Campervan cushions – and then there were five!

Hurrah! We finally have a full complement of cushions. Here in the seating configuration:

I had to step down the height of the backrests slightly so they would still fit side-by-side in the bed configuration:

I still need to adjust the padding on some of them but they’re almost there. Step-by-step instructions to follow shortly!

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Who knew making a wooden seat could be so complicated?

Well ours has been very complicated, but having spent the last couple of weekends playing with hinges and bolts and sliding locks, Paul has now fixed and secured all the campervan seating. Let’s hope we’ve finally seen the last of the comedy seesaw moments.

The seats needed a bit of adjusting from their original position to allow for a 28mm overhang all around to protect the cupboard doors underneath. Once the seating panels were all screwed down, Paul turned his attention to the backrests.

Because the engine is underneath the driver/passenger seats, we had to hinge the backrest behind the cab to allow the front seats to still lift up and provide access to the engine.

And because the backrest doesn’t lean up against anything, Paul also fixed a small arm hinge at the side and a sliding lock at the back to strengthen it when it’s in the upright position.

The other backrest also had to have a sliding lock behind it to stop it falling forward. It’s this backrest which pulls over to form the bed support, and it’s really quite heavy to lift. To make this job a bit easier, I did attempt to fashion a handle out of a few scraps of gingham I had lying around (as you do). Unfortunately though, while clearly very beautiful, my handle was not up to the job and suffered major structural failure on its first outing. We might just buy a metal one from Bunnings.

The final stage in the seating was to make a trap door (with fully functioning custom-made handle) above the battery compartment to give easy access to all the electrics.

Here’s the bedding configuration:

The kitchen work surfaces are also now secure, having been screwed down to the cabinet shell underneath with small right angle brackets. Paul fitted a gloss white side panel onto the cabinet containing the fridge, and added a water indicator, which will link to the fresh and wastewater tanks.

Then on the outside of the van behind the fridge cabinet he fitted an air vent:

We also saw the first splash of red above the fridge:

So the seating is completely finished. Stay tuned for phase one of the plumbing!

How to convert campervan seating into a bed

After much pencil chewing and imaginary beard stroking over how to convert our campervan seating into a bed, Paul had an epiphany.

The first stage was fairly simple. By hinging an extra panel onto the long section of the L-shaped seating, we could pull it out to create the base of the bed. As shown here:


Paul had to cut the top panel marginally shorter than the bottom one, so it would clear the overhanging worksurface when pulled out. This will be hidden though once the seat cushions are on.

We’ve continued to use the same material for all the seating panels – I imagine the staff at Bunnings are somewhat intrigued by the sudden demand for their cheap pantry doors. It’s been a readily available form of MDF though with a glossy plastic coating, and has been really easy to work with.

The challenge was creating the supporting leg underneath the pull-out bed panel. The moment of revelation occurred when Paul worked out he could add another panel, which, when hinged, would act as a back rest in one position, and a supporting leg when folded down:

In the bed configuration, the two seat cushions will stay in position, and the two backrests will lie side by side on the other half. The bed is actually wider than I’d imagined; I was visualizing us both having to lie on our sides and turn over in unison, but it’s about 1.2m wide, which is fairly comfortable.

This week Paul has also fitted the master control switch, and bought the battery and the charger, so the next job is to start wiring everything up. Since winter arrived early in Brisbane, I have been lobbying for a nice warm fan heater, in case the van is finished before August. I’ve been advised to just rug up.

Campervan layout – a feat of architectural design?

Before we started work on the van and it was still an empty shell, it was hard to imagine we’d be able to squeeze in a kitchen, bathroom and living room without it all looking very cramped. Yet somehow, now the furniture is in and the walls are up, it’s like our little minibus was always destined to be a cosy campervan. Everything just fits. It is compact and bijou! Clearly all those Thursday nights we’ve spent watching seven series of Grand Designs have been worth it – Kevin would be proud! (Actually, Kevin would say it could have been even better if we’d employed an architect, but never mind.)


The internal structure is quite defined now, and the walls have gone up between the bathroom and kitchen. Paul bought these as pantry doors and used a cardboard template to cut them to shape around the side of the van. The bathroom door will be a bit trickier. Ideally we’d want a rectangular panel that slides across the gap, but the position of the wheel arches on either side means it could only open half way. So the options are to fit a double door that opens into the bathroom, or hang a few strings of beads. That one’s still on the drawing board.

 

The toilet and bathroom basin are now bolted down, and the back of the toilet is fixed to another panel to facilitate the rear-entry swivel benefits, as shown below.


The seating is coming along, and the next stage will be to construct and fit an extra horizontal panel that will hinge out to form a bed. This has been a more contentious issue than you would probably imagine, and the subject of many robust discussions between Paul and his various campervan advisers. Whichever method he chooses, it’ll be one of the next jobs.

A lot of the work coming up will be less visible and includes the wiring and electrics. My sewing machine has now arrived and I may attempt another place mat before launching into the cushions. Thank you to everyone who has expressed a preference for a particular fabric. Surprisingly, almost everyone chose the same one.

(I suspect a conspiracy.)