Bed Extension

June 2018 - The 190 Versatile's bed was designed to sleep crosswise across the width of the van. While this might work well for shorter people, I'm 5' 11" and I find it too constraining. I like to stretch out when I sleep and my feet kept running into the side wall when we both tried to sleep crosswise. The bed is otherwise comfortable.

For a while, we tried splitting up, with my wife sleeping on the converted front bed using the drivers seat and driver side passenger seat. By sleeping at an angle on the rear bed, I had enough room. To avoid having to make up the front bed each night, and since the front bed was not as comfortable, I designed and built this bed extension, which adds 16 inches to the length of the rear bed and makes it possible to sleep lengthwise on this bed.

The downside of the bed extension is that it blocks the closet and cabinet under the sink. This has not been any problem for us, since we only install the bed extension at night for sleeping and make a point to get anything we might need out before it goes up. You can still use the bathroom in the middle of the night by pulling out the shower curtain for privacy.

The square-shaped cushion that normally sits in the center of the rear dinette is used on top of the extension. We made up a couple of small cushions to fill in the space on each side (seen in white in the photo on the left). Surprisingly, the bed extension is plenty wide enough for both of us to place our legs and feet on it (heads are at the rear doors). We generally use two sleeping bags and these just overlap a bit on the extension.

The main shelf of the bed extension is a 29" wide by 18" deep piece of 1/2" Baltic birch plywood. Across the front is a 29 x 4" piece of hard maple. I cut a 1/2" wide by 1/4" deep dado 2" from the top of this piece to receive the plywood. This piece thus extends 2 inches above and 1 1/2 inches below the plywood shelf. If I had to do it over, I probably would extend the front maple piece 3 inches above the plywood to give a larger rail for the cushion. (Thus, use a 5" wide piece if available). The plywood was glued into the dado and also secured with pocket hole screws on the bottom.

To complete the frame supporting the shelf, I used a 16" long by 1 1/2" wide piece of 3/4" hard pine (could be any kind of harder wood such as poplar) on each side of the shelf as shown in the photos. This was glued and screwed into the shelf. A similar 27 1/2" long by 1 1/2" wide piece went between the two side pieces and also glued and screwed into place. Notice that this leaves a 1 3/4" lip on the rear of the shelf. This lip overhangs the tabletop and side benches, providing a solid support for the back end of the shelf. Everything was sanded and all the corners and edges were rounded so that we wouldn't scrape ourselves climbing over the extension. I finished it with two coats of water based polyurethane varnish.

To keep the extension from moving, I screwed a 1" bolt (about 1/8" diam) at both the right and left corners. I then drilled an appropriate receiving hole in the top of each bench so that the bolts will drop into the holes when the extension is in the correct position.

To support the front of the extension, I have a fold-down leg on each side. The legs are about 14 inches long and 1 1/2 inch wide 3/4" thick hardwood. Cut the legs a little longer than they should be, then you can fine tune the length so that the extension sits level. The top of each leg is cut into a half-circle with the pivot hole in the center of this circle. The legs are bolted onto the inside of the side frame using a 2" long 1/4" diam bolt. I used washers and a lockwasher to keep the legs movable, but not loose. The legs fold down so that the extension is flat for storage.

We usually keep the bed extension stored on top of the drivers side rear cushion, beneath our bedding. To install it, you place the lip over the table top so that the screws extending down on each side will drop into the corresponding holes that you've made. I then reach under and pull out each leg so that vertical. When positioned, the extension is very sturdy and will easily hold my weight. Next the shorter side back cushion goes down and as far back as possible. Then the longer rear back cushion is placed as far back as possible so that you have room to place the square seat cushion on the extension. Finally, I place my small filler cushions (we just cut out some foam the right size and covered it with cloth - nothing fancy) on each side and assembly is complete.

When drilling the extension mounting holes, make sure it does not block the bathroom door. You want to be able to access this in the middle of the night! Since the rear privacy door is blocked, we just use the shower curtain for privacy. Works great.

We've used our bed extension for several trips now and it's a winner. We both can sleep comfortably lengthwise on the bed. This alleviates the one shortcoming that we found in our Roadtrek.

We usually travel with the table set up.

Please note the inexpensive plastic spring clamp attached to the countertop at the bottom-right in this photo. This nicely keeps the drawer from opening when going around corners and is quick to remove or place.