We searched and searched online for ideas of how to create our family sleeping space in a Sprinter van. Loved the pictures of floating child bunks above a fixed double bed but couldn’t find a tutorial on how to make them or a place to buy.
So we popped down to our local hardware store, had a chat to the guy about our idea and bought all the ironmongery bits we might need. Drove past the builders yard on the way home and bought the biggest bit of plyboard we could find. Drew up a rough sketch and then got on trying to make it all fit together.
Stuff You Need:
2×2 inch Timber (10 metres) for frame
2x Piano Hinges
2x Pieces of 189x70cm Plyboard 18ml
Box of Small Screws
2x Large Door Bolts
2m of Chunky (4ml) Metal Chain (we bought ours at B&Q)
8x Fish Eye Bolt (10ml)
Bag of 10ml Nuts
4x Cap Nuts
8x Caribiner (Load Capacity 500kg)
8x 2in/5cm Metal Square Plate
Drill, Measuring Tape, Jigsaw, Bolt croppers, Spirit Level.
Building the Supporting Frame:
Build a 2×2 inch timber frame around the outside of the standard fixed double bed below. Screwed to the floor, extending upwards from the corners of the bed below. Also screw the uprights to the wooden bedframe and add in an extra upright halfway along the length of the bed (extending from the floor) extra support.
The height of the wooden frame from the floor in our sprinter van is 126.5cm. (Once the Plyboard & Mattress is added to the frame this leaves 50 cm of sleeping space in the children’s top bunk. Our fixed double bed base below is 42cm high, leaving us a cosy 70cm sleeping space when the bunks are down). However feel free to play around with the measurements to best suit the size of your van.
Add the cross beam in 2×2 inch timber (189cm) along the length of the bunks, sitting on top the extended bed legs.
This leaves a gap of 10cm between the van wall and the crossbeam (which is the space needed for your bunk to fold into when not in use).
Screw six small blocks of 2×2 inch timber between the van wall and the frame (at the six points where the uprights meet the crossbeam) to firm up the job.
Saw 10cm off of the whole length of each of your 70cm pieces of Plyboard, leaving you with a hinge point to fix against the wall once each bunk is folded.
Screw the 10cm width Plyboard down along the length of the crossbeam.
Screw the piano hinge down along the length of the 10cm width of Plyboard.
Building the Bunk:
Place two square plates on the edge of your bunk bed (the remaining 60cm width x 189cm of Plyboard) inline with two of the roof joists of your van (find a friend to help you balance the board in place while you line it all up). Mark the pre-drilled hole in each square plate on the bunk and drill a hole to fix the fish eye bolt through.
Attach two fish eye bolts through the Plyboard bunk, securing with with the 10ml nuts and two square plates sandwiching either side of the wood. Finish off with a cap nut on the end of each bolt.
Fitting the Chains:
Cut the chain using bolt croppers into four lots of 50cm.
Attach a caribiner and a length of 50cm chain to each of the fish eye bolts now attached to your bunk.
Ask your friend to balance the bunk again in the desired position, use a spirit level! Mark where you want the chains to fit to the roof joists.
Drill hole in roof joist inline with where the chains extend to (we used 8ml metal drill bit as the bolt makes its own thread and ensures a tight fit). Roof joists are hollow so make a mark on both sides and drill a hole from each side to get it as even as possible.
Insert fish a eye bolt into each hole and fit 10ml nut on the end.
Attach the last remaining caribiner to each of the fish eye bolts secured in the roof.
Connect the two lengths of chain from the bunk to the roof caribiners.
Screw the other half of the hinge along the length of the bunk.
Finish the job by screwing on a large door bolt to each end of the bunk. We drilled a hole into the metal frame for the rear van doors so we could secure the bunks when folded up.
If you have any questions about our van build then feel free to get in touch. We are always happy to help others and share information… Happy Van Building!