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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi all. Very early in the build. General layout is loft bed over garage. Bed is north/south so my partner and I don't have to crawl over each other in the middle of the night. 2 mtbs under the bed on a slide on one side and other side open. Build is to be simple for now l, use it with bed and bike storage and build as I go to see how my partner and I actually use the space.
I have the subfloor down awaiting a decision for the final floor, then bike tray can go in. My next project is the bed. I have two unistrut/superstrut rails cut to 72" mounted north/south around 36" off the subfloor. Each rail has one 1/4 20 plusnut bolted to the van at each end so only two attachment through the rail to the van. In the center of each rail, I have one unistrut vertical support attached to two plus nuts to the van. The unistrut connection is made with plate and bolts. For now, there is no east west support. I have 3/4 hardwood plywood that will be ripped into 24" sections that will float on top of the unistrut rails. I plan to add aluminum c channel if the plywood flexes to brace it.
Is this strong enough to support two people for sleeping or putting heavy cargo on it. I have more unistrut. I can either add more verticals to support the rails or add some east west braces to tie the north south rails together or both.
2nd question, before I start ripping the 3/4" plywood, could I have gone with 1/2" hardwood ply instead of 3/4" and not need any east west bracing?
My goal is to have a quickly removable bed with minimal or no tools in case I need to carry larger cargo (small motorcycle or move a friend). Also didn't want to spend alot of time and money on something permanent right now because build could change. This is my first build and learning as I go. Thanks for your your thoughts Sid
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We used ATV rails as they are very light, very strong, and easily removable and stored. I am a commercial photographer by day and need to carry carts and crates of gear. They are rated at 500 lbs. each.

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#1 yes

#2 3/4" solid wood won't do it. Adding the C channel will help but there are better engineering solutions.

For lightweight strong panels, search the forum for "torsion box".
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I like this idea alot as well and saw it many times on this forum. I should have used some different rails if I went this direction. I also like your electrical setup and was thinking of something similar to start. Thanks for the pics.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Ok. Thanks for the response. I read about the torsion box panels. That was super informative. I would to to explore that once I'm further along in the build. I was hoping I could get away with 3/4 hardwood ply. Part of my thought process right now is trying to source some stuff locally so I can make some progress. Of I mess up or change the design, I can readily go pick up some more supplies.
Since I've already got the unistrut installed and have an extra 10 ft piece, I will add 4 or 5 east west beams. A cordless impact could make short work of taking the beams out if I needed to. With the cutoffs from the beams, I will add more vertical legs as well.
Should the legs go all the way to the ground, say maybe the two legs at the corners where the rail is attached to the van with plusnuts?
Since I will be adding more beams and legs, I will return the 3/4" ply for 1/2" to save a bit of weight. Does this plan sound better. I loose the ability to quickly remove the bed platform but still doable with an impact or socket pretty quickly. Cheers
 

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On my old Sprinter, I used 3/4" unistrut as ledgers on either side and three 2' wide panels spanning the interior.
The unistrut on the walls doesn't need legs, just 3-4 properly attached 1/4" bolts on each strip will have more than enough sheer strength to prevent the unistrut from coming off the wall.
Something that will work without much sagging are hollow core door blanks. Not the masonite ones, the ones with real plywood on each side. On the end you cut to length, fill the open end cavity with a strip of solid wood; if you're careful you can extract the strip from the cut-off end but be prepared to chisel and sand some glue off so it fits.
 

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3/4" ply alone will definitely not work spanning the van width.

You can get 3 pieces of unistrut and corner brackets from McMaster Carr. If you need to haul stuff just pull the plywood, loosen 1 bolt on each side and slide the rails or completely remove them.

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Here's a comparable - also a work-in-progress. Experimenting as we go.

East/West configuration:

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North/South configuration:

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torsion boxes and door blanks
This is our approach - strong and light. The prototype shows little deflection with 2x body-weight. Side benefit: the bed platforms should in theory work as paddleboards. 😆

Our Home Depot carries a Luan-like plywood - light and knot free. We're using 1/4" skins on the bed platform, 1.5" gap between skins. Rails are 4" wide, built from 1/2" ply and 'flanges' laminated top and bottom for strength.
 

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To the OP, i have basically the same framing setup but with 1.5"Aluminiunum square tube that is predrilled (mcmastercarr). I used 2 x 4's on the flat with 3/4 cabinet grade ply on top, also cut into 2' sections. I ran the last 2' section long and it is fit to the rear window wells. Strong AF, unmodified from original, Lots of sleeps, lol. don't over think it, its that easy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I like it. How heavy is that door. I was at home Depot last night and didn't see that but I didn't look to hard either or ask anyone, was there for other reasons.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
To the OP, i have basically the same framing setup but with 1.5"Aluminiunum square tube that is predrilled (mcmastercarr). I used 2 x 4's on the flat with 3/4 cabinet grade ply on top, also cut into 2' sections. I ran the last 2' section long and it is fit to the rear window wells. Strong AF, unmodified from original, Lots of sleeps, lol. don't over think it, its that easy.
Do you have any pics you could share?
 

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I wonder how thin a torsion box could be made to support XX lbs? 5mm faces separated by 1/2" frame and core of 1/2'" XPS? Not a big fan of solid panel bed platform with no ventilation. Hole saw or forstner bit can remedy that.
 

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I wonder how thin a torsion box could be made to support XX lbs? 5mm faces separated by 1/2" frame and core of 1/2'" XPS? Not a big fan of solid panel bed platform with no ventilation. Hole saw or forstner bit can remedy that.
we could go down the engineering rabbit hole and compete to make the lightest, thinnest torsion box bed platforms the way some people compete to have the shmanciest electrical systems.

Out of common products, I think 5mm subfloor ply top and bottom, and 1cm tall vertical strips of the same 5mm material laid out in a 20x20cm grid (no foam filler) would do the trick. The fast way would be the 5mm sheets and 1x1 grid. It may still flex a bit, so set up your glue table to create a camber of about 1cm in the middle.
 

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Me too. Here's a deflection calculator I tested. Would like to find a better one.




that looks interesting - $23 / sheet at HD...
Interesting tool. If beams are secured at the ends they should flex less than if not. I'd think that internal foam board or some grid structure would further improve stiffness/thickness.

In NJ Lowes carries a luan alternative underlayment called Revolution ply. It is a "sustainable" poplar product. The A face veneer is quite attractive. Supposedly very low formaldehyde (?). Might be good for walls or ceilings a well.
 

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Here's a fun torsion box idea; have fewer internal grids and use it for a bit of storage. I'd prefer to have it thin so they can be stacked, though.
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