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Improving Gertie: the bedroom

Pillow quilts

Pillow quilts

Up until recently I had been carrying a couple of quilted comforters in the storage lockers behind the street-side couch. They took up quite a lot of room there and didn't get used very often. Then at a craft fair on Cape Cod I saw these wonderful pillow quilts. (Some folks call them "quillows.") A simple but brilliant idea, the pillow quilt is an 18" x 18" pillow by day, but by night it unfolds into a 4' x 5' quilt. Come morning, and it folds up neatly into its own pocket and turns back into a pillow. Perfect for RVing! Here's a detailed set of instructions for making your's really quite simple. (The author says you can sew one in 30 minutes, but I imagine that's after you've gotten the hang of it.)


Gertie has two sleeping areas: the queen-sized bed over the cab, and the couches, which can be extended to make two twin beds or extended still further (by dropping the table a few inches and adding a leaf) to make a king-sized bed. I sleep over the cab in a large sleeping bag (actually two bags zipped together) with flannel lining. It's reasonably comfortable, but I figured it could be improved. So I made a bedsheet insert to make it feel more homelike...and more comfortable in summer weather. (I put an illustrated description on a separate Bedding page, in case you want to make your own.)

In addition, I bought a full-sized comforter for extra warmth in cold weather. (I found out that if you buy a queen-sized comforter for the queen-sized overcab bed, it's too big—because there's no place for it to hang down, as with a normal bed!) Normally a comforter's overhang tends to keep it in place, but in Gertie's overcab bed it just lies flat...and I noticed that it had a tendency to crawl upward in the middle of the night and leave my feet uncovered while smothering my face. So to keep the comforter in place, I put three large female snap fasteners on its bottom edge, and screwed three matching male snaps to the wall at the foot of the bed. That worked nicely.

Redecorating the bedroom

New bedroom To make the upstairs bedroom more comfortable in both hot and cold weather, I got rid of the useless, kitschy curtains and covered all three walls with inch-thick insulating board, surfaced with a layer of quilted fabric. In addition, I covered the outside of the front overcab window with white plastic film to keep out the sun's heat in summertime. You can read all about these projects on the Bedroom page.


Clock and pepper spray One night while I was half asleep I thought I heard a somebody trying to break into the rig. It turned out to be a tree branch, but it set me to thinking—I was pretty vulnerable lying there. If someone did break in while I was in bed, what would I do? Smother the intruder with a pillow?

So the very next morning I dug into Gertie's "Fasteners" drawer and came up with a broom clip. I screwed it to the bedroom ceiling a few inches away from the fluorescent light and clipped a small can of pepper spray in it, where I can reach up without even opening my eyes and grab it in a split second. It serves a second purpose: since that end of the bed is adjacent to the entry door, when I'm standing at the door I can reach up and grab the same canister of pepper spray...for self defense or just to be cautious when opening the door to a stranger.


A handy clock/calendar/thermometer

The other thing I mounted in that area—which you can see in the pepper spray picture—was a travel alarm clock. This particular unit (Radio Shack part #63-959, $17.99) is especially nifty because not only is it a large-digit illuminated clock and calendar, but it also includes a thermometer. I mounted it with Dual Lock fasteners to the ceiling directly over my face, so that I can look straight up and see not only what time it is, but how warm or cold it is—very convenient! A tap on its upper surface turns on a bright blue backlight that stays on for about five seconds so I can read it at night, and then shuts off automatically to save power. The clock runs for about a year on a single AAA battery. It even lets me choose a 24-hour display! All in all, a very handy addition to the upstairs bedroom.

A quieter fan

"Endless Breeze" fan

Lazy Daze thoughtfully provides a fan at the foot of the bed in the upstairs bedroom (as well as another one in the rear lounge). Unfortunately, these old 12V "SANNO" oscillating fans sounded like a Cessna 172 taking off—too loud to be usable most of the time. I found I couldn't sleep—even with earplugs!--with the bedroom fan running. So I replaced both of them with quiet, powerful Fan-Tastic "Endless Breeze" 12V box fans, suspend from tilt/swivel brackets I made myself, so they can be aimed in any direction. Now I can enjoy a gentle, quiet breeze without feeling as though I'm standing on the flight line of my local airport.

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