DIY Truck Bed PT1…

29 04 2012

Step 1 - storage...

I’ve been working on a sleeping setup for my F150 where I can actually stretch out. I’ve slept in the reclined driver’s seat and across the passenger’s bench in the cab. They work okay, but don’t result in an awesome night’s sleep. Here is my current MK1 F150 bed arrangement. First step is to grab some Rubbermaid bins. These will support me off the generally filthy bottom of the F150’s cargo area and they will give me a place to store gear I need to bring along.

Note – I could fit 6 large bins in easily. Here I am just using 2 at each end with some random stuff in the middle for this demonstration.

Step 2 - plywood...

I cut a sheet of plywood to ~6′ x 32″ and painted it. This sits on the bins to provide a sleeping platform. It’s wide enough for me to sleep on comfortably. I also have an extra 6′ x 17″ sheet of plywood I can place next to the larger one on 2 more bins to make a double bed for two people to sleep on if needed. If you place the gear you need frequently in the bins along the edge of the bed you can slide them out easily for access without taking the whole setup apart. Reaching the bins at the far corner is harder so I put stuff I only need occasionally back there.

Step 3 - bedding...

I have some old pillows and comforters I can use in the truck without worrying about them getting gnarly. I’m not a princess so a doubled over comforter is fine for sleeping/sitting on. You can of course add a camping style sleeping pad or some memory foam  on the plywood as needed for comfort.

Note – the rear of the topper opens as does a “window” on each side for tons of ventilation. However, there is no bug protection.

Step 4 - add in more gear!

With the single bed I still have room for some gear along the other side of the truck. I’ve thrown a bike in to show you how it would look. I have some plans to build a removable shelf system that would go where the bike is and would hold a stove, water jug as well as a couple marine batteries to power interior lights, stereo and other electronics [cameras, computers, etc..]. I’ll eventually add solar panels to the roof to allow me to be fairly self-contained.

Given my current $$ situation anything requiring a cash investment will have to wait a while, but I can work on the no/low-cost items like building the shelving and installing stove/water jug.

What I like about this concept is that it can get setup or removed in 15mins.


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16 responses

29 04 2012
bicyclenomad

Vic – looks great. Worth having a long strap round the boxes and maybe the board too to stop the whole lot going walkies when you’re driving the rough stuff?

Tom

29 04 2012
Ryan

Nice work. Now you can sleep right at the brevet’s start line so you don’t have to get up so darn early! I bought a small 40 year old motorhome for the same reason, but yours has the advantage of “stealth mode”
But where’s your shower, toilet and espresso maker? ;-)

29 04 2012
Ben

Velcro + noseeum netting on the windows may make it a bit more comfortable

29 04 2012
Thomas

i really like the idea…when I was living down in Honduras, we had mosquito netting that we could drape over the bedding–it was very inexpensive (http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_12605_SPM3652123701P?prdNo=2&blockNo=2&blockType=G2). You could tack it to the ceiling and roll up the sides to give you great coverage without messing with your ventilation…

29 04 2012
Ty

I like it!

I’ve been debating myself what to do about this same situation, as some of the brevets in my area are a couple hours drive from my house. To be able to get there some time before and snooze would be nice, without having to spend the $ on a hotel.

I’m stuck with the reclining seat on my prelude for now, but Tanya and I are shopping for a more utility-type vehicle, and Brevet snoozing is part of.the mix. We were leaning in the SUV or Van area. Hadn’t thought of a pickup, so thanks! I like that idea a lot, because then the bike is with.me and I don’t have to worry about sometime f’ING with it in the bike rack.

Ty

29 04 2012
CWM

I really enjoy your blog! How about an inflatable bed? I bought one for around $60 online to use when I have visitors and it works great. However, you will need access to a source of electricity to inflate it (it runs off a pump), but, assuming you can’t find one, maybe you could run something off your truck? . . . the mattress is quite comfortable and very portable.

29 04 2012
lawfarm

I used to have a similar setup in a truck of mine. Especially with the aluminum skin, you’ll find that it is an ez bake oven when it’s hot, and you’ll get a ton of condensation and dripping when it’s cold. I suppose moreso than normal, given the humid climate where you live. You may find that cutting and custom fitting/gluing some rigid polystyrene foam helps with temperature control, sound, condensation, and general livability.

In a perfect world, I think you’d have the ‘bed’ board hinged, so you could flip it up to access your rubber maids.

The bug issue looks like a simple one. Bugscreen + velcro = FTW.

I’m going to stop commenting now, before I start talking about chemical toilets, cookstoves, deep cycle batteries, and a myriad of other future TLR upgrades…

29 04 2012
thelazyrando

We might get 2-3 days a summer that could be described as hot here so that’s not a great concern. The solution to condensation [other then ventilation] is some heat. A candle or two will warm up the shell and dry it out fast – plus they give off some light which can be useful. My truck is not a camper so it doesn’t make sense to go to great lengths to make it comfortable. If that’s really the goal a small RV trailer would be an easier solution.

With the current setup you can access 4 out of the 6 boxes holding up the bed without lifting/moving the plywood. That’s sufficient and doesn’t require any modifications.

29 04 2012
thelazyrando

@CWM – inflatable beds don’t hold air for long around sharp objects like I frequently have in the back of my truck and they hassle of inflating/deflating them isn’t enough to motivate me to use one. I don’t find them that comfortable either and hard to sit on if you are using the “bed” as a sofa. For an overnight guest at home they make sense – for this application I’d rather get some closed cell foam cut to size and upholstered.

29 04 2012
thelazyrando

Mosquito netting is a good idea and I even think I have one the right size. You work well as it’s easy to deploy when sleeping and take down during the day. With the back open there is no point trying to hang a net over that huge opening, but at night it would be nice to sleep in peace. Luckily we have very low mosquito populations here so it’s not a serious issue.

29 04 2012
thelazyrando

@Ryan – for a toilet I have a porta-loo you can buy at any large camping store [5 gal pail with toilet seat lid] and I prefer tea when traveling so that’s easy to bring with me – although I need milk which needs to be cooled.

29 04 2012
thelazyrando

@Bicyclenomad – I used a single bungee cord to pull the plywood to the close wall in transit. The wood can’t move front to back and the boxes don’t want to slide on the textured rubber floor. For any 4×4 missions I would throw some extra gear bags/boxes between the bins and the other wall so they didn’t shift. Plus you can travel with the wood vertical and lots more gear packed in the back which can get deployed outside when you reach your basecamp.

30 04 2012
Donna

Motel Ford!

30 04 2012
phr3dly

Here’s what I’ve done for my truck-camping trips:

2x10s across the bed make a nice sturdy mounting area, and the bed is just sleeping bag on foam on plywood. Bolt a couple cheapo ($10) fork mounts to the 2x10s to mount the bikes. Shelf across the back where I can set up speakers, fan, etc..

Works great!

4 05 2012
ferrycreek

Nice setup. Simple and effective. OK to have the marine batteries in the shell with you while not charging. But when charging, your batteries must be outside (or in a sealed/vented container). The fumes will make you sick and can damage your lungs.

5 05 2012
thelazyrando

@ferrycreek – I can find warnings about a potential explosive threat from a deep cycle battery being charged at high amperages due to the generation of some hydrogen gas. However, there does not seem to be any health issue with storing deep cycle batteries inside.

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