Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Adding a Stowable Upper Bunk Bed in a Roadtrek

After a weekend of sleep deprived nights at the campground, I finally had it, I decided that we need another bed in the RV. Our kids are growing up too fast and I now find it uncomfortable and claustrophobic sleeping in the rear bed with DW and our youngest. Our youngest now sleeps in the upper bunk bed and my eldest in the DIY bed across the front seats

After hours of crazy brainstorming for ideas how to add a third bed in a short Agile, a light bulb suddenly lit in my head…I realized that there is enough space on top of the rear bed for an upper bunk bed! So the built goes. The upper bunk bed design is removable and the bed frame pieces can be disassembled then tucked/rolled into the bed top fabric cover minimizing storage space.

The stowable upper bunk bed frame is made from aluminum Speed-Rail ¾” IPS tubing, ½” IPS (thicker gauge is better) steel tubing for the aluminum frame reinforcement, and Speed-Rail Tees and elbows (x2-No.5 Tee-E and x2-No.9 Side Outlet Elbow). (6) (4) ¼ x 2-inch long round loop wire lock pins are used for securing the poles into the Tees/ elbows and two 1/4-20 thread x 5/8-inch long plastic head threaded stud for tightening the 2 front legs. (4) 18” long Velcro straps for holding the disassembled/ rolled pieces together for storage. The bed when dissembled consist of 6 pieces: (2) short poles, (2) long poles, and the (2) front legs.

The top cover is fabricated from outdoor fabric. The (2) bed frame support brackets that mount into the seatbelt upper anchor points are fabricated from 3/16” thick x 1-1/2” wide steel flat bar, (2) pre fab welding tabs from our local metal supply store, and (2) ¼x20 thread x 2” long bolts. Materials used in this project cost me around $150.

This is how the brackets looks like after grinding the welds and spray painting it black. The fabricated brackets are mounted to the rear seatbelt upper anchor points.
The bed long pole support (rear piece) sits across the fabricated brackets and secured with a wingnut, the other long pole towards the front of the bed is supported by the 2 front legs. An aluminum end caps were used on all ends of the aluminum poles.

A Speed-Rail No.5 Tee-E were permanently secured using the factory set screw and rivets about an inch and a half on both ends of the pole, this is where the (2) shorter aluminum side poles seats.

A 1/2" steel tube reinforcement inserts are used inside the two long Speed-Rail aluminum poles for  strength, this prevents or minimize bending of the poles during use. The (2) shorter aluminum poles and the (2) front legs does not need reinforcements as they are short enough to handle a heavy load.

Pre-fitting the fabricated aluminum bed frame.

The (2) shorter poles goes next.

The bed frame aluminum poles are locked into the Tees/ elbow sockets using round loop wire lock pins.

The round loop wire lock pins are secured into the frame by thin steel cables.

The plastic head thumb screw when tightened prevents any play and wobbling of the bed front legs. The thumb screw threads into the existing threaded hole used by the factory set screw. The (2) No.9 Side Outlet Elbows are permanently attached using the factory set screw and rivets to both ends of the long aluminum pole.

The two front legs rest on top of the rear wheel well radius. This will probably works best with the longer chassis sprinter as the legs will be resting directly on the floor. The front legs should be resting snug against the side of the ottoman cushion to make space for the sofa bed when in reclined position (notice the picture below).

The bed frame is coming together as planned. The 2 front legs snugly rest in between the cushions. The Speed-Rail tubing and fittings are very robust. The fittings are made from high tensile Aluminum-Magnesium alloy and can handle a lot weight without breaking. Here is a link for the Hollaender Speed-Rail Mechanical Properties Data sheet.

Bed frame is done.

Cutting the outdoor fabric for the bed top cover. The folded edges are triple stitched for strength.

This is how it looks like when fully setup. This thing is very sturdy, I climbed on it and the frame barely moved. The outdoor fabric does not have much give and barely stretched with my full weight pressing on it.

The mating pieces are marked for easy alignment of the lock pins.


The corner cutouts to the fabric cover are edged with bias tape made from same outdoor fabric to prevent it from ripping during use.

The (4) Velcro cord straps were later sewn into the top fabric cover (not pictured) for convenience.

With the sofa bed reclined and the upper bunk bed fully setup.

Top view shot of the bunk bed.

A shot from another angle.

With an oversized quilted throw as a bed cover (Amazon link).

With pieces disassembled, the poles goes into the fabric and then rolled up. 4 Velcro straps holds the rolled pieces together. 

The stored bunk bed doubles as a head rest here, a hard headrest that is. I'm thinking of fabricating a padded cover for the stored bed, maybe not, we'll see...the stowed bed is actually a couple of inches far back from the sitting person head.

If  preferred, I can store the bed with the fabricated cover at the foot part of the sofa bed with both ends of the frame resting on top of the rear wheel well radius.

The bed top fabric cover snugly fits the frame and can be a little tricky to setup at first, but following the steps below will make the setup a breeze. I can do it in just under 2-minutes while being careful of not hitting the windows with the aluminum poles.

1. Starting with the right side, I slip the short pole support (blue color in diagram) into the bed fabric cover side opening.

 2. While still working on the right side, insert the short pole (blue) front end all the way into the front Side Outlet Elbow socket (yellow), doing this will create enough slack in the bed fabric cover so you can easily insert the other end of the short pole into the rear Tee fitting socket.

2. Next is to insert the rear end of the short pole support (blue) into the rear Tee fitting (yellow) then lock it in place using the round loop wire lock pins (green). Do the same steps to the left side of the bed. The bed top fabric cover should be slack at this point.

3. While holding the front long pole support (yellow), pull it towards you then insert the right leg fully (red) into the Side Outlet Elbow bottom socket; the short pole (blue) should retract a bit from the socket allowing you to fully insert the leg all the way to the top, doing this will make the bed fabric  cover nice and taut. Next step is to align the leg and elbow lock holes then lock it in place with the locking pin then tighten the thumb screw, do the same steps to the left side front leg. 

Note: I now find it unnecessary to lock the two short poles into the front elbows; the bed top fabric cover tight fit prevents the short poles from slipping out the elbow socket.

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