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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Building the CarBed in the Mercury

Yesterday I spent the afternoon directing Joe as he built the carbed in my Mercury Tracer. Having taken out the front passenger seat last week, I wanted to build a bed that would have storage underneath to carry my felting supplies, and that would be accessible, but not necessarily READILY accessible. This is where I'll store fiber and tools that I only need to get to once a week or when I'm starting a new project.

The first thing I did was to fit 3 plastic bins into the space, 
one deep, and two shallow. 
The bins are this type:
At first, they would not fit. Oh NO!  
But when I removed their lids, 
I was happy to find out they fit like a glove! 

Next step was the bed itself. Joe had in his storage an old folding closet door. It was the perfect width and had hinges down the middle. I really wanted something I could open up easily to get to my supplies when needed, so this seemed like a good idea.  We put the two back seatbacks in the down position and slid the door into the car through the trunk. With just a few cuts to fit around the seatback I wanted left in the UP position, it would be perfect!
 We measured and cut and measured and cut 
until the board fit.

As you can see, there was Portland's July rain to deal with. We kept having to run under cover, but eventually we got the board to fit. We also made at least one mistake. You can see a cutout we made, then had to repair when I realized it could be left in for more legroom. Good thing Joe's a carpenter!

The bed now fits on top of the boxes - 
Joe put a couple of 2x4 legs up in front, 
and a brace between them. 
He wired the legs to the frame, 
using the bolts that held the original front seat in place. 
Open and get out supplies

Closed position
It's possible to take the bins completely out also. 
Not easy, but manageable. 
The large bin comes out first, 
then the two smaller ones. 
The small bin on the bottom will hold supplies 
I rarely need to access.

Next, I needed some insulation from the cold coming up from underneath. I was sure I took photos of the padding, but apparently my phone didn't store the photos. So here is a photo from the internet of what I used. It's a blue Walmart camping pad. Cost is about $6. 
I had Joe screw this to the top of the bed on the DRIVER's side, using washers so it wouldn't tear. It's stiff and didn't want to stay in place easily. Now it's attached along one side. We put in three points of attachment. This way I can lift the lid without having the pad go flying off.

Next, I needed a foam mattress. Having purchased a lot of foam for cakes and toys, I knew it was going to be expensive. Last week, I checked at Joann's, where prices are generally affordable, and was horrified to see their couch-sized foam pad was $80. Kowabunga!

I wasn't sure what I'd do about that. Then, while looking at camp stoves at Fred Meyer, I passed their hardware section and of all things, they had camping foam pads, 4 inches thick, for $19.   I was a happy girl!

Last night, I went to buy my foam pad. They had 3. Two were filthy and one was slightly damaged. I asked to speak to the manager and showed him the damaged pad, which had a 1 inch divit in it. He gave me a 10% discount. Hooray!  Getting the pad into my tiny car was, well, interesting, but I managed to get it home where I got my handy-dandy electric carving knife out.  

You can buy an electric knife at charity or Goodwill shops. I think I paid $2.99 for mine. People don't use them much, but they cut foam like butter and I love mine!  With Emma's help taking photos, I marked the foam with a sharpie pen, and began making cuts.
Good Lord, I'm fat! I need to walk off this belly!

I cut the foam to fit tight between the frame 
and the back seatback which is staying UP. 
This way it won't shift. 
 I made a cut around the console 
so I can still shift and use the cupholder 
when I am driving.

And that's it! 

Could I have done it without Joe? Probably. The tools we used were a skillsaw, a jigsaw, a screwdriver and a chisel (to move one of the hinges up when we cut off the end of the door). But it sure was nice to have his help! So if you're a gal and doing this, I suggest you grab some guy whose legs aren't painted on and see if he'll help you. It'll make things go much faster if you have someone with experience working with you.

I now have a bed in my little Mercury Tracer! 
I plan on going camping this weekend to try it out
and see if any kinks need to be adjusted. 
I'll take photos and report back.

Until then, I'm working on a felted SunMan face 
to try to get the sun to shine in rainy Portland. 
Here he is. 
Still need to firm him up, 
but I'm liking him!

I'm off to take Emma out for the day.
Until next time, 



  1. Nice Job...looking forward to seeing how it all pans out!

  2. That is a lot nicer then how I setup my GTI many a moon ago.

  3. I like this very much, it is very similar to what I plan on doing with my Ford Thunderbird.

  4. oh, Annie! i am so impressed! what an excellent set-up and wonderful use of space! i am jealous...

    i love mr. sun face, you are very talented. i have never been good at felting, so again i'm impressed.

    i look forward to more of everything!


  5. Thanks Dardrian and Hoboknitter! Please browse my other posts as well and I hope you'll follow me!

  6. I love the way you have used the limited space and am looking forward to seeing more of your conversion. Also, your felting is very original. I particularly like the little cat posted on our group album.


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