Platform Bed Installation in a Camper Van Conversion

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Platform Bed Installation in a Camper Van Conversion

Our Ford Transit DIY camper van conversion is build mostly around the mountain bikes and the platform bed is no exception. We wanted a permanent raised bed above the “garage” (over the bikes and other stuff); no need to fold/unfold the bed at night & it creates a lot of storage room under the bed.

 

To provide enough clearance for the mountain bikes, there is 40″ height between the floor and the lower frame of the bed. (38″ or 39″ inches is probably enough. Check with your own mountain bikes!)

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The platform bed is 76″ long x 72″ wide. We have an Ikea matress that is 75″ long x 54″ wide x 4″ thick; the unused portion of the platform will be use for storage cabinet.





We were quite aggressive with the width of the platform: it is wider than the floor and the frames above, so we’re up for some challenges when we will build the walls! But this way, the living space is maximized.

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To maximize the living space between the bed and the driver & passenger seats, we installed the platform bed the most rearward as possible. It leaves 80″ of usable space for the kitchen and the “living room”.

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TIME SPENT ON THE JOB: 16-20 hours

 

TOTAL COST : 220-300$ USD

 


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MATERIAL:

 

TOOLS:

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Disclaimer

We’re not woodworkers. We’re not well equipped in tools. So this is not a “How-To”.  This is just how we did it with our limited knowledge & limited access to appropriate tools. There are probably standards, but we’re probably not following them . That being said, we’re very satisfied with the final result and we are proud of what we accomplished!

 

 

First of all, this is what we have in mind
van-layout-3d
Our actual layout,  for now… interactive 3D model is here

Alright now, let’s install a bed in our van!

 

Legs

The platform bed legs are made of 1″ thick russian birch plywood. The legs are really stiff; there is no flex at all (¾” thick Russian birch would probably have been enough). Each leg is attached to the van frame by two fasteners that are screwed into Cross Nut (Buy from Amazon) (see our post about Cross Nut here).

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Squeaks Eliminator 2000

To ensure there will be no squeak at all, wood must never be in contact with metal. We therefore left a gap between the legs and the van walls; the gap is created by the Crossnut flange and two fender washers (Buy from Amazon).

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Horizontal Frames

Each pair of legs are connected by an horizontal frame. Horizontal frames will increase “lateral” stiffness (left to right) and provide “vertical” stiffness to support our weight; having stiff frame allowed us to reduce the platform thickness (we used 3/8″ thick Russian birch plywood) and shave some weight.

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The horizontal frames are a composition of a 5/8″ x 4″ frame and a 5/8″ x 2″ frame. We found this arrangement to provide plenty of stiffness for our need; there is barely no deflection when we hop on the bed.

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There is an additional frame in the back of the van. There is not much loads here so we started with one 5/8″ thick x 2″ height, but to get the stiffness we wanted it finally ended with three 5/8″ thick x 2″ height glued together.

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Squeaks Eliminator 3000

Relative movement between components produces squeaks. Even where you think there is no movement…

Therefore, we screwed & glued every wood frame together (the platform is not glued to the frames because we want it to be removable). The glue provides the bonding, the screws hold everything together while the glue cures (the screws could be avoided if we had fancy woodworking tools!).

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We use #4 screws (1″ length) (Buy from Amazon) and Titebond III Waterproof Wood Glue (Buy from Amazon):

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The Platform

We used two 3/8″ thick, 4′ wide x 8′ long, Russian birch plywood sheets. We trimmed the sheets to get the bed width and length we wanted (72″ x 75″) and fastened them using 1/4″ flat head bolts, nuts and fender washers that we countersunk.

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nice & smooth

ON SECOND THOUGHT…

We now have used the platform bed throughout the summer and it is working as intended: it is very stiff and does not squeak. Yay!

The 4″ thick ikea mattress is very comfortable too (if you like firm mattresses) … very neat for a 150$ mattress!

At the time of writing these lines, we still have to finish the wood with Danish Oil or Varnish to add some protection. We will also eventually add a decorative frame at the back & front of the bed.

 

 

 

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ABOUT US

Hello! We’re Isabelle and Antoine 🙂 In 2017 we sold our house (and everything in it), quit our engineering careers and moved into our self built campervan. We’ve been on the road since then and every day is an opportunity for a new adventure; we’re chasing our dreams and hopefully it inspires others to do the same!

 

 

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CHEERS!

 

 

 

44 thoughts on “Platform Bed Installation in a Camper Van Conversion”

  1. Have you had any problems with mold on the back of the mattress ?I’ve heard this is a common issue with beds directly on services with no ventilation.

    Reply
  2. Hello,

    Wondering how long you cut your horizontal frames (the 5/8″ x 4″ and a 5/8″ x 2″ frame) to in order to ensure the proper gap between each support/leg and the van walls? Also, do the two fender washers fill the remaining gap between the van walls and the supports/legs such that torquing the bolts causes the legs to come into contact with the fender washers?

    Thanks!

    Reply
  3. Love your articles!
    I recomand to drill a lot of holes in the bad platform to let matress breath. It does a great job and benefit your sleep comfort!

    Reply

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