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My Giant Permanent RV Bed

| Updated Oct 19, 2014

bed1One thing about full timing is that you have ample opportunities to evaluate the comfort of your RV's sleeping arrangements. In our 2003 190 Popular with the dinette setup, we never got comfortable with the stock cushions as arranged for the full size bed setup. They would slide around and gaps would appear. Fine with the cat – she would find one of the pockets where the cushions gapped and make a nest for herself. For us, not so appealing.

What I ended up doing was take all the foam chunks out of their cloth covers, glue them together, throw a two inch memory foam topper on it, and put it in a mattress bag. Problem solved, I thought. However, after a year of full timing, the glued seams would come apart, the topper would disappear down into the gaps, and we had a lumpy bed again. I gave up and went to a mattress supply company, bought a huge chunk of six inch foam, cut it to fit the platform the cushions sat on, and replaced all the foam pieces with one big piece. This RV bed lasted for another three plus years, and we were very happy with it.

Big chunk of foam, waiting for bed base completion.
Big chunk of foam, waiting for bed base completion.

So I knew what kind of bed I wanted when it came time to design our new Roadtrek – a permanent RV bed made up of a big chunk of foam, sitting on a platform. No power sofa, no ottomans, no rear table, just a giant bed.  I also had the opportunity to raise it up a bit to create more storage underneath, and afford Fiona the Fearless Kitty better viewing out of the side windows.  It's a minor thing, but important to her.

Angle aluminum is fastened to the wall, with one steel support in place.
Angle aluminum is fastened to the wall, with one steel support in place.

The Roadtrek engineers said that instead of all the plywood boxes like my 190 had, we could span the entire width of the van with steel to create one big storage space underneath with no chopped-up compartments. We made a secure support for the steel using angle aluminum mounted to each side with rib-nuts (special fasteners which allow you to securely mount machine thread fasteners into a sheet metal surface).  The steel was U-shaped beams with a channel for captive nuts. Put the steel down, cut plywood to fit on top of it, run screws down through the plywood into the captive nuts in the U-channel, and the bed base was completed.

Plywood down on the steel cross supports, ready for the mattress.
Plywood down on the steel cross supports, ready for the mattress. Those special screws go down into the captive nuts in the steel supports. No rattles or creaks.

Since we were designing from scratch, I also had an opportunity to address a lingering annoyance I had with the regular bed-it's too short for me. At 6'1″ I want to be able to stretch out, and the 76 inch regular bed always seemed a bit cramped. I can't sleep with my feet flat up against the cabinet face at the end of the bed. Eighty inches it was.  We also had to shorten the hang up cabinet behind the bathroom which overhangs the bed because our bed was 20 inches off the floor, higher than the ottomans, and I have big feet.  This created some wall space which Richard Watts the master fabricator used to made a small window opening with blinds, adding to the feeling of spaciousness and again delighting Fiona, who loves to keep an eye on outside activities.

Foam and topper are in a mattress bag, with a mattress cover on top.

The nice thing about this bed is that it is rectangular – 69 inches wide by 80 long, so we can turn the mattress and use regular bed linens.  Our old bed tapered toward the head because of the van body's shape. This bed is a foot in from the rear of the extended body, with a shelf slightly above bed level between the head of the bed and the rear doors. Again, Roadtrek's Richard Watts did a phenomenal job of turning a vague description into flawless cabinetry work. This gives us a convenient place to put things, like our cat, who normally tramples our heads when she wants to look out the rear door windows in the middle of the night. Now she has her own catwalk, exactly at rear door window level, which we tell her was made for her alone.

Completed bed.  It is as comfortable as it looks.
Assembled bed. It is as comfortable as it looks.  Sharon has a special comforter cover on order to celebrate the occasion.

It's hard to sell permanent beds to first-time RV buyers; they like the idea of a power soda or dinette better because it allows multiple uses for the same space. If you need a seat and table to work during the day, a permanent bed is not for you.  Our usage pattern makes a permanent bed the best choice, because we never set up our 190 in any other configuration, so the convertibility was a waste of function, and with a permanent bed you don't have to compromise on comfort. If you married a princess as I did, you'll know how important mattress comfort is for domestic tranquility.

RV Lifestyle

Published on 2014-10-19

12 Responses to “My Giant Permanent RV Bed”

October 20, 2014at12:26 pm, Graham said:

The only problem we have with this arrangement is shinnying out of the bed in the middle of the night for a “visit” without disturbing the mate. We started out with the bed fully set up as a king, but have changed to using the Twin-at-the-feet-king-at-the-head arrangement. I’ve cut the memory foam topper to that shape, and The Queen is making a U-shaped cover for it with velcro tabs to prevent slipping around.

October 20, 2014at12:04 pm, Gene Bjerke said:

We kept the bed up full-time for the first three years we owned our RS. Then we went back to converting the sofa. It takes two minutes to make the complete conversion — which we think is little enough to have a casual lounge in which to enjoy our Cuba Libres at “anchor down”. You have to know what’s important.

October 19, 2014at11:36 pm, Marty said:

Fantastic set-up. I really like this design. We have a 190 and we have never used the dinette so it is always in the bed configuration. I’ve been toying with the idea of removing the padded seats, putting down plywood and using a mattress. I was also thinking of hinging it at about midpoint for access underneath. Hmmmm….I think I have a winter project now. Thanks for the inspiration 🙂

October 19, 2014at3:43 pm, black88mx6 said:

Can you still open the rear door from the inside?

October 19, 2014at5:04 pm, Dave said:

I was wondering the same. Also, did you discuss possibly hinging the bed half way, transverse, ~ from wheel-well to wheel-well, to gain easier access in the space below. The mattress could ride up the box top as you raise it. But that would depend on being able to get past Fiona’s walk way. Just wondering. Looks great and comfortable. Maybe an option RT could offer in the future?

October 19, 2014at5:50 pm, Campskunk said:

the wheelwells on the sprinters are different than the 190s. they are enclosed in boxes which support the side ottomans, and on mine they are full of um… components, no storage there. i access these spaces through doors in the sides of the small underbed space from the inside. the back is 20 inches high under the bed and higher behind it, so picking up the bed to access it is unnecessary. i just slide stuff around until it’s where i want it to be. i am swimming in storage space.

October 19, 2014at5:44 pm, Campskunk said:

yes. there’s a small rectangular section cut out of the shelf with a knob on it. pick it up, and there’s the back door handle.

October 19, 2014at8:23 am, Sandy Moran said:

Oh my gosh this is exactly what we have been trying to figure out..I love this bed set up ..we tried the put the bed up routine for a week and that was as long as lasted..we like having the bed down and I’m so jealous of that underbed storage now..with the sofa still in place Jim’s flyfishing gear is jumbled under there…will Jim Hamill retro fit a 2010 RS Adventurous..guess it won’t hurt to ask. Happy Trails Campskunk

October 19, 2014at10:38 am, Eric Sondeen said:

I’ll count this as payback for my ill conceived comments on the teak bath mat. My Princess may demand similar treatment Was that a 14″ mattress?

October 19, 2014at3:10 pm, Campskunk said:

now Eric, don’t blame me if you get a few requests from your own princess. i’m just writing blog posts here 😉 it’s six inches of high density polyurethane foam, with a 2 inch memory foam topper, all in a zip-up mattress bag. the bag and the mattress cover were expertly tailored by Lise at Roadtrek to fit the slightly narrower than standard size. sticks and bricks house full size is 76 by 80; mine is 69 by 80.

October 19, 2014at8:11 am, Jennifer Wendland said:

Since I keep reminding Mike of the story of the Princess and the Pea I can relate to this story that has a happy ending. It sounds like a great improvement.

October 19, 2014at6:00 pm, Campskunk said:

well, as long as Mike insists on a sit-at-a-desk work station, you’ll need to have a bed that can be converted into seating during the daytime. maybe move him up front, and convert the back into the royal chambers?

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