How to Make a Rear Bed for a Vintage Shasta Trailer

Written by john cagney nash
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Shasta began producing travel trailers in 1941, making towables that were originally intended as housing for United States Armed Forces personnel. Coachmen Industries purchased the factory and trademarks in 1976, and made trailers until 2004. The brand was reintroduced to the market in 2008, after which the original run became colloquially known as "vintage." Most vintage Shasta trailers had a rear bed, properly referred to as a "Rear Folding Couch Mattress," which when folded served as a sofa and, when flat, became a bed. If the original equipment must be replaced, you have several alternatives for making a new rear bed.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Carpentry toolkit
  • Graph paper
  • Digital camera
  • Framing timber
  • Plywood sheets
  • Countersunk screws
  • Futon (optional)
  • Gaucho bed (optional)
  • Recycled RV bed (optional)

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  1. 1

    Replicate the vintage Shasta equipment. Disassemble the original unit and make complete plans on graph paper as it comes apart. Record the locations of all the timber supports, show exact measurements, draw in the panels and their sizes, and note where all the hardware was installed.

  2. 2

    Take digital photographs of the disassembly project. Print them out so you have a complete schematic to work from when replacing the unit with new materials. Discuss your project with professionals at a home improvement warehouse to learn the best materials to use to trade off structural integrity against added weight.

  3. 3

    Make the wooden base box with a hinged lid. This method creates a large storage bay. Size the base box to accept a standard mattress size if you don't need to be able to reconfigure the bed into a sofa for day use. Construct the frame from structural timbers and clad it in plywood sheets. Cut the top in half and use piano hinges to join them in the middle. Use countersunk screws throughout to avoid snagging the mattress or cushions.

  4. 4

    Consider installing a futon. Find a futon that fits across the rear wall and serves as a sofa during the day, then as a bed at night. Futons tend to be much lighter in weight than standard beds, mattresses and timber frames, so they are a viable option if tongue weight is an issue.

  5. 5

    Build a gaucho bed. These have a large drawer that pulls out from beneath a sleeping platform. The drawer is supported on folding legs and the seating cushions are recombined to become a mattress.

  6. 6

    Find a collapsible bed from a scrapped recreational vehicle at a salvage yard. Install it in the space left open by the removal of the original vintage Shasta rear bed.

Tips and warnings

  • In many vintage Shasta trailers, the inside of the rigid bed frame was accessed from outside through a cargo bay door. Ensure that making a rear bed from non-original equipment does not obstruct the door or deprive you of storage.
  • The rear bed in most Shasta trailers was made of three 72-inch-long foam panels, one of which was 26 inches wide, the other two of which were 10 inches wide. All were 3-inches thick. The foam panels sat on top of a framed wooden box with a top made of two plywood sheets that slid in either direction on aluminium runners.

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