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A Murphy Bed is a space saving concept well-suited for RV’s and campers. As you will spend countless hours inside the vehicle, space allocation should be at the top of the list with every decision about the design and layout of the vehicle.
I have decided to design and build my own bed without the help of expensive kits (remember, affordability is one of the principles of this build). It affords me more flexibility and will let me include every whim of my imagination.
Despite the fact that this construction guide is applicable to most cargo vans, RV’s and other campers, you always have to take into account that this design has been tailored to my personal circumstances.
- Twin Bed
I’m single and therefore, only need a twin bed. The higher roof models of the current batch of cargo vans do support a Double Bed or even a Murphy Bunkbed, but in that case, this design needs to be amended before proceeding.
- Size of the Vehicle
The vehicle used in this conversion is a 2016 Ford Transit 250 with a long wheelbase (LWB) and medium roof (MR). Weight plays an important role in any conversion and you have to take into account the GVWR of your van/RV and make sure that your vehicle will support the additional weight of any modification.
Length is another issue. Extended length vans can almost always accommodate any bed, yet long wheel base (LWB) and certainly regular wheelbase (RWB) vans or wagons are restricted with regard to wall space.
Interior height plays a big roll in my conversion. The medium high roof is at about 69 inches (1.75m) and that doesn’t really support a double bed, unless it is installed parallel to the wall. A Murphy Bunkbed should very likely be built into a high roof model only.
- Person’s Height
I try to account for every inch in my design, because space is so valuable in a van conversion. With 5 ft 7 in. (1.70m) I’m of medium height and have adjusted the length of the bed accordingly. If you copy this design, be sure to modify all relevant parts.
Most of these changes can be worked into your design dependent on your situation.
The Murphy Bed’s design has been quite complicated. Not working with a kit, meant that I had to collect all the components of the two pivot points, which are crucial to the design. It also took me a long time to find an acceptable solution for the legs of the bed. While not a perfect solution, the removable legs have a simple design and preserve the overall clean design of the bed.
Periodically I want to be able to carry a small (11 ft 6 in. (3.50m)) kayak on overnight trips. The minimum height of the vessel is about one foot, which necessitates that the bed must be somewhat elevated from the floor of the van.
- Bottom Cabinet Height
Especially in the Ford Transit, where the CCP (Customer Connection Point – 12V Battery/Alternator connection) is located at the bottom of the driver’s seat, just next to the bed, I want to reserve the cabinets under the bed as a battery storage area. These cabinets have to conform to minimum battery sizes. As I’m contemplating to install Lithium batteries, which are commonly larger than regular deep cycle batteries, the cabinets and therefore the elevation of the bed has to be adjusted accordingly.
In my van, two windows are located behind the future location of the bed. One, that would be partially visible, will be boarded up, yet the other, can be fully used, when the bed is in use. Since my medium high roof limits the height of the top cabinets, locating the exact position of the bed on the wall is very important. Some overhang of the cabinets occurs, but the pop-out window remains fully operable.
- Desk/Picture Frame
The height of the surface of the desk must comply with the limited range of an ergonomic design and at the same time be mounted to the underside of the bed within the framework of the Murphy Bed. Since the desk transforms into a picture frame, when neither the bed or desk is in use, this further limits its design and location.
One compromise I had to make, was to install the desk parallel to the bed. The original design had it perpendicular with a chair facing the front of the vehicle. This would have allowed for great views through the open side door, while working on the desk.
Storage for a small TV/Monitor is planned in the top-right cabinet above the bed. A wall mount bracket with articulating arm will make it possible to use it as a computer monitor, when sitting at the desk or as a TV at night from the passenger side swivel chair. With so little leeway, the design must always take into account both locations.
I’ve always had a fond appreciation of modern interiors, yet knowing how ‘cold’ they can feel to live in, I have consistently resisted to make them part of my life. In this conversion, I decided to finally take a risk and go with a mostly white finish and a few very bright accents.
I will use a glossy, white Formica/laminate, where you could choose a more conservative style.
This project will be available as a FREE download.
This bar runs along the top of the driver’s side wall and is an obstacle for the wall panels.
Some windows are covered by the wall panels, others are exposed and need a frame to incorporate the wall panel. This frame will also house a window shade
Along the top and bottom of the wall, including the vertical pillars, different types of insulation must be applied.
These will form the backs of the cabinets and where exposed (around the bed window) covered with a sheet of Formica.
The vertical partitions for the bed, closet and cabin curtain housing will form the backbone for the bed and closet.
Installation of the bed, pivot point and legs. Application of Formica.
Construct and install the cabinets around the bed.
Building the picture frame, that unfolds into a work desk.
Install TV wall mount bracket, wall storage center, lighting and connect directional floor vent cap.
Other projects of this Van Conversion:
- Mod 1: 12V OUTLET TO DUAL USB
- Mod 2: BACKUP PARKING SENSOR
- Mod 3: CABIN CURTAIN
- Mod 4: INSULATED FLOOR
- Mod 5: FLOOR VENT
- Mod 6: MURPHY BED/DESK
- Mod 7: CCP FUSES
- Mod 8: FRONT PARKING SENSOR
- Mod 9: CAR RADIO REPLACEMENT
- Mod 10: 4 CAMERA MOBILE DVR
- Mod 11: ROOF VENT
- Mod 12: 15 AMP HOOKUP CABLE
- Mod 13: SHOWER-IN-A-BOX
I’m just a DIY’er with a lot of common sense, but with some of the projects, I use some tools and materials, that require you to really know, what you’re doing. Always read the manual and consult an expert if you’re in doubt.