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Old 04-30-2009, 02:41 PM   #1
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Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 5
Got our SMB!/Penthouse bed question

Hi All,

Well, the wife and I did it. We bought a used SMB! Shout out to a board member who was kind enough to show us their rig so we could get things clear in our minds. Looking at paper cutouts and pictures only goes so far. The van we bought is a 2004 RB E250 WITH 15K miles with the Ford ESP warranty 'till 2011. Inside is very simple; original owners center isle custom floorplan; gaucho on one side, cabinets on the other, manual PH top, frameless windows w/ d-n shades, both front seats swivel, fresh and grey water, 12v and 110 system with inverter & extra battery, microwave. No starcool, no fridge, no propane system (no furnace). Cut out in one of the cabinet tops for a ice chest with a built in drain. We camped out the day we bought it! One of the pics is of the van at Mojave Preserve on the way back from buying it. Small pic shows the interior (if you can see it) We are off this weekend to Lone Pine/Alabama Hills?

First off let me say if the is anyone in the LA area that would like to see a van I would be happy to repay the favor someone extended to me and show mine.

Now for my question. What material to use for a penthouse bed? I might decide to buy SMB's bed but I want to see if I like it up there first. I'm 250lbs, the wife doesn't weigh anything but we have heavy bed linens so maybe were talking 350-400lbs total weight up there with thermarests, linens, pillows, etc. I had some exterior 3/4" plywood laying around but that didn't work-bowed too much with just me up there. Would 1" be enough? Are there better grades of plywood that I should use? I saw on this? forum where someone used metal cross beams with a heavy gauge wire grid over and just cardboard over that. Seems like that would work but I worry about metal to metal rattles. Any suggestions as to what material to use? Is the PH top lip strong enough to support this kind of weight?


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Old 04-30-2009, 05:04 PM   #2
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Location: santa rosa ca
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Re: Got our SMB!/Penthouse bed question

There are many different grades of plywood available. I don't know what SMB uses but would assume it is a "Span-Rated" grade. I'm assuming that piece of 3/4" CDX you used as a test was not span rated. You can read about this type (and others) on the APA's website.

Hope this helps

... Charlie
EV-2 build is now complete, (yeah right).
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Old 04-30-2009, 10:25 PM   #3
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Location: Azusa, California
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Re: Got our SMB!/Penthouse bed question

Congratulations Again David and Donna ,
I know that you will have many wonderful times in the years to come !
David I just had a thought , you could try our penthouse bed , it should be the same dimensions as your SportsMobile Cut Out and they are very easy to take in and out .
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Old 04-30-2009, 10:51 PM   #4
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Re: Got our SMB!/Penthouse bed question

I've been told by SMB that I would have no problems up there at 315lbs, but I haven't been interested in trying it. Maybe have your wife watch for bending underneath as you climb up and roll around in the bed?

I would think with care (not sitting on the center edge, not bouncing) it shouldn't be a problem... I know some of the adult couples on here sleep up there and it wouldn't be hard for a couple of normal adults to get upwards of 300.

You guys should come to Moab next week...
it was good to be back
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Old 05-01-2009, 07:47 AM   #5
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Foster, RI
Posts: 38
Re: Got our SMB!/Penthouse bed question


Congratulations on your new SMB. I used and posted the pics of the penthouse bed made from steel warehous decking. The wire grate above the braces is welded so there is no rattle that comes from that. It would be easy for you to check this out by going to any Home Depot or Lowes and inspecting( sitting on) the wire decking that they use. I still use mine and have slept quite comfortably since I installed it, plus I keep all the bedding up there!

Good luck w/your new van.
Al Jaffa
2006 EB-50 Q4x4 V10
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Old 05-01-2009, 09:34 AM   #6
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Location: Seattle-ish, WA
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Re: Got our SMB!/Penthouse bed question

We have the standard SMB penthouse bed.

On a regular basis, we have the two kids join us up in the penthouse to read together as we wake up. Yes, it is snug but kids have little regard for personal space:-)

We are slightly over 400 pounds collectively and have never heard a creak of complaint from the bed.

Occasionally I will complain but not the bed.

2008 SMB EB-52, Quadvan 4x4, 6.0 PSD SOLD
2017 Ford Transit T250 148WB mid-roof w/ Quadvan 4x4
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Old 05-01-2009, 12:34 PM   #7
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Re: Got our SMB!/Penthouse bed question

Thanks everybody,

Charlie 56: that link to the plywood association was great. I sort of understand some of the technical info in it. Looks like there are different span ratings and the direction matters; the long axis (the 8' of a sheet of plywood) is the stronger and of course my test piece was cut the wrong way. I think I will go to a real lumber yard rather than Home Depot and see what they have.

Greggde: Thanks for your help and good wishes. I just e-mailed the Wax Depot about which products to use, gotta keep the new rig looking good.

AEJ4: Thanks for the info; I didn't know that the cross beams are welded to the grid; that should cover the rattle factor. I re-found your post later and looked around the net for wire shelving. The closest size I could find was 42" and I was worried that it was too wide and that cutting it wasn't an option. But in re-reading your post you cover that issue; that the 42" works-that you can cut 1 1/4" from a side. I may do wood for the test phase (easier to get and cut) but if I like sleeping up there I think your set up is a great long term way to go; lighter, more room up there when closed, and the option to hook stuff to the grid.

Jage: I would love to come to Moab but we have to work to pay for this thing! It's weekends only for a while.

Hey Bitburger Hows things up north? I went to Issaquah high school and lived up there for a long time. Thanks for the reassurance that I'm not too heavy to sleep up top.


David and Donna

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