I want a seating area in the van and you need to have one if you are going to get your van converted to a motor caravan on your V5! It needs to be 1800 mm long but an indeterminate width! I was initially going to go with the ingenious method that BigRed used here…

However with the rather large overlap that this requires I opted for having two layers of 9mm ply slide over each other instead… I’ll explain as I go on!

My basic idea is that the bed will expand in three sections so that you can pull out the middle section to make a T shaped bench that goes around a table. If it expanded in two sections then this could take up too much of the kitchen.

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First step was to build a frame that is deep enough and high enough for a sofa / bench. One consideration is that it should be deep enough so that it is just over half of the width of the bed you want it to turn into! In my case that was easy it was as wide ad it could be from one wall to the kitchen / shelves on the other side.

Then put braces across the frame where the different sections will end.

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(This photo was taken at the end but the braces need to be wide enough for an 18mm divider for the sections as well as having room for the lid to slid over and rest on.)

Next step is to mount a 44mm x 18mm batten along the back edge. This will be to mount the hinges for the 2 lids on each box (they lie on top of each other and are made of 9mm ply, so my hinge batten needs to be 9mm x 2 = 18mm high!). The 44mm width needs to accommodate your hinges so buy hinges that will fit or adjust the width of the batten, be aware that a really wide batten will reduce the amount the lid can extend!

At the front both bits of ply line up, overhanging the frame and there is a batten screwed into the lower bit of ply I’ll attach legs for when the bed extends later.

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…and here it is again with the bottom layer, of the end section, slightly slid out!

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The back of the lids is more complex! There needs to be a lip that catches the lower lid as it slides back in, so that when you lift both of the lids come up together. To make that lip first cut a strip off the back of the lower lid wide enough to mount the hinges. Then cut a batten wide enough to slip into the gap left by the runners. Then cut a piece of 3mm ply to use as a spacer, this should be as short as the batten and as wide as the offcut from the lower lid.

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Then screw these together, it’ll help later, with a couple of screws towards the centre.

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You should be able to drop this into the section you are making a lid for and it will sit 9mm below the hinge batten.

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Then drill the hinges in with screws long enough to go through the top lid (9mm ply), the bottom off cut (9mm ply), the spacer (3mm ply) and into the lip batten (18mm pine). I used 40mm screws which seemed to work as they were slight raised up due to going through the hinge as well.

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Then with the batten for the legs attached to the bottom lid where it overhangs the frame and the lip attached to the top lid the only remaining thing to do is to put a face of ply on the bottom lid and finish boxing out the bed in left over ply!

When building this I started from one end and built the lid for the end section and added an 18m x 18mm stip of pine to help guide the bottom lid to slid out and guide it back in. Then moved onto the second section, another strip of pine and finally the third section. I will have to cut separate bits of foam to go on each section.

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This is the 18x18mm guide that divides two sections. Note that it does not line up perfectly with the brace underneath… it does line up with the lid, apparently I didn’t take enough care when putting in the braces but it lines up with the lid so looks fine with the lid closed.

The next thing to do is cut a face for the lower lid from ply just to cover up the batten legs and give you a lip to grip on when pulling out the lower lid. This is what it looks like with the ‘face’ on, I think it is worth doing as it just finishes things off and reinforces the legs of the lower lid.

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If you flip the lower lid upside down you can see where the face overhangs the horizontal batten giving a lip the you can use as a handle to pull the lid out.

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The top of the face sticks up 9mm so that when it is pushed closed the face is flush with the top lid….

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The feet end of the bed where it overlaps the sliding door I was going to box off to tidy it up…

…but it has been so useful having an easy access bit for coats and jumpers that I’ve just neatened it up instead.