Van Conversion Carpentry – The Toilet Bed

toilet bed

This bed was the first thing I’ve ever built. I’m proud. It is the same length as a twin, and about 4 inches less wide.

Sketchup helped a lot with the measurements, making a cut plan, and visualizing the bed.

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I had a few key design parameters to work around and the bed pretty much designed itself:

  1. Toilet
    1. I knew I wanted the top of the toilet seat to be directly under the plywood platform. This gave me the height of the whole structure.
    2. I also knew I needed a little room in front of the toilet for a funnel to use as a urine diverter.
  2. Mattress
    1. I wanted to use a full size latex mattress topper that would fit over the whole structure when cut. This is the mattress topper I bought: 100% Latex Mattress Topper – No Fillers – Reversible with 2 Firmnesses, Full(Amazon link)
      1. It’s only 2.5 inches thick, but it’s plenty for me. I put it over plywood and it feels like a really firm mattress. Latex foam is one of the safest alternatives to any type of polyurethane based foam. It doesn’t give off any VOC’s. This is important in a small space. Another advantage over memory foam is that this topper will feel the same regardless of the temperature inside the van. Memory foam gets hard in the cold and very soft in the heat.
  3. Van Ribs
    1. I wanted the right side of the bed to be supported by the lowest horizontal van rib.

Before putting the insulation and panels on the walls, I made this image so I’d know where the ribs were. I also made little marks on the wall panels.

dimensions

I made a cut plan and cut each piece.

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I assembled the bed outside of the van so I could use the garage floor as a flat surface.

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Before bringing it inside the van, I sanded it, and wiped all the saw dust off. The bed was screwed into the horizontal rib through the wall panels and to the plywood floor.

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I drilled some holes in this section because this is where my head will be when I sleep. I just used two hinges here.

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I used the same two hinges for the big section.

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I had to use a different style hinge for the toilet section.

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The plywood was a little warped so I wet it with a sponge and put some weight on it. It worked.

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I didn’t really have a plan for the wheel wells, but I could tell that I was getting significant heat transfer through them. I threw a box together in about an hour, lined it with reflectix, and put some denim insulation inside. When I panel the whole bed off, the box will be closed. It isn’t pretty, but it does the job.

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Things I learned:

  • A box cutter works better than a pencil to make marks on the wood.
  • It’s better to be consistently inaccurate than to be inconsistently accurate. So I avoided the tape measure as much as possible and used other pieces of wood as a template.
  • Clamps are great.

I still plan on leaving at the end of February. The van definitely won’t be finished, but everything I need a garage for will be complete. The rest can be finished on the road.

Before I leave:

10 days…I think I can do it.

On the Road

  • Plumbing
  • Finish wiring
  • Live

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  • Richard Hauser

    Did you finish the toilet? Have you used it?

    • Joe

      I’m looking into different methods for setting them up with the proper environment for composting to take place. I want to make sure I do it right. So far I’ve always been able to easily find a place to poo. When I do set it up, I think I’ll rarely use it. I’ll definitely make a post about it.

      • Richard Hauser

        I watched all the videos from “Gone with the Wynns” who sell the idea pretty well, but my one question is about the urine diverter and whether it would cause any “splash back”. This seems to be a pivotal issue is the design: http://www.permies.com/t/36701/composting-toilet/wheaton-labs-pooper-urine-diverter. I ask because the first use of my Sprinter will be for long trips and I have a wife and two girls, so a mobile bathroom will raise my average speed immensely. 🙂

        • Joe

          Haha I didn’t know women couldn’t poo without peeing! With a proper shaped funnel, I don’t think there will be any splash back. For a female, maybe just being able to manually control the funnel and aim it better would be a good solution. I have a female friend that is setting up a similar toilet. I’ll let you know what she does. Originally I was going to buy the same toilet the wynns had, but they cost way too much.

          • Mandalynnshade

            Since I haven’t had the chance to experience it yet I don’t know how much of a problem it will be for me to seperate peeing and pooping. My plan was just to try to empty my bladder as much as a could before pooping and then my hope was if anything only a dribble would escape. If it doesn’t work out that way I’d try to figure out a way to expertly place the pee funnel in a way to catch the pee but not interfere with the poop. Ill have to revisit this conversation after some trial and error.