Amputating the Mattress!

Hello and welcome to the blog!  Thank you for the motivating responses to that last post about modifying the van.

I’ve begun the project after planning it in great depth.  Close to 40 smaller projects have been mapped out and the effort is underway.  Today I removed the 2500 watt Cobra inverter and associated wiring.  The newer Samlex 300 watt pure sine inverter is going to reside inside the cab.  Why?  Most of the time that I need it on is right after driving and putting it in the front will reduce the wire run to the house battery.

Christmas Border2a

Here is an enjoyable little endeavor that took just a few hours to complete.  The mattress for the bed had been run lengthwise down the driver’s side of the van.  Now it will be mounted across the back near the doors.   The problem was how to shorten the mattress.  Who wants to spend $400 or more for a new one?   The answer was amazingly simple!

Bed Project 2_Coils

Individual but connected coil chambers make “bed reduction surgery” doable.

The mattress I adapted is a 3 year old Simmons Beautyrest.  Unlike many mattresses, this one is constructed much differently,  Rather than an array of connected coils, the Simmons model uses “pocketed coil” construction.  A strong fabric honeycomb contains each bedspring in a pocket.  That makes adjusting length super easy!

Jesse Jen_Bed Project

The two helpers watching every stitch.

Using sharp kitchen knives, I sliced off about 15 inches from the foot of the mattress and set it aside.  Pausing to measure everything, I trimmed that small side – which I call the “cap piece” – and cleaned it up a bit.  (It was mostly just foam and fabric, looking like a stuffed pork chop after you eat all the stuffing out of it)  The cap piece was shortened to about 6 inches.  Cleaning up the long piece of the bed was easy.  Carefully fitting and positioning them together, I manually sewed both pieces into a shorter mattress.

Bed Project 1

One surgery scar where I hope the stitches never come out!

I’m not an expert at sewing by any means.  Thankfully, the kind lady at Hobby Lobby helped me pick out a set of needles and some very strong upholstery thread.  The total cost was about $5.  Out of the set, I used a curved upholstery needle to re-attach the pieces.  It’s not an operation I would want to perform a second time.  (The fingers hurt!)

Upholstery Needle

During the sewing operation, I watched the movie Star Trek III – The Search for Spock.  That means it took about 2 hours to sew all that stuff by hand.  After finishing, I laid on the mattress with my head at the larger end.  One would never know that part of the mattress had been completely amputated and re-attached.  Success!

Christmas Border2a

Well, that’s it for now.  The next phases will involve disassembling the old bed frame, working on the van floor and carpeting it.  Carpet?  Yep!  It’s cheaper than linoleum and I want things to be comfortable… At the same time, the new carpeting will be super easy to replace if and when the need arises. Stay tuned for more progress reports.

Thanks for visiting…  Have a terrific weekend!

Bradford, Jesse James, and Jennifer
Jones County, Iowa

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About VanTrekker

I am a former vandweller in Eastern Iowa who, for several years (off and on), lived in a 2007 Chevy cargo van. I still travel around Iowa with my tortoise shell cat, Jennifer Stefanie. Our favorite place to explore is the Country Heritage Community, the four far northeastern counties of Iowa (Clayton, Winneshiek, Allamakee, and Fayette). Ride along as we fish in pristine trout streams, enjoy fine home cooked camping meals, and meet new people. It's all possible on a shoestring budget. Happy travels always! --- Brad, the "Van Trekker"

10 Responses to Amputating the Mattress!

  1. Kathy says:

    Glad to hear Jen is doing better.
    The new van layout looks more comfortable. Hope you enjoy it.

    • VanTrekker says:

      Thanks Kathy! I think it’s going to much more comfortable. Knowing what really needs to be in there (and especially what does not) is going to make the camping a lot more fun this year.

  2. Danny in Thomasville, GA says:

    When I saw that big surgery scar, I thought “Frankenstein Mattress” job. Go BRONCO’S ! ! !

  3. shadowmoss says:

    Won’t carpet be more difficult to keep clean than a hard surface floor? Like the picture of the cats.

    • VanTrekker says:

      Thanks for the note. 🙂 Carpet is definitely harder to maintain than a hard surfaced floor. The area I plan to cover is roughly square so I bought a little cheapie area rug to tack down to the plywood floor. I plan to lay a runner over the portion that might get dirty near the step area. If the carpet all goes to heck in a couple years, I can replace it in an hour… The linoleum I’d used before was pretty nice but took quite a while to scrub.

      One of the problems with keeping the old linoleum flooring clean in the past was due to the bad job I did with organizing items, spilling food while cooking, carelessly disposing of trash, etc. Muddy fishing shoes also created messes. The storage in the back of the van is going to help with a lot of these issues. If not, I can always go to linoleum or wood flooring.

      Take care!

  4. Bethers says:

    What did you use to slice the mattress?

  5. Bethers says:

    LOL. Thanks for the update. I didn’t think about kitchen knives. I thought maybe hack saw or electric saw. Next project – sharpen knives 😀

    • VanTrekker says:

      Thanks for the reply! Just make sure to find out how your mattress is constructed… On some coil mattresses all of the coils are together in one piece and it would be a mess to try and separate. (I got lucky). I’ve already slept on the modified mattress in the house and it’s working great. Next week when the weather warms up, the thought is to finish cleaning out the van and build the new bed frame – making the van liveable for traveling / camping purposes. The other upgrades will happen over time. 🙂