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Big bed in Sherpa Tiny

  • BurgessL
    BurgessL on

    Words & Images Lawrence Burgess

    When you’re about to turn 70, the importance of comfort-in-bed becomes priority. So, an idea started to form in my mind. I planned to make the bed in our Sherpa Tiny bigger, so that it stretched wall to wall!

    I looked around my garage to see what materials I had been hoarding (against my wife’s will), and was pleasantly surprised to find that I had 98% of what I would need for my project.

    The first thing I needed was 15mm thick chipboard, available from any hardware store. It needed to be 1500mm x 470mm. I cut out a template from a large piece of scrap cardboard, and shaped it just right. I marked out this shape on the chipboard, cut it out with a jigsaw, and smoothed the edges.

    To complete the bed extension, I found aluminium tubes, plastic balls and matching sockets (obtainable from the nearest caravan dealer), and cut them to the correct lengths. I screwed the sockets onto the floor and to the underside of the chipboard.

    In the picture, you can see the legs clipped into their fold-up positions. The reason for folding the legs in, is to make this extension easily removable.

    The board was painted with several coats of white enamel to match the fibreglass interior colour of the Tiny.

    I had to buy an extension foam mattress to match the density and thickness of the existing mattresses, which was then covered by an upholsterer with a material close to the existing colour.

    Finally, I fitted the bed extension into the Tiny. Notice that two brackets, bent out of 4mm steel, were also installed for support – one bracket has a hole for an extended bolt. The bolt is put into a hole in the bracket which steadies the whole extension bed-board, preventing it from wandering horizontally.

    Then, we had to test this modification out somewhere, didn’t we? But where do you go from a freezing Joburg in July? Warm Kruger is too far away for a three-night weekend with a little 1500cc Daihatsu Terios, and Durban is also too far.

    So, I googled “Camping near Nelspruit” as I figured that, at 800 metres altitude, it had to be warmer than home at 1600 metres. Also, 350km was not too far away for a weekend, was it?

    We decided to try Hippo Waterfront Resort. Wow! What a pleasant surprise. Overlooking the Crocodile River with lovely indigenous trees and lawns, the resort has only six stands. They are all spacious, with about half of them under shade. You can expect visits from hippos every day, and there is good wild birdlife to be seen.

    Above: Lawrence’s wife Jenny enjoys a weekend away at Hippo Waterfront Resort near Nelspruit, to test out their improved caravan.

    The ablutions are private and very clean; and there are portable braais available. For those hot days, the small pool is perfect for cooling off.

    There is only one central electric power box, so make sure that you take a long extension cable.

    If you are not a camper, you can stay in the econo-chalets or cottages. And, if you are not the type to make your own dinner, there is a restaurant and pub deck overlooking the river.

    We paid R295 per night, all inclusive!

    We’ve taken our new bed on two trips in total, and have gratefully slept well.

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