold-up Murphy-style bed for his cargo trailer, which he used to use as a toy hauler to go hunting. He has a camper now and only uses the cargo trailer for storage at the house. He offered to give me the bed out of the trailer for my van. The dimensions didn’t quite work for me, but dimensions can be changed, especially since everything I wanted was shorter or smaller than the original size.
I used a set of pre-threaded holes along the wall to bolt on a 1×4, to which we could securely attach the hinged bracket for the bed frame. I’ve heard stories of Murphy beds in vans failing catastrophically, leaving the unfortunate occupant without a place to sleep. But this mounting system is so beefy and secure, I’m not worried about it. Donny used it for years with no problems. Plus, I expect to leave the bed folded down most of the time anyway for convenience.
We trimmed the platform from 42 inches wide to 30 inches. I’d put painter’s tape on the floor to help me visualize both the original size and the size I wanted to cut it down to. This was super easy with Donny’s help, since he built the thing and knows exactly how it goes together.
The next trick was to shorten the legs and diagonal supports to make the bed level in relation to my floor. The platform is about 22 inches tall, comfortable to sit on but tall enough to clear the wheel well and slide storage bins underneath. Even Lister’s litter box will fit under the bed, saving space while having easy access out the back door for cleaning.
The real party trick to this bed is how it can fold up against the wall. The leg supports can unbolt and hang flat as well. The foam mattress fits perfectly into the indentation where the side window would be. I’ve put the piece of foam I cut off to narrow the bed against the wall, where it acts as a sort of seat back for a sofa. The straps that held it up inside my uncle’s trailer work perfectly for the same purpose in my van, bolted into even more pre-threaded holes near the top of the wall. I didn’t have to drill a single hole into the van itself to install this bed.
I don’t expect to fold the bed up regularly, but the option is there. Instead, I’ll use the area under the bed for storage and can lift the entire bed up to get stuff under there. Having the option is nice, though. There may be times I’d like to transport larger items from place to place without having to hook up the trailer. All I have to do is fold up the bed and move whatever I store under there to do that. It’s not a function I need or one I would’ve designed into the bed myself. But since it’s already made to do it, why not keep the functionality?
This is another major milestone in the build. I find it’s best to design an interior by starting with the largest items, usually the bed, and then fitting everything else around it. The bed is in, so now I can work on the rest. I’ll put one of my small tables along the driver’s side wall to make myself a desk and work area. I have enough space to put shelves on the side walls, again using the threaded holes already built into the van.
This also guides my electrical system plans, since now I know I’ll want USB ports next to the bed to charge my phone overnight, and both USB and 12-volt outlets on the driver’s side to plug in my laptop and other accessories. Everything is tied together, and knowing where the bed is helps me plan everything else.
Even now, I’m not fully committed to the bed’s current location. I can unbolt it from the passenger side wall and bolt it to the driver’s side instead if I feel like it. I think the passenger side is a better choice, but the option to move it is there, too.
On another note, my voltage regulator arrived yesterday. It was easy to splice it into the middle of the roof vent circuit I already ran. It’s putting out a steady 12.3 volts, something even the Maxxair fan shouldn’t complain about. I put the fried vent into the old van and put the manual one into the new one, but didn’t connect the power until the regulator was ready to go. It’s been running for almost 24 hours now with no problems at all. I’m also getting in touch with Maxxair to see if there’s anything they can do about the fried vent since it’s only two months old. Worst case, I can easily live with what I have now. But if they’re willing to repair or replace the fully automatic one that fried, which they should because of their design flaw, that’s even better.