Saturday, June 13, 2015

Building the Rear Bunk over the Storage Area

After the front couch bed was built, the only other major project (using larger pieces of lumber) was the rear bunk platform and the wall separating the bunk from the rear storage compartment. This was already partly closed in when we added the bulkhead wall at the very beginning of this project. That separated the bottom half of the living quarters from the storage area. This will enclose the remainder of it.

Perforated angle iron as a corner.
The first thing was to obtain some perforated angle iron, which isn't technically iron, but rather galvanized stamped steel. With limited height to work with, we didn't want any supports hanging down from the bottom of the bunk, into the storage area. There is barely enough room for the handlebars of the bikes at 40-inches!

So the only solution was to use something which provides the necessary strength without taking up any room at all (relatively speaking). We could have used it on the inside, as it would be covered by the mattress, but then the steel itself wouldn't provide the support we wanted underneath the plywood, and it would have had to depend solely on the screws.

A wider view of the rear bunk supports.

As it is, the ends of the bed platform, and also the steel angle, is supported on cleats at each end, which are screwed into the side walls of the trailer. The front edge of the plywood sets on the top of the bulkhead wall. The rear edge is bolted through the steel angle about every four inches, with 3/8-inch x 3/4 extra wide round head screws and capped with flanged self-locking nuts on the back side.

The nuts and bolts were leftovers from a spray booth that was disassembled in Phoenix about ten years ago. I didn't know what the hardware would be good for at the time, but I hate to throw good stuff in the landfill. Now, I'm glad I saved them.

On the vertical rear wall, there are cleats on the inside that are glued and screwed to the plywood, and then also screwed into the side wall of the trailer, as well as being bolted to the upper edge of the steel angle, so this should hold plenty of weight.

The rear wall installed in the trailer.
At the top of the back wall there is an offset, where it must go forward before continuing upward, to clear the pulleys and cable assembly for the ramp door. Although the pulleys are above the door level, the cables and mounting brackets on the door itself still have to have clearance below that point.

I had the idea in the original design that the offset would be a good place to install an extra shelf. But you can't have open shelves in a moving vehicle, so creating a bin was better. I allowed the rear wall to rise slightly higher than the shelf (3-1/2 inches, actually) to provide a sort of "bin", so things wouldn't fall off the shelf. I lucked out, and happened to find a piece of yellow pine 1 x 6 among the smaller trim that I had laid aside for the trailer. It was perfect for the shelf (after I cut it to fit). Then, I cut some end blocks out of that same piece to keep things from falling out the ends of the shelf.

You can see the left end block, just above the shelf level.
In the photo above, you can see the end block for the left side. The top of the shelf is flush with the top edge of the lower offset on the left. The rest, all across the middle section is the storage bin that is 3-1/2-inches deep and 3-1//2-inches high. It will be a great place for small parts, rags, cans or other things that can't hang on the tool boards down below.

I had a large can of WD-40, and large bottle of glue handy, so I set them up there just to see how they fit. Perfect! The only trouble with it being this close to the top of the door is that we can't get our head in there to actually see what is down in the bin, so we'll have to go by feel. I may add some dividers to it later, just so things don't slide from side to side too much.

Also, if we find that things are bouncing out of the bin while going down the road, we can always add a canvas flap to hang over the bin, and could even put some snaps on the lower side. But I hope the roads are never that rough!

A large can of WD-40 and a bottle of glue in the storage bin.
On the inside, I had to create a new template for the curvature of the ceiling, and then measure down to the bottom of the shelf for the height. All of that was then transferred to a sheet of 1/2-inch plywood and the upper wall was cut. While I had it on the table, I also cut the thin paneling for the facing, and glued that to the wall before installing it. That last piece was a tight fit to get it in there and twisted around to get behind the cabinet on the wall, but it did fit...just barely! 

The bottom was held flush with the bottom of the offset shelf, and then it was secured to the shelf as well as adding cleats along the vertical corners, which were then screwed to the sidewalls. When that was done, I added the paneling across the bottom, below the shelf...and Voila! The rear bunk is nearly done!

The walls over the rear bunk are now finished!
The only thing left to do yet is to cut the extension pieces for the bunk platform, that will come out over the two short cabinets on either side. It will be connected with a piano hinge the width of the trailer, so that the front of the platform can be lifted to gain access to the top of the cabinets below.

Right now, I still have an extension cord coming through under the bunk platform. With no other openings into the trailer now, that will have to come out and be routed through the top corner behind the wardrobe closet, where all the other wiring will eventually go. But before I work on the wiring, I still have some minor things to do yet.


I now have the 3/4-inch PVC pipe for the fresh water and drains, so I am now ready to drill the two holes down through the floor behind the kitchen cabinet. Those pipes will stub out to the side just under the frame of the trailer, and be adapted to hose fittings. The fresh water (city) supply will have a female hose connector, same as any other RV, while the drain will have a male connector. We'll have a diverter valve under the sink, so if we're parked somewhere without a sewer connection, and can't drain on the ground, we can send the drain water to a removable gray tank in the rear storage compartment. 

Once those are at least stubbed up into the cabinet, I can anchor the kitchen cabinet in place, and anchor the side wall of the wardrobe closet to it.  I have to install the last three 100# full extension drawer glides in the kitchen cabinet yet (easier to get to from the top), and then the countertop can be installed.

I also have the high-rise faucet and sink basket for the bar sink now, so once the countertop is anchored I can cut the sink opening and mount that. Next, I will be getting the new double-door refrigerator out of the garage, change the door swing on it, and get that anchored in place on top of the countertop.

I also have the new 12V demand water pump, and it will be mounted in the kickspace straight down from the refrigerator.

I also still have to build the two pull-out pantries, plus the drawer boxes, as well as the dividers to separate the porta-potty from the battery compartment. The last thing in the carpentry work will be the drawer fronts and cabinet doors. Later on, we will likely want to add some extra shelves in the cabinets, but I will have to order the adjustable hardware for those first, and I could even do those on the road, after we leave here.

I still have to coat the roof with rust-eating/bonding primer, and then two coats of Kool Seal before I attach the roof rack and get the solar panels up there. All of that, plus the inside still has to be wired, and the plumbing must be finished.

Only then will we be ready to hit the road. But time-wise, it's all doable, as long as we keep at it. And we're getting very anxious.

I'll post again after the kitchen cabinet and counter work is done. Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions.

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