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Pop top bed boards


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Afternoon everyone. After much faffing, my 2007 2.4 Alphard (hereinafter called Luna because of the similarity of the Japanese female’s voice on the console to that of the fey Irish girl in the Harry Potter movies - blame the wife for that) now has a pop top. I have subsequently decided that we need bed boards to create an ‘upstairs room’ when peace and quiet is needed. So, the question is, how have others gone about fitting bed boards? It can’t be a single board mounted on struts because that would hide the lighting in the roof. So it woukd have to be, I suppose, sections of board, suitably carpeted, mounted on what/where?

 

Can those who’ve trodden this path before please pass on the benefit of their experience!preferably with images before I set off diy-ing like a madman?

 

Thank you in anticipation 🙂

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Unless the pop top goes up from a side hinge or horizontally you will be tight on space. My pop top goes up from the front, hinged at rear, and I wouldn't try to get up there to sleep unless I was very young (perhaps the grandchildren?) and short. Being old (and a bit short) I tried but without a safe step I decided against it. Further, if you need to go for a pee in the night...

IMG_0341.thumb.jpeg.811f2f1dd8f7aee0b5bb5a242ed52098.jpegThe edge frame for the pop top is returned horizontally inwards to support the ceiling boards. (still working on the finishing off)

 

I have seen a canvas sling bed which had two aluminium tubes sitting in "U" shaped supports forehand aft and could be rolled up to sit in a "spare" U support but again, only for short and skinny bods.

We tend to use the gap between the closed top and the roof as a flat clothes store and somewhere for the black-out/insulating blinds to live.There are three "floor or roof" boards which can be piled on each other to allow you to stand at the cooker/sink/worktop and in the past we've tended to sleep with these in place to keep the heat in.

Edited by Duncan Grimmond
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Ours are slats that fit together to make a floor, they can be taken out/stacked as necessary to gain access to upstairs, then put back in place to provide the full floor.  Think it's probably the best way of doing it.

 

Note ours were done and supplied as part of the original Drivelodge pop top conversion.

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Thank you Duncan and Paul for your responses. A van conversion business here in Plymouth is suggesting 4 carpeted boards fitted onto a set of covered angle iron type supports which are fixed into the steel frame surround. Said boards can then be moved, partially or wholly, to allow access/storage to the ‘upstairs’ area. Now, as for having the ability to access said upstairs, that’s a different matter altogether and I’ll only be able to judge that once the boards are in situ. My wife, who goes by the soubriquet Narrow Nicki to counter my Wide Charlie, is a likely candidate for upstairs sleeping in a probably vain attempt to minimise the joint snoring issues. I’m hopeful that the joys of a wide but lumpy downstairs bed can be mine and mine alone. Fingers crossed!

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5 hours ago, WideCharlie said:

Thank you Duncan and Paul for your responses. A van conversion business here in Plymouth is suggesting 4 carpeted boards fitted onto a set of covered angle iron type supports which are fixed into the steel frame surround. Said boards can then be moved, partially or wholly, to allow access/storage to the ‘upstairs’ area. Now, as for having the ability to access said upstairs, that’s a different matter altogether and I’ll only be able to judge that once the boards are in situ. My wife, who goes by the soubriquet Narrow Nicki to counter my Wide Charlie, is a likely candidate for upstairs sleeping in a probably vain attempt to minimise the joint snoring issues. I’m hopeful that the joys of a wide but lumpy downstairs bed can be mine and mine alone. Fingers crossed!

Cool does sound much like mine (I have four or five boards).  I'll try and get a pic next time I'm in the van and it's light.

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Morning chaps, pics as promised.

 

Much as described above carpeted boards that lay in the metal frame of the Drivelodge pop top, four in total.

 

I have to have the front one slightly overlapped as otherwise you can't pull the top down tight enough to seal because of the lifting handles.

 

They just essentially lift in and out of place as needed and are all separate (so can be taken out, stacked at one end, whatever works)

 

Cheers

 

Paul

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Paul, thank you ever so much. That looks to us the ideal setup. I’ll get it done as soon as possible to take advantage of a little bit of decent weather. You’re a star!

 

Charlie

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In our previous camper, a Regius, I found it difficult to get up into the "roof-bed space",  then put the boards back and lie down in comfort. I even considered a short ladder to make it easier. This convinced me that it was only suitable for small children, leaving one board out.

Ease of ingress/egress is critical when using a space like this for sleeping, in an emergency it can be literally vital. Having to remove the boards on which you are lying/sitting to get out of a confined space in a hurry is difficult. 

I probably sound like an old git, I am an old git but I also have experience to draw on having had several VW campers and even a J4 Morris van...

 

As an aside, the forward most board in our ceiling has a cut-away to allow access to the pop-top mechanism for ease of opening.

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Hi Duncan, thank you for your comments. As one old git to another I can appreciate only too well the difficulties of ingress and egress you outline. I’m reasonably fit but also reasonably hefty and simply can’t see me sleeping ‘upstairs.’ However, my wife is not an old git and is almost sylphlike so it remains to be seen if she can manage with a degree of ease. We are both used to sleeping on bouncy yachts so an element of discomfort in a camper is acceptable. If it all proves too much, and that’s my expectation to be honest, we’ll have to bite the snoring bullet and both sleep (or attempt to sleep) together downstairs. In which case the mezzanine can simply serve to store all manner of unnecessary stuff. It might even be fun finding all these things out.

 

But, yes, I take your point about trying to get out of the upstairs platform when actually lying on it. A bit like pulling oneself up by one’s bootstraps! She’s a clever girl, though, and I wouldn’t yet put it past her to manage. I’ll report back as and when we get those damn boards done 😉

 

Thank you again.

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I'm impressed!

 

The rearmost boards are very useful for keeping the best skirt and blouse flat and relatively crease-free... my clothes go into whatever space I can find. 

I'm busy making a couple of aluminium drawers to go under the rearmost part of the R&R bed. I don't like to think of vacant potential storage space and did some for the Regius which proved to be extremely useful

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Hi Duncan. Our van has a rear conversion so the option of an r&r bed was lost, I’m afraid. We gambled a little on herself sleeping upstairs but if that didn’t/doesn’t prove feasible we’ll still have the width to sleep two downstairs in relative comfort(?). Not sure we made the right choice but I suppose we’ll find out the first night we try it out in anger. And it will be in anger if we can’t sleep!

 

As for best skirts and blouses, neither of us has them. T shirts and jeans and joggers and something warm - that’s about the lot for us. We don’t intend to go far or for many nights at a time or to wild camp. We’re softies, I’m afraid, but I would like more storage space such as you are making. We’ll try it all out and look at options in due course. 
 

BTW, we have friends in York. We visited them last year and took the chance to look at the Bangers and Cash place - Mathewsons - where I nearly parted with money for a heap of old rust in the form of an Austin J2. I was saved from heartache by The Sensible One and now realise that issues with Alphard bed boards aren’t even flea bites. 
 

Good luck with the drawers. 

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We too are mostly boots and shorts/walking/beach gear, the "skirt and blouse" are for the odd occasion when we can afford to go to a restaurant...not that often but a welcome bit of luxury, particularly in France when we get the chance.

I looked at rear conversions but decided against as we go to Northumberland quite a lot and having the rear door open for access is a bit draughty. The Regius and the various VWs have all been side conversions so I'm used to that set up. The side conversion allows a bit more "wrap around" weather protection, it's a bit 6 and 2*3s but if the weather is right you can sit with the side door open looking out at the beach/sea while you make your cuppa/supper etc. I was lucky with the Regius, I found an old stock/sale Fiamma awning at a bargain price (see below). That model seems to have disappeared from the range and the new ones are not inexpensive.

If you're up in God's own county again let me know...

 

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Interesting stuff, Duncan. It’s good to hear another’s solutions to basically the same problems and I’m impressed with that awning. Went to look at some fancy versions at Go Outdoors recently and wondered what advantage an awning would have over a tent pitched alongside. It seemed a lot of trouble and quite some money simply to create a ‘hallway’ between tent and van. We’ll hold off on the awning decision until maybe next year. And, yes, I can see the attraction of a side conversion but we’ve been and gone and done the rear variety now so that’s that, I’m afraid. 
 

I’ll certainly give you a shout if we get up thataways again but, oh, getting past Birmingham on that M42 is enough to bring me out in hives 😉

 

Thanks again

 

Charlie

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17 hours ago, Duncan Grimmond said:

I'm impressed!

 

The rearmost boards are very useful for keeping the best skirt and blouse flat and relatively crease-free... my clothes go into whatever space I can find. 

I'm busy making a couple of aluminium drawers to go under the rearmost part of the R&R bed. I don't like to think of vacant potential storage space and did some for the Regius which proved to be extremely useful

You might find that Ikea’s storage solution for Christmas wrapping paper is a cheaper and easier alternative to making your own aluminium drawers. We can get a pair alongside each other under our R+R bed and they hold a multitude of useless equipment. With zipped covers they keep everything clean and tidy.

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Awnings are a bit contentious IMHO. If you want to leave standing it's vulnerable to the weather, if you take it down each time you go for a scamper it's a pain.The roll-out as we had in the pic was great as it gives you somewhere to sit out to eat or whatever and takes 5 minutes to stow. Without side panels you need to think about wind direction. With side panels you have to stow them somewhere.

We tend to move about to different sites daily when we're abroad but stick to a familiar few when at home...so I'm looking for a roll-out one again for the Alphard, I wish I'd taken it off the Regius when I sold it!

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I'll be honest, as ours is (or was originally) and 8 seater with a rear conversion, it's retained the factory 2nd row which is what doubles as the bed.

 

The nice thing about this conversion is that you can use the 2nd row (either when folded flat, or rotated and facing rearwards) as the step up to the pop top level.  Admittedly it's probably not that great for those in their advancing years/or don't much like a small climb but it works well.

 

I don't think it works quite so well with a side conversion (where you would normally end up with a rock and roll bed at the rear) as it doesn't give you that means to step up, unless you are fortunate enough to have rotating front seats (not something the Alphard ever came with, but is a semi popular aftermarket mod).

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Arthur - thanks for the tip. 
 

Duncan - yes, awnings generally are contentious but even more so with Alphards it seems. For that reason alone I’ll leave it until next year and see how we get along without one this summer.

 

Paul - thank you for the response and it seems that the seat arrangement in ours is the same as yours, along with the rear conversion. At this stage we can’t see a massive problem with accessing the pop top area via the second row of seats configured one way or another. We’ll see once we get those pesky boards made up.  
 

Thank you all. 

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Hi all. Well, the deed is done. Bed boards made and installed and we are very pleased. Sylph-like wife is able to spring into the upstairs bedroom once the poptop is raised, for which I am most grateful and I gave her a round of applause, for which she was most grateful. She doesn’t need a ladder or step-stool, she simply hops up via the second row of seats that we have facing backwards. The boards fit neatly and do not impede the poptop handles. To raise and to lower we simply shuffle the for’ard most board backward to overlap the one immediately behind to create space to raise that pesky poptop. Also, we have found there is sufficient space between the upper surfaces of said boards and lower surface of the poptop to store the sleeping mats and a blanket and some other (flattish) stuff to save stowage ‘down below.’

 

All told, it all seems most satisfactory. We will try it in anger in not too long, after which we will either become campervanning maniacs or sell the damned thing (just joshing!).

 

Thanks for all the help

 

Charlie

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  • 2 weeks later...

Similar to my roof boards but I asked for mine to be made in four, they did three instead which is ok. I like to have open space above when the pop top is up and I added some risers to the rear one to allow a better clearance. The pics are all taken from the R&R bed with the seat up, first with the boards down etc. 

I also managed to hang the curtains today, hours of fun as there were no instructions to help, fairly straightforward though. The solar panel was waiting for me when I got home...tomorrow's job and I managed to nail my sparks pal down for a date to wire up.

Nearly there...

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Hi Duncan. Gotta say I’m very impressed with those risers. And I’m feeling that maybe I should have had the side conversion. I have rock and roll envy, I suspect. Your van looks good. We’ll see how we go with the setup we have. It all seems to work fine but we still haven’t managed to get away for an inaugural night. Too many other things clamouring for attention, most of those other things being family of course. And visitors. And essential diy. And so on. 
 

Spent last Sunday in the big car park at Looe in the sun. Tailgate up for shade, table attached to a bar above the rear bumper, two camping chairs, exotic picnic prepared by hers truly… great fun. Next stop, a campsite field somewhere for a rubbish night’s sleep 😂

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Why a rubbish night's sleep? The whole point of a camper is that you can sleep relatively comfortably anywhere.....Oh all right, sometimes it is rubbish!

 

Occasionally I wish I'd had the rear conversion keeping the seats! We have a couple of grandchildren and before I did the conversion it was easy to take the entire family out in one go. Now we only have four official seats with seatbelts...

For shade I'm looking for a side mounted awning as we had on the Regius. The only problem is that now they have seriously increased the price!

We're going to a wedding in Wiltshire this weekend but have booked a cottage for all of us for one night... I'm trying to persuade the better half we might try out the "amenities" on the way home.

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Hi Duncan. The issue is simply that I am a very poor, rubbish sleeper most of the time. Insomnia rules ok!

 

Rear or side conversions? You pays yer money and makes yer choice! Swings and roundabouts etc. I suppose it’s much the same with awnings… and much else in this life. 

 

Good luck with the wedding

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Has anyone come up with a nifty idea to use the two "U" shape plastic mountings either side of the tailgate, about half-way up? I made a piece of 2*1 timber with shaped ends to fit into the mountings with a view to attaching some sort of table or other useful thing but I haven't been inspired as yet.

Any suggestions?

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