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L400 - Simple & Effective Camper-ization (LWB recommended)

Posted: Tue Apr 18, 2017 12:29 pm
by sinjin
Spent a weekend implementing a relatively simple & effective camper-conversion on my 96 long-wheelbase Super Exceed gasser. Some description to go with the attached & album pics is below. Here are is the link to the full photo album (more pics there than what is attached to this post):

You don't have to weld to accomplish this, as you could choose to bolt together these items, but I welded for additional strength (no bolts coming loose) and was fortunate to have a friend help me with the simple welds involved. Didn't take long at all. I used two box rails, each welded to 2 strong uni-strut legs cut to appropriate length & angle with a washer welded to the bottom of each leg. I determined the height of the legs needed by what I wanted to fit underneath. The platform the rail supports ends up 18" off of the floors. This allows the storage of many standard-sized coolers (mine is 17.5" tall) and the big rubbermaid bins, which are also about the same height. If you are a taller person (taller than 5'9"), you "may" want to lower the platform to allow for more headroom and compromise on what you can fit underneath (see my note about this later on).

Finally, I used the stock bolts for the 3rd row seat positions to attach the legs to the vehicle at those standard engineered points. By the way, I forgot to mention that the passenger side box rail is obviously cut shorter than the other side so it doesn't impede the access opening from the sliding door. Nice thing about this overall approach of using the 3rd row seat attachment points to support a platform is that no alterations are necessary to the vehicle at all, and you have no legs supporting the platform underneath in the middle. More space underneath for bins etc! If you want to hold really heavy loads on top of the platform you could attach a couple of pieces of smaller dimension steel-angle attached across (just to the plywood underneath) to bolster horizontal stiffness. The combined weight of my wife and I is about 300 lbs...and we don't find it is required with 3/4 ply.

Next step...built a hinged sleeping platform well over 6 feet long using 3/4 ply and three 48" long continuous/piano hinges, then carpeted it. This allows the platform to extend to bed-mode (again well over 6 feet long), or "slide" into to a double-sided bench (i.e. "bench-mode"), locking into place into set sleeping and bench mode positions in the rails using either carriage bolts with butterfly nuts, or even better quick release ball-lock-pins. The front edge passenger-side of the sleeping platform is cut at a bit of an angle to allow for easier access from sliding door as well. I made the rails and sleeping platform more than long enough for a six foot tall person to sleep comfortably, but not too that the 2nd row captains chairs remain in the vehicle and can still be rotated and used as a normal second row of front-facing seats with decent legroom (but not the maximum leg room). You also have to pay close attention to the driver's side box rail length in this regard.

Normally, I push the passenger-side 2nd row captain's chair as far forward as I can with seat flipped up, and then rotate the driver's side 2nd row chair to face rearward. This allows a big opening for access through the sliding door, and still gives one normal seat to use if needed while the camper is in "bench-mode". Also allows face-to-face conversations in the back of the vehicle.

As noted above, one cavaet to keep in mind...the height of the bench-mode platform seat (as I have built it) is quite a bit higher than the standard if you are tall you are SOL. I am 5'9" and I can sit on the bench and my head sticks into the crystallite window openings without touching the glass (but the bench seat-back must be at a slightly relaxed angle too. In other words, you can't sit too upright otherwise you'll bump your head on the glass. This won't work at all with a low-roof version of the Delica. Even with the high-roof Delica, if you are tall and really want a functional bench to sit on, you'll have to compromise on the height of the items you can fit underneath the platform. I really wanted a standard height cooler and larger rubbermaid bins to fit underneath, so I was more than willing to compromise. It also helps that my wife is petite, and she has no issues at all using the platform in bench mode. The height of the platform does not cause any issues at all in "bed-mode". In fact it is perfect, as it elevates you to almost the window height, allowing for nice views while laying down, yet still use the curtains without impeding them at all. BTW, Cabela's roll-up mattress works beautifully here. Comfortable and fits just about perfectly, especially the length. Doesn't use the entire width though. A couple of inches of platform on each side remains.

We also made a little kitchen/prep table that swings down from a latch attached to the rear of the sleeping platform. Then a little copper pipe end-cap screwed to the bottom of the table allows a removable extendable hiking-pole (which I cut a bit) to fit into it act as a supporting leg. Voila, kitchen table underneath the rear hatch, protected by the weather.

I also get a lot of questions about the side "Awning". I'm not sold on putting a roof rack on yet, with one of those fancy and expensive rollout awnings. So I used a good-sized sil tarp, and found these nifty "Super Magnets" with carabiner attachments (a game-changer!!). They hold 40 lbs each, and are quite strong. Super magnets indeed. I bought three of them, and protected the vehicle paint at the points where I want to use the magnets with that invisible/clear 3M protection. Then simple extendable poles from crappy tire, a couple of lengths of rope and a couple of tent stakes...and you are good to go! Extremely quick set up and very strong! Pics show tarp attached to wrong side of vehicle (normally on sliding door side), but I did it just to show you as example in the place where it happened to be parked.

L400 - Simple & Effective Camper-ization (LWB recommended)

Posted: Sun May 21, 2017 10:11 pm
by slim13
Hey I really like your setup.

Interested in what you did with the tarp to create more cover. When I click on you link, it says the folder is empty. Could you send me some pics of the tarp setup you made please.

Thank you,


L400 - Simple & Effective Camper-ization (LWB recommended)

Posted: Mon May 22, 2017 6:26 am
by Jakester
Same here really like your setup.
Just bought a 98 and want to set it up would really like to see more of your pictures .

L400 - Simple & Effective Camper-ization (LWB recommended)

Posted: Mon May 22, 2017 6:30 am
by sinjin
Sorry guys...I have no idea why the pics I post to that album keep disappearing. I will try to arrange another type of online album and share more pics soon.

Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk

L400 - Simple & Effective Camper-ization (LWB recommended)

Posted: Tue Dec 03, 2019 7:41 am
by Sthaddeus
Awesome info. Love the design too. I have a few questions as we considering getting a LWB L400:

1) Will it go into bed mode with the 2nd row seats slid forward, but NOT tipped forward? We want to put a suspended perpendicular bed in that area for a wee one, and that is a critical consideration.

2) Do you know if the 2nd row rails can be modified so the seats slide farther forward on the tracks? I was surprised to note that they don't actually slide all the way forward on the rails)

3) How long is your bed? You mentioned it being longer than 6' but I'm wondering by how much.

4) Could you resend or repost a link to your wonderful project? The only links are broken.


L400 - Simple & Effective Camper-ization (LWB recommended)

Posted: Tue Dec 03, 2019 10:14 am
by sinjin
Thanks sthaddeus. I still have the Delica and love the setup. Periodically, and for winter, I remove the sleeping platform and store it. So currently, it is not in the van for me to verify the questions you have asked. However...from memory:

1) Will it go into bed mode with the 2nd row of seats slid forward, but NOT tipped forward?

I'm fairly sure the following is true. You definitely have to slide the seats fairly far forward along the tracks. You do not have to tilt the seat-backs forward much, if at all. However, I always flip the seat bottoms up and the armrests up to allow the seats to slide forward on the rails enough toward the front seats. Because I do not have to worry about a wee one, I generally slide them as forward as I can with seat backs tilted up to allow more leeway/space between the end of the platform whilst in bed mode, and the 2nd row seat backs. There isn't much gap, but enough to stand up (barely) and squeeze your legs by. The seat backs and armrests make for nice quick access jacket/clothes hangers to grab when you wake up. :-)

2) Do you know if the 2nd rail floor rails can be modified so the seats can slide farther forward on the tracks?

Not sure about that. You'll have to read up elsewhere to see if that is feasible.

3) How long is your bed?

From memory, I 'believe' it is 6'2" long. Because of the passenger-side sliding door, the platform support on that side is shorter than the support on the driver's side (the side without the sliding door). Therefore, I cut the corner off of the passenger side of the sleeping platform and angled it back towards the end of the passenger side platform support rail which only comes to the beginning of the door opening obviously. That way, there is less of an unsupported corner of the platform there. Otherwise, the majority of the platform is the full 6'2" long, and this is not an issue for either of us to sleep comfortably.

That said, do note that the platform supports themselves do not run the full length of the bed on either side (platform overhangs the end - part of the reason I recommend 3/4 ply - it is plenty strong enough). I can provide actual lengths of the welded platform supports for you if you wish. The driver's side support is long enough to provide plenty of support for the platform, but also unfortunately just long enough to barely impede the driver's side 2nd row seat from sliding all the way back on the floor rails when reclined , even when the platform is removed (armrest hits the platform support rail as the armrest comes close to edge of vehicle - but not really a big deal - worth the slight 2nd row foot room compromise for the extra bed support). The passenger-side 2nd row seat, on the other hand, can easily slide all the way back to the most rearward position on the floor rails without touching the platform supports, as that support rail is shorter as I mentioned above.

I suppose you could always choose to lessen the overall length of the sleeping platform in order to 'possibly' allow more potential room for the wee-one in the 2nd row. A few inches maybe? This might be just enough to allow the seat backs into a more reclined position while platform is in bed mode.

4) Could you resend or repost a link to your wonderful preoject?

I can probably send more pics easier if I have your email address. (preferred)

L400 - Simple & Effective Camper-ization (LWB recommended)

Posted: Sat Dec 14, 2019 9:42 pm
by Sthaddeus
Thanks for the reply and glad you're still in the rig! I've tried replying to you via the email system, in addition to PM, but both appear to not be working (the PMs are sitting in the outbox, not sent). Ideas?

We did pull the trigger on a L400 LWB in Vancouver and will coming up to get it in a week--can't wait!