Next job in my DIY camper conversion was to build the furniture. As this is not a large van the fitted furniture had to be kept minimal and comprises only a bed and small kitchen cupboard. The van sides are only 4 feet long behind the side loading doors so an extendible bed had to be arranged. I made various sketches of different arrangements before deciding that the most simple would be the easiest and most robust; a simple fold out extension to the bed supported by the spare wheel suitably built up to the right height.
Not only did this give a very solid foundation for the foot end of the bed but by making the top of the box hinged provides quite a lot of useful storage here too. The wheel and the box on top are both secured to one of the Vito’s built in securing rings so, in the event of an accident, they are not loose to cause damage or injury to those in the front seats.
The dimensions of the kitchen unit were dictated by the distance between the back of the van and the front of the near side loading door, while leaving room at the back of the van for the toilet. A compact cupboard was built to accommodate a clean and dirty water container, house a small sink and hand pump on the top and also provide space for the single burner portable stove I will use. I have no intention, nor need, to do much cooking while away. Heating the contents of a tin in a saucepan is as much as I require. Indeed in warm weather I am content to eat cold food, and enjoy being able to pop into the local deli and buy something light and tasty, which I would never normally think about while at home. If hot food is required there is usually decent pub food not too far away and, with a long day till ahead a tasty farmhouse breakfast is very welcome after a few hours out with the camera before the rest of the world rears it’s ugly head.
The kitchen cupboard, if you can call it that, presently has no doors and my intention is it never will. Doors open up to consume space, crack shins and cause general mayhem. Curtains fixed with hook and loop will cover the openings.
The bed is 75cm wide, the same width as a compact single bed and sleeping bag and folded out is 187 cm long. The frame underneath , is 75mm narrower, giving just a bit of extra toe room when negotiating from one end of the bed to the other whilst leaving the storage space underneath exactly the right depth to fit a standard plastic stacker box in lengthways. Using mortice and tenon joints along the length ensured a rigid frame, which would not distort, and the whole was fixed to the side panel as well as the wheel arch box.
Timber used was 40x20mm framing with 9mm ply. The water containers are heavy when full and are retained by straps secured to the van side at one end and the kitchen unit at the other. The kitchen cupboard was retained by screws into the sidewall ply lining as well as an angle bracket secured by a bolt into the fixing originally used to secure the spare wheel; rock solid.