That’s right!  We’re movin’ on up.  Up off the floor of the van and onto a comfortable sofa bed!  It’s taken two and a half months from time of order to time of delivery, but we finally got it.

There were a number of things we had to consider before we purchased this sofa bed.  Being one of the largest items in the van, it also plays a significant role in determining how everything else will be laid out.  And while we don’t have a set-in-stone floor plan, we do know we have to make room for some other big items, like a fridge, batteries, and a sink.  Even though it is large, we wanted it to be as small as possible.  This meant sleeping East/West instead of North/South since we wanted to minimize the number of foldout sections.  Luckily, the Chevy Express is about 6 feet wide, and we’re both shorter than 6 feet.  It is a little tight, but we’re both quite comfortable being slightly curled up side-sleepers.  We’re also very used to sleeping on 20″ wide backpacking sleeping pads, so it didn’t have to be very wide.

Sofa bed up, front

Before I get ahead of myself, here’s what we ordered from shop4seats.com, which was the cheapest place we could find:

  • “Princess Sofa Bed”
  • 46″x68″
  • Fabric, Encore Silver V4

As a side note, we’re not really sure who actually built the sofa bed.  It was purchased from shop4seats.com, the packaging was branded with SeatCraft, and there are Atwood Manufacturing stickers on the frame, so yeah.

Installing the sofa bed was pretty quick work.  The only real problem we had was the location of the jack and tire iron.  It is mounted in the rear passenger corner, standing upright.  To maximize space, the sofa should be against the rear wall when folded down.  We had to remove the jack mount because it is too tall to fit under the bed.  For now, it just sits on the floor.

Car jack in the way

After getting the sofa bed into position and centered, we used a white pencil to make where to drill holes.  Being lazy, we decided to just leave the cargo mat and plywood floor sections in place and drill through it all in one go (it also made lining up the drill holes easier).

Floor marked for drilling

After drilling 4 holes, we bolted it down with multiple washers and lock washers.  If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll remember that when the floor sections were installed, we only bolted down the forward-most piece.  We still have not bolted down the middle piece except by bolting down the sofa bed, and this should be just fine (trying to swiss-cheese the van as little as possible).  There may be a point in the future when we decide it would be better to have more full-height storage space in the rear behind the bed, so the bolt holes were positioned such that we can slide the sofa bed forward about eight inches just by loosening the bolts, and then tightening everything down again.

Sofa bed brackets

Here she is all finished, in the sofa position.  We have not yet added seat belts, but we will at some point.  Sadly, those will have to all be anchored through the floor.  When up, the top corners just barely contact the foam insulation since the walls bow inward.  We completely forgot about the bowed walls, and thankfully it worked out, but we had planned to have at least another half inch of insulation added to the walls, so we’ll have to figure out what to do about it later.

Sofa bed up, front

Here, the sofa bed is in the bed position.  There is an inch on either side of the bed where the wall studs are, and close to three inches where the foam insulation is.  If the bed was a couple inches taller or was installed on some risers, the bed could easily have been 70″ or 72″ wide since the wall studs curve inward right above the wheel wells.  However, it could not be raised into the sofa position because of the bowed walls.  If you don’t want to put the bed on risers or don’t want a permanent bed, I would not recommend going any wider than 68″.

Sofa bed down, front

There is plenty of room under the sofa bed for storage, which is very welcome.

Storage under sofa bed

Lastly, we really don’t like the look of the skirt.  In fact, it has a skirt on the front and back.  We may end up cutting them off.  They just get in the way when trying to reach underneath for something.