In Depth

Bedroom Modifications in a 1976 31' Airstream Excella 500

  • 28 September 2016

Rear Twin Bed Conversion to a Queen.

Or, at least that was my plan.

After removing the two original twin beds, I found rotten areas against the back wall and along the street side of the trailer. Since the body sits on the subfloor, it's not easy to replace the subfloor without lifting the body off. I didn't want to go through the trouble, so I just laid a piece of 1/2" plywood over the areas that were soft.

The prior owner had converted the copper pipe to PEX. As far as I can tell, originally, the water come in on the street side, runs through the closet to the middle of the kitchen, under the floor to the curb side, and splits out from there. The prior owner had removed the hose spool and put in a copper pipe connection at the bumper, still on the street side. He then ran the PEX the opposite direction - around the back, under the other bed, and into the bathroom. I don't think this was the best decision. I'm assuming he did it because following the original routing would have meant dismantling much more cabinetry, and perhaps subflooring.

After ripping everything out of the bedroom, I started reading a bunch of airstream forums on bed conversions. I slowly reversed my decision to go to a queen. My new idea is to install a regular twin (The original RV twins are narrower and longer than something you'd buy in a mattress store.) Then, build a fold-down (AKA jack knife sofa AKA gaucho) that, when folded down, butts up against the twin to make a California King!

I designed the twin around plastic storage bins. Four fit under the bed.

For now, the twin is done. The rest is on hold for a while. I also plan on adding gas cartridges to aid the lifting of the bed.

Mattress Dimensions

Twin is 38x75 or 39x74
Twin XL is 38x80
Full is 53x75 or 54x74
Queen is 60x80
RV Queen 60x75
King is 76x80
California King is 72x84

Bed Orientations


King Size Mattress

It takes up nearly the entire room if placed longitudenally, but it's not wide enough to fit the width of the trailer nicely.


Queen Size Mattress, lateral

This is what I wanted to do. I didn't like that there was room at the foot of the bed, but not really enough to be usable.


Twin Size Mattress

A normal twin is wider than the twins that came with it, but conveniently, a twin is exactly the width of the bathroom wall, and only a couple of inches too short.


California King Size Mattress

Longitudinally, the California King fits the room almost perfectly. As soon as I realized this, I came up with the idea of the twin/Cali-king combo.


Twin that converts to California King

I hope this works out. I currently have the twin installed. I now need to design a folding couch that, when folded flat, abutts the twin, making a nearly perfect California King size.

Bedroom stripout

I stripped out the bedroom to the floor and began scouring airstream forums for ideas on the best way to convert...