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Old 12-13-2014, 05:27 PM   #1
Inertiaman
 
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Default DIY version of Outside Van bed panel frames?

Woohoo, first post!

I'm embarking on a conversion, and for various reasons I would like to do a bed platform system very similar to the Outside Van approach: moveable panels that are supported only at the tracks on the walls.

Outside Van won't sell these panels ala carte, just with full conversions, and I probably wouldn't want to pay their price anyway. So, I intend to build my own. Has anyone else fabricated similar platforms?

My primary curiosity is the type of tubing used (type of steel or aluminum, wall thickness, diameter if round or width if square) and the "geometry" of the tubing frame (is it just a rectangle or are there cross-members, etc).

Or if anyone has found a suitable pre-fabricated item which maps well to this purpose, that would be ideal. But I'm willing to spec, cut and weld this myself if necessary.

I welcome additional ideas about attachment, panel surface (plywood?), padding/coverings, etc but those are secondary concerns since there are rich sources of information on those topics. What I haven't been able to find via searches is good info specifically on fabricating the underlying frame.
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Old 12-13-2014, 05:36 PM   #2
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Default Re: DIY version of Outside Van bed panel frames?

Here is one thing I found that could work.
http://www.harborfreight.com/super-w...amp-90018.html
I purchased this with some coupons and such to get it for about half price. It is just about 66" wide and each piece is 14.5" Someday, I just might get around to using this. I'm a real procrastinator.
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Old 12-13-2014, 06:31 PM   #3
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Default Re: DIY version of Outside Van bed panel frames?

I have a setup using 3/4" plywood panels, with no extra supports. The side rails are about 2 X 2 angle steel. The rails are welded to uprights which go between the windows, of about 1/8" steel. These uprights are screwed to the van interior. The plywood gives a tiny bit, but not a problem. 3 of us fit fine (self, wife, and 10 year old son, who usually ends up in our bed sometime through the night). This might be a bit heavier than the OSV version, but it works great for us. We have a 4" medium density foam mattress from FoamByMail. Super comfy, versatile, moveable. I do have pictures somewhere on the site here - I think if you click on my name you can scroll through and find them. I can send more pics if these aren't explanatory enough.

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Old 12-13-2014, 06:36 PM   #4
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Default Re: DIY version of Outside Van bed panel frames?

Like ECU posted I would definitely recommend modifying an ATV loading ramp. They are practically built for you in the size you will need.

http://www.discountramps.com/4-wheeler-ramps/c/2212/
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Old 12-13-2014, 09:50 PM   #5
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Default Re: DIY version of Outside Van bed panel frames?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ECU View Post
Here is one thing I found that could work.
http://www.harborfreight.com/super-w...amp-90018.html
I purchased this with some coupons and such to get it for about half price. It is just about 66" wide and each piece is 14.5" Someday, I just might get around to using this. I'm a real procrastinator.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jostalli View Post
Like ECU posted I would definitely recommend modifying an ATV loading ramp. They are practically built for you in the size you will need.

http://www.discountramps.com/4-wheeler-ramps/c/2212/
Excellent ideas, thanks for the suggestions. I went to my local HF and checked out their ramps. They had a solid surface one that was 69" long which looked promising. jostalli is right, they are practically designed for this purpose, with a length well suited to mounting across the van. The widths are pretty variable, so part of my selection criteria may pivot off which ramp has a width that adds up to a convenient bed length. Most of them are less than 1.5" depth per track, so I can maximize under-platform storage and above-platform livability.

Some of the riveted construction looks like typical Harbor Freight cheapness, but I suppose an under-designed cheapo ATV ramp is probably a perfect, slightly over-designed bed platform.

Has anyone actually used one of these for this purpose? Any issues w/ squeaky-ness due to the rivet construction?
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Old 12-14-2014, 12:30 AM   #6
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Default Re: DIY version of Outside Van bed panel frames?

Atv/motorcycle ramps come in a very wide range of sizes and weight ratings.

One could mostly duplicate the weight ratings and get the benefit of custom sizing by using 80/20 fabrication.

But a true advantage if you can find the right ramp is that it will be welded construction--a much stronger joining---and also benefit from engineered cross sections that minimize the amount of aluminum needed for the weight rating. Difficult to do both of those with 80/20.

And likely cost savings from a mass produced robotically welded ramp.

If you are lucky there are also useful extra features on some ramps. My Reese bifold ramps have slip-pin hinges that lock when flattened but can be slid easily apart when folded. They also have raised edges to take a plywood panel.

Mine are used lengthwise instead of crosswise because I haul canoes.

Here is perhaps an example of a decent crosswise candidate.

I will point out that if you narrow the overall span---say, storage over the wheelwell width on one or both sides--then the cross supports can be made considerably lighter and with less deflection.

Dan
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Old 12-14-2014, 01:14 AM   #7
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Default Re: DIY version of Outside Van bed panel frames?

I think I put my side ledgers (unistrut) at about 30" up from the floor. The cross platforms are 2x with 1/2" ply. The top is a little lower than the rear windows. The unistrut is mounted on 3/8" ply panels that go from the floor to 3" above bottom of window (makes a nice storage shelf). There is plenty of room to store stuff underneath, or to sleep out of sight with the gear on the top. Having a double-decker cargo space really helps!

For my design, I made the panels to fit behind the seats. The rear panel fits when all three seats are in, the next panel fits with the rear to fill the space if I just have the two front benches in, and all three panels together are about 6', which can be used with the front bench installed and leaves a couple feet between the seat and the deck. Because of this design to accommodate the seats, all three panels are different widths, but they can be stacked on each other, strapped to the walls above the wheel wells, or placed on the floor in a "T" if the whole rear space is needed.
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Old 12-14-2014, 02:26 AM   #8
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Default

RB components sells a panel by itself. It looks to be aluminum square tubing welded and bolted to some plywood.

http://www.rbcomponents.com/van-prod...ior/panel-beds

If you wider aspect ratio tubing, rectangular versus square you could probably get away without welding. I should really explore that more.

I've also been thinking about doing something with some of the honeycomb core plywood.
Those products have significantly higher strength and stiffness to weight ratios than solid plywood.
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Old 12-14-2014, 04:22 AM   #9
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Default Re: DIY version of Outside Van bed panel frames?

Quote:
Originally Posted by the.vault View Post
RB components sells a panel by itself. It looks to be aluminum square tubing welded and bolted to some plywood.

http://www.rbcomponents.com/van-prod...ior/panel-beds

If you wider aspect ratio tubing, rectangular versus square you could probably get away without welding. I should really explore that more.

I've also been thinking about doing something with some of the honeycomb core plywood.
Those products have significantly higher strength and stiffness to weight ratios than solid plywood.
Wow they are sure proud of that bed, 2 grand plus! Good for ideas though
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Old 12-14-2014, 05:48 AM   #10
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Default Re: DIY version of Outside Van bed panel frames?

You could use panels built from either 80/20 Quick Frame 1” square tube or 1” T-slot profile. Personally, I would build 3 panels and double the front of the front panel due to the higher sitting load. See load results for 7 bars 75 ea. with reasonable deflection so total load - 7x75lb=525lb.

You could use 1.5” profile such as 1515 but it would likely be an overkill except you would not need to double the front. I use this profile for my rock & roll sofa bed.

George.
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