One 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.