13 . 03 . 16

​Living out of the back of a van seems to have become incredibly en-vogue in recent years. A sure sign of that is when a parody film, such as the one produced by the wonderful guys at Crayfish Films, appears on the scene offering a tongue-in-cheek take on a social media phenomenon.

James headed off to Ireland for a couple of weeks on Friday afternoon. On Thursday morning, he realized that the simple sleeping/storage platform in the back of the Otter Surfboards van wasn’t big enough for both him and our friend Tony (who’s taking a break from building his own surfboard with us to join James for a fortnight’s surf trip) to sleep on. And so the back of the van underwent a rather last-minute 8-hour refit on Thursday.

So, here’s our guide to getting your van ready for a surf trip at very short notice:

First things first, jump online and order some made-to-measure foam (we’d recommend getting premium high-density seating foam, cut into three slabs and wrapped in stockinette) and, if you’re in as much of a hurry as James, select next-day delivery and cross your fingers that it arrives in time.

Remove whatever’s currently in the back of your van, leaving an empty, panelled, space.

Get hold of a couple of old, small, cupboard or drawer units – the ones in the back of James’ van are old school cupboards from our previous workshop. These will form the primary support for your sleeping platform and provide a bit of order to your storage. James fitted one at the “front end” up against the forward bulkhead, running lengthways down the van, and one across the back that can be accessed when the rear doors are open.

Cut some pine battens to fit to the walls, and where the cupboards don’t meet the walls fit these battens so that the top is level with the tops of the cupboards. These will provide extra support for your sleeping platform.

Cut a 2440x1220mm sheet of 12mm plywood to fit across the back of the van – notching it to fit into the corners and so that the internal door handles don’t foul against it. Fit it across the back of the van, screwing it into the cupboard uprights and into the battens on the van walls.

Cut and fit another panel to sit between the piece that you just fitted and the forward bulkhead, sitting on top of and just overlapping the other cupboard unit so that you now have an L-shaped flat platform that is fixed permanently in place.

Fit battens lengthways underneath the inside edges of your L-shaped platform using screws, so that half of the batten sticks out and can provide a ledge for the next (removable) panel to sit on.

Cut the next panel the same length as the last, and wide enough to fit your foam “mattress” cushions on. From any remaining ply wood you can then cut out a section to act as legs for this final panel – a hollow three sided square, essentially. If you cut this slightly oversize then there’ll be a lip at the top which will help to prevent the mattress cushions from sliding around. This final panel should sit in place, and can then be lifted and slid across on top of its neighbour when you don’t need to have the van set up for sleeping. You can drill through the panel into the batten that it sits on and drop a bolt in when it’s set up for sleeping, to hold it all in place.

Put your foam slabs in – one width ways across the back of the van and the other two length ways (like single mattresses) over the other two panels. When not being used for sleeping, one can be a backrest for a seat. Screw battens into the platform if necessary to stop the foam slabs from sliding about.

Pack everything into boxes and tubs that can slide underneath the sleeping platform – wetsuit tubs, a crate of cooking kit, a food box, etc…

Load surfboards, twist the key, and go looking for waves.

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