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Old 12-19-2011, 07:47 PM   #1
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Default How to raise futon frame

I want to use my current futon frame in my van but it won't fit across the back and it's a bit too low to go over the wheel wells; it needs to come up about 3". I've talked to several people at Home Depot and the local hardware store about this but thought I'd ask here too. Below is a picture of one of the legs and part of the frame:


It's a tubular metal frame. I can't move it in one piece but can take it apart and reassemble it in the van; that's the way I usually move it.

Here's what I've come up with so far:

1) Purchased bed risers - they do make these, for people who have trouble getting in and out of bed. But the only ones available locally are plastic and I've read a lot of negative reviews about them; they break easily, I think they just don't hold the weight. There are wood ones made but I'd have to order them and I don't have time to wait for shipping, especially now with the holidays here.

2) Cement blocks - Home Depot had some but I don't think the frame would sit evenly on them. They're also really big - and really heavy. I'd rather not add that much weight if I can help it.

3) Plain wood blocks - I'm just not sure how to stabilize the legs in them. I don't have the space or the tools to do any major woodworking, anyway.

4) PVC pipe - it does come in a size that matches the diameter of the leg, which is 2", and it comes in other sizes. I could try matching the diameter and hope it wedges in there nicely, or I could go with a bigger piece of pipe; the suggestions at the hardware store then were to add shims. I also looked online and found a site that has lots of ideas for how to use PVC pipe, so I asked the owner. Here's his reply:

Quote:
...I think in your situation you could cut the appropriate diameter pipe to the length you want (not more than 6-inches), insert them over your bed legs and then, if necessary, use the shims that the clerk mentioned to you.

Next, drill a small hole (say, 1/8-inch or so) through the pipe, shims and bed leg. Finally, insert a bolt with a nylon-thread nut to keep it all together snugly.

That oughta work.
I do have a drill so I could manage that - I think .

Right now that seems about the best suggestion but I'm wondering if anyone has any other ideas. I really would like to keep this as simple as possible.

Thanks in advance for your help.

Meg
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Old 12-19-2011, 08:15 PM   #2
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Default Re: How to raise futon frame

Is the bottom of the existing leg solid or hollow? It's tubular steel, but is it open to the floor, or closed off/plugged?
I'd get a piece of PVC slight larger in inside diameter than the outside of the leg, so the leg would fit snugly inside it.
Then decide whether to make each leg "sleeve" 3" longer than the distance from the horizontal bed frame to the floor,
and effectively make the legs longer, or to use the PVC "sleeve" as the stabilizer for something you could pack into it,
like some sort of shims, like checkers stacked, to lift the leg inside it the required height.
In either case, your setup would be like a telescoping leg, with a longer PVC "sleeve" supporting the horizontal bed
frame, or using shims inside the PVC "sleeve" to push the existing legs higher by resting them on the "stacked checkers"
inside the added PVC pipe.
I'm not explaining this very well, am I? Think of a telescoping leg which is permanently extended an extra 3".
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Old 12-19-2011, 11:54 PM   #3
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Default Re: How to raise futon frame



That's the basic idea I used to jack up my Costco vehicle shelter. I used metal pipe because what I did needed to be higher and stronger. PVC should be ok for a 3" lift for your futon.
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Old 12-20-2011, 01:19 AM   #4
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Default Re: How to raise futon frame

These are expensive compared to the block type: http://www.elderstore.com/leg-x-furn...extenders.aspx Fits up to a 2 inch diameter leg.
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Old 12-20-2011, 02:48 AM   #5
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Default Re: How to raise futon frame

Quote:
Originally Posted by markopolo
These are expensive compared to the block type: http://www.elderstore.com/leg-x-furn...extenders.aspx Fits up to a 2 inch diameter leg.
Not to muddy the waters, here, but the futon really should be bolted down to the floor, as should anything that could kill you in an accident.
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Old 12-20-2011, 02:52 AM   #6
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Default Re: How to raise futon frame

Wow, they *are* expensive. But they look like what I was thinking of with the PVC pipe; I wonder if that's what they're made of. The regular plastic doesn't seem to hold the weight well. ( I see they have some of those too.)

To answer your question, Mike - the legs are hollow and open at the bottom. And I think what you're describing was what I was thinking of. I know about telescoping legs; my massage table (I used to be a massage therapist) had those. I think they worked just like the legs on a walker - push the button in, slide the pieces, then let the button pop back out. My table had metal legs; the wooden ones had a similar system, you just had to completely unscrew the bottom piece to reposition it.

I walked to the hardware store this afternoon to get a piece of PVC just to try it out. The salesperson had another couple of ideas:

1) A thicker bolt than what was suggested in the email, but maybe then I wouldn't need shims? I'm not sure if he meant that I should put it through both the leg and the pipe or just through the pipe and have the leg rest on it. (I'm not sure how stable that would be.)

2) A plain wood block with hinge-like things (I'm being really technical tonight ) to screw into both the leg and the block to keep the leg from sliding off it. I like this idea because if I use the PVC I'm not sure if I'll be able to get the holes lined up exactly on both sides of the pipe and the leg. Plus, this setup seems easier to take apart later on when my situation changes.

The piece I bought was 6" long and 2" in diameter. I haven't had a chance to try it yet; the first thing to do is see whether the leg even fits inside the pipe, and I didn't feel like removing the bedding and mattress just so I could lift up the frame to check that out. Maybe tomorrow.

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Old 12-20-2011, 02:58 AM   #7
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Default Re: How to raise futon frame

Quote:
Originally Posted by booster
Not to muddy the waters, here, but the futon really should be bolted down to the floor, as should anything that could kill you in an accident.
Thoughts on this, anyone? I can't bolt anything down. Should I forget the futon frame, keep the mattress folded up somewhere, and put it on the floor when I need to use it?

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Old 12-20-2011, 03:53 AM   #8
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Default Re: How to raise futon frame

Booster is 100% right.

However, most of us rely on luck sometimes. When I think of all the trips I've made in my cargo van bringing home wood, appliances, sinks etc............... and all trips to the dump with debris.............. If I had been in an accident I would have been squashed.

You can probably figure out a way to secure the frame. Maybe to the side with a cable lock or cargo strapping. The microwave oven should be secured somehow also.

I read online where someone was killed in a car crash when their laptop flew forward and hit them in the head. It was reported that they would have been ok but for that blow to the head.
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Old 12-20-2011, 04:58 AM   #9
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Default Re: How to raise futon frame

Quote:
Originally Posted by markopolo
Booster is 100% right.

However, most of us rely on luck sometimes. When I think of all the trips I've made in my cargo van bringing home wood, appliances, sinks etc............... and all trips to the dump with debris.............. If I had been in an accident I would have been squashed.

You can probably figure out a way to secure the frame. Maybe to the side with a cable lock or cargo strapping. The microwave oven should be secured somehow also.

I read online where someone was killed in a car crash when their laptop flew forward and hit them in the head. It was reported that they would have been ok but for that blow to the head.
I, too, am VERY guilty of hauling all sorts of things around in the car that could have killed me. All of the things Marcopolo listed, plus gasoline, welding tanks, steel and aluminum bars, etc. It is all risk reward, and I try to make it very short, careful trips. I am much more aware of the loose stuff in the Roadtrek, where one day of driving covers more miles that a decade of hauling close to home. I have even heard of folks injured by their flying pets in an accident.

For the futon, you may want to do a setup like Marcopolo showed, with the pipe flanges and pipe. Screw the flanges to the floor and put a bolt through the pipe and futon leg. That should be plenty secure.
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Old 12-20-2011, 05:57 PM   #10
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Default Re: How to raise futon frame

Quote:
Originally Posted by booster
Quote:
Originally Posted by markopolo
Booster is 100% right.

However, most of us rely on luck sometimes. When I think of all the trips I've made in my cargo van bringing home wood, appliances, sinks etc............... and all trips to the dump with debris.............. If I had been in an accident I would have been squashed.

You can probably figure out a way to secure the frame. Maybe to the side with a cable lock or cargo strapping. The microwave oven should be secured somehow also.

I read online where someone was killed in a car crash when their laptop flew forward and hit them in the head. It was reported that they would have been ok but for that blow to the head.
I, too, am VERY guilty of hauling all sorts of things around in the car that could have killed me. All of the things Marcopolo listed, plus gasoline, welding tanks, steel and aluminum bars, etc. It is all risk reward, and I try to make it very short, careful trips. I am much more aware of the loose stuff in the Roadtrek, where one day of driving covers more miles that a decade of hauling close to home. I have even heard of folks injured by their flying pets in an accident.

For the futon, you may want to do a setup like Marcopolo showed, with the pipe flanges and pipe. Screw the flanges to the floor and put a bolt through the pipe and futon leg. That should be plenty secure.
Good points by both. I would think there should be a way to use some sort of add on restraint, aircraft cable and a
combination or padlock, like a safety chain on a trailer hitch, just short enough to keep the futon frame/mattress
from entering the cab area, in the event of an accident. There's no guaranteed outcome in any accident, but I might
add a tether of some sort to improve the odds a bit.
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Old 12-21-2011, 07:37 PM   #11
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Default Re: How to raise futon frame

It's funny - I've read about how much easier it is to have a motorhome than a trailer when it's time to move it because you just start the engine and go. But I always figured it wasn't that easy - you had to put stuff away, secure things, etc., before you could go anywhere. Maybe with a towable you have the added time and trouble of hitching. But they'd both need to be "prepped" for travel.

I'm still mulling over ideas for both raising the bed and securing it. And there would be other stuff to secure besides the bed. The microwave though may not be an issue; I don't think I can afford an inverter strong enough to handle it.

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Old 12-21-2011, 10:25 PM   #12
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Default Re: How to raise futon frame

Well, I got a chance to try putting the frame leg inside the piece of PVC pipe I bought. It doesn't fit; they're too close to the same size (don't know what I was thinking there). On to the next idea. I'll be looking up "pipe flanges" next, I guess. It actually looks similar to what the person at the hardware store suggested.

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Old 12-30-2011, 12:49 AM   #13
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Default Re: How to raise futon frame

Update: I have good news and bad news. The good news is, I got the legs on blocks and raised the frame enough to go over the wheel wells. It was only about an inch and a half but that was enough. (Actually I'm glad it wasn't any more; it would have been hard getting in and out of it.)

Now for the bad news: The frame takes up too much space in the van, even when it's in "couch" position. The back tilts so far back that it adds several inches to the overall depth (something I couldn't find a good way to estimate in the apartment) so I wouldn't be able to put anything across from it. And because it's so long, that means I wouldn't have much space left at all.

So tomorrow it's going to a thrift shop (along with a lot of other stuff) and I'm going to look there for sleeping bags, down comforters, etc. to add to what I already have.

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Old 12-30-2011, 02:17 AM   #14
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Default Re: How to raise futon frame

How about a "sleep number" (inflatable/collapsible air mattress)?
I think some come with a manual foot pump, or a 12VDC or 110VAC powered air pump, they
come in different sizes, and thicknesses, and when deflated, don't take up much space.
And they probably make softer, cuddlier, projectiles, in the event of a traffic mishap.
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Old 12-30-2011, 04:39 AM   #15
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Default Re: How to raise futon frame

Actually, I was thinking of just using the futon mattress; I don't think thrift shops accept used mattresses anymore (bedbug issues) so if I don't use it it will just end up at the dumpster. But if I use a mattress - any mattress - it would have to go in the middle, which means I'd have to set it up every night and then take it down in the morning and find someplace to store it. With the futon mattress storage is a *big* issue; with an air mattress it would be less so, but I'd have to inflate it every night, which would be a pain. I'm also concerned about it not staying inflated; I did try using one as a bed several years ago (thought it would be good for my back) but the thing wouldn't hold air even one night. So my experience with them hasn't been positive.

I don't like the idea of sleeping on the floor, mainly because of my back issues, but without the time or money to make something special I think I'm just going to have to deal with it. I'll get a taste of it tonight and tomorrow night anyway because the frame is in pieces right now; I just didn't have the energy to put it back together. Maybe a miracle will happen and I'll find something I can use to hold the futon mattress when I'm out tomorrow.

When I first thought of doing this "van dwelling" thing I imagined sleeping crosswise anyway; I thought I would put the bed across the back. Today I did try stretching out like that and I would fit that way. But even if I had a bed frame that was shorter (they're all too long to go that way) there's no good place to put it on the floor. I was expecting to have to work around wheel wells; I wasn't expecting to have to work around a spare tire, a heater vent, a mysterious-thing-in-front-of-the-heater-vent, and a battery compartment as well. I'm still trying to figure out what to do for furniture; right now the only things that seem to fit are a desk I found in my building's communal "donation" spot outside and the folding tables I use for computer and craft work. Everything has to be open at the bottom or it won't work. (More 20/20 hindsight; I walked around that back area when I first looked at this van but didn't even see all that stuff - or maybe I did but just couldn't see past that to how I was going to set it up.)

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Old 12-30-2011, 05:53 AM   #16
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Default Re: How to raise futon frame

Would a side aisle (instead of a center aisle) work? Like this:
http://glen-l.com/campers/van-conversion.html

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Old 12-30-2011, 03:41 PM   #17
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Default Re: How to raise futon frame

That's a nice idea. It wouldn't work with this futon frame; it's just too long (wide?). I actually thought about something like that when I had the frame set up in the van yesterday. There wasn't enough space left on either side for much of anything - not even my one folding table, which is only a foot and a half deep, going out into the "aisle" (perpendicular to the side wall). And the obstacles on the floor really restrict where I can put things - even the boxes of stuff I'll be loading into the van later today. When I hit the thrift store I'll be looking for low things, like coffee tables, to put things on. I've also removed the back from one of my dressers; if that works I'll at least have something with drawers for some of my clothes. (If I have time later today I'll try and get a diagram done of the layout so you can see what I have to work with. It might be educational for someone else trying to convert a passenger van like this one.)

That's a good design for the future, maybe, if I can get enough cash together for a proper conversion. But I don't think it will be with this van; it has mechanical problems and I'm not sure a proper conversion would be a good use of funds. I plan on using it only as long as I have to - until I can get more income so I can afford something better.

I did remember something else, though - the 2" memory foam mattress topper I've been using on the futon. It's currently too wide (it's a full size) but I think I can cut it down so it will fit between the wheel wells. That will give me something more to sleep on. It's a bit heavy to lug around but will get lighter when it's smaller and also easier to store when it's not in use. So I can have a sort-of mattress to sleep on.

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Old 12-31-2011, 02:00 AM   #18
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Default Re: How to raise futon frame

Update: I have acquired a bed.

After I got back from the thrift shop I was taking some stuff outside and found 2 twin-size frames, mattresses, and box springs in the "donation" area. They had belonged to one of my neighbors, Ruth, who is also moving. One of her helpers carried the frame to the van for me and after moving it around a bit I discovered it would just fit between the driver's seat and the wheel well. It's low but still high enough to fit over the heater thingies on that side.

I really don't like used mattresses, you never know what you're getting, but I know Ruth and knew it would have been well cared-for and bug-free (which she verified when I ran into her later). So I moved first the box spring and then the mattress into the van. The box spring went in fine but the mattress is a bit off; I don't know if it's just a bit too big or if it's the curve of the driver's seat or something else, but I had to shift it back a bit so it's not sitting exactly on top of the box spring. It doesn't feel quite stable that way so I'm thinking of removing it tomorrow and replacing it with either the futon mattress or the memory-foam mattress topper.

But it's nice to have a sleeping area off the floor, and what's more, there's a lot more available room in the rest of van this way. So far - it looks good.

One other thing, that doesn't really have anything to do with the bed but is still cool - As of this morning I still hadn't gotten an ice chest (aka refrigerator). When I was at the thrift shop I looked for one but couldn't find any; camping supplies are few and far between this time of year. But as I was walking out of that area a man passed me carrying one that looked like just the size I wanted. I wasn't sure if he was a customer or an employee but I thought he had come from the back area so I kind of followed him to see what he was going to do with it. I lost sight of him in the crowded aisle but then I found the ice chest just sitting on a shelf so I grabbed it. It needs to be cleaned but for $12 it was a good deal, and one less thing to have to buy.

I'm moving out of this apartment and into the van tomorrow so I'm not sure how much online time I'll have for a while. But I'll post updates when I can.

Meg
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Old 01-04-2012, 09:08 PM   #19
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Default Re: How to raise futon frame

Why not cut 4 pieces of 4 x 4 to the desired length and drill out a 2 1/8" diameter hole to the desired depth, so that the bed legs can rest in the holes?
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Old 01-06-2012, 02:07 PM   #20
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Default Re: How to raise futon frame

Keep using this topic for the futon frame discussion.

There is a new topic -> Full-timing in the van - Meg <- re: Meg adapting to living in her van.
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