Our bed is 42″ off the ground. We used to have the factory bench seat right in front of it, but now we’ve just got a blank space. We needed some way to get up and down from the bed platform.
Once we found the correct search term (“bunk ladder“), there turned out to be lots of options for steps. We chose a $25 option because we weren’t prepared to commit to these steps as a full time solution.
It turns out, the ladder we chose was relatively simple to customize and now it is working really well for us.
We bought the Stromberg-Carlson 60″ bunk ladder. It has steel legs so it’s slightly heavier than the aluminum versions, but it’s so much cheaper that we’ll take the weight hit. We think the step treads are made of some kind of aluminum alloy extrusion. They are covered with a thick rubber non-slip pad.
We cut our ladder down by about 16″ so in the end I’m not sure exactly how much weight an all-aluminum ladder would have saved.
Customizing the ladder for a Sprinter platform bed
The ladder we bought was way too tall, but it was easy to cut to size. We used a pipe cutter to trim off the entire bottom step, cutting through the legs just above the step tread. The rubber boots on the base of the ladder just pulled off and slid back on to the cut ends.
Then we cut about 3″ off the top of the legs. That top 3″ was a harder job because the very top end of the legs has star nuts nested inside to hold the bolts for the attachment brackets.
After cutting off the legs to the proper height, we took the cut-off pieces and made another cut just below each star nut. That made it easy to knock the star nuts out of the tubes by threading in the bracket bolts and then hitting them with a rubber mallet.
In the picture, you can see the tube cutter, the cut pieces of the legs, and a star nut. The star nut in the picture isn’t one that came with the ladder. I got overenthusiastic and re-installed both of them before I took a picture. The big black chunk of metal in the picture is a star nut setter. It’s designed for putting star nuts into bicycle forks, but it works just as well for these bed ladders.
If you don’t have a star nut installer, don’t worry. Just screw the bracket bolt into the star nut and gently tap the star nut into place in the top of the leg tube. Keep it in line with the tube, and make sure you don’t tap it too far down – just far enough for the tines on the star nut to clear the top of the tube by about 1/4″ should do it.
Attaching the ladder to the bed platform
The ladder comes with two sets of attachment brackets. One set is designed to hook over a 1″ tube or a 3/4″ wood panel. The other set clips into some provided wall-mount brackets. That’s the setup we used. We bolted the brackets on to the front edge of our Overland Sprinter bed platform and adjusted the ladder height so that the clips fitted into the brackets just right.
The ladder hooks into the brackets and removes from them really easily. When we’re not using it, we can detach it and just throw it up on the bed. Most of the time though it just stays put.