By Russ and Tiña De Maris
Many RV beds double as storage units: Pull the mattress board up and down inside, under the mattress, is an open space for hiding stuff. Most of these utilize gas struts or “gas springs,” as they’re sometimes called. Originally popular for keeping hatchbacks open on cars, these clever devices soon found their way into the RV industry.
The problem with gas springs is that if you have just a bit too much weight on the mattress — say a big stack of blankets — or the spring begins to lose it’s strength, life can get a bit complicated. We store our canning equipment and jars under our bed, and at times we have to actually climb under the bed to retrieve items. Imagine that old mattress coming down on top of you.
You could replace the gas springs, but if too much weight is a factor, replacing with the original spec springs won’t gain you the lift you need. Replace them with springs having greater lift force will work — until springtime rolls around and you lighten the weight on the mattress and those stronger springs may hold the bed up when it should be down. Or maybe the springs work well enough, but you’d like a little extra security when poking around under the bed.
Here’s an easy fix — an add-on support rod that will definitely hold the mattress up. Buy a length of 3/4″ PVC pipe from the hardware store. Visualize the pipe as a rod near the open end of the mattress box (opposite the hinges). Using this pipe as a “prop,” you can hold the bed box open easily and safely. But what’s to keep your prop from slipping out? A set of closet rod flanges — one installed on the inside lid of the bed box, the other screwed to the floor — will serve to hold both ends of your new prop rod and keep it from slipping out at the wrong time. Best to find a closet rod flange set where both pieces are completely closed, like the photo, rather than the type with the opening to slide the closet rod down into. It’s a cheap, quick, and easy fix.