Note: If you are not interested in sleeping platforms for cars you may want to skip ahead a bit! :o)
We spent Monday morning making plans for the sleeping/storage platform we wanted to build for the Rav4. We wanted something that would allow us to sleep comfortably in the car, provide extra storage space, as well as be able to fold away for when we had more than just the two of us in the car. We scoured the internet, made use of friends’ designs (thanks Moser and Janet!), and applied our own ideas.
We assessed what we needed the design to do:
- We knew we needed the entire platform to provide 6 feet of length so Dave could lay comfortably
- It needed to provide access to the storage “pit” in the trunk area
- It needed to fold into the trunk area when the rear passenger seats were needed, while still maintaining storage below.
- It needed to be strong enough to withstand the brutal forces of a Doug.
- When it was just the two of us it needed to easily and quickly adjust to provide ample driving room (in order to provide requirement #1 the front seats needed to slide as far front as they went).
We sketched out a basic design based on interior car dimensions, and where we felt the most supports were needed. Based off this, we gathered supplies.
1 – ¾” sheet of sanded plywood (4’ x 8’)
9 – 2 x 4’s
1 – pound box of 2-1/2” wood screws
1 – pound box of 1-5/8” wood screws
1 – 100ct box #6 pan head wood screws
3 – 4’ piano hinges
20 – 1-1/2” L-brackets
10 – 2” hinges
Tuesday and Wednesday brought the actual construction of the platform. We paid special attention to supporting the platform well where the core of our body would lie, without permanently obstructing access to the storage areas below. We also wanted to make sure there were not pressure points created on weaker areas of the car interior such as the “storage pit” cover. Corners of the platform would need to be angled to allow ceiling clearance when folding.
We only ran into one major problem. After assembling the basic framework and hinging together each of the 4 pieces of plywood that formed the sleeping surface, we were befuddled as to why it did not have enough room to fold in the car. We had carefully measured and labeled each piece of plywood to avoid this issue. Fortunately, when AJ got home from work and took a look, he noticed what we did wrong! We switched the order of two of the pieces… OOPS! At least it was a fairly easy fix, only 20ish tiny screws to undo and redo.
Otherwise the process went well, though we made some revision along the way that required us to disassemble and re-assemble a few portions in order to create a sturdier final product. Advice to those thinking of creating something like this:
- Make a plan and think it through well.
- Measure, measure, and measure one more time before you cut.
- Buy more supplies than you think you will need… return the extras later.
- Use a level… and make sure you are parked on a fairly flat surface.
We finished up this project with a trip to buy a few storage containers to stash below… remember to take measurements so you know what size bins you can accommodate.
In the end we wound up with 2 storage areas measuring 36” x 20” X 12.5” accessible from the tailgate of the car, a 4’ x 16” x 8.5” storage area accessible from either rear passenger door, as well as another 4’ x 10” x varied height (due to the area where the rear seats fold) storage area accessible from either rear passenger door. We purchased 2 storage bins measuring 24” x 18“ x 12” for the tailgate accessible areas. We brought along a small cooler that fits PERFECTLY in the space left by one of the storage containers.
Aside from working on the platform, we enjoyed cooking dinners and eating them on the screened porch, after we finished our days’ activities. On Tuesday we visited AJ at work for lunch. AJ works for Epic, and if you’ve read previous years’ blogs you know we love the food they serve as well as exploring the awesome campus.
Since Tuesday was Liz’s birthday, Alex made her an angel food cake, which we enjoyed with strawberries and ice cream after taking a 24 mile bike ride with AJ and Liz when they were done working for the day.
Wednesday meant it was time to start preparing to leave, and it also meant AJ and Liz needed to prepare to make a trip home to Pennsylvania for a wedding (Congrats to Chuck and Brittany!). After finishing the platform and making a trip to the store for bins and dinner supplies we began organizing the gear and loading the car. Dave was excited that he received some early birthday presents, two new cams from AJ and Liz… one of which was a nice big #5. He also received two “gear burritos” from Alex. Alex was super excited about these as she had been secretly ordering these custom sized bags from Red X Bags, an awesome local operation, run by fellow Reading Rocks climber, Patrick. Alex knew Dave would be stoked about this gift, but was still eager to see his reaction.
Since AJ and Liz had some “chores” to accomplish Thursday afternoon before they left for PA Friday, Alex and Dave volunteered to help out so they could all play that evening. That meant that Alex did their laundry and Dave mowed the lawn. Dave had to mow the lawn with their non-motorized push mower, which actually turned out kinda nice to use… other than when pesky sticks got in the way. Fortunately for Alex the only manual part about the laundry was loading, unloading, and folding.
After tasty broccoli-zucchini-alfredo pasta, we headed out for a walk around the lake house neighborhood, enjoying the lovely weather and setting sun. We returned to their house for some ice cream before settling in to sleep for the night.