Step 1: Clear the Seats.
Step 2: Prepare the Floor.
Step 3: Building a Bed: the Platform
Place one crate in each corner of your tarp 'floor'. i have an extra crate in the middle back pictured; in fact, by the time this build was done, nearly the whole floor was filled with crates! But my previous van had only four, and that worked just fine.
Step 4: Building a Bed: Step 2
You will need to load these in through your back hatch and over the rear seat - there isn't enough clearance to load through the side door, even though it's closer. Stack the sheets on top of each other and on top of the milkcrates, as shown.
i've considered cutting both sheets in half the long way (2' x 4' rectangles) and add hinges, to make getting to the back storage crates easier.
Step 5: Building a Bed: Make It Comfy
Foam can be purchased various places; old cushions can be acquired at thrift stores, yard sales, or curbside. Shop at your own risk. if you do go with Found cushioning, make sure the foam isn't so old its rotting; the dust is teh badness. Spraying with some sort of disinfectant/upholstery cleaner/scent remover might not be a bad idea either, particularly if you're going with Found materials.
Step 6: Building a Bed: Finishing Touches
Note that the back bench seat is now going to be an inch or more lower than the bed, so to keep your head from going downhill, you'll want to build this up a little too. i usually store towels, hangings, cloaks etc. under the pillows.
Step 7: Make It Private!
Measure the width of the ceiling arch, both in back and just behind the front seats. The front measurement will be shorter. Cut two or more strips of lathe to the length measured. Tuck one end of the lathe into the vinyl 'edging' at the top of the window, then angle the lathe until you can tuck it in the other side as well.
Step 8: Final Touches
- drape a sarong, beachtowel, or other cloth over to provide privacy
- run clothesline along sides to hang curtains over windows
- hang mini battery lamps to provide light when the doors are closed
- tuck decorative cards in to look at while lying down
... use your imagination!
Sadly, i didn't take any pictures of this van in use (i no longer own it - i'll have to figure out how to customize a PT Cruiser one of these days i guess ;p ) so no picture for this step. However, in practice, i hung material (sarongs, cloaks, towels etc) around all four perimeters so that when we were inside, no one could see us. Kind of a must if you need privacy to change clothes etc in public places!
Step 9: Odds and Ends.
I think the final crate count on this one was seven: see the diagram for more detail. Heavy lines indicate 'closed' sides of crates. Obviously the back two corners couldn't hold anything you needed easy access to - i don't recall now what all i kept in there. Must have been the Really Important Stuff. Or super-sekrit treasure.
i left the travelling life before i got around to implementing any further steps on this, but i had plans to install a kitchen area in the 'trunk' space behind the back seat. I wanted to fit a plywood platform with four legs to raise it to the height of the top of the seat back.
Then i planned to cut a couple holes in the plywood: one that the pump stem of a 5-gal. water jug could fit thru, with the jug sitting on the floor under the platform. The other hole was to be slightly smaller than a rectangular dish tub. That way, i figured i could have a sink w/running water that could be lifted out to empty the greywater. This would have also provided counter space at the other side of the sink, for food prep or to set the stove on. One reason i never got around to doing it was the necessity of having a place to keep the spare tire; however, a van w/roof rack could carry it on top and i'm sure there are other ways of dealing with that problem.
One of those screenhouses designed to fit over the lifted tailgate of a van and we'd've been *set*. As it was, in practice we'd put a dining fly tarp up alongside the sliding door and set up our living/kitchen space beside the van. Kept a couple of the collapsible camp chairs stashed in the open space between crates along with the tarp, ropes etc, and we were good to go at a moment's notice.