Bunk bed progress

The slats that support the mattresses are installed. I tossed a mattress on to try it out and they work great. The kids really think they’re awesome too – since they’re the customers I’m happy.

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Head liner installation

The head liner install is mostly complete – the end caps aren’t installed simply because I haven’t decided what to do with them. I think there will be speakers and storage and various electronics on the front. The rear will probably be a shelf or something.

But across the top it looks pretty good. It looks even better in my eye when I know that the material is 100% moisture proof and was very inexpensive. The aluminum strips are carpet edge transition, and the panels are an inexpensive waterproof coating for wet areas in houses.

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I got these fantastic seats from a local Craigslist ad, the couple I bought them from is building their own full time bus. They’re using a shuttle bus, and to be honest the fit and finish is way better than a bluebird school bus.

It feels to me at least, like the difference between constructing something out of dedicated parts cut and machined for the job (their vehicle), and welding a bunch of slabs of hot rolled iron together, with expert care of course! (our vehicle).

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WIP: Interior details

I’ve been working on drafting the interior together, I think I’ll end up custom building all the cabinetry myself from steel tubing and ABS plastic.

In order to save me time and sanity, I’ll be using the Ikea RATIONELL system for the drawers themselves. That way I simply need to make square attachment points on the outside. A frameless cabinet is very much what I’m aiming for.


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Chairs for the bed module

So the folding bunk beds are more than just beds – they’re a central location for the kids and us to work in during the day as well.

The beds when stowed in the vertical position contain chairs that are secured against the underside of the bed. They consume a few inches of head room for the lower bunk, however I planned on this when designing the bunk headroom.

A standard double twin bunk in an 8′ ceiling has a 40′ headroom before the mattress. Since we’re using thinner memory foam mattresses, all the clearances work out to a standard 30-ish inches even with the chairs fastened to the underside of the upper bunk.

The lower bunk will have a work surface 18″ deep, on the bottom of the lower bunks. The rear work surface won’t be quite as wide to allow ease of passage to the rear bedroom.

This works out to four chairs, an 18″ deep work surface approximately 10′ wide. When it’s time for bed, attach the chairs back to the wall, fold up the desk, and fold down the bunks.

2015-01-04 01_02_22-flatchair.3dm (772 KB) - Rhinoceros Corporate (64-bit) - [Perspective]I used a design for a folding chair that I really like. I believe that it can be fabricated from a couple single sheets of 3/4″ plywood. Attached is the 3d model of based on the actual cut lines. I based it on the photos I found.


IMG_20150103_221023 The bunk frames themselves are just about ready for paint. I’ve build the brackets that need to be attached to the bus, at which point I can bolt them in and get on with my life. The latch mechanism works good enough, and it’s very strong. I plan on picking up some small gas struts that work to unload the weight of the assembly when opening or closing.

They’ll be installed in an over-center position, meaning that they will help keep the bunk closed and keep it from slamming down, and also keep it down once deployed.




That’s a bunch of bunk

So I came to realize today that I’m actually working on the living area interior right now, even if it’s currently outside the bus. This marks a significant shift in work on “the bus” because up until recently it’s just been either reassembly (since the roof raise) or a lot of ground work that will get covered up (insulation).

Having a fresh perspective on this  has made it easier to slog through all the tiny details to make transforming bunk interiors with desks and other neat latching, pivoting, rotating gizmos possible.

Anyway, on to some stuff I did recently.

I got all the pivot pins installed. IMG_20141227_190826Interestingly enough, if the bunk units are clamped to each other back to back, you can fully extend the frames on one side and it won’t tip over, which makes it really easy to work on.





Next, You can see some detail of the pivot pins. IMG_20141227_190839They’re pretty stout. I don’t know if I said this yet or not, but if that setup is good enough for Kubota, it’s good enough for me.





IMG_20141227_222522Next, a latching system made out of various flat bar components. It’s dead simple, and should last a while before it needs rebuilding or work. All the pieces of tape on the parts are reminders for me

if I run out of materials, since I have to build 8 of these latches.


IMG_20141227_225224Here’s a shot of the “prototype” latch tacked into place. Obviously the return spring will get attached a little more firmly.




And finally, a shot of the latch tongue in the “unlatched” position. As you can see, it’s a fairly significant piece of metal. I do NOT want these bunks to release unless it’s intentional. On top of that, they will carry loads in the closed position, in the form of a fold out desk. So I’m expecting these parts to carry the full weight of a work desk on the bottom bunk, and a full set of work chairs on the top bunk.

IMG_20141227_225242Add the weight of kids and beds, plus desks, chairs, other bits, and in scientific parlance “dynamic” loads, uh, kids rough housing as well as simply remembering it’s a vehicle that drives down the road, and suddenly there’s a reason for building the parts like a backhoe attachment.




I’m looking forward to constructing the remaining seven hinges and getting the spring system working. I think a centralized lever with some cable actuators will work really slick – twist to retract, and it should click into closed position.

The open position is easier to maintain – the center of gravity is far to the wall, and simply needs a single sided spring detent to keep from closing unintentionally.

Some bunk assembly progress

I have spent all of my spare time on a parts drafting project so there hasn’t been any progress on the bunks for the last, oh, week. Sigh.

I at least managed to weld together the support frames. They’re constructed in such a way to allow them to be transported through the front door.

Next steps are to locate the appropriate hinge pins, and build the brackets to fasten the support frames to both the bus chair rail and wall ribs.

Below are some photos illustrating the size. Its basically 12 linear feet of bedding. When closed, this “wall” will intrude about 12 inches into the cabin. It will end up a little deeper than that, since I plan on building stowable flat chairs and desks that mount on the underside of the bunk frames. (there’s a reason they’re built as if you could park a car on them)

I’m pretty excited about this arrangement because it gives all of us a workspace we can use, which I feel is important.

By the way, I’m pretty happy at how all the framing is coming together – I’m trying hard to keep things measurably accurate. I clamped the two frames together and they seem to be the same, within probably 1/32″