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Old 09-17-2012, 01:09 PM
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Default New mattress and mods

We finally decided to toss the Elkmont's old mattress. Even with a topper it wasn't very comfortable.

So we got a full sized queen, 8" thick, "firm" foam mattress from King Coil. It's layered, with harder foam at the bottom, and 2" of memory foam on the top. And very, very comfortable. More so than our bed at home in fact.

The Elkmont has a "short" queen bed, so the plan was to cut the length to fit. But I loved the extra length sooooo much that plans changed. You can see in the picture the additional support and brackets I built around the bottom of the bed's storage box. This supports the mattress's xtra length when it's down. When the bed is up, it just hangs over the edge.

You can no longer squeeze around the bed when the room divider is drawn, but we only use the divider when one of us is working in the kitchen area and the other one in the bed. So you're not disturbing anyone in bed when you roll over to get out anyway.

Because of the mattresse's xtra length and weight, lifting the bed became a chore. Somebody else here replaced their mattress with an inner-spring version and replaced the two 40# gas struts with 80# versions. So without thinking, I went ahead and ordered two 80# struts as well.

But two of these turned out to be too strong for the weight of the foam mattress. In addition, after installing one, I noticed that it was twisting out the mounting bracket on the bed frame and pulling the frame's hinge away from the front wall. When the bed is horizontal, 100% of the strut's force is pulling the bed from the front wall. And there are stories here about the whole bed pulling away from the wall in some Elkmonts!

So I quickly put the old 40# strut back and came up with yet a different plan. After fiddling around with vectors and geometry and forces, I eventually decided to just wing it and came up with what you see in the picture.

A single 80# gas strut now is mounted in the middle of the floor and pushes the bed back against the wall, and up. The two major advantages of this are: the whole bed has now shifted back toward the wall by about a cm as the horizontal forces from the other struts pulling it away have been almost neutralized.

Secondly, as the strut is mounted on the floor, it is not horizontal when the bed is down. This means there is some upward force offsetting the bed's weight when it's down. Originally there was none and getting the bed up was hardest at the beginning of the lift. And when you lowered the bed you had to hold onto it as it came down so it didn't thump down dramatically. Now, it is better balanced. Much less effort is required to raise it the first foot, then it raises by itself. Lowering requires that you put more weight on it initially, but then it's easy to push it down to the last foot, when it lowers itself down.

Frankly, it's amazing to me that the strut addition works as well as it does. It was all "by guess and by golly".
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Last edited by brulaz; 09-17-2012 at 01:11 PM.
Old 09-18-2012, 06:13 PM
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Our original Elk mattress was used by a smoker and stunk badly, first thing we got rid of, I threw on a regular size queen mattress with a 4 inch topper. Very comfy and very heavy and awkward. Looks like the extra strut will do the trick.....darn you brulaz, you are going to cost me more money! But life will be easier!

Any chance you could give a brand/model of the strut? Or where you ordered it from?
Old 09-19-2012, 06:47 AM
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I ordered two struts and only used one. So if you want the 80# one like mine I can mail it to you next week. PM me your address. It'll just sit around going to waste otherwise.

I got it from strut-your-stuff-here

Here's how I mounted it:

- Reinforced bottom of bed area with thin plywood pop-riveted in place as close to the front partition as possible.

- Drilled out socket of strut for a bolt and bolted loosely (with double nuts) to 6" of Al angle.

- Mounted Al angle to reinforced area with 4 large sheet metal screws.

- Dropped the heavy end of the strut to the floor with the bed fully elevated by the other struts.

- Held the heavy end of strut to the floor with a piece of notched plywood over it, screwed in with long wood screws.

If your mattress is heavier than ours, I *think* you will want to mount the strut farther back from the front of the trailer.

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