Airbed

Tapered for your lounging convenience.


Some people call me cheap, some call me inventive. Others call me just plain crazy.

Ever since I got the boat right side up, I've been dreaming of sleeping aboard. At first it was as soon as the cabin was done. Then I settled for when the head was installed. I've been telling Lisa I'd make a little camping trip of it; bring all I needed for a couple of days and nights and not step "ashore" unless I had to "scuttle and head for land." Well with one thing or another I've never gotten around to it. You know how scarce those round toits are.

A couple of days ago the notion reared it's beady little head again. I started thinking it might be nice to lie down and take a nap between epoxy jobs. Actually, concurrent with all the other bits and pieces, I've been investigating foam and cushion covers, but the engine has been consuming most of my synaptic activity. As I was wandering through Walmart yesterday, I decided to troll the camping aisles. For 15 bucks I picked up a twin-size Coleman air mattress, 10" thick, and for 10 bucks, I got a hand pump.

Yesterday afternoon, after completing all my projects for the day I set up the mattress in the cabin. As expected, the lower parts overlapped the edge because it's 40" wide and the berth is only 20" at the foot. I left it partially inflated so that it curved up against the hull. But this was totally unsatisfactory. The nap, however, was sublime. At last! Snoozing on my own boat!

[tapered_air_bed_top]

Last night and this morning I'd run some schemes through my mind, and then it came to me. All I needed to do was roll up the hull edge of the mattress until it was the right width, then glue it in place.

[tapered_air_bed_bottom]

I rolled up the lower 4' on a dowel. Then I applied contact cement to the roll-up and the flat bottom; 3" on each side. Since even good contact cement can sometimes pull apart, I added more cement and laid on this 6" strip for sheer strength.

Fully inflated, it's quite comfy. I can already see where some tiny shelves would come in handy for my glasses. Hmmm, glasses. Yes! A glass holder!

Sad news - 2004/06/24

My rolled up seam failed. Pulled apart under load. I'm still excited about this possibility for a cheap bed, but I'll have to try again. The good part is that the contact cement cleaned off fairly easilly with acetone. Unfortunately I can't show the rebuilt bed bacause I don't have any PVC cement. Will retry with the PVC cement tomorrow.

Great news - 04/06/26

As I remember from my free-wheeling days of misspent yout', side trips can be a little bumpy. It's the nature of experimenting, isn't it. I mean, after all, if every experiment worked the first time we'd be using WD-1.

On my way home yesterday I stopped by JoMar, a fabric outlet in the neighborhood, and got 5 yards of this upholstery material for 2.50/yd. and a 24" Talon zipper for 29 cents. I'm not sure what color it will look like to you but I like it very much and the resident color expert tells me it's a periwinkle blue.

While the initial failure caused me some disapointment, the concept stirred a lot of interest and excitement from my regular readers. I'm glad I have friends who are smarter than I am. Frank Andrew suggested an "ace bandage", which I turned into an upholstery cover, and Chris Ercole suggested slotting a piece of PVC pipe to hold the rolled up part of the airbed. I used Chris's idea "as is." Thanks to both of you!

[040626a.jpg]

At the crack of 7:30 this morning I shoved all the furniture in the dining room out of the way and turned our loft into a loft. Here both the top and bottom layers are cut to size. The rectangular piece(s) are to be the ends. Layout and cutting took about an hour.

Pinning the edges together took about another hour. There's one seam on each side, midway between top and bottom. The sewing took a few minutes.

[040626b.jpg]

Then ends are box ends, square. In order to work up the courage and practice for the top with its zipper, I started on the smaller one at the foot of the bag. Once that was pinned into place it was sewed with little fuss.

[040626c.jpg]

Here's the zipper panel. The zipper was pinned then baisted to the inside, then sewn to the top of the bag.

[040626d.jpg]

I know it's not a big-assed plastic zipper, but what do you want for 29 cents.

[040626e.jpg]

The end of a happy story... almost. The first time I put the airbag inside the cover, I thought I'd save a step and some work and just fold the bag over then inflate it. That didn't work. The bag, although folded almost in half at the bottom, doubled in height as it filled up. I took it back out of the cover and proceeded to fabricate the slit pipe. Some gremlin told me I wasn't going to glue any of the airbag so I never bought any glue. The PVC pipe I used is 1.5" and 5' long. If you decide to do something similar make sure you sand the edges of the slit thoroughly so it doesn't rip the vinyl.

So many of the jobs I do take a long time from start to finish for a number of reasons. This wasn't one of them. I'm really happy to see something that's totally completed, and I'm anxiously looking forward to sleeping on the job.


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Written 2004/06/23
Amended 2004/06/26