The angled island bed in the pre-2009 Jurgens Fleetline caravans isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. With some careful planning, Reg Stone modified the bed layout and surrounding cupboards himself, transforming his caravan to just the way he likes it.
I thought I’d share my story with other pre-2009 Fleetline owners, as this change has transformed our caravaning experience.
We purchased our Jurgens Fleetline new in 2007. At first we didn’t expect the angled island double bed to be a problem in terms of access to the far side. But, as time went on, it became more and more inconvenient for us.
Each time my wife got up at night and shuffled around the bed, she would bump against my feet, which most of the time were hanging over the end, one of the disadvantages of being 1.9 metres tall – or should I say ‘long’ when lying down. We tried swapping sides, but when I shuffled around the end, I would often lose my balance and end up sitting on her feet. None of this was conducive to a good night’s sleep!
Then, in 2009, the new model was introduced with the island bed positioned straight, which made it much easier to access both sides. We can only assume this improvement resulted from comments by previous owners like us.
We considered trading in our caravan for the new model, but after running the numbers – comparing the trade-in value versus the new model price, plus the additional licence and registration fees – we decided it wasn’t worth it. Our caravan, after all, was still in perfect condition, and we couldn’t justify spending that kind of money simply for a straight bed.
So we accepted our situation, and carried on for another year with what we had. But during this last year-end break, I decided to see if the existing layout could be changed to resemble the new model, and thus be more suitable for our needs.
A little planning, measuring and drawing suggested that it was feasible, utilising all the existing cupboard modules and, of course, the existing bed base. Looking at the photos, those who have a Fleetline with an angle bed will recognise the cupboards in their new positions.
All the items to be modified were carefully removed so that there was space to work in. The top cover to the existing cupboard was left in position as a guide under which to fit the two smaller cupboards. The little washbasin and its top were not reused, but the cupboard that had been underneath now became the top corner unit, which was fitted to the underside of the top piece that we had left in position.
Before this could be achieved, a little bit of gentle persuasion was necessary to deal with the angle of the vertical ends. The corner mouldings for this little cupboard are made at a 30-degree and a 60-degree angle, but they needed to have 45-degree corners. Fortunately this was easily done by removing the fixing screws and then refitting them after the sides were fixed in place. The slight gap created was hardly noticeable. If this is a problem to the ultra perfectionist, I’m sure one would be able to obtain new 45-degree corner mouldings.
Now the horizontal piece taken from the corner, previously above the head of the bed, was installed. Before this could be done, one corner had to be chamfered to fit neatly inside the moulding left in place from the previous clothes cupboard and not stick out into the passageway. The very top piece was then trimmed to a 45-degree angle so as not to protrude into the passage and bump our heads.
The cupboard, previously at the head of the bed, was fitted underneath. New sides were cut from 12 mm ply to fit into the distance remaining to the floor. Before this, they were painted with Velvaglo Tequila, which turned out to be an almost perfect colour match for the vinyl wall coating, as can be seen in the photos.
The clothes cupboard, now repositioned in the corner next to the head of the bed, had to be resized in width, depth and height. Keeping the door the same width, a filler piece was made from 12 mm ply to allow the door to open fully without clashing with the curtain pelmet.
The depth of the side wall also had to be trimmed for the same reason. This resulted in the shelves having to be modified in shape. We also fitted shelves where there had previously been hanging space, as we tend not to take fancy clothes that require hangers with us when we go camping! I’ve included my drawing that indicates the sizes of the modified cupboard.
The bed base was now fitted, with the compartment and door for the portable toilet repositioned, as illustrated. Obviously the top end of the bed that fitted against the back wall had to be notched out with a radius to suit. The head fixed portion that supports the mattress also had to be trimmed square. No modification was necessary to the hinged portion.
The mattress was reused with no modifications. We’re not aware of the top corner chamfers once the bed is made and our pillows are in place.
Somehow we now seem to have more room and cupboard space. Perhaps it’s because we used to find it awkward to access some of the cupboards in the original layout. We haven’t replaced the little wash basin, but we never used it anyway.
Amazingly the total cost of the modification job came to just around R600! This included the plywood for cupboard sides and shelves, epoxy adhesive, paint, corner brackets and screws.
Anyone with home handyman and DIY skills, and of course the right tools, will be able to perform this modification, and that means zero labour costs!
We’re now very happy with the layout of the bed and the cupboard storage space in our Fleetline. No more shuffling around each other and sitting on each other’s feet!
(This article was published in the July 2011 issue of Caravan & Outdoor Life)