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Van Camperisation with Danny

After three weeks of canyoning in DV it was time to move on. On my way back I met a guy in Pahrump; it happens that he was no newbie to camperisation and he showed me a number of cool web sites and videos. Danny was very kind and offered to let me use his tools as well as utilise his expertise! I considered it for a while before accepting – I had wanted to improve my car livability for some time, but it always seemed a little difficult and just out of reach. So today, after drawing up some ideas in Sketchup and putting a small cot into the back of the van to get an idea of the available space, we headed down to the local Home Depot for some materials.
The plan was to have the bed housed on one side of the van. leaving one of the seats up in as in Bob’s new video, which was serendipitously posted whilst browsing the internet for ideas!

 

 

To start off, we got the car fairly level and then (since the floor wasn’t flat/level) we shimmed up a 4×4 and glued on small pieces of cardboard which were cut to conform to the floor.

 

We then used this profile to mark the ply wood and cut it to shape with a jig saw. The height of the ply was set to be a little higher than a milk crate, so they could be used for organisation.

 

 

We repeated this for the other bed edge and then cut some 2×4 to the right length to use as cross members. Pre drilling the ply, we fixed the two faces together with some glue and torque screws.

 

It was a good feeling to slide the frame into the back of the van!

 

It was getting dark, so by torchlight we cut the top piece of ply and slid it into place; put the mattress on top and went inside the house to relax and think about plans for morrow (perhaps cutting the top piece and adding some hinges so you can access the storage space more easily).
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The sun rose to start a new day and we were soon back outside with the bed frame removed from the van. We added a new cross member which was raised slightly so that we could put a piano hinge on it and it would sit flush with the surface of the top ply surface.
Screwing that into place, we cut a four inch strip of ply to hinge the lid for the other section of the bed.

 

 

For both sections, we left a small lip to make it easier to open. For the larger lid, we had to leave part of the edge flush to make sure it wouldn’t interfere with the seat (we used the jig saw to make the cut sanding the edges back with a belt and then orbital sander).

 

Once that was done, we cut a piece of ply for the back plate. Instead of having a cantilevered platform – which is what we had originally envisioned – we cut a separate piece and did a quick trip to the hardware store for some ribbed right angle brackets, which, after some lunch, we soon had fixed into place. We rounded the corners using the lid of a plastic container as a template.

 

We slid it in, but the added length due to the back plate meant that the sides weren’t conforming perfectly to the floor, so we took the build out, turned it on end and setting an off-cut on the saw horses, removed the screws and took a strip off the bottom by setting the depth on the circular saw.
Sliding it back into the car, it fit much more snugly.

 

The reason we didn’t make the box the full length is that we wanted easy access to the floor compartments.

Putting some foam mats on the top surface, my mattress was slid into place. I now had a crazy amount of storage, making the livability of my van a lot better, and I would now have a convenient place to store my camping gear, as well as ropes, tape/webbing, harnesses, etc.

This should make canyoning expeditions much more comfortable! Thanks for all the help Danny. And how could I forget Nicki!

 

The next thing I’ll to is add some insulation material to the bed surface so that there is less chance of the mattress getting splinters from the ply or getting caught in the hinge.
It would also be really cool to add a swivel table, but that might be a little way off. This video has a neat idea that would work well with the design and also not require any screws into the actual van.
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