The time change, combined with the gray fall days of the Pacific Northwest, has made it a little dark in here! As you know from reading about gadgets that didn’t work for us, I was disappointed with the round battery powered lights I tried, but I refuse to give up! Here’s our new integrated kitchen lighting solution!
My answer came from Ikea in the form of the Dioder LED battery drawer light. Here’s the cabinet, with the drawer light installed at the top, in the front (this is before I put batteries in so you could see how dark it is), and here it is after I put the batteries in.
Lots of light, and the best thing about it — it works on a sensor, so it automatically comes on and turns off when you open the cabinet. Plus, it has a super sticky backing if you dont want to put screws into the wood — super important sometimes. And at $14.99, it’s a good bargain! Let their be light!!
It’s not surprising to anyone out there that the standard mattresses that come with your Airstream (or any RV, really) is pretty crappy. Let me just say that after a year of sleeping on it, we could kick ourselves for not replacing it sooner. Hello new Airstream mattress!
I don’t know exactly when we realized the mattress would have to go, but I think it was sometime around Alumapalooza ’11. Kate and Al (of Mabel on the Move fame) have the same model as us, and I remember looking back into their bedroom and seeing this big, puffy bed and thinking — “Wow, that looks way more comfortable than ours.”
Like everything we do with large purchases (let’s face it, mattresses aren’t cheap) we researched and studied and tried out all the mattresses we thought might work (our 2nd choice was Keetsa — Brenda and CeCe have great things to say about theirs). We also needed to look at models that had some kind of mold and mildew resistant qualities, had very little (or no) off-gassing, and were easy on the carbon footprint. A lot to ask you may say, but we found all these things and more in one company: Soaring Heart Natural Bed Company.
Soaring Heart has been building mattresses by hand in Seattle for 29 years with the philosophy that they aren’t just making beds, they’re creating a tool to make your life better (how many times have you woken up in a bad mood because you didn’t sleep well?). And they’re doing it with locally resourced wool (naturally flame resistant so you don’t need all the harsh chemicals) and organically grown cotton. Plus each product is made by hand in their local Seattle shop. Everything about this experience was great — from the showroom, to Jason and John who sat with us as we tried to draw diagrams for a custom mattress (which we scrapped when we decided just to rebuild the platform) to their website which is filled with a ton of information about their products and what goes into them.
(which actually turned out to be The Not-So-Bad)
Deke’s 6’1″ and his feet hung off the end of the bed in the Airstream. If you’re spending 1/3 of your life in bed, you want to fit in your bed, so this was one of the first major problems to tackle. The Soaring Heart beds don’t need to have a regular box spring for support, but they do need some kind of support, so if we wanted a regular Queen (80×60 inches) we’d have to rebuild the bed platform to add support to the new mattress. If you know us, you know we’re not particularly handy, so before deciding to do this, I made sure I had the number of Chuck the Handyman here in Redmond, and one generous Airstreamers email address ready (Hi Kathy H!).
Rebuilding the Airstream Mattress Platform
The first problem we encountered was finding a piece of sturdy plywood large enough for the base of the new mattress. We had no idea this would be so hard, but Home Depot, Lowe’s and our local lumber place were no help. Turns out standard plywood size is 48″x48″which left us wondering if we could fit two pieces together and still have it be strong enough to hold the mattress when lifted if we bolted them together in the middle. This seemed too difficult, so I went to yelp.com and found Crosscut Hardwoods in Seattle. They have everything and they’ll cut it down to size for you!
Once we had the right plywood, we start taking apart the old platform and measuring where the hardware was, so we could transfer the measurements when it was time to screw the hardware back on to the new plywood.
This might be cheating, I don’t know, but since the new plywood was bigger than the old, we decided just to lay the old piece on top of the new, and using the old screw holes as a template, just drill through them to the new plywood. It’s probably not the preferred method of construction workers, but it worked fine.
Once the holes were drilled, we just reattached the hardware into the new holes and everything lined up perfectly!
As we learned from the Soaring Heart website, our new mattress needs air circulating around it. We should’ve done this sooner with the original mattress (we had a lot of mold on the old one) and I know people have found great ways to avoid the whole mold issue but we really didn’t want to screw up this new beautiful cloud of comfort, so we did what the guys at Soaring Heart suggested and screwed a series of 1″x3″ slats to the new platform at 3′ intervals.
Then we drilled little air holes into the plywood between the slats and placed a fan underneath for air. Hopefully this will work!
The Good: Part 2, The Mattress
We went with an Extra-Firm Organic Latex Mattress with a Deluxe Eco-Wool Topper and a Cotton Mattress Pad. We also go two Kapok pillows (from the website, Kapok is: a fluffy, silky fiber from the seed of the kapok tree (also called the ceiba tree), is incredibly light and airy, water-resistant, and 100% botanical). The wool topper is really soft and fluffy, so we felt the extra firmness of the mattress would be a good balance. Originally we were going to have the mattress delivered, but since it was ready on a weekend and we have the truck, we just decided to pick it up. Unfortunately, I dont have a photo of the mattress in the truck (I just forgot to take one), but it was folded in thirds and wrapped in plastic, so we just tossed it into the back. This is the topper in the back seat — I had no idea it would be this big:
Here’s the topper on top of the mattress:
In the end, it all fit perfectly and we’ve been sleeping so well for the last week. Besides the truck, this is probably the most expensive Airstream-related item we’ve purchased, but living in it fulltime, I think the cost will be worth it. Two other important things:
And, even with extending the bed platform out to 80 inches, we still have plenty of room to walk around the bed.
Besides being really uncomfortable, the Airstream mattress is ugly in so many other ways. They’re foam with a Teflon treated cotton cover. They also claim to be waterproof and dust mite resistant, which they may be, however, I really don’t want to be smelling those chemicals every time I sleep. And ours got moldy on the bottom. Gross.
One thing we didnt consider with a better bed – its way heavier! We didn’t weigh it, but carrying it in felt close to 2-300 lbs with mattress, topper, covers, and all the pillows Tiff insists on piling on top 🙂
The dinky gas springs Airstream installs are next to useless when lifting our new heavy bed, but finding replacements can be more difficult than a trip to your local hardware store. After an exhaustive search on Airforums, we found a post by someone who had ordered replacements as well – so we followed their steps. Here’s what we did (and you should do as well, assuming you have an Airstream with a Queen size mattress platform:
- Go to McMaster-Carr’s website and try to not get lost in all the parts!
- Order these items (only order the ball brackets if you want to replace the ones already installed – you dont have to, these gas springs will fit the old ones – but we like new and stronger)
|1||9416K28||Gas Spring with Threaded Ends, 200 Force, 18.18″ Extended Length, 7.87″ Stroke||2||16.56
|2||4536T1||Aluminum Ball Bracket, Flat, with 10 mm Ball||2||5.76
|3||4536T3||Aluminum Ball Bracket, 90-Degree Angle, Long Stem, with 10 mm Ball||2||7.42
|4||9416K76||10 mm Ball Socket, M8 Thread, Nylon for, Gas Spring with Threaded Ends||4||1.41
And finally, all you have to do is put it all together! Remove the old gas spring with a small flat head screwdriver. You may also need to move one of the bracket locations to match the new, slightly longer gas springs.
After this change, the bed should be much easier to lift, and much less likely to break!
We’re finally here! It’s done and we’re in.
Does it live up to more than a year of hype and hope? Hard to say yet, we’re only a week in. But so far, it certainly shows the potential, but there were a few hiccups. Read on to find out what happened…
We’re less than a week away from moving into our Airstream fulltime! Things have settled down a bit from last week (except for another winter blast of sleet and snow today), and now we’re just wrapping up a few loose ends.
Here are a few of the things we’ve done this week:
- Clothes are packed and ready for the move. We packed these in suitcases and bags that will need to go to storage when we’re done.
- I (finally) let go of my Wii and old Xbox. That leaves us with an old Macbook, external hard drive, and an xbox 360 as our complete entertainment system.
- We (also finally) got rid of our mattress and box spring. In our neighborhood, it was surprisingly easy. Just take it out to the curb!
- The last of our things have found new homes, either with friends, craigslist buyers, or thrift stores.
- Finishing up the last of our packaged foods that won’t make the move, took one last trip to the Grocery store -only the basics for 1 week!
- Lucy gets a vet visit and a bath this week – she wants to smell nice before the move. 🙂
- The Tundra got a tune up this week – oil change, tire rotation, replaced a squeaking belt – ready for the haul!
Now all that’s left is the actual move itself. We could just pull the Airstream up to our front door and load her up, but we’ve decided that our neighborhood roads are a bit too tight. Instead, we’re going to load up the Tundra Friday night, go pick up the Big Weaz, and then take her to the RV park to “officially” move in.
And finally, after a LONG time of planning and preparing, we’re over the moon to finally move into the Airstream fulltime. It’s true, we won’t be lifting anchor and fulltime travelling yet, but we will certainly be travelling more thanks to Texas’ awesome nearby parks and, oh yea, we’re living on wheels now!
So, I’ll end this post with a simple phrase we use often on Weaselmouth.com – in fact, it’s on top of our site. It comes up time and time again as we’ve streamlined our life, downsized to an Airstream, and generally changed our lifestyle to chase our dreams. It’s quickly becoming our mantra as we take these next steps, and we hope it’s something you’ll start saying as well.
It’s good to let go.