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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I want to start by thanking everyone for all the great information they have posted to this forum! I am trying to get a solid plan in place for my van build before I purchase it to ensure I have thought everything through. These are my build requirements:

-7 or 8 seats part of the time (extended family trips, friends, etc.)
-Sleeping area for my wife and I (I am 5’11”) and our 7 month daughter (weekend camping)
-Storage for camping gear, surfboards, coolers, etc.
-Air conditioning for passengers in the back
-Safety for all passengers
-Add more utilities and capabilities (Solar, lights, heater, etc.) over time (we are on a budget)

My plan as of now:
Used 148” XLT 350 MR Wagon
-Build an extendable North / South oriented queen platform bed
->Tri-fold mattress
->Frame made of 80/20 aluminum that will slide to extend from ~54” to full 80”
-Stock two rows of seats (6 seats)

My main problem is the second row of seats prevents me from having a full length bed and I believe I am too tall to sleep East / West. Also, since the second row of seats don’t fold I am unable to extend the bed (as I have planed). Which leads me to my questions:

1) Does anyone know of an aftermarket seat that enables the seat back to fold flat (or a way to adapt the stock seatback to fold down)?

I am a firm believer of “If it is easy, you will do it.” That is my main motivation for getting this van: making camping and adventuring with the family as easy as possible. I also want to keep that theme throughout my build. With that in mind, I don’t like the idea of removing the second row of seats to accommodate the bed.

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide. I appreciate any and all critiques, suggestions and feedback. Also, if you have any advice for van camping with a 7 month old my wife and I are all ears!
 

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Same van size here, and we're the same height. Wife and I sleep E-W in extreme comfort on a Full size 4" memory foam mattress, no trimming of mattress required and the van can still have up to 8 seats without having to move any to setup the bed. Trick is to raise the mattress so it's just above the bottom of the windows (passenger van), there's ~76 inches E-W, which I find to be plenty. Brackets just below the windows, 4 Ikea bed rails, and 1/2" plywood covered in carpet.

A full size mattress fits behind the 3rd row of seat just fine, there are no splits in the mattress to sink into at night. We had a camper bed that consisted of many cushions, my arse always found its way between two cushions and made for an awful night sleep and sore back. I highly recommend a 1 pc mattress.

I have the bed platform setup in a split 60/40 arrangement (N-S, not E-W like vehicle rear seats), this allows us to fold the bed during the day to access the rear where everything is stored - cloths bins (Target has plastic bins that work well for mobile drawers), kitchen bin, cooler, etc.

We travel/camp with our 3 children, with the 2nd row removed you'll have a huge living space, and enough room for a pack-n-play at night.

Here's the idea of bed position: 3rd row jump seat on left, center vertical panel removed, corner of mattress is tucked under the vertical panel on right. The horizontal panel (with cup holders) is removed behind the 3rd row as well, that's where the brackets mount. Reflectix over the windows when privacy is needed.
1573909229980.png
 

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Gman2345, In my build I chose to use a foldaway seat with integrated seat belts to give me the needed passenger seating, but conveniently disappears against the wall when we arrive at our destination. The seat I used was from Freedman seating company. There are several options to suite your needs and style. They are a bit more expensive than a stock seat, but its value is well worth it in my opinion.

Also, if you want to add more sleeping space, you could consider a bed lift. HappiJac makes one that can be adapted into a van, but if you are handy and motivated, you could build your own like I chose to do. The bed lift allows you to sleep at almost any elevation you desire to accommodate large items or a second level of sleeping space.

I documented my foldaway seating and DIY bed lift here if you wanted to read more.
www.VanCrafters.com

Best wishes!
130606
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Same van size here, and we're the same height. Wife and I sleep E-W in extreme comfort on a Full size 4" memory foam mattress, no trimming of mattress required and the van can still have up to 8 seats without having to move any to setup the bed. Trick is to raise the mattress so it's just above the bottom of the windows (passenger van), there's ~76 inches E-W, which I find to be plenty. Brackets just below the windows, 4 Ikea bed rails, and 1/2" plywood covered in carpet.

A full size mattress fits behind the 3rd row of seat just fine, there are no splits in the mattress to sink into at night. We had a camper bed that consisted of many cushions, my arse always found its way between two cushions and made for an awful night sleep and sore back. I highly recommend a 1 pc mattress.

I have the bed platform setup in a split 60/40 arrangement (N-S, not E-W like vehicle rear seats), this allows us to fold the bed during the day to access the rear where everything is stored - cloths bins (Target has plastic bins that work well for mobile drawers), kitchen bin, cooler, etc.

We travel/camp with our 3 children, with the 2nd row removed you'll have a huge living space, and enough room for a pack-n-play at night.

Here's the idea of bed position: 3rd row jump seat on left, center vertical panel removed, corner of mattress is tucked under the vertical panel on right. The horizontal panel (with cup holders) is removed behind the 3rd row as well, that's where the brackets mount. Reflectix over the windows when privacy is needed.
gf293guy,

Thanks for that info! E/W orientation of the full mattress sounds like the way to go. Do you have any picture of your childrens bed? That sounds like an interesting set up. Have you experienced any noise from the Ikea bed rails? Thanks again!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Gman2345, In my build I chose to use a foldaway seat with integrated seat belts to give me the needed passenger seating, but conveniently disappears against the wall when we arrive at our destination. The seat I used was from Freedman seating company. There are several options to suite your needs and style. They are a bit more expensive than a stock seat, but its value is well worth it in my opinion.

Also, if you want to add more sleeping space, you could consider a bed lift. HappiJac makes one that can be adapted into a van, but if you are handy and motivated, you could build your own like I chose to do. The bed lift allows you to sleep at almost any elevation you desire to accommodate large items or a second level of sleeping space.

I documented my foldaway seating and DIY bed lift here if you wanted to read more.
www.VanCrafters.com

Best wishes!
vancrafters,

The foldaway seat is extremely interesting! That might be the solution to keep the seating i need and still allow for flexibility when camping. Thanks for that post!
 

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You bet! Maybe check around locally first to see if you can find one used. Wheelchair accessible van outfitters or commercial coach builder may have something you could use.
 

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I just camped with my kids a few weekends ago as well. Same mentality to make it easy! I have a queen mattress in back, same height as you and sleep E-W fine, only needed to trim the length a bit and it butts right up to the 3rd row. I took out the 3 person bench seat in row 2 and used a 2 seater, with a 2 seater in row 3 (so seating for 6). If you notch the floor a little you can flip the 2 seater around in the 2nd row. So for the kids bed when we stopped at camp I flipped the 2nd row around and had built a plywood base to span the seats. They slept fine and didn't roll off although the moving around space was a limited once it was setup.
IMG_1310.JPG

Since mine is a 2018 the jump seat in row 3 wasn't quick release although I plan to make it that way eventually, but for newer model year it should be. So with that seat it makes an easy 7 seats to play with without removing the bed. Also my bed can be removed in a few minutes and more seats put back in when needed.
 

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No noise from the Ikea rails. I installed T-nuts into the plywood, which bolts to the Ikea rails, I then strap the rails to the van incase of an accident. The rails attached to the van with 3 mm thick brackets, it's a tight fit between rail and brkt, not squeaking or movement. I got the brackets from an unusual place - hanging file cabinet rails, the kind I may have found in my office at work. I cut one rail to ~6" lengths (8), drilled holes and attached to run-nut I installed just below the windows. I used a locking collar on the drill so not to drill through the outside of the van, once the drill breaks through the sheet metal it really pulls. I could have used the existing holes, but that would have put the bed lower than I wanted. I'll take pictures of the bed mounting tomorrow.

The kids bed (12 & 13 yrs) is just floor space between 1st & 3rd row with self-inflating camping pads and sleeping bags. It's getting a little tight for them, but worked this year. It all picks up very easy and stores flat on top of the folded platform bed. The little one (8 yrs) sleep on a carpeted plywood spanning the driver and passenger seats, again storing on top of the platform bed during the day.
 

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@ Krarfly - yeah I did the same with the flipped 2nd row at first, but found I needed the floor space to sleep the kids so installed swivel bases so we can face each other when parked.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
No noise from the Ikea rails. I installed T-nuts into the plywood, which bolts to the Ikea rails, I then strap the rails to the van incase of an accident. The rails attached to the van with 3 mm thick brackets, it's a tight fit between rail and brkt, not squeaking or movement. I got the brackets from an unusual place - hanging file cabinet rails, the kind I may have found in my office at work. I cut one rail to ~6" lengths (8), drilled holes and attached to run-nut I installed just below the windows. I used a locking collar on the drill so not to drill through the outside of the van, once the drill breaks through the sheet metal it really pulls. I could have used the existing holes, but that would have put the bed lower than I wanted. I'll take pictures of the bed mounting tomorrow.

The kids bed (12 & 13 yrs) is just floor space between 1st & 3rd row with self-inflating camping pads and sleeping bags. It's getting a little tight for them, but worked this year. It all picks up very easy and stores flat on top of the folded platform bed. The little one (8 yrs) sleep on a carpeted plywood spanning the driver and passenger seats, again storing on top of the platform bed during the day.
Thanks for the input! Very helpful. By IKEA tails are you taking about the telescoping metal (not sure what type) rails? Is there a reason you didn’t use IKEA mounts that normally come with the rails?





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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Also, to fit the full (and trimmed queen) mattress do I need to remove the plastic wall panels to create room? If so, did you guys leave them off? Or did you drill through the panels with them in place?


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Also, to fit the full (and trimmed queen) mattress do I need to remove the plastic wall panels to create room? If so, did you guys leave them off? Or did you drill through the panels with them in place?


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Here's my build https://www.fordtransitusaforum.com/threads/wagon-platform-bed.73060

I wouldn't necessarily do it the same way again though. I've seen some great wagon builds where they use the seat brackets and have a modular system with no drilling through trim. Or Metal frames using the back seatbelt bracket and some uprights.
 

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@ Krarfly - yeah I did the same with the flipped 2nd row at first, but found I needed the floor space to sleep the kids so installed swivel bases so we can face each other when parked.
That's a good idea. I prefer not having the 3-seater in row 2 and need at least 5 seats. But I definitely want to install some swivels at least on the passenger seat. Will probably need a change when the kids get taller and need more space too.
 

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Thanks for the input! Very helpful. By IKEA tails are you taking about the telescoping metal (not sure what type) rails? Is there a reason you didn’t use IKEA mounts that normally come with the rails?





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Ikea SKORVA rail, found here. The brackets for these rails are not sold separately, I've heard of others calling Ikea and getting them, but I didn't have luck with that approach. The Ikea rep on the phone said they're not available to sell separately, and he wouldn't make an exception.
 

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Here are the short brackets I used to mount the rails. Again, made from a hanging file cabinet rail. I put a thick tape under the bracket where it contacts the van to prevent scraping/squeaking.
20191120_141042.jpg
20191120_141059.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Here are the short brackets I used to mount the rails. Again, made from a hanging file cabinet rail. I put a thick tape under the bracket where it contacts the van to prevent scraping/squeaking.
View attachment 130655 View attachment 130656
I love the repurpose in this build! Simple and cheap (errr free).

On that note, is there a benefit to running a continuous length of metal along the van wall vice installing individual mounting points for the IKEA rails?


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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
With the mattresses sitting right at the windows (as most of you have it set up) what is the distance from the top of the frame to the ceiling? Can you sit up in your beds?


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Cool thread! Knarfly, what are the dimensions of the plywood you used with this configuration?

I just camped with my kids a few weekends ago as well. Same mentality to make it easy! I have a queen mattress in back, same height as you and sleep E-W fine, only needed to trim the length a bit and it butts right up to the 3rd row. I took out the 3 person bench seat in row 2 and used a 2 seater, with a 2 seater in row 3 (so seating for 6). If you notch the floor a little you can flip the 2 seater around in the 2nd row. So for the kids bed when we stopped at camp I flipped the 2nd row around and had built a plywood base to span the seats. They slept fine and didn't roll off although the moving around space was a limited once it was setup.
View attachment 130611

Since mine is a 2018 the jump seat in row 3 wasn't quick release although I plan to make it that way eventually, but for newer model year it should be. So with that seat it makes an easy 7 seats to play with without removing the bed. Also my bed can be removed in a few minutes and more seats put back in when needed.
 
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