Next Project - Sleeping/Seating Mod

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Next Project - Sleeping/Seating Mod

Postby AmCruiser » Fri Mar 01, 2013 11:32 pm

As I’ve indicated in previous posts, we love our our 99 American Cruiser. It does have a couple of issues that I hope to remedy with my next project.

The first involves sleeping. The sleeping area is just behind the cab and consists of a bench seat on the left and a dinette on the right. The area can be configured as twin beds, keeping the aisle down the middle, or as one big bed the width of the van. Although full width is more comfortable, for sleeping, its pretty difficult to get out of bed for that inevitable trip to the bathroom, so we generally opt for the twin bed configuration. Unfortunately, the bench seat side forms a narrower bed that the dinette side making it particularly uncomfortable and I have rolled out of bed on more than one occasion.

The other issue is lack of comfortable seating to watch TV. One of us has to sit sideways on the bench seat and the other in the rear dinette seat, neither of which is overly comfortable for any length of time.

To fix it, I intend to modify the hinged panel that that folds between the the bench seat and the dinette for the full bed configuration. I will cut it into two sections, a short full width section just behind the cab, and a much narrower section just wide enough for one of the narrow bench seat back rest cushions. The added narrow cushion should make the bed wide enough for comfort while still leaving a narrow aisle to get to the bathroom.

For improved TV viewing, I am moving the TV to a portable mount over the rear dinette seat (to be stowed when not in use. For seating I just ordered two folding/reclining stadium seats from Amazon. I’ll place these side by side on the front dinette seat platform and the short full width hinged panel section as shown in the sketch and stow them when not in use.
Potable Reclining Seat.jpg
Picnic Time Portable Ventura Reclining Seat (Black)
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Seating Mods.jpg
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Seating Mods2.jpg
Seating Mods2.jpg (93.16 KiB) Viewed 2582 times
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Re: Next Project - Sleeping/Seating Mod

Postby stanw909 » Fri Mar 01, 2013 11:53 pm

Keep us posted.
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Re: Next Project - Sleeping/Seating Mod

Postby markopolo » Sat Mar 02, 2013 12:16 am

Great drawings.

Your modified twin bed arrangement looks like a great idea.
Both occupants can exit their bed from a side rather than an end :thumbup:
Both occupants would be able to watch TV from their bed.

The stadium seats looks ideal also.
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Re: Next Project - Sleeping/Seating Mod

Postby AmCruiser » Tue Mar 05, 2013 10:56 pm

A change in plans - my wife suggested that we could put the stadium seats on each of the dinette seat boxes facing the drivers side of the van, and put the portable TV mount directly opposite on the drivers side. I've got to admit, it looks like a better set-up than what I was thinking.
Seating Mods3.jpg
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I've got a couple of simple power saving mods in the works before hitting the road again.

I have ordered an LED bulb (LEDwholesalers Waterproof Ba15s Bayonet Base Single Contact 15 SMD 3528 LED Light Bulb 12 Volt, Warm White, 1429ww) for each of my four 2 bulb light fixtures. I plan to put the LED bulbs in the socket powered by the single bulb switch position and leave an incandescent bulb in the 2nd socket. I'm anxious to see how well they work.
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I've also ordered 2 illuminated rocker switches, to replace the bathroom light switch and the waterheater switch as I occasionally forget to shut them off.

Springs coming fast!
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Re: Next Project - Sleeping/Seating Mod

Postby stanw909 » Thu Mar 14, 2013 9:59 pm

Great ideas but will it be convertable back to original for resale purposes? How much for the bulbs and where? Thanks.
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Re: Next Project - Sleeping/Seating Mod

Postby AmCruiser » Thu Mar 14, 2013 10:34 pm

I bought the bulbs on Amazon for $8.25 US each (Ledwholesalers Waterproof Ba15s Bayonet Base Single Contact 15 SMD 3528 LED Light Bulb 12 Volt, Warm White, 1429ww ). They aren't quite as bright as the originals but can always switch on the 2nd bulb (which is still the original) if I need more light.

I was going to cut the original hinged panel but have decided to store it and fabricate the new pieces from plywood so I will be able convert back.

I got the stadium seats last we and I think they will work great, the are quite comfortable.
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Re: Next Project - Sleeping/Seating Mod

Postby stanw909 » Thu Apr 04, 2013 2:22 am

Wa haponed???????
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Re: Next Project - Sleeping/Seating Mod

Postby AmCruiser » Thu Apr 04, 2013 10:04 am

Unfortunately, its tax season and I do the books and taxes for my brother-in-law's truck repair business. He dumps his year's worth of paperwork on me in mid February and I spend most of my free time in Feb/Mar loading it in to QuickBooks, generating a P&L and then doing his taxes. This year I'm running a little behind but hope to finish this weekend so I can get to my projects. I did take some time last weekend to add a sewer hose carrier underneath that I made from plastic deck post covers from H-D.
Hopefully, I'll have some progress to report and some pictures soon.
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Re: Next Project - Sleeping/Seating Mod

Postby stanw909 » Sat Apr 06, 2013 1:22 am

Ok. Just got a little worried,that's all.
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Re: Next Project - Sleeping/Seating Mod

Postby Jimji » Thu Oct 03, 2013 10:07 pm

Hi folks: I am looking at a 2000 American Cruiser on line but it is not near me to check out and I could really use some help before flying out to buy it.

(1) The woman selling it says there is no plywood foldout on the couch to make it wider. Did some models come with that feature and some not ? Looks like if it did not that it wouldn't be too hard to add this feature. Does the bottom of that couch lift up for storage or what is going on beneath it ?

(2) What are the dimensions of the couch and fold down dinette for sleeping ? I am 6' tall and worry about having enough length in any of these class B's. Also the width doesn't look very generous. Would you consider the cushions comfortable for sleeping ?

(3) What is the floor to ceiling height of the unit. Some specs listed it as 6'3" but the seller says 6' at the sink/stove area. Does it vary along its length or were the specs exaggerating ?

(4) Do the front seats swivel at all ? They look pretty tight to the dinette and couch to do that but I see a fitting for a table between the seats so I was wondering if they moved at all ?

(5) I actually wished for less of a bulky bathroom as it seems to compromise the rear view out the back end. Can you see well enough out of the American Cruiser to back up ect ?

Thanks in advance: Jim/Colorado
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Re: Next Project - Sleeping/Seating Mod

Postby AmCruiser » Sat Oct 05, 2013 11:15 am

Hi Jimji,
1. There were 2 plywood foldouts in the standard layout. One is under the cushion of the front dinette seat and folds over the table opening to form the passenger side bed. The other is under the couch cushion and spans the aisle to the dinette to create a bed the full width of the van. The original material was Masonite faced with an artificial wood grain. Replacement would be easy. I plan to replace mine with plywood at some point.The cover on the couch does open to a sizable storage area which is also accessible from outside. To open it, you must slide the drivers seat way forward which is a pain so I generally use the outside access. The space under the forward dinette seat houses the two house batteries (only accessible from outside) and the power converter. The aft dinette seat houses the water pump and hot water heater and the cover lifts up to provide access.

2. The cushions create a bed exactly 6 ft but you will need to slide the drive and passenger seats forward and tilt the set backs forward because otherwise, they will overhang the cushions. In the twin bed configuration, the beds are uncomfortably narrow. In the full width configuration however, there's plenty of width for two people to sleep comfortably. The cushions are about 3 in thick. They are definitely not your bed at home but we generally sleep OK on them. I shortened the aisle plywood foldout to provide a place to swing your legs and stand up for those night visits to the bathroom without having to climb off the end.

3. Floor to ceiling height varies from front to back due to the tapered shape of the raised roof. As you come in the rear door in the kitchen area it is about 5 ft 7 in but in the dinette area forward is well over 6 ft. I'm vertically challenged (only 5'6") and my wife 5'3" so for us its plenty but if your six feet, you will want to duck as you enter the coach.

4. The front seats do not swivel. I suspect any table fitting between them was added by the owner.

5. I have no problem backing up, but I am used to backing up using mirrors only. There is no usable view out the back window for backing.

We've had ours for a little over a year now and love it. It handles and rides very well. My only real complaint is the need to break down the bed in the morning and set it back up again at night. You have to move the cushions from one side to the other so that you can fold over the plywood foldouts. We generally take only 2 - 3 day trips so its not a big deal. We have pretty much decided however that when I retire in 2 years and we start traveling a month or two at a time, we are going get something bigger, probably a class C.
Hope this helps you with your decision!
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