Converting a '68-'79 Childs Cot For Use In Your '67 & Earlier Bus
So you've got a splitty bus and love to camp, but can't seem to locate the correct child's cot up front, huh?? Well, a quick trip to the swap meet or even eBay will confirm what you already know,. . . These things are HARD TO FIND. If your bus requires a 100% correct cot, keep looking. If you just want the versatility that this cot brings when camping with small children, then keep reading.
The early cots had one-piece bars with two different lengths. This is because the '67 and earlier busses are actually narrower at the "A"-pillar than at the "B"-pillar. The canvas is also narrower at the front than at the back. The '68-'79 bars and canvas are equal lengths and widths respectively with the rear width and bar being the same as a split. This enables you to trim down the canvas and cut the bars in order to fit then into your splitty. One thing to note about the later cots ('76-'79) is that the bars are two-piece and will work without modification. That's the type I used. If you use the '68-'75 bars, you will need to narrow ONE bar by approx. 8 1/2". Here's a photo of a late canvas.
The canvas is the most difficult part, but it's NOT hard. I started by stripping out the seam stitching from 3 of the 4 hems. I used a "seam-stripper" tool which was REALLY handy and made quick work of the seams. Here's what the canvas looked like before and after stripping the seams.
Next, I ironed the old seam flat. Then I folded under the the excess I basically narrowed each side by approx. 3 3/4". Then I ironed the new crease in the canvas.
Then I sewed the new hem in the full length. Once I did that, I folded over the end and pinned it in place. Once it is pinned I could put the short rod through the pocket and see where the mounts will line up in the "A" & "B" pillars. Depending on where you mount them, you may need to shorten the canvas by about 2". I ended up needing to do just that. I pulled the end down 2" and re hemmed it. All sewing was double stitched (two rows of stitching so that it was extra strong) and I put numerous back stitches on the ends to lock everything in place so that it wouldn't come un-done over time. I also used a heavy 100% nylon thread
Next I had to attach the mounts to the pillars. I began by mounting the "A"-pillar mounts. I measured how far up on the "B"-pillar I would need to clear the seats and transferred those measurements to the "A"-pillars PLUS 1" to make up for the angle of the pillar. Note that ALL mounts are placed at a slight angle so that the bar will lock-in when the cot is installed.
Once they were mounted, I installed the forward bar in the canvas and mounted it in place. Then I installed the rear bar in the pocket and stretched it back so that it was pretty tight. I noted where the mount would go and mounted them BACK 3/16" on the "B"-pillar. Doing this ensures it will fit tightly.
Here's a few shots of the newly converted child's cot in my splitty. It has a good fit and other than the bar-ends and mounts, looks original. Most of all, my son now has a bed of his own rather than sharing mom & dad's.
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Revised: August 24, 2003 .