Rethinking the bed-table problem - Fiberglass RV


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Old 11-02-2006, 03:44 PM   #1
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Our last trip, never set the big table up once. Never needed the nice utensils drawer I built under it. Never invited another couple over to play scrabble on it. Left the place settings, rolled napkins, candelabra, etc., home. Had 5 nights of not having to tear down, set up, tear down, set up, etc. I notice a lot of folks with the smaller eggs do this.

This got me thinking if we're not going to use the big table in this little trailer maybe I should remove it and make something more useful in that spot. The rear bed area is cozy and nice, but for us it is far from ideal because we are big people. Really big, as in really long. For us it is too cozy. The interior is, what, 74 inches street side to curb side? When horizontal I am 79 inches. Nancy comes in right behind me, less 4 inches. Buying a bigger egg ain't going to happen. So it is understood on any long trip we are going to go insane, no matter how nice cozy is. As my constrained, cramped up leg muscles will vouch, I must find us a way to stretch out without knocking an elbow or busting a shoulder. Assuming the fetal position has its limitations, nor do I sleep good with my feet at a 30 degree angle up the far wall.

Seems to make sense to give lying length-wise instead of cross-wise a try. Problem is so little room is there to work with. Got the propane heater on the closet on one side and mama still needs to access that porta-potty at the oddest hours. OK, I remember the army taught me in problem solving class how to put the square pegs in the square holes, and the round pegs in the round holes, then cross your fingers because you never know for sure what's out there. So...the widest parts of us is from the hips up. Means our legs don't need a platform as wide as the rest of us does. Now there's a for-sure start point for finding a workable solution to what really seems to be a no-win situation.

Here is what I come up with: a folded-under, expansion-extension table/platform.

Found 3/4 inch birch plywood in the Home Depot scrap bin, for a buck. (Actually, that's the one thing that got this project rolling.) When extended, the extension is supported by a crossing knock-down that nests into routed-out channels. Simple. Easy to store. Bought a piano hinge, T-nuts, and made home-boy screw knobs from bottle caps, 3/8" hex bolts, and resin. The knobs are locked in place with flat washers I cut and squeezed around filed off threads.

If I ever want to use the platform as a big table, you know, for those once in a blue moon harvest parties, the aluminum pedestal mount can screw in via imbedded T-nuts. That's it. Ah...of course, now you say, but wait, you are back to where you started. You have to set up the extension every night, and un-set it up each morning!

Hmmmm, Holmes, let me think about that. ....damn if that's not right!

At least you didn't notice that my feet will hang over.
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bed01.jpg   bed05.jpg  

bed06.jpg   bed07.jpg  

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Old 11-02-2006, 04:06 PM   #2
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Here, for those who are curious, are a few of the hardware details.
  • The pedestal mount
  • The 3/8 inch bolts and locking washer.
  • The knock-down plywood support thing.
By the way, though I think it is clever, if this proves to be too much of a pain to set up I may opt for simple screw-in legs instead of the knock down plywood thingie.
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bed02.jpg   bed03.jpg  

bed04.jpg  
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Old 11-02-2006, 04:08 PM   #3
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Your solution is one I have wondered about for tall people (Hey, I still got stretch room in mine.. it's good to be a wimp!)

However, I look at your pictures and become extremely frightend by that heater.

I know you are smart enough not to sleep with it on, but for that one time when It may take a little extra time to cool down before bed.. or heaven forbid, you forget to shut it down.

Yikes.
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Old 11-02-2006, 04:44 PM   #4
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No question the heater poses a danger, Gina. Though it is old, rated at 6,000 BTU's it still makes a formidable flame. A blanket could hang over too close and catch fire. Same for a cushion, or a leg. So I am shaping some sheet metal I will attach as a cowl to prevent that from ever happening. It will screw down over and shield the exposed flame area from any flammables.
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Old 11-02-2006, 05:05 PM   #5
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Myron:

If I understand everything right you've stumped me. However, the table pedestal: It seems I've seen mounts that go through the floor so that when you pull the column up the receiver is flush with the floor. Extra length columns adapt to this, but there must be a clear area of plywood underneath, with no frame members in the way. One could sleep on the floor on a pad with legs underneath, but it is unclear to me that this would do you any good.

As we get older we may be less able to crawl over each other to get to the bathroom. For us an extreme solution would be to fabricate a couple of non-sliding "slide-outs" in the rear wall to accommodate our legs for lengthwise sleeping. An extreme and in most ways undesirable solution.

I hate to say it, but one solution is to bite the bullet and plan to sell and get a later "wide-body" Burro. It is sufficiently wider, so much so that the problem would likely evaporate. 85" + interior side-to-side. Other than that, it has me stumped.
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Old 11-02-2006, 05:45 PM   #6
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Per... not sure I follow what's stumped you, but here goes:

I am using the two original table pedestal mounts that came with the Burro. Pix shows neither are the flush-mount type. There are two types, flush mount and surface mount. (Don't wanna drill 3 1/2 inch hole in floor to drop a flush mount type in there.)

So I left a surface mount on floor. Removed other (surface) pedestal mount from my first table and screwed it to an 8 1/2 inch block of 3/4 plywood. Drilled holes in corners of the plywood for 3/8" x 1 1/2" knobs that mate to 4 T-nuts I imbedded in the top of the folding extension. The folding extension folds under when out of use and is held in place by another knob-T-nut combo. I didn't show a detail of that.

This design means that to set up the bed extension I must lift up the platform and unscrew the knob holding the folded extension. It's not the greatest, I agree, because it takes time, the wood is cumbersome, but was cheapest, simplest solution to this point, until I get a better one.

Needless to say, gears continue turning in noggin, me hoping for more eureka moments.
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Old 11-02-2006, 07:06 PM   #7
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Myron, not sure if I am getting this right but your extension is hinged and folds up? If this is the case have you thought about unhinging it and having it just slide in under the cushions on top of the table. You would need a stop against the cupboards so that it would not pull all the way out. We saw one set up this way at Emily this summer and plan to try it. The extra cushion just sits on the bed in the daytimeas a backrest. It is very easy to make up in the morning.
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Old 11-02-2006, 07:25 PM   #8
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Even though we are not tall people we have found over the years and many trailers to look at several things before settling on the right trailer. Lying on the bed is a must but so is sitting on the throne. Too often knees seem to be in the sink.

I hope you have a restful sleep with your mods.
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Old 11-03-2006, 08:37 AM   #9
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Per... OK, just got your point about sleeping on the floor under the bed with a flush mount pedestal in use instead of the surface mount. That will work. But, don't want to sleep on the floor while mama uses the facility.

Barbara... I didn't want to lay the extension on top and slide it forward for use because I thought it would raise the cushions up and create an uneven surface. I also thought there would be too much sag potential across the seam, and I couldn't envision how to keep the extension supported. I figured the piano hinge would address the sag problem and eliminate the hump problem.

What I don't like the most about what I done is having to lift up and unfold the extension. It is not a good plan. Sliding the extension out would be much easier, far superior .........

However.............Holy Moly, Barbara, I think I now see how your idea will work!!


My earlier rejection was based on both panels being the same thickness. But now I am thinking I could mitigate concern over creating that "hump" under the cushions by switching to a thinner plywood extension. I could reinforce the front edge with an oak strip that could also serve on the table as a front ledge across which the extension sits on when it slides out and drops down on it.

...And put another thick oak strip across the forward edge of the extension to reduce its chances of flexing. You got something here. (Eureka moment!) I will work on this.
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Old 11-03-2006, 01:55 PM   #10
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Myron,

We are short enough to fit crosswise in our trailer with no problem, so this table mod is not really relevant to me. But I do want to say that I really like your drawings. They do clarify and communicate your ideas.

John C.
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Old 11-03-2006, 06:01 PM   #11
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Per... OK, just got your point about sleeping on the floor under the bed with a flush mount pedestal in use instead of the surface mount. That will work. But, don't want to sleep on the floor while mama uses the facility.

[b]Barbara... I didn't want to lay the extension on top and slide it forward for use because I thought it would raise the cushions up and create an uneven surface. I also thought there would be too much sag potential across the seam, and I couldn't envision how to keep the extension supported. I figured the piano hinge would address the sag problem and eliminate the hump problem.

What I don't like the most about what I done is having to lift up and unfold the extension. It is not a good plan. Sliding the extension out would be much easier, far superior .........

[b]However.............[b]Holy Moly, Barbara, I think I now see how your idea will work!!


My earlier rejection was based on both panels being the same thickness. But now I am thinking I could mitigate concern over creating that "hump" under the cushions by switching to a thinner plywood extension. I could reinforce the front edge with an oak strip that could also serve on the table as a front ledge across which the extension sits on when it slides out and drops down on it.

...And put another thick oak strip across the forward edge of the extension to reduce its chances of flexing. You got something here. (Eureka moment!) I will work on this.

You might want to consider a couple fasteners through the gutter into the table top. Cut notches in the extension lip to accomodate the fasteners. This will provide more strength for the gutter to hold up the extension and prevent lateral movement of the extension.

Just a thought.
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Old 11-03-2006, 06:29 PM   #12
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Myron's new proposal (with Byron's refinement) is a truly slick bit of design. For a further refinement, perhaps the channel on the edge of the table could be aluminum, to get enough strength in a narrow package, held to the table edge entirely by Byron's fasteners.

Then there's the brute-force method: get a 17' trailer...

Seriously, the solution for bed length is narrow trailers is often to sleep lengthwise. The Fiber Stream, some of the small front-dinette/rear-entrance trailer designs, and various camper vans such as the classic Westfalia VW all take this approach.
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Old 11-05-2006, 08:35 PM   #13
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I much appreciate your input, guys.

I think making the channel and "hook" from aluminum is a great idea, simpler, easy to do, clean looking, light and strong, and I was planning to do it that way but Home Depot wanted more than I was willing to pay for aluminum angled stock. So I stuck with the oak already at hand. Here's the latest pictures, hot off the workbench. Also opted for sturdier 1/2 inch thick plywood that's also better for edge-drill. For added strength I routed for two glue surfaces. Hain't tried it installed yet.
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Old 11-05-2006, 08:53 PM   #14
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Adding a fastener to secure the "hook" connection makes excellent sense. Put a T-nut into the channel. My only problem is if I secure the knob in place with a lock washer it will scratch the table top when dragged out of the nest. So until I figure out a hardware work-around the knob will be kept out until needed.
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