EJ and Florrie Bleendreeble's

Fergus the Magic Bus


BleenBed/Desk

Over the years, there have been many versions of the BleenBed. Fergus Senior boasted several types during his time with us, made from slotted metal; Sissey the Odyssey's BleenBeds were plywood simply resting on crates; and Elli the Honda Element's BleenBed was outsourced to these people. Before tackling new Fergus's beds, I poked around on the Ford Transit forum, and while there were some wonderful solutions there it was clear that most of them would be beyond Bleendreeble's modest construction skills, no matter how I tried. Poking a pig won't make it play the bassoon.

Upfitting for dummies

Luckily, Home Depot often offers simple solutions to the upfitting-challenged, and there is a store less than a mile away. If that mysterious organ, the Bleendreeble brain, ever actually functioned on all eight cylinders, I'd have bought stock in the company before I started work on Fergus, but there you go - opportunity lost. As my American Express billing history will witness, a significant portion of the Bleendreeble fortune has recently been transferred to Home Depot. In this case, the result was a load of 3/4-inch plywood, legs with built-in studs, and triangular mountings to mount them in.

By the way, the legs were the 28-inch model and all needed to be cut down. But to what length? See here to calculate the answer in a low-roof Transit ....

The original idea was that both potential beds would be hinged to convert into BleenDesks during the day, and in fact they were constructed that way. In practice, the driver's-side bed is never converted.

An A in trig ....

I had retained enough high-school geometry to realize that the passenger-side bed couldn't have fixed legs on the hinged part. Instead, when it's "opened" it rests on a ledge, firmly screwed into the bottom of the other bed with no less than fifty screws: here's a very poor-quality close-up of it. You can also see it in the image at the bottom of the page, but even there it's not very clear.

Decor in gray-scale

Florrie selected a neutral-colored marine vinyl for the "desk" side of the bed and stapled it onto the ply. The wood, stapled vinyl, and strap hinges will be covered with the carpet ....

We used Home Depot indoor-outdoor carpet for the "bed" side of the tables. (Our handyman Fred assures us that "indoor-outdoor" carpet is merely indoor carpet that is so cheap you don't mind if it gets destroyed by being used outside). This too was simply stapled on.

Why are the legs not symmetrically placed?

Aha!

Crates will live under the driver's-side (permanent) bed. Regardless of what crates you may choose, you'll find that no combination of them will work with legs that are symmetrically positioned. You'll always want to move the odd leg a little (or a lot) to accommodate those crates efficiently. Fortunately, our method of leg attachment makes it easy to move them. In fact, it can be done without disassembly of the bed: just remove the screws on the mounting plate, slide the leg, and screw back in place.

Securing the beds

Few things can spoil your day like a head-on collision in your van, followed by immediate decapitation as your BleenBed turns into a projectile.

There are cargo hooks all over the Transit van, and presently a turnbuckle system ties each BleenBed into one of those hooks. Once we have the crates and desk stools all sorted out, I'm going to add another turnbuckle on each side. These turnbuckles are angled so that the BleenBed is pulled aft and sideways, the idea being to restrain movement of any kind as much as possible. (You'll remember that part of our design philosophy is leaving the "fabric" of Fergus intact, and making only reversible changes to him.)

I'm considering using flat slotted metal strips to connect the bottoms of the legs: they flex a little at the moment, and I don't like that.

There's something else I don't like. I was never much good at physics, and that makes me nervous. I wish I could feel more certain that the turnbuckles would adequately restrain those beds in the event of an accident ....