Sleeping on a slant

Van Living Forum

Help Support Van Living Forum:

fairman136

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 29, 2023
Messages
60
Reaction score
15
Location
Tucson
Those of us who are fortunate enough to be able to spend all your time in the wild and never have to spend time in the city, this is not for you.

Stealth camping in the city, one may sometimes have to park on the street. But the street slopes downward at the curb, meaning if your bed is oriented long-ways in the van, your body wants to roll to one side. This was intolerable for me, so here's what I did.

I bought a sheet of 4' x 8' plywood, 3/4" thick, and put it down on the floor between the wheelwells and all the way forward up against the back of the driver and passenger seat brackets. This 3/4" plywood was now my new floor. Then I got a couple of mini hand jacks (Jahy2Tech from Walmart) and put them under the right side of the plywood. Now I can raise or lower the right side until our friend Mr. Bubble tells me the bed is level. The hand jacks can be operated from inside the van.

Of course, such a "tilting" platform can be made just large enough for the mattress, and this is probably what some people do for an elevated bed. I sleep on the floor...I want to be able to lay down two Mondo Kings side-by-side so that I can have a girl over and we don't have to share a single mattress. Two Mondo Kings take up 77"x50", so I'm just using a 4'x8' piece of plywood. In the morning I strap the mattress(s) to the left wall of the van and then I have floor space for a table and chairs.

IF YOU USE EXTERNAL JACKS, RAMPS, ETC. TO LEVEL YOUR VAN, remember that every vehicle on your side of the street has the same rightward tilt except yours, and if a cop drives down the street, your van is going to stick out like a sore thumb. Better to level your bed internally.
 
Last edited:

Spaceman Spiff

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 5, 2014
Messages
2,570
Reaction score
534
.....Then I got a couple of hand jacks and put them under the right side of the plywood. The hand jacks can be operated from inside the van.....
What hand jacks are you using? There are a number of different kinds.

Same thing could be accomplished with bolts and t-nuts; a battery powered drill would make it fast and easy to adjust.
 

fairman136

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 29, 2023
Messages
60
Reaction score
15
Location
Tucson
What hand jacks are you using? There are a number of different kinds.

Same thing could be accomplished with bolts and t-nuts; a battery powered drill would make it fast and easy to adjust.
I'm using Jahy2Tech jacks from Walmart. I like your idea of bolts and t-nuts, although I don't like keeping a power tool charged.
 

Overland One

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 21, 2023
Messages
144
Reaction score
124
Location
Kentucky
Well, you could run them up and down with a ratchet wrench then. It would take a little longer but not a lot and, I do not think there would be a lot of resistance on the bolts as there would not be all that much weight on them so, a ratchet should work fine.
 

fairman136

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 29, 2023
Messages
60
Reaction score
15
Location
Tucson
Ok, worth a shot. But now tell me how to keep the bolts from digging into the van's floor? Seems I would have to install some kind of protective metal plates onto the van's floor where the bolts are.
I'm not so sure the bolts would be easy to turn with my weight on the plywood. Remember, I'm trying to stay stealth and doing this from the inside.
The t-nuts would have to stay lubricated.
I still like the idea.
 
Last edited:

Overland One

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 21, 2023
Messages
144
Reaction score
124
Location
Kentucky
Ok, worth a shot. But now tell me how to keep the bolts from digging into the van's floor? Seems I would have to install some kind of protective metal plates onto the van's floor where the bolts are turning against.
I'm not so sure the bolts would be easy to turn with my weight on the plywood. Remember, I'm trying to stay stealth and doing this from the inside.
A small square of plywood or something similar would protect the floor. Since you fold up your bed during the day, you can pick up the squares and stow them too. As far as your weight being on the bed, even if the bolts are coarse threads you will have a tremendous mechanical advantage and they will be easy to turn with a 6" ratchet. Fine threads would turn even easier but would require more turns to move the same distance.
 

fairman136

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 29, 2023
Messages
60
Reaction score
15
Location
Tucson
A small square of plywood or something similar would protect the floor. Since you fold up your bed during the day, you can pick up the squares and stow them too. As far as your weight being on the bed, even if the bolts are coarse threads you will have a tremendous mechanical advantage and they will be easy to turn with a 6" ratchet. Fine threads would turn even easier but would require more turns to move the same distance.
I think a small square of plywood would wear out too quickly. The 3/4" 4'x8' plywood is pretty heavy by itself, and I've got my weight on it too.
I stow the mattress each day, but the 4'x8' plywood stays in place, as I think should the protector plates under the bolts.
 
Last edited:

bullfrog !

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 23, 2021
Messages
397
Reaction score
400
Why use heavy 3/4” plywood? Why not cheap damaged or used interior doors with a thin single sheet of luan on top? Use spray foam if you want more strength and insulation. You could simply add air bags or shocks to your vehicle with individual tire type valves. It would be simple to adjust heights of the whole vehicle with a hand held battery compressor. It works well on my old motor home. Simply mounted two tire valves at both front and rear in the bumper surround instead of using the fitting under the vehicle. I have a set of screw on adjustable deflators which are set for normal ride height I use when I’m ready to travel but a simple tire gauge works.
 
Last edited:

fairman136

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 29, 2023
Messages
60
Reaction score
15
Location
Tucson
Why use heavy 3/4” plywood? Why not cheap damaged or used interior doors with a thin single sheet of luan on top? Use spray foam if you want more strength and insulation. You could simply add air bags or shocks to your vehicle with individual tire type valves. It would be simple to adjust heights of the whole vehicle with a hand held battery compressor. It works well on my old motor home. Simply mounted two tire valves at both front and rear in the bumper surround instead of using the fitting under the vehicle. I have a set of screw on adjustable deflators which are set for normal ride height I use when I’m ready to travel but a simple tire gauge works.
I tried 1/2" plywood, but it bowed too much where there was no support from the jacks. And I don't know of a ready source for a 4'x8' used door.

As far as air bags, shocks, etc., please read the capitalized paragraph again. That wasn't the point.
 

Spaceman Spiff

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 5, 2014
Messages
2,570
Reaction score
534
I think you are way underestimating the amount of mechanical advantage you have with a screw. Most factory jacks use a screw to lift the vehicle. Plus you have the lever arm (plywood) to take up a lot of the weight.

A square of steel under the screw wouldn't be a bad idea, as would a light grease on the threads. I would use grade 5 bolts.
 

tx2sturgis

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Supporting Member
Joined
May 4, 2017
Messages
7,441
Reaction score
952
Location
Texas
.... I got a couple of mini hand jacks and put them under the right side of the plywood. The hand jacks can be operated from inside the van.

Reminds me of my trucking days, circling the truck stops at night looking for a spot that's 'just right'....so my head will be higher than my feet when I lay down in the bunk.

My current camper (not full time) is set up with a cot that is a lot like a hammock, it lets me find 'level' even when the rig is not.

Speaking of air bags, why not use inflatable air bags under the plywood? Maybe small inflatable camp pillows would work? Keep a cheap 12v powered inflator handy when adjustments need to be made.

Just an idea, might work, might not. :unsure:
 

fairman136

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 29, 2023
Messages
60
Reaction score
15
Location
Tucson
Reminds me of my trucking days, circling the truck stops at night looking for a spot that's 'just right'....so my head will be higher than my feet when I lay down in the bunk.

My current camper (not full time) is set up with a cot that is a lot like a hammock, it lets me find 'level' even when the rig is not.

Speaking of air bags, why not use inflatable air bags under the plywood? Maybe small inflatable camp pillows would work? Keep a cheap 12v powered inflator handy when adjustments need to be made.

Just an idea, might work, might not. :unsure:
I like the idea! I wonder if the air pressure would last all night. The air would have to be connected to both air bags (actually, I learned it's best to support the plywood in 3 places to keep it from bowing, so 3 air bags).
 

fairman136

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 29, 2023
Messages
60
Reaction score
15
Location
Tucson
A small square of plywood or something similar would protect the floor. Since you fold up your bed during the day, you can pick up the squares and stow them too. As far as your weight being on the bed, even if the bolts are coarse threads you will have a tremendous mechanical advantage and they will be easy to turn with a 6" ratchet. Fine threads would turn even easier but would require more turns to move the same distance.
o
Reminds me of my trucking days, circling the truck stops at night looking for a spot that's 'just right'....so my head will be higher than my feet when I lay down in the bunk.

My current camper (not full time) is set up with a cot that is a lot like a hammock, it lets me find 'level' even when the rig is not.

Speaking of air bags, why not use inflatable air bags under the plywood? Maybe small inflatable camp pillows would work? Keep a cheap 12v powered inflator handy when adjustments need to be made.

Just an idea, might work, might not. :unsure:
Reminds me of my trucking days, circling the truck stops at night looking for a spot that's 'just right'....so my head will be higher than my feet when I lay down in the bunk.

My current camper (not full time) is set up with a cot that is a lot like a hammock, it lets me find 'level' even when the rig is not.

Speaking of air bags, why not use inflatable air bags under the plywood? Maybe small inflatable camp pillows would work? Keep a cheap 12v powered inflator handy when adjustments need to be made.

Just an idea, might work, might not. :unsure:
And, Sturgis, if all 3 bladder jacks were connected to the same air supply, then all 3 support points on the plywood would raise at the same rate and to the same height. This would ensure that the plywood stays flat. Very good idea!
You could even hook up an electronic leveling system to it.
This could, of course, work for an elevated bed too.
 
Last edited:

RonDean

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 29, 2021
Messages
193
Reaction score
303
Maybe I am missing something but I am wondering why you level the entire floor instead of just putting adjustable bed legs on the side of the bed that would be sitting on the curb or down-slope side of the van. (I am assuming the passenger side if you are in a country that drives on the right.) That way you only have to level a fairly light empty bed instead of a floor you are also standing on..
 

fairman136

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 29, 2023
Messages
60
Reaction score
15
Location
Tucson
Maybe I am missing something but I am wondering why you level the entire floor instead of just putting adjustable bed legs on the side of the bed that would be sitting on the curb or down-slope side of the van. (I am assuming the passenger side if you are in a country that drives on the right.) That way you only have to level a fairly light empty bed instead of a floor you are also standing on..
I don't have a bed, so there are no bed legs. I sleep on a mattress on the floor. I explained this at the beginning of the post.
In the beginning I put a sheet of plywood that was just large enough for the bed under it and then tilted it, but I didn't like it. I either had to stow the piece of plywood along with the mattress in the morning, or walk around all day on a floor that had a loose piece of plywood lying on it. I didn't like either.
 

Spaceman Spiff

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 5, 2014
Messages
2,570
Reaction score
534
Maybe I am missing something but I am wondering why you level the entire floor.....
Some people are more sensitive to tilted surfaces; its more comfortable to move around on the horizontal.
As I get older and my balance gets worse the danger of falling is higher on a tilted surface.
 

fairman136

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 29, 2023
Messages
60
Reaction score
15
Location
Tucson
You're missing the point, Spaceman. This is ONLY about not being able to sleep, because I can't relax, because my body keeps wanting to roll. I'm tilting the whole floor because I want to have two Mondo King mattresses side-by-side so I can have a girl over and not have to share one mattress. Two Mondo Kings take up 77"x50", so I have to use almost an entire 4'x8' plywood piece.
 

tx2sturgis

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Supporting Member
Joined
May 4, 2017
Messages
7,441
Reaction score
952
Location
Texas
I like the idea! I wonder if the air pressure would last all night. The air would have to be connected to both air bags (actually, I learned it's best to support the plywood in 3 places to keep it from bowing, so 3 air bags).

Depending on the size of the camp pillows (or other air bags) you might need several along the 'low' or curb side.

Most camp pillows are not very big...maybe 10" x 12"...so you might need more than 3, maybe 5? You'd have to experiment and figure out what works. I'd keep a few extras in case they get punctured...or uh...'flattened' during your overnight 'entertainment' sessions.

:cool:
 

fairman136

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 29, 2023
Messages
60
Reaction score
15
Location
Tucson
Depending on the size of the camp pillows (or other air bags) you might need several along the 'low' or curb side.

Most camp pillows are not very big...maybe 10" x 12"...so you might need more than 3, maybe 5? You'd have to experiment and figure out what works. I'd keep a few extras in case they get punctured...or uh...'flattened' during your overnight 'entertainment' sessions.

:cool:
Thanks, tx2sturgis. I have used camp pillows before. All of the ones I've ever owned, you had to pull a plug out to blow them up, then push the plug back in. I need something that already has a tube coming out from it or is configured so that you can attach a tube.
Please google "Access Tools Air Wedge". I think I might try this critter first.
 
Top