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Bulding an Upper Bunk Safety Wall


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2004 Volvo VNL 670


This is a project I've been complicating for several years - I just never decided on a final design until last week.


What's behind this project is safely using the top bunk for extra storage. Even with the safety webbing in place I've always been concerned about the possibility of items stored "up top" coming down during a panic stop. Or, worse yet, an accident.


Normally items placed up top are soft in nature - extra pillows, blankets, clothing and a plastic tub in the center filled with smaller items. The safety webbing was pulled over the cargo and buckled in place. Still, gaps on the ends, bottom and the large openings in the safety webbing created opportunities for "stuff" to come out. Books, boat anchors, and toolboxes are not to be stored above. We have never used the top bunk for sleeping.


Plan A was to take the top bunk completely out and replace it with a 3/4" piece of plywood. Plan B was to cut the cover off the bunk, take out the padding and screw a piece of plywood on top of the metal framework. Plan C (which I elected) was to leave the bunk intact and place a piece of 1/2" plywood on top which would be screwed to the new "wall" with a 2"x 2" full length cleat. This plan required the least amount of labor and allowed for the return of an upper sleeping bunk should our needs ever change.


The vertical part, or the solid wall, was bolted against the back side of the cabinets with a door sporting heavy-duty hardware that would keep it closed. Since the cabinets are just plastic, a steel cable with anchors in the upper 2" x 4" structure of the wall was attached to the safety webbing mounts on the upper back of the cab (safety webbing removed and stored).


The hatch openings on the front of the wall were trimmed out with 3/4" polished aluminum trim and foam back covering that matches the OEM interior gray covering. The steel hinges and latches were also polished then covered with clear coat.


Getting the parts for the wall up onto the top bunk required temporarily removing the left overhead cabinet. Putting it back without help is a challenge. Even with the cabinet out the largest solid piece you can get up there is 58" x 29", which dictated the size of the assembled wall. The wall is set back from the cabinets 1-1/2" so as to not interfere with the OEM cabinet latches.


I won't pretend the addition of the wall is the best looking thing in the world, especially with my choice of heavy duty hardware, but I am reasonably confident that anything I choose to store up top will not be flying off into space, or my head.




Upper bunk with safety webbing in place (cabinet has been removed)



Cabinet removed from side wall on driver's side to allow extra room to install parts.




Bench construction of wall and access door.



Steel cable running from cab webbing anchor to wall for extra support due to plastic cabinets having questionable strength.




Safety wall with access door bolted in place.


Now completed: Gas struts to hold access door open, light inside, carpet on plywood floor inside to reduce sliding of cargo and noise, loading it full of cargo.


Still remaining: Relocation of speakers.





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Randy, Very nice!!! How difficult will it be to get the item that is inevitably in the back in the corner out of reach? Will the original bunk latter be useable for that purpose?

Actually, it is not any more difficult than the original open design as the door opening is only a few inches smaller. I can stand on the edge of the lower bunk and use an available 3' long broom stick with a hook on the end to snag anything in a back corner. In fact, I can fit through the opening as I have done several times during construction. There are two little cubicles in the very top of the bunk side of the cabinets intended for the upper bunk occupant to store whatever. I can even reach those openings - that is where I store the excess curtains that would come around the windshield and upper bunk window covers. I have now decided to go ahead and make the hatch lockable. It is secure enough to store stuff like cameras, etc. when the truck is vacant. Given time a thief could get it open but they rarely want to spend that much time. OK - not my idea. Nancy noted yesterday when I was up in there bolting the wall in place that it would be a good spot to lock me up if she needed to keep me out of trouble (yea, right <_< like I get into trouble!) Just another layer of protection all the way around.


I think it looks good and will serve its purpose well.


Depending on the weight of the door you might only need one gas strut. You can see in the picture below we only have one holding up the top have of a custom clam shell door which I bet weighs more than your door.


My oh my. Brings back memories of our '69 Chevy Carry-All. It was suppose to come with two swing open rear doors but arrived with the tailgate and upper part of the clamshell. They did not use gas struts in those days. The support mechanism was mechanical.

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