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Old 04-07-2015, 02:33 PM   #1
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Bunks for adults? Weight limits on DIY bunks?

As part of the long-term plans for my Ambassador, one of the things I'm looking into is increasing the number of beds so I can bring friends / family along. Obviously, one consideration is to add bunk beds, but all the things I've seen talk about using them for kids to sleep in (kids being something I don't have).

What would be the weight limitations on bunk beds, potentially ones built up on a frame and not hung from the ceiling or walls? Something I would consider is potentially welding together a metal frame if need be - has anyone taken that approach?

I'm not stuck on the idea of bunk beds, was actually a friend's suggestion, but figure it's worth asking.
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Old 04-08-2015, 11:22 AM   #2
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Its a good question. I am also looking to increase my sleeping capacity and was considering adding bunks of some sort. I would love to know what others have done.
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Old 04-08-2015, 12:29 PM   #3
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Think about what your trailer was designed for.

Two adults and three kids?????

Are your fresh water and waste tanks capable of handling more? ( not much of an issue with full hook ups ) Can the fridge hold enough food?

Adults breathe or sweat out about a gallon of moisture a night. Think about noise, privacy, smell, oxygen, snoring, sleep schedules, wear and tear.

You could borrow my mother in law for a test run to see how you like sharing your sleeping space. You can also borrow a gun to shoot yourself.
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Old 04-08-2015, 12:39 PM   #4
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I would like some airstream bunk plans also.... the framed bunkbeds in both of my kids rooms held me on top at 189 (while pregnant)
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Old 04-08-2015, 12:46 PM   #5
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What would be the weight limitations on bunk beds, potentially ones built up on a frame and not hung from the ceiling or walls? Something I would consider is potentially welding together a metal frame if need be - has anyone taken that approach?
Ships and offshore supply boats use bunk beds all the time for crewmembers. American Bureau of Shipping gives these dimensions for crew bunks:
* 36 inches between facing bunks; but for an Airstream you're only going to have that much space in an 8-foot-wide trailer with the narrowest permissible bunks. If the trailer is only 8 feet wide, you'll have to compromise on aisle space. Make sure the aisle between bunks is at least 24" and provide a 4" recessed kick-space on each side (just like your kitchen cabinets at home) so the distance between bunks measured at the bunks is 24" but the distance measured at the floor is 32". That will make it easier for two people to pass each other back-to-back in the aisle since there's more foot room.
* Lower bunk at least 12" off the floor; that gives you the maximum bunk headroom while not making it too difficult to get into and out of the lower bunk. Upper bunk halfway between lower bunk and the ceiling (i.e. same headroom for both bunks don't forget to allow for the thickness of the upper bunk). In the case of an Airstream, I'd actually give the lower bunk about 2" less headroom, to make up for the curved ceiling over the upper bunk that takes away usable space. You can put storage under the lower bunk, but remember the 4" kick space. Storage should open from the front, not the top, so you don't have to wake up a sleeper in the lower bunk to get stuff out of storage. Drawers would be really handy for this!
* Bunk inside dimensions (usable mattress space) at least 78"31". Optimum is 80"38" but you're not likely to get that unless you only put bunks on one side and cabinets on the other.
* Reading light for each bunk.
* A privacy curtain across the front of each bunk.
* A small storage shelf at each bunk (or maybe pockets sewn into the privacy curtains) to store eyeglasses, wristwatches, whatever.

You've got many choices for materials. Aluminum pipe frames with canvas cot material to support foam mattresses would be lightest in weight, and could be built without welding by using modular handrail components; Hollaender is a good source. Steel pipe frames are easy to weld, and can use smaller-diameter pipe for the same strength. Wood frames are easy enough to build, too. A combination of wood uprights and angle iron side rails supporting a plywood sheet that in turn supports the mattress is also doable.
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Old 04-08-2015, 04:54 PM   #6
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Mandolindave - Some good (and funny) points. I will say situations that would have this many people along would likely only be at sites that have services (bathrooms, water, etc) so filling the waste and draining the fresh water wouldn't be that big of a concern. That said, it is something that would have to be considered.

Protagonist - Thank you, that's some awesome information! I'll look into that modular setup, and the nice thing about both that and your suggestion for a canvas cot setup is that it can be removed / stored if a longer usage by lesser people situation arose.

Cool info, guys and gals, let's see what else folks have to say!
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Old 04-08-2015, 05:25 PM   #7
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Protagonist - Thank you, that's some awesome information! I'll look into that modular setup, and the nice thing about both that and your suggestion for a canvas cot setup is that it can be removed / stored if a longer usage by lesser people situation arose.
I mentioned Hollaender as a source. Here's the link for their Speedrail system: http://www.hollaender.com/?page=speedrail As you can see from the link, they've got all kinds of connectors; you have to provide the 1" Schedule 40 aluminum pipe for the horizontal pipes, and Schedule 80 pipe for the vertical pipes.
I figure, per set of bunks, you'll want:
4 each #45 square floor flanges;
8 each #11 Side Outlet Tees to support the lower & upper bunks;
4 each #9 Side Outlet Elbows for the top corners.
You'll want to extend the bunk frames above the top bunk, in order to attach your privacy curtains and provide extra framing to minimize wobbling.
Optional, add 2 each #52E Extruded Wall Flanges to attach the two rear vertical pipes to the trailer's wall for extra stability while traveling. These shouldn't be strictly necessary, though, because the floor connections at the base flanges should do the job just fine.

Each top and bottom bunk should support 300 pounds; you're actually limited by the strength of your canvas cot material, not the pipe.

Also, by using the base flanges, this set of fittings will completely seal each piece of pipe to prevent it becoming a home to vermin such as mice or wasps.
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Old 04-09-2015, 11:29 AM   #8
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I've seen where people remove the bed entirely and replace with a metal bunk bed (like from Ikea). They make these in twin, twin over double, and even twin over futon sofa/bed. You could look at them for design ideas. I like your idea of having it be supported by floor as I would be concerned whether attaching to the side or bulkheads would support adult weight. I am even concerned once a kid is over 100lbs on mine Also, we have experience with these types of trailer bunks for our kids and the fasteners are prone to coming out which is exacerbated by shifting of the sleeper and even trailer movement while towing. In any event if you do use the walls/sides to support just make sure you are not the one in the lower bunk ha.
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Old 04-09-2015, 11:32 AM   #9
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Also regarding the canvas--you might look at poly, with a denier of 600 (min) rather than cotton. More important than the fabric, probably, is the stitching which can also give way (ask me how I know that.....) ��
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Old 04-09-2015, 12:25 PM   #10
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You could borrow my mother in law for a test run to see how you like sharing your sleeping space. You can also borrow a gun to shoot yourself...

I had some ideas...but after 5 minutes of (sympathetic) laughter re the above I forgot all except go to Cabelas and buy a couple of cots. That way you don't need to worry about permanent installations, and reclaim the space when its just your immediate family. I use this approach....now, back to laughing. jon
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Old 04-19-2015, 10:57 PM   #11
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http://www.airforums.com/forums/f179...114620-13.html

Read the above about our bunks. Weight limits will depend on what materials you use and your overall craftsmanship. Always use very strong materials, have multiple attachment points, and attach to ribs, solid internal walls, and/or floors. Our bunks are very strong and are comfortable for kids and adults. Our pair of midship bunks are only six feet long, so our oldest has to sleep in any of the rear bunks since they are much longer than six feet, now that he is 6'2". Otherwise all of ours were built to work for both kids and (most!) adults.
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