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Sprinter Van: Bed Platform, Bike Storage, Layout Design

Last updated 2017-07-06 - Send Feedback
Related: Sprinter

Version 4, 2017-07-14

Hang the bikes on the passenger side from the ceiling, front wheel off, handlebars turned so they can be close together, cinch down at bottom-bracket area.

I looked at various bed designs—across the van, climber style hanging beds, fixed-platform beds. They all seemed to suck in various ways: too much view-blocking space, too high for easy egress to piss at night (getting older does cause its issues), etc. Seeing a Sprinter built-up with a conventional cabin-spanning bed, I disliked it—at 45" high it accommodates bikes below, but the hassle and risk of climbing in/out too great, plus it blocks the entire rear, plus bed is useless as a bench—it’s only a bed for sleeping.

So I hit upon the idea of placing two Yeti Tundra 210 coolers end to end as a bed platform, nicely insulated by the air mattress above (hang the down comforter over the edges for even more insulation!).

After all, Yeti coolers are just big insulated waterproof lockable storage boxes that can handle anything at all—so why not use them as the bed platform? They are built for Yeti tie-down straps for secure placement in a vehicle too.

Conceptual layout for diglloyd Sprinter 2500 144 wheelbase HiTop 4x4 van build

The Exped Megamat 10 LWX air mattress (extremely comfortable and very lightweight) is 78 X 31 inches. It turns out that there are two models of Yeti coolers that are just about the right length laid end to end, and the perfect height for use as a bench. See the schematic floor plan below.

Yeti Tundra 125: 40.25L X 19.875W X 20.0H. Very good fit, but Tundra 210 has more capacity, wider
Yeti Tundra 210: 39.75L X 25.75W X 24.25H. Ideal length, most of the required width, superior height for capacity and bench seat and bed.
    - terrific storage volume
    - abuts wheel well; exact fit (offset) TBD pending Sprinter delivery; at bottom only 22.25" wide and will clear wheel well OK at top (guessing 22.5" to clear wheel well + 2" gap + 7 inch cabinet = 31.5 inches total = perfect).

To allow the Yeti hinges to open, a 2" gap remains between the Yeti and the wheel-well cabinet. Testing the Exped mattress on sturdy boxes showed no sag issue—can’t even tell that the gap is there. That gap is a good stash location too, say for fishing pools or skis or clothing or shoes.

The bed platform is 2 parts, of a sorts: the (1) Yeti Coolers, (2) a gap the length of the mattress alongside the side of the van, allowing 2 inches of clearance for the Yeti cooler hinges. That gap can be filled with gear and a little foam to support the 6 inches or so of mattress near the wall of the van.

The gap could be a wheel-well cabinet the length of the mattress (or less, does not have to be the full length), but a cabinet just wastes space with extra thickness of its own, possibly pushing the Yetis out more into the aisle. The gap well can be filled in with close-cell foam or similar, keeping me from sloshing into the about in-inch hole at the wall (and maybe less wide than that). But even better, gear of many kinds can go there: 5 gallon diesel can, water, clothing, shoes, etc—small storage boxes chosen to fit and support the mattress. Worst case, a cabinet or flip-up shelf shelf can match the height of the Yetis. But an open design is highly desirable—just pull the mattress back slightly to grab stuff.

The Exped Megamat 10 LXW and its bedding are very light, so ingress into the Yeti coolers is no problem, the mattress will just rise up when the cooler top is opened. And if necessary for extended access, the mattress can can be set on its side against the van wall. Storage inside the Yetis can be anything—food and drink or tools or gear or whatever—they’re just sturdy insulated boxes.

Total width = about 32 inches using the Yeti Tundra 210 (mattress is just under 31") . At bottom the Tundra 210 is only 22" wide, so it can abut the wheel well more tightly than its top height implies.

Benefits:

  • Fixed yet removable platform (the Yetis) for flexibility in other uses, can remove mattress and one or two Yetis easily.
  • Yeti coolers have tie-down straps, so can be secured easily, yet easily removed.
  • Storage for all sorts of stuff in the mattress-length wheel well cabinet .
  • Bed is also a comfortable bench at just the right height, can sit up with head free and clear and legs comfortable. Nice if I just want to sit and rest, but not sleep.
  • No platform-support legs or hanging cables for a hanging bed.
  • No falling off too-high a bed getting up at night to piss.
  • Keeps view clear to windows out the back; allows walking from drive’s seat out the back doors.
  • Yetis are large-volume lockable storage.
  • Yeti near rear door can be food and drink if desired, easy drainage out rear door (drain outlets at both ends).
  • Allows for overhead cabinets in ceiling above bed, short open shelf system at suitable height above bed for simple items. Very convenient.
  • Huge ice chest volume if needed. Bedding acts to further improve the insulation!
  • Hang two bicycles from ceiling on the passenger side (front wheel off, handlebar turned 90° for close fit).

Value: the expense of the Yeti Tundra 210 (tentative choice) or Yeti Tundra 125 is not a small matter. But when compared to welding and reinforcing the van to support a cross-van bed or a climber hanging-style bed, it’s probably a money-saver right there. Moreover, the bulk and expense (purchasing and wiring and cabinetry) of a too-small power-hungry refrigerator must be considered. That makes the Yeti coolers a bargain by comparison. A 23-inch trout won’t fit easily into a small RV refrigerator, nor will a 32 oz bottle of Kombucha or soda—the Yetis are a far superior solution for my needs that keep ice for days even in a hot car (personal experience with the Yeti Tundra 50, the larger models can take more ice and last even longer). They can take dry ice and the doors cannot pop open on rough ground or curves should something heavy inside bang around. And if I ever take up deer hunting again, one Yeti Tundra 210 will take the whole carcass.

Conceptual layout for diglloyd Sprinter 2500 144 wheelbase HiTop 4x4 van build

Version 2, 2017-07-08

Hang the bikes on the passenger side from the ceiling, front wheel off, handlebars turned so they can be close together, cinch down at bottom-bracket area.

I looked at various bed designs—across the van, climber style hanging beds, fixed-platform beds. They all seemed to suck in various ways: too much view-blocking space, too high for easy egress to piss at night (getting older does cause its issues), etc. Seeing a Sprinter built-up with a conventional cabin-spanning bed, I disliked it—at 45" high it accommodates bikes below, but the hassle and risk of climbing in/out too great, plus it blocks the entire rear, plus bed is useless as a bench—it’s only a bed for sleeping.

So I hit upon the idea of laying two Yeti coolers end to end. Yeti coolers are just big insulated lockable storage boxes that can handle anything at all—so why not use them as the bed platform? And they are built for Yeti tie-down straps for secure placement, too.

The Exped Megamat 10 LWX is 78 X 31 inches. As it turns out, there are two Yeti coolers that are just about the right length laid end to end, and the perfect height for use as a bench. See the schematic below.

Yeti Tundra 125: 40.25L X 19.875W X 20.0H lay end to end for bed platform
    - good fit, 80.5" for 78" mattress.

Yeti Tundra 210: 39.75L X 25.75W X 24.25H lay end to end for bed platform
    - preferred height and length for much greater storage volume and 24" bed height
    - length fits better fit by 1", but too wide at wheel well; intrudes too far to center (25.75 + 2 + ~8 = ~36 inches).
    - BUT at bottom the Yeti only 22.25" wide and might clear wheel well OK (guessing 22.5" to clear wheel well + 2" gap + 7 inch cabinet = 31.5 inches total = perfect). Have to actually get the cooler and set in place at wheel well and see true intrusion width.

To allow the Yeti hinges to open, a 2" gap remains between the Yeti and the wheel-well cabinet. Testing the Exped mattress on sturdy boxes showed no sag issue—can’t even tell that the gap is there. That gap is a good stash location too, say for fishing pools or skis or clothing or shoes.

The bed platform is 3 parts, of a sorts: the (1) Yeti Coolers, (2) a 2" hinge gap, and (3) a gap the length of the mattress alongside the side of the van.

For (3), this could be a wheel-well cabinet the length of the mattress (or less, does not have to be the full length), but it’s not clear that it’s necessary or desirable given the thickness a cabinet would add; that thickness would only push the Yetis out more, and I’d really like to use the Yeti Tundra 210. The gap over the wheel well can be filled in with close-cell foam or similar, keeping me from sloshing into the about in-inch hole at the wall (and maybe less wide than that). Worst case—a cabinet or flip-up shelf shelf can match the height of the Yetis,. But if an open design works, it is even better for storage for shoes or whatever—just pull the mattress back slightly to grab stuff.

The mattress and bedding are very light, so ingress into the Yeti coolers is no problem, the mattress will just lifts up with the cooler top and if necessary can be set on its side temporarily or for a time. Storage inside the Yetis can be anything—food and drink or tools or gear or whatever—they’re just sturdy insulated boxes.

Total width = about 32 inches (mattress is just under 31"), using the Yeti Tundra 210 (at bottom the Tundra 210 is only 22" wide, so it can abut the wheel well more tightly than its top height implies.

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Benefits:

  • Fixed yet removable platform (the Yetis) for flexibility in other uses, can remove mattress and one or two Yetis easily.
  • Yeti coolers have tie-down straps, so can be secured easily, yet easily removed.
  • Storage for all sorts of stuff in the mattress-length wheel well cabinet .
  • Bed is also a comfortable bench at just the right height, can sit up with head free and clear and legs comfortable. Nice if I just want to sit and rest, but not sleep.
  • No platform-support legs or hanging cables for a hanging bed.
  • No falling off too-high a bed getting up at night to piss.
  • Keeps view clear to windows out the back; allows walking from drive’s seat out the back doors.
  • Yetis are large-volume lockable storage.
  • Yeti near rear door can be food and drink if desired, easy drainage out rear door (drain outlets at both ends).
  • Allows for overhead cabinets in ceiling above bed, short open shelf system at suitable height above bed for simple items. Very convenient.
  • Huge ice chest volume if needed. Bedding acts to further improve the insulation!
  • Hang two bicycles from ceiling on the passenger side (front wheel off, handlebar turned 90° for close fit).

Value: the expense of the Yeti Tundra 210 or Yeti Tundra 125 is not a small matter. But when compared to welding and reinforcing the van to support a cross-van bed or a climber hanging-style bed, it’s probably a money-saver right there. Moreover, the bulk and expense (purchasing and wiring and cabinetry) of a too-small power-hungry refrigerator must be considered. That makes the Yeti coolers a bargain by comparison. A 23-inch trout won’t fit easily into a small RV refrigerator, nor will a 32 oz bottle of Kombucha or soda—the Yetis are a far superior solution for my needs that keep ice for days even in a hot car (personal experience with the Yeti Tundra 50, the larger models can take more ice and last even longer). They can take dry ice and the doors cannot pop open on rough ground or curves should something heavy inside bang around. And if I ever take up deer hunting again, one Yeti Tundra 210 will take the whole carcass.

Conceptual layout for diglloyd Sprinter 2500 144 wheelbase HiTop 4x4 van build

Version 1, 2017-07-06

Goals and concerns:

  • Bed: fixed or can get out of way? Does it block the windows? Can bikes go underneath without interference from support?
  • Could the bed sit on 4 Yeti Tundra 105 coolers, using those as the bed platform, and the coolers for general storage?
  • Loose bike fit should be possible, and may be desirable (no fixed clamp down location). Can the biked hang from ceiling on sides from hooks, but strap cinching to wall off bottom bracket area?
  • Walk-through open airy feel, crowded feed not good.
  • Food and supplies into overhead bins on driver's side?
  • What balances the load if bins and driver and battery and so on are on the driver's side?
  • Where do a Yeti Tundra 50 or Tundra 100 go without impeding floors?
Initial conception for diglloyd Sprinter 2500 144 wheelbase HiTop 4x4 van build

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