Some Bed Platform Support Ideas/Options

Graphite Dave

Dave Orton
Another thought on a bed platform.

In the Sprinter I had two bench seats over the wheel wells. Had a removable table with two legs that were bolted to the floor on the van centerline. Had four removable 27" wide panels that spanned the gap between the table edge and the van walls. Added two back panels to make a bed for one person and all four for two people. Used two REI self inflating 2 1/2" thick camp pads for a mattress for each person. Was comfortable but panels were not that easy to install and remove. Also had four loose panels that needed to be stored somewhere when not in use and the platform was 70" long which required slightly diagonal sleeping.

So now that I have a second chance, I have made a number of design improvements.

1. Made bed length 74" long by not filling the window indents full of insulation and then covering with a wall panel. Just 1 1/2" of rigid insulation glued to the walls and covered with indoor/outdoor carpet.
2. Will hinge four 27" wide panels from top of the seat back at table height (two on each side) that are stored vertically up against the walls when not in use. When in use they fold down and sit on top of the table. They will have indoor/outdoor carpet on them so carpet between the table and panel when in use.
3. Instead of solid 3/4" plywood for the panels, I will change to 80/20 Quick Frame 1" square tubes. Two 1/4" facings with 1/2" rigid insulation between the facings. Lighter and more insulation value than 3/4" plywood.
4. Table top will also use the same Quick Frame insulated construction.

Picture of partially completed bench seats:

http://www.ortontransit.info/cabinets.php

A later picture of the left cabinet showing the top of seat back full length 80/20.

https://sprinter-source.com/forums/showpost.php?p=431027&postcount=61

The 80/20 at top of seat back will runs the full length and have two 27" long continuous hinges bolted to the 80/20 on each side.

Improvements are panels do not need to be stored, bed length increased 4", bed platform is insulated, lighter and easy to convert from two person bed to a one person bed. Also simple during the day to have a table that seats two people. Lift up the front bedding/pads and place them on the back bed. Fold up the two front panels up against the walls to expose the seats and the front half of the table. Someday if I ever finish this second conversion, the front half of the table will also be able to be converted into a seat.

The table will still be able to be removed in 10 minutes to use the van for cargo.
 
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lukedog

Why Dogs Fly
I'm thinking a plywood platform braced with a frame of 1" Square Tube 1/8 thickness would be the cleanest way to go. I don't yet know how much someone would charge me to make. I would like to attach an aluminum angle to the wall to support the platform. What I have not figured out it how to securely attach it the wall. I need to span the rear window at about 46". Very little there behind rear window.
 

jghutchinson

New member
Lukedog,

If you are doing an elevated bed platform I would suggest considering Rivnuts to fasten the platform to the wall. We have these installed (size m8) I believe and they provide plenty of clamping strength. We have had over 700 pounds loaded on our bed platform before and it was plenty strong.

Square tube is a great idea which I would likely use for our next build. It costs more than wood and if you don't know how to weld you will have to pay to have it fabricated but the up side is your weight to strength ratio is significantly higher than a wood / plywood variation.

My suggestion is to skip the aluminum angle and fasten the frame directly against the wall using Rivnuts and large face washers. The advantage of this if you design the bed frame to tight enough clearances is that the square faces of the bed frame when tightened against the wall will drastically reduce the downward pressure you are applying to the walls. In theory the walls will actually be pulling inwards towards one another and compressing the bed frame almost like a cam device rather than the bed frame sitting on top of L rail which will then want to effectively pull down and out of the wall.

I'm located in San Diego so if you need to use my riv nut gun or want me to show you how to use it I'd be happy to help.
 

dynaco1

Member
jgh

Are those horizontal 2x6's bolt directly to the steel wall seams? Or, is there a steel strip welded the entire length of the wall?

Did you bolt through the wall covering? Or, install wall covering after the 2x6's were in place?
 

dynaco1

Member
That's a lot of nuts! It looks like you used every third nut. I bet you can support a lot of weight on that bunk. Are the cross members easily removable?
 
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jghutchinson

New member
That's a lot of nuts! It looks like you used every third nut. I bet you can support a lot of weight on that bunk. Are the cross members easily removable?
It is indeed a lot of nuts but I figured better safe than sorry. The cross members are very easy to remove. They are currently held in by 1 wood screw per side and can be lifted out with the screws removed.

I would say that my build is semi permanent in the sense that I could disassemble the entire bed assembly in 15 minutes. I have no intentions of ever disassembling this bed platform but had I designed it with that in mind I would have probably revised the design slightly.
 

lukedog

Why Dogs Fly
I want / need to support a top bunk at the level shown by the bottom tape line. (Sorry. should have used a better color) There will be another one on the other side and the platform will be about 67 inches long. Local upfitter wants a ton of $$$ to do this for me.

I am thinking of having a 52 x 20 x 1/4 aluminum sheet cut for me to attach to the to posts and just above the window space. Then I will attach a 2 x 2 x 1/4 Al angle to the posts and the Al sheet. Everything will be attached via 1/4-20 plus nuts.(lots of them)

CORRECTION 1/8 Aluminum sheet

I hope I am understood.

Should the Al sheet be heavier?
Should the angle be heavier?
Should the plusnuts be heavier?



thanks,

Al
 
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Roadman

Member
Here is my solution for an elevated bed frame. quite simple using 1/4 inch steel welded on to the existing walls, combined with aluminum L stock attached with 4 rivnuts. Sorry for the poor photoghraphy and out of order shots.

Roadman
 

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lukedog

Why Dogs Fly
Here is my solution for an elevated bed frame. quite simple using 1/4 inch steel welded on to the existing walls, combined with aluminum L stock attached with 4 rivnuts. Sorry for the poor photoghraphy and out of order shots.

Roadman

It looks great. Much like I want my final product except that the will be a window in there too and mine will be a bit higher.

Did you weld it yourself? I worry about having someone weld to my new but very flimsy Sprinter sheet metal.
 

Aqua Puttana

Poly - Thread Finder
Here is my solution for an elevated bed frame. quite simple using 1/4 inch steel welded on to the existing walls, combined with aluminum L stock attached with 4 rivnuts. Sorry for the poor photography and out of order shots.

Roadman
Looks great to me!

Not that anyone asked...

Everyone seems to believe that welding is necessary. There are alternatives.

12 gauge sheet steel is very strong, but still can be bent/formed DIY using fairly common tools. If you plan to use a metal angle attached to the plate, that adds stiffness.

For flush support.

12 gauge sheet steel returns can be formed to match the angle of the inside window ledges. Those return pieces can then be pop riveted, screwed, or bolted into the body metal.

If the support doesn't need to be flush with the wall the added plate can be attached at the overlapped ends.

Alternatively, a 4" x 1" (or 1 1/2" for a larger ledge) steel or aluminum angle shape ledger with the 4" leg attached to the body wall at each end will provide plenty of support to bridge the space especially if an intermediate down leg is provided as Roadman's design has.

Check with your local sheet metal fabricators. They can bend up most anything that you'll need.

:2cents:
 

lukedog

Why Dogs Fly
The support Does need to be flush with the wall. There will be a wall board attached similar to Roadman's.
 

Aqua Puttana

Poly - Thread Finder
The support Does need to be flush with the wall. There will be a wall board attached similar to Roadman's.
Then my first suggestion would be an option.

Have fun.

vic
 

Inertiaman

Active member
I want / need to support a top bunk at the level shown by the bottom tape line. (Sorry. should have used a better color) There will be another one on the other side and the platform will be about 67 inches long. Local upfitter wants a ton of $$$ to do this for me.

I am thinking of having a 52 x 20 x 1/4 aluminum sheet cut for me to attach to the to posts and just above the window space. Then I will attach a 2 x 2 x 1/4 Al angle to the posts and the Al sheet. Everything will be attached via 1/4-20 plus nuts.(lots of them)

I hope I am understood.

Should the Al sheet be heavier?
Should the angle be heavier?
Should the plusnuts be heavier?



thanks,

Al

So to confirm I understand . . . you want the plate to be the length of that (un)window cavity, with width = distance from your tape to the steel horizontal "lower roof line" material, correct? I think a plate of that size/thickness is WAY overkill. Thats about 25 pounds of aluminum, and will cost $150-ish per side, no? It will also be super stiff and difficult (impossible?) to conform to the wall/pillar curvature. Gotta be a better way . . .

2x2x1/4 aluminum angle is sufficient for the rails if it is supported only at the pillars. You can use 3/16" thick 1.5x1.5 if you have support along its length (like a welded steel bar similar to @Roadman).

The height you are after (is that about 45" above the floor?) is somewhat challenging. The rearmost pillar (I guess it would be the "E" pillar in a 170?) gets pretty skinny at that height, and there are overlapping segments of steel sheet, so seating a riv nut is problematic.

I think your best bet is a welded steel assembly like @Roadman and others have used. RB Components does this, too, when they do local installs of their panel beds. Your rail height is higher than @Roadman, so you could consider doing something more for the midway support. @Roadman has a "T" shape (long horizontal bar is top of T, short vertical bar is body of T). Consider doing two of the vertical bars? Or perhaps running the vertical bar all the way to the steel frame at the top edge of (un)window cavity?

My solution was to machine a shim that adapts the curving pillar to a vertical plumb line, then mount L track over that shim into the pillars. For the C pillar (at rear edge of slider door in 144) there is *barely* sufficient gap inside the pillar to fit floating riv nuts. For the D pillar (at end of van adjacent to rear doors in 144) it wasn't practical to seat rivet nuts, so I used a backing plate with a rivet nut on the top hole, and through-bolted the rest of the holes. By temporarily removing the magnetic door retainer/reinforcement/gusset thing, I was able to reach up inside the D pillar to position the backing plate, thread nuts on the tbrough-bolts, etc.

My max rail height is 40". It will become progressively more difficult to implement this method on the rearmost pillar with each additional inch in height, but I think it could be done.
 

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Inertiaman

Active member
I hadn't looked through this thread in a while. I think its worthwhile to note/acknowledge the vastly different difficulty in executing a bed platform depending on a few critical variables:
1) are you willing to accept any structure under the bed platform? Some folks want/need a completely open space under the bed, which can significantly complicate the design. Putting a bed platform on top of cabinets, or framing, is relatively straightforward. Even bridging short distances (<48") across storage cabinets over wheel wells is relatively easy and can be accomplished lots of ways.
2) what height do you need? The van offers a great horizontal frame to attach to at the 28-30" height. Attaching bed rails to this can be as simple as 1.5"x1.5"x.187" aluminum angle mounted with 6-8 rivnuts or through-bolts (the backside *is* acessible) per side. But heights above this frame become increasingly challenging as the available attachment points are greatly reduced, the walls curve in, etc.
3) does it need to be removable? Not all, rarely with some difficulty, often with ease . . .

A +/- 40" high bed that fully spans the van, with support only at the walls, and easily removed, is the hardest to execute.

I believe that OusideVan uses galvanized sheet metal, close to the 12 gauge suggested by @Aqua, across the lower 1/3 to 1/2 of the (un)window cavity, so support their bed rails at ~ 36" height. I was briefly inside their assembly facility and it appeared that they were riveting this to the pillars and to the horizontal frame that is at 28-30" height.

My method (shimmed L track shown above) works pretty well, and is relatively unique in that it permits easy adjustment of rail height. But in hindsight, I would seriously consider choosing a fixed height via either method A (welded steel bar behind the wall / aluminum angle bolted through the wall to steel bar) or method B (shallow frame over wheel wells, just barely as wide as wheel wells, to maximize open space under bed while eliminating all the wall hassles for the rail, and minimizing the span that bed panels have to make).
 
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jsilver

Member
I've got uprights of about 3 or 4 inch wide by 1/4" steel mounted to the pillars with about 6 screws per pillar (some are rivnutted, others are merely sheet metal screws). To these are welded about 1-1/2" x 1-1/2" L steel rails, which hold a platform of 3/4" ply accross the entire van. The L steel rails act like bed frames. They were measured up inside the van, and welded outside, then bolted in. Height is tall enough for MTB to be fork mounted to the floor, rear wheels on. Photos are in my album (don't know how to attach to posts)

John
'14 170 2500
 

lukedog

Why Dogs Fly
So to confirm I understand . . . you want the plate to be the length of that (un)window cavity, with width = distance from your tape to the steel horizontal "lower roof line" material, correct? I think a plate of that size/thickness is WAY overkill. Thats about 25 pounds of aluminum, and will cost $150-ish per side, no? It will also be super stiff and difficult (impossible?) to conform to the wall/pillar curvature. Gotta be a better way . . .

2x2x1/4 aluminum angle is sufficient for the rails if it is supported only at the pillars. You can use 3/16" thick 1.5x1.5 if you have support along its length (like a welded steel bar similar to @Roadman).

The height you are after (is that about 45" above the floor?) is somewhat challenging. The rearmost pillar (I guess it would be the "E" pillar in a 170?) gets pretty skinny at that height, and there are overlapping segments of steel sheet, so seating a riv nut is problematic.

I think your best bet is a welded steel assembly like @Roadman and others have used. RB Components does this, too, when they do local installs of their panel beds. Your rail height is higher than @Roadman, so you could consider doing something more for the midway support. @Roadman has a "T" shape (long horizontal bar is top of T, short vertical bar is body of T). Consider doing two of the vertical bars? Or perhaps running the vertical bar all the way to the steel frame at the top edge of (un)window cavity?

My solution was to machine a shim that adapts the curving pillar to a vertical plumb line, then mount L track over that shim into the pillars. For the C pillar (at rear edge of slider door in 144) there is *barely* sufficient gap inside the pillar to fit floating riv nuts. For the D pillar (at end of van adjacent to rear doors in 144) it wasn't practical to seat rivet nuts, so I used a backing plate with a rivet nut on the top hole, and through-bolted the rest of the holes. By temporarily removing the magnetic door retainer/reinforcement/gusset thing, I was able to reach up inside the D pillar to position the backing plate, thread nuts on the tbrough-bolts, etc.

My max rail height is 40". It will become progressively more difficult to implement this method on the rearmost pillar with each additional inch in height, but I think it could be done.
Yes. I guess way overkill. I meant to say 1/8 Al plate. And yes part of the problem is the skinny rear pillar for mounting.

The local up-fitter wanted over $1000 to do something for me. They use 5/16 or 3/8 Plusnuts and drill their hole through both the outside and inside layer of sheet metal. Plusnut still pulls up as it should.

Part of the cost issue on my design is it will basically use a 4 x 8 sheet to do the 2 sides.

I may need to do something similar for the lower bunk but there is a lot more mounting support down there so maybe not.

My preference is to not have any external support.
 

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