Eight Ton Fu-ton
Hello Everyone, and greetings from Southeast Missouri. Today seems like a very good day to escape the strange June heat and make a blog post. We haven’t even neared the “dog-days” of summer, and already the temps are reaching 112F today. There are still a few hours to go until the hottest time of the day, so who knows what our high will be. *sigh*…
As I was saying before I was distracted by this cool drink in my hand and the thermometer outside, today’s blog post is about a recent project I undertook on the Freightliner. As usual with my posts a little back-story is necessary, but I promise this one will be short-ish. So…ever heard of an eight ton futon?…
We bought the Freightliner as a standard over-the-road truck and have been making modifications as permitted and necessary. One of the things I really felt a need for in the truck was a way for our son, Chayton, to be able to sit up and see some scenery as we travel. Up until now, he has been relegated to lying in the lower bunk of the sleeper while the truck was in motion. This was due to the fact that the only restraint system for a sleeper passenger is a kind of cargo net type thingy. The Idea is that the only reason anyone should be in the bunk is to sleep. So the net thingy cocoons said passenger by way of three seatbelt type latches. Thus we needed a way for Chayton to sit upright and see the sights as we rumbled down the highways and byways..
This gave way the idea of replacing the lower bunk with some kind of jackknife sofa. We didn’t have a jackknife sofa, but what we did have in storage, was a futon bed. “Hmmm”, I said to myself, and my “handy gear” engaged. The following is the product of my moment of hmmm.
Step 1 was to remove the storage compartment forward of the bunk. This was a hard decision to make as storage for full-timers is always at a premium, but this storage in particular was only a tallish closet for hanging clothes. Much of the storage in the truck was Chayton’s and since he had almost all folded clothes it ended up being a catch-all for random items anyway.
Step 2 was to remove the mattress and sleeper restraint netting. Just a few bolts and it was out.
The framework under the mattress was hinged to allow access to more storage under the bunk. It consisted of a metal front lip to keep the mattress in place and a plywood pallet attached to the hinge with large aluminum rivets. A small angle-grinder took care of the rivet heads with ease and the rivets were removed from below with pliers (below).
A couple of wiring harnesses for the sleeper electrics were removed and the plywood slid out of place. Next was a trial fit to see how the futon frame would best attach. The futon was easily disassembled to slip in the passenger door. Some may not be that way but ours was.
Our fastener of the day is a 2”X1/4” lag bolt with washers. Four of these, inserted from the bottom, through the metal framework of the storage compartment, and into the wood, will due fine. The frame is first mounted with the same fasteners to the 2”X4” lumber which was cut to length. The most important part of this step was to make sure everything lined up and was square with the futon in the sofa position as well as the bed position before attaching it to the wood. Otherwise the futon would not operate properly.
To make life easier I simply pulled the entire setup forward a couple of inches on both sides and drilled straight down through the wood and metal framework. Then I slid it back into place and ran the lag bolts (one on each corner of the frame back up through the holes in the metal and into undrilled wood. Worked like a charm!
Now Chayton can ride in style and Wanda and I have a queen size bed in the HDT! Next stop; salvage yard for seatbelts…Cheers!