Murphy bed or futon? - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 12-05-2017, 04:28 PM   #1
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Murphy bed or futon?

Hi All! This probably has been discussed before, but for some reason my searches are not producing anything fruitful.

Has anyone ever ordered or modified their trailer to have a Murphy bed or some sort of folding bed/futon instead of a permanent bed?
Just wondering if ETI even offers trailers without installed permanent beds, or with some sort of couch/futon set up instead. Of course, I'll contact them. But I was just wondering if anybody has done this and if so, could you post photos?

Replacement of a permanent bed with something like this just might add enough floor space for me to wheel around in a 21'.
Thanks!
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Old 12-05-2017, 04:52 PM   #2
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I think the bed in the 21 model is a structural component, perhaps ETI may have better information?
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Old 12-05-2017, 04:56 PM   #3
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I assume that the idea would be to change only the permanent bed (not the dinette) of a 21'. To get useful space, the bed would need to retract toward the driver's side wall. This would be similar to the side gaucho plans of classic fiberglass travel trailers such as the Boler B1700SG. In the Boler (whether the side gaucho or rear gaucho like mine), a bed-length sofa/couch pulls out to grow to bed width. Normally this provides seating along the full length of the furniture in sofa mode; however, in an Escape 21' the end at the front of the trailer would have the black tank in the way of sitting at the very front, so perhaps a box over the tank could serve as a side table.

The Boler and Bigfoot gauchos pulled out the base and flipped the backrest cushion down, so a futon-style cushion would work. The much more common modern equivalent is called a "jackknife" sofa/bed, and does essentially work like a typical futon.

A similar sofa/bed design could be used at the back (with consideration for the location of services such as the water heater) but there would still be a step up in the floor, so I don't know if this would be useful. The forward and central part of the floor step could be eliminated by a dropped section of floor (like the original 21' and 5.0TA floor), but that would be substantial customization.

I don't think there is the side-to-side room to get a Murphy bed (hinged along the length so folding to one side) deployed in the Escape 21' bed space. Some RVs use a Murphy bed hinged across the head, with the head at one side of the coach so that the sleeping position is across the room; however, that is only done with a widebody coach or with the head of the bed in a slide-out, as it is too long for the width of a narrow RV such as any Escape.

I'm not aware of anyone putting a pull-out gaucho or jackknife style sofa-bed in any location in any Escape. You get to be the first.
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Old 12-05-2017, 05:01 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by cpaharley2008 View Post
I think the bed in the 21 model is a structural component, perhaps ETI may have better information?
I think the bed framing is light wood like the other cabinets, and does not support a vertical cabinet extending to the roof. It would brace the wall in that area, stiffening the lower part of the shell, as do all of the cabinets. It seems unlikely to have any meaningful structure role other than to support the bed, but a similar concern has been raised with rear dinette base cabinets, and I agree that asking ETI is appropriate.

The bed cabinet does enclose the black waste tank. That's not an issue structurally (the bed framing doesn't hold up the tank), but anything else in that space must still cover the black tank and the first part of the black waste discharge plumbing.
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Old 12-05-2017, 05:04 PM   #5
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If customizing the front of the 21' floorplan for access, I suggest looking into reducing the bed width from full/double (54 inches) to something like twin, to allow sideways expansion of the bathroom (which is already the widest of any Escape floorplan). Yes, it's a two-piece moulded bathroom shell which would require substantial custom work; it would be difficult to incorporate this into the production process, but perhaps the trailer could be built with front interior unfinished and the bathroom shell and plumbing fixtures supplied not installed, for completion after leaving the factory.
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Old 12-05-2017, 05:10 PM   #6
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I had a Lance 1880 trailer that had a front futon bed/sofa, very useful.
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Old 12-05-2017, 05:35 PM   #7
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I appreciate such in-depth and thoughtful responses! Thank you both.

Brian, you gave such a thorough and logical explanation of how it would and wouldn't work depending on the configuration and what would need to be moved. I'll take a close look at the Boler for comparison to see exactly what you mean.
At first glance in reading your comments, it sounds like considerable changes would have to be made to accommodate certain configurations of such a bed...shape, size, the type of mechanism, etc. And of course, I should have realized that Reace and Tammy had a reason for arranging the layout the way they did.
But you've pointed me in the right direction, so I'll have a look at everything further.

Again, you guys are great! Thanks for your time and helpful comments!
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Old 12-05-2017, 05:36 PM   #8
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CPA - what a great set up! That's similar to what I had envisioned. Thanks for posting the photo!
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Old 12-05-2017, 06:43 PM   #9
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I'll take a close look at the Boler for comparison to see exactly what you mean.
It can be tough to find information for old RVs... so this is a link to a 1978 brochure showing the floorplans, with photos so you can see the gaucho in sofa mode.
Fiberglass RV > Downloads > Trailer Brand Manufacturer > Boler > Boler_Brochure_1978
The pulled-out width of the gaucho as bed is the width of the base plus the backrest cushion.
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Old 12-05-2017, 07:04 PM   #10
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This is the floor plan of my Chalet Aframe with gaucho in the back. It works great and is only used as a bed if the grands are along. The front is kept as my bed and hasn't been used as a dinette except for the first night I got it.
A-Frame | Chalet, Inc.
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Old 12-05-2017, 08:35 PM   #11
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Back to the drawing board

There is a lot of great information posted here. So many wonderful options! It would be nice if we could incorporate some of these.
However, I did hear back from UTI, and it's not possible for the 21'. Mostly, the bed is in its current position because of structural reasons. Any other configuration or folding or Murphy type bed wouldn't be possible. They didn't elaborate further than that.

OK, so it's back to the ol' drawing board as they say. Thanks so much again everyone for the input and information!
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Old 12-05-2017, 08:35 PM   #12
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Squidget bed

The Squidget is a home built trailer that has a folding bed system that would work in an E-21 and cover the black tank area. You would have to rearrange your pressure water lines and box in your water heater. The designer did a really nice job with his homebuilt trailer. Check out his website and watch the video. At about 7 minutes into the video he shows the bed operation.
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Old 12-05-2017, 10:03 PM   #13
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The bed cabinet does enclose the black waste tank. That's not an issue structurally (the bed framing doesn't hold up the tank), but anything else in that space must still cover the black tank and the first part of the black waste discharge plumbing.
And hot water tank if you get the u-shaped dinette.
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Old 12-05-2017, 11:22 PM   #14
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The rear entrance Lil' Snoozy has a removable sofa with no interior wheel wells to contend with (to open up more floor space for maneuverability), and the forward bed area would be relatively easy to modify (on-board battery is only thing to contend with there, and it can easily be moved to the tongue). Since the Lil' Snoozy utilizes a Thetford Porto-Potty (no mounted black water tank), it seems it would be possible to modify (enlarge?) the bath/shower area, as well, if needed. Just a thought....
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Old 12-06-2017, 01:29 AM   #15
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And hot water tank if you get the u-shaped dinette.
Good catch... and isn't the water heater in that location under the bed even with the normal dinette? The U-shaped adds space under the dinette seats, so it shouldn't cause the water heater to move from the back to the front. Also, the water heater should be close to the bathroom, so under the bed makes more sense regardless of dinette.

Fortunately, the water heater is against the streetside wall, so a pull-out gaucho or jackknife sofa-bed would still cover it. The seat base just needs to be high enough to clear the water heater.

This water heater location would be an issue for a Murphy bed, assuming that bed folds against the side wall. A Murphy bed folding against the front wall would interfere with the black tank, and there wouldn't be enough ceiling height for it (especially with overhead cabinets).
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Old 12-06-2017, 01:38 AM   #16
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Slatted pull-out base for gaucho

While looking for another sofa-bed design common in small Class B motorhomes (van conversions), I ran across a website with nice illustrations of the construction of a slatted base, used to extend a seat base into a larger area for a bed... such as for a gaucho sofa-bed. My Boler has a much cheaper and flimsier variation with thin plywood and some sticks.
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Old 12-06-2017, 01:51 AM   #17
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However, I did hear back from [ETI], and it's not possible for the 21'. Mostly, the bed is in its current position because of structural reasons. Any other configuration or folding or Murphy type bed wouldn't be possible. They didn't elaborate further than that.
I'm not very surprised by the answer, but also not very convinced. Once you have the trailer you can do what you want, and I wouldn't be surprised if a few minutes with a screwdriver and prybar left you with a big open area (with a water heater and black tank in manageable locations within it) that would accept a different design of furnishings.

I'm sure there's a 21' owner who would be happy to lift the mattress and show you (or someone who might design modifications for you) what's underneath... without tearing it apart, of course. If you do this, definitely note how far the black tank waste line extends before it turns and goes through the floor. This detail apparently changed between the first-generation and second-generation designs.
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Old 12-06-2017, 08:47 AM   #18
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This isn't perhaps the best picture of what's under the full-time bed in a new generation 21', but it's one that I already had to show some "bumper boards" I installed under there to keep stored items from sliding into the black water tank and drain pipe (top) and the water heater (far left; just out of the photo). Note also that there are hot and cold water lines that wrap around the foot of the bed on their way to the bath. Just for fun, I threw in a photo of Reace working "in the hole" while he was here to replace our shower lines. You can see a bit of the water heater behind him.
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File Type: jpg DSC09423.jpg (153.2 KB, 15 views)
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Old 12-06-2017, 09:22 AM   #19
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I "borrowed" these photos of new generation 21's under construction from another thread. One shows the water heater at the foot of the bed (driver side), and the other shows the the portion of the black water tank that extends under the head of the bed plus the drain pipe.
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File Type: jpg Black water tank.jpg (57.1 KB, 22 views)
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Old 12-06-2017, 10:06 AM   #20
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So, is the consensus that it can be altered with some good carpentry? Or do the water heater and pipes obviate a switch out?

The lil'. snoozy is a cutie for sure. They just make them in one size though correct?
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