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Thread: Herbie's Chevy Astrolander/ZMB Build Thread

  1. #221
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    San Diego, CA
    Posts
    1,989
    Lots of work, not too many photos to share, yet.

    The Rock-n-Roll bed is nearly complete. All the fit-up, welding, and grinding is done. I'm working on the finishing in pieces because it's hard enough to move the big pieces around and there's moving parts.

    Here's the "base" frame. On a VW bus, this would simply be three pieces of plywood bolted together and fastened to the rear firewall. Here's an excellent set of photos of how a Rock-n-Roll bed normally goes together. Obviously I don't have a rear firewall or engine cover to sleep on, so there's a bit more "structure" to my version.



    The frame is just over 8" high, so I can still fit my Valterra 12gallon tank under it. The Rock-n-Roll hinges attach to the side pieces, one bolt through the center tube (sleeved), and the other through the plate. Setting the angle of the hinges is pretty critical to getting the "rake" of the seat back correct. The raised front tube (right side) sets the angle of the seat bottom, but also has to be at the right height for the supports to sit on when the bed is deployed. This will be easier to understand later. I've left the rear cross tube open as I plan to use it to chase wiring through. The chunk of angle-iron on the left attaches to the two short upright tubes on the rear - this makes an adjustable perch for the rear portion of the bed and substitutes for the rear engine-lid where the bed comes to rest on a VW.



    The base flipped over, and primered. I'm re-using the same holes through the floor that I drilled for the old Conversion-van bench seat, so the passenger side bolts right through the seat's frame (also sleeved), while the driver's side has an extended flange. I did it this way, rather than just making the frame wider, so that I could leave a little room on the driver's side to build out the cabinetry there. You can also see the short length of angle-iron on the forward end of the driver's side of the frame, this is part of what will hold the water tank in place once it's all bolted down.



    And here's the the seat bottom. Structure is framed in steel, with tabs to hold the plywood flush with the tubes. The "corner" pieces are short lengths of 1"x3" rectangular tubing. I didn't want to weld the seat pieces to the hinges (for ease of finishing, moving, rebuilding, etc.) and the hinge plates normally just bolt directly to the plywood, so I needed something substantial to bolt to. Using the hinges as templates, I drilled these pieces first, added weld-nuts, and then built the rest of the seat base frame onto them. The seat back (not pictured, yet), is pretty similar, except that the "top" of the frame is a bit more complex because I had to graft in the folded-steel sections that the headrest tubes mate with (more on this later). After the steel is painted, all the plywood will get a coat or two of wipe-on poly, just like the fridge cabinet I built last year.
    Last edited by Herbie; 07-25-2017 at 02:47 PM.
    ChooseAdventure.net
    "My minivan is cooler than your bro-truck"
    2003 Chevrolet Astrolander 4WD Van - DIY GTRV PopTop, 4" Lift

  2. #222
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Omaha, NE
    Posts
    33
    Hmm, your images aren't loading for me. Miiiight be my browser. I'm super interested in the bed mount. Seems way sturdier than my piano hinge build right now.

  3. #223
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    San Diego, CA
    Posts
    1,989
    Quote Originally Posted by jdreier View Post
    Hmm, your images aren't loading for me. Miiiight be my browser. I'm super interested in the bed mount. Seems way sturdier than my piano hinge build right now.
    Dammit. Every time I think I have Google Photos figured out. Edited the links and hopefully that fixes it up.
    ChooseAdventure.net
    "My minivan is cooler than your bro-truck"
    2003 Chevrolet Astrolander 4WD Van - DIY GTRV PopTop, 4" Lift

  4. #224
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    FLORIDA
    Posts
    429
    Working....


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  5. #225
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Montreal
    Posts
    116
    Quote Originally Posted by Herbie View Post
    Dammit. Every time I think I have Google Photos figured out. Edited the links and hopefully that fixes it up.
    Easy peasy Google drive instructions.

    Long live the Astros!



    Her first morning after sleeping in a van. Her face says it all (many years later she said she was joking for the picture). And it's going to be 16 years so... I guess the creepy 23 y.o. with a van wasn't so bad after all!
    Currently building Gandalf (1998 Roadtrek Versatile 200 2WD)

  6. #226
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    San Diego, CA
    Posts
    1,989

    Default Rock-n-Roll, baby!

    Who's ready to Rock-n-Roll?



    I'm nearing completion on my project to replace my $100 craigslist conversion van bench/bed (that was never flat) with a Westfalia-style Rock-n-Roll bed.



    I used reproduction Westy bed hinges, but since my little girl rides strapped into the back seat, I didn't feel comfortable building the box/bed system out of plywood. (Especially since we don't have a rear firewall to tie into like the VW vans.) Instead, I fabricated (mostly from scratch) a frame from steel tube. Since safety was a concern, I harvested the top of the seat-back from my conversion van seat, since it had all the punched holes and hardware necessary for a full (removable) headrest system. It took a lot of fiddling with the box dimensions to get things tall enough to fit my 12gallon water tank underneath, but to sit low enough for the Astro's relatively low overhead clearance.



    Seating surfaces are 1/2 birch ply (same as my cabinet), and I trimmed the back of the seat (covering the headrest system/innards) with a nice 5mm (Poplar?) surfaced ply. All the wood just got 2 coats of wipe-on polyurethane. Since we don't have a rear firewall/bulk-head for the bed fold back onto, and since having a perfectly flat sleeping surface is one of the driving forces of this build, I designed adjustable supports into the frame. The black piece with the two bolts catches the seat back, and is slotted so it can be raised/lowered to make sure the back portion of the seat levels out perfectly. The rear extension platform (instead of the VW engine decklid) rests on the same black bracket at the forward edge, and on adjustable legs at the rear. The angle of the seat "bottom" can be adjusted by shimming the support brackets.



    With a Rock-n-Roll type bed, it's necessary to keep the frame "locked" into seat mode so that things don't fold back in an accident. I used a hotrod "bear claw" trunk latch that works perfectly.

    Still left to do:
    I've rebuilt my "water pump" box to fit against the new seat, but I need to finish re-plumbing to the (reoriented) water tank. I've got an Ikea foam mattress I'll be cutting for the seat/bed cushions. I'm still deciding how I want to upholster the cushions, but I may stray from the "All DIY" approach and just order zippered slip covers from one of the many inexpensive internet retailers that will make them to order. (I don't mind sewing, but that's a lot of work that needs to be done accurately and I'm running out of time/energy for this particular project.)
    ChooseAdventure.net
    "My minivan is cooler than your bro-truck"
    2003 Chevrolet Astrolander 4WD Van - DIY GTRV PopTop, 4" Lift

  7. #227
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Elgin, IL (Chicago burb)
    Posts
    1,265
    Looks good
    Aaron

    2005 Astro (Gandalf) - AWD, 4.3L, 3.42, 140k+ miles
    1997 Astro (Grumpy - $250 Rally Van) - AWD, 4.3L, 3.42, LSD, 2" lift, 31" tires, 335k+ orig engine, $30 eBay fuel pump
    2016 Patriot (MaK - Her Jeep) Painfully stock
    1980 KE100 (Bessie) - 100cc of fury

  8. #228
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Oklahoma
    Posts
    67
    Looks great!

    Quote Originally Posted by Mat Mobile View Post
    Thank you! Off topic, but I've wondered how you insert the pictures I have in Google photos into forum posts. Saved for future reference!

    Back to the build
    '03 Forester XS (my DD)
    '04 E-150 XLT w/ Factory LSD (my wife's DD)

    '03 Tacoma DC TRD 4x4 (SOLD)

  9. #229
    Clean...

  10. #230
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    San Diego, CA
    Posts
    1,989

    Default A little more Rock-n-Roll

    The Rock-N-Roll bed is "done". Or at least, "done enough to sleep on".

    It took a bit of a push, especially given the near record-setting heat and humidity we suffered through for the Labor Day weekend, but we're at a point where we can sleep on the new bed system. Between that and a few other odd jobs, we're good to go for camping next weekend!



    The main work was sorting out a new rear extension platform which takes the place of the rear engine deck-lid in the VW vans. I used a similar platform with our original "conversion van" bed, but the dimensions changed just enough that a new unit was needed. As I mentioned in the last post, the platform rests on the same adjustable crossbar that the seat-back folds onto, this ensures that the two platforms mesh evenly, with no transition "hump". You can also see a couple of metal plates in the picture below - these limit the platform from moving forward. Since the platform is "floating" (so as to be easily removable), it could technically be pushed forward where it would interfere with the seat reclining - these straps keep it perfectly positioned so that the seat drops down flush.

    You can also see that the seatbelts have been re-installed, the water tank has been re-plumbed, and I finally undertook the simple task of marking the sight-gauge for 3/4 and 1/2 full.


    Also, reason #426 why I love my van (and why I built the bed base to be open back-to-front):
    Being able to transport 8-foot plus long stuff inside the van. In this case, I've got the old awning from our donor van.



    The other necessary change to finish the bed project was to get an even mattress. As I've mentioned previously, the old conversion-van seat had two different foam densities, plus the seat-bottom section was sprung, while the back was rigid, this meant that each of the three parts of the bed had a different "sink". Now that the bed platform is perfectly flat, I've also topped it off with a single foam mattress, cut into three sections. This is another budget solution, an Ikea Lycksele Lövås futon mattress. This was pretty close to the right size, so there wasn't too much waste. One surprise, not advertised on the site, is that the mattress is "divided" into a long and a short section (presumably to fit their futon frame). Fortunately, the split was in a place convenient spot. At the moment, the cushions are just (somewhat loosely) wearing the recycled covers from the conversion-van seat, but new zippered covers are next on the list.



    I had time to complete a couple of other minor projects that don't merit their own post, but are worth preserving. First was to whip up a couple of adjustable straps and to drill the bed platform so that I can safely sit the chuckbox on the rear bumper. The slim and slightly angled nature of the bumper means just resting the box here can be a little precarious. I bent up a couple of hooks so that the box is held back and won't tip off the end of the bumper. I won't typically use it this way, but occasionally I just need quick access and don't want to setup a stand or move the box to a table. At least now I have the possibility of prepping a quick meal off the "tailgate" of the van.



    Just a quick detail from a project that will be covered in more detail in an upcoming post:
    What do you do if your "precision" stainless steel fender washer fits the threaded portion of a bolt, but not the un-threaded shank portion? Enlarging holes in thin material is always tricky, and damn near impossible on something round that you can't easily clamp. Even on the slowest setting of my drill press, I could never drill this somewhat hard stainless without the bit catching and whipping the washer out of whatever clamping system I could devise. This is the right way to do it, especially if you only need to enlarge the hole a smidge: Using a table clamp and a long-jaw C-clamp, the washer is pinned at the corner of a slot in my welding table. Then, I use a tapered hand reamer to slowly remove material until the washer fits the shank of my bolt. Zero-percent chance of snagged washers and a perfectly round hole*.



    * Machinist-geeks know that a "regular" 2-flute twist drill bit actually makes a triangular hole in thin material.
    ChooseAdventure.net
    "My minivan is cooler than your bro-truck"
    2003 Chevrolet Astrolander 4WD Van - DIY GTRV PopTop, 4" Lift

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