2002 2WD LS intro and beginning of camperization

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Re: 2002 2WD LS intro and beginning of camperization

Postby Rainy_Day_Dragon [OP] » January 16th 2020, 7:10pm

bbradh789 wrote:Thanks for the build-out details RDD.

5-seater capability is a must for our family adventure rig also, so its great to get some inspiration for our build.

Looking forward to more!


You're welcome! I'm glad you asked--I needed a little nudge. :obscene-drinkingcheers:

I know there are a lot of young and/or single people on social media that do van builds that are super sweet; but, what about people who don't want to splurge for a Sprinter, or need some extra seating? I look forward to seeing what you decide upon as you weather the soggy northeast winter!
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Extra Info: RWD TrueTrac 3.73s

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The Interior Bed System 1

Postby Rainy_Day_Dragon [OP] » January 21st 2020, 12:46am

Although we have a roof top tent for our main camp sleeping quarters, it seemed ridiculous to make a camping van with no bed inside! Years ago I camped all summer in my '87 Trooper II and I made a much simpler version of this "bed". The main idea I took from that project is a properly flat area to lie down that has some sort of padding. For both projects I had a very simple, but durable approach: camping pad stapled to plywood and covered in automotive carpeting. This provides a suitable surface to lie down in any case; however, if you were planning to sleep inside the van, you'd want to bring some extra cushion!

IMG_20190530_113113.jpg
camp pad stapled to plywood (to be carpeted)


Part of the bedding surface is the top of the rear cabinets and another part is mounted to the back of the folding seat. There are "tabs" that extend beyond the top of the seat behind the headrests and again below (rear laid down). This is accomplished by stacking two sheets of 1/2" plywood. One is screwed to the metal seat back which extends beyond the other above (padded and carpeted) and creates the tabs.

Van_bed_A_01.jpg
this section is mounted to the back of the folding seat. Note the tabs above the seat back and the lower section.


The tabs are to support overlays that serve to fill gaps and also at the junction for an extension past the folded seat. There is a section between the front cabinet and bed surface that I wanted to fill, so I made this little hinged piece.

Van_bed_A_03.jpg
tabs are to support


Van_bed_A_04.jpg
covering the gap


Another gap in the surface is between the folded seat back and the rear cabinet top. When you fold the seat down there is about an eight inch gap in the design (for specific storage-later) that must be covered. This has another hinged section that folds to cover the gap. It is the whole width of the bed surface.

Van_bed_A_05.jpg
gap behind the seat

Van_bed_A_06.jpg
the flap mid-swing

Van_bed_A_07.jpg
Flap closed

Van_bed_A_08.jpg
one continuous surface


These sections create most of the bed surface, but there are still a couple of supports as well as a big extension section to make it complete. to be continued...
Original Poster [OP]
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Van Model Year: 2002
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Extra Info: RWD TrueTrac 3.73s

Re: 2002 2WD LS intro and beginning of camperization

Postby 90safari » January 21st 2020, 3:26am

Very slick. I like that you used the existing seat in the design. :)
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Re: 2002 2WD LS intro and beginning of camperization

Postby Rainy_Day_Dragon [OP] » January 21st 2020, 4:39am

90safari wrote:Very slick. I like that you used the existing seat in the design. :)


Thank you! Aside from just needing the seat for my kids, I didn't imagine that I could build something that was better for kickin' it inside the van than the factory bench. I don't recall seeing any other Astro builds that utilize it in such a way--but I'd like to!
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Storing the bed:

Postby Rainy_Day_Dragon [OP] » January 21st 2020, 10:45pm

I'll cover the storage of the bed parts for travel and DD duty now, and save how it all fits together as a bed for the final installment of this segment.

With the parts I've covered so far, if I just fold the seat upright it looks like this.

van_bed_Store_01.jpg
seat upright, flaps in travel position


The center of the top is vacant, so you can see out the rearview well if it's like this.

van_bed_Store_02.jpg
Notice the cutout to allow rearview.


You can't really tell in the photos above, but there is a bit of space between the rear cabinet and the seat back when upright. The following pictures show some of the plumbing and wiring down there and this space also serves to accommodate the bed extension.

van_bed_Store_03.jpg
drivers side behind the seat. Notice water line and power wire to pump switch

van_bed_Store_04.jpg
Pass side behind seat. Partition on top of section keeps stuff under seat area, there is also some plumbing for the tank fill in this area.


I'll discuss the bed extension more soon, but it needs someplace to live and it is tucked down behind the seat against the upright back--into this pocket seen above.

van_bed_Store_05.jpg
bed extension stowed, but seat not yet upright.


There are legs to this bed extension and I wrap them in a towel and put them at the bottom of this pocket under the extension top.

van_bed_legs_01.jpg
wrapped up extension legs


With the whole extension stored and the seat upright, it looks like this:

van_bed_Store_06.jpg
extension all stowed away for travel


And the last photo is of the inside looking over the rear seat with all the bed stowed away. Except for the limited view over the rear seat from the bed extension, it basically all just disappears and takes up hardly any space!

van_bed_Store_08.jpg
All stowed away from the main cabin.
Original Poster [OP]
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A few things about the rear deck access.

Postby Rainy_Day_Dragon [OP] » January 23rd 2020, 6:58pm

A couple of pix of the access doors from the interior to the storage in the rear. So you can grab a clean shirt or propane from inside with the bed down.

van_bed_store_b_04.jpg
notice the ledge/tab on the right. something for the section/lid to lay on.


van_bed_store_b_01.jpg
both access doors removed


van_bed_store_b_03.jpg
side view of the divider/support


This last pic is of a sliding door latch that I used to keep the full-width flap from sagging when folded flat. Perhaps I could have left a little more of the divider/support, but alas, I did not. It seems the bed extension/table top that fits in this pocket has just enough room though, so this latch may have been necessary. At any rate, it works--no flap sag.

van_bed_store_b_05.jpg
this sliding door latch serves to provide support for the full-width flap.
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Full assembly of the interior bed

Postby Rainy_Day_Dragon [OP] » January 23rd 2020, 8:01pm

The last section of the bed is the extension that goes into the main cabin area. I've already shown where this is stored and how the rest of the bed works when folded flat. The tab behind the rear passenger side headrest serves to underlay and support the edge of the extension. By leaving this, there is more congruity with the two sections.

Van_bed_A_02.jpg
notice the tab that underlays the extension.


Another consideration is that the seat flexes a bit when it's folded down. The cushions compress, so I wanted to address this so the bed was stable. I did this by putting leg mounts on the forward sides of the tabs, behind the headrests. Since these are relatively heavy bits of cast iron, they are both screwed on as well as well attached by construction adhesive.

van_bed_legs_02.jpg
leg mount behind headrest is screwed and glued!


van_bed_legs_03.jpg
headrest leg mount on both sides.


By attaching the legs to the tabs, the bed attached to the back of the seat stays nice, flat and stable. I put them on while it is still upright. These mounts are part of a system for DIYers at the big box store, but I just used black pipe for the legs as it is sturdier and cheaper. Note the rubber feet. To attach the legs, you use an allen wrench.

van_bed_legs_05.jpg
Leg in!


To mount the legs to the bed, I tip it against the back of the front seat.

van_bed_legs_04.jpg
mounts under extension.


Putting the extension in place, by overlaying the edge over the headrest tab. Similar to the the bed section attached to the seat back, the extension is not just 3/4 ply, it also has a sheet of 1/2" partially overlapped leaving a reverse/complementary tab to overlay the one on the seat (see above). The overlap and the legs on the seat section serve to keep everything pretty stable, but I use a cam-strap to hold the legs together of the two sections to complete the assembly (I use two of these to wrap up the legs in the towels, so it's already on hand)

van_bed_legs_06.jpg
strapping the sections together.


When in place, you'll notice that there is a good amount of space underneath. The extension is quite sturdy. You could put a cooler under here, a smallish dog, even a kid could sleep under here (there is good access from the front-not super claustrophobic).

van_bed_legs_07.jpg
all the legs! Some space under here...


Finally, let's see how it all comes together!

Van_open_02.jpg


Van_open_01.jpg


The bed is flat and sturdy! I'll reiterate that while this is a good, flat spot where two people (and a small kid!) can stretch out just as it is, it's softer than sleeping on a piece of plywood and flatter than a camping pad on the ground; however, it's not intended to be a finished bed for sleeping as is. You'd want to bring something additional for padding: another camping pad like a Thermarest, some memory foam, maybe a folding wrestling mat from Ikea (just thought of that one). That said, I slept on one very much like this with just a sleeping bag and a pillow for several months in my early twenties (my other option was a camp pad on the ground).

Did I mention that the extension doubles as a table!?!

IMG_20190802_161916.jpg
bed extension, or a kid-sized table!?!


Overall, I'm quite happy with the internal bed system. It is sturdy and durable, quite flat, gets out of the way when stored and gives me a place for two people to sleep. With the four person CVT roof-top tent, I can sleep six off the ground. It's also nice to have a place to sleep if you can't or don't want to open the RTT.

While it may seem complicated to set the interior bed up, it only takes five minutes or so. My old Westfalia's lower bed set up in thirty seconds, but the bench seat (1978) wasn't as comfortable, my Astro didn't set me back $25k, it's more reliable, faster and has heat!
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Re: 2002 2WD LS intro and beginning of camperization

Postby AstroWill » January 24th 2020, 5:49am

Fan-freaking-tastic! Looking good man!!

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Re: 2002 2WD LS intro and beginning of camperization

Postby Rainy_Day_Dragon [OP] » February 19th 2020, 2:50am

AstroWill wrote:Fan-freaking-tastic! Looking good man!!


Thanks AstroWill! :D
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Re: 2002 2WD LS intro and beginning of camperization

Postby dcsleeper » November 1st 2020, 10:29pm

If you loved these wheels, here's a set for $150 in VA Beach.
https://www.facebook.com/marketplace/item/952160732247418/
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