Ambulance Camper/ Expedition Rig Conversion FAQ

mp_tx

Observer
Great post and hope it becomes a stickly. Also hoping I will make the "conversion wall" once I get going on my 91 F350 4x4 ambo (Wheeled Coach) build. Also on H1 37's!
 

patoz

Expedition Leader
Alex, I see you've been moonlighting on us!

I just found this thread, and all I can say is great job! Since ambulance knowledge and parts are not something you will find in any old auto parts store, it will help to have a central place to find this information for people just starting out, as well as for those of us who have some experience with them. :)
 

rlrenz

Explorer
When I bought my Medic Master/Freightliner, it had been refurbished for sale to an ambulance company. Because I was a private party, the exterior lights were changed to white or yellow lenses, the siren amplifier was removed, and any reference to "ambulance" on the outside was removed. This was carefully done, and all I'll have to do is a little buffing to remove the last vestiges of ambulance lettering. I traded the cot hardware and the oxygen gear to the dealer (plus some cash) for new front tires. The price included 4 new group 31 batteries, a new Vanner inverter, a new 270 amp alternator, a new air compressor, plus changing all the fluids and filters, and a complete lube job. The dealer road tested it, and anything needing service was serviced. When I bought it, we took it for a road test with a punch list to check for anything that needed repair - there was nothing.

Thankfully, I have conventional relays instead of a digital system. I can buy a new Bosch relay for $4, versus going to Weldon for a VMUX component.

I like a larger truck with decent towing capabilities (a 5.9 engine also helps), and my garage can swallow a medium ambulance (with a little sorting). I have headroom and elbow room, plus a rig that's fun to drive. My son and I drove it from PA back to MSP after I picked it up - 70 MPH all the way.

I paid a little more - but I got a lot more than buying a worn out ambulance - it had only 51,000 miles on the clock when I bought it.

If you're looking at used ambulances, look and think before you leap - don't only use price as your guide.
 

rlrenz

Explorer
When I bought my Medic Master/Freightliner, it had been refurbished for sale to an ambulance company. Because I was a private party, the exterior lights were changed to white or yellow lenses, the siren amplifier was removed, and any reference to "ambulance" on the outside was removed. This was carefully done, and all I'll have to do is a little buffing to remove the last vestiges of ambulance lettering. I traded the cot hardware and the oxygen gear to the dealer (plus some cash) for new front tires. The price included 4 new group 31 batteries, a new Vanner inverter, a new 270 amp alternator, a new air compressor, plus changing all the fluids and filters, and a complete lube job. The dealer road tested it, and anything needing service was serviced. When I bought it, we took it for a road test with a punch list to check for anything that needed repair - there was nothing.

close up.jpg

Thankfully, I have conventional relays instead of a digital system. I can buy a new Bosch relay for $4, versus going to Weldon for a VMUX component.

I like a larger truck with decent towing capabilities (a 5.9 engine also helps), and my garage can swallow a medium ambulance (with a little sorting). I have headroom and elbow room, plus a rig that's fun to drive. My son and I drove it from PA back to MSP after I picked it up - 70 MPH all the way.

I paid a little more - but I got a lot more than buying a worn out ambulance - it had only 51,000 miles on the clock when I bought it.

If you're looking at used ambulances, look and think before you leap - don't only use price as your guide.
 

patoz

Expedition Leader
I paid a little more - but I got a lot more than buying a worn out ambulance - it had only 51,000 miles on the clock when I bought it.

If you're looking at used ambulances, look and think before you leap - don't only use price as your guide.

Very good point!

I went the opposite direction because my intention was to modify it into a camper trailer, which I have. I wasn't concerned about the front half of it, just the rear module and suspension.

BTW, that is one nice looking rig!!
 
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rlrenz

Explorer
That was one of the selling points - as well as the video on their web site. The 5.9 engine makes a very nice rig. I've seen some for sale that JOB-1 would have to be a paint job - ugly is being polite (and even Earl Scheib wouldn't paint an ambulance for $99!). White with a stripe is easy to match, once you figure out what color "ambulance blue" is (Mariner Blue metallic is virtually a perfect match). I found I can buy a urethane pure white paint from Summit Racing (http://www.summitracing.com/search/department/paints-finishing/brand/summit-racing?N=4294951818+400304&SortBy=Default&SortOrder=Ascending&page=4) for less than $100 per gallon - they also sell activator and clear coat. The blue is Ambulance Blue, the white stripe is 3M reflective material.

Considering that you need to have an immediately-available escape trailer, you made the right choice by building a trailer, and you also showed why ambulance users remount their existing module on a new truck - the modules are all aluminum, and will far outlast the trucks they're mounted on. If push comes to shove, you can couple on to your trailer and head for high ground.
 

Bikersmurf

Expedition Leader
Stock Ford Econoline 5x7 headlights are marginal at best. Crestline Ambulances use driving lights to suplement the basic headlights. These are wired to come on with the high beams. Mine had been removed and driving on dark windy highways was downright scary at times.

A set of rectangular Hella 550 driving lights make all the difference. I just came home on a dark and rainy night... Without them was like having no headlights... Turn them on and visibility was excellent, I highly recommend them. In Canada they cost about $150, and it was money well spent.
 

patoz

Expedition Leader
Bikersmurf,

Here is something you might be interested in. I'm considering installing these in my F250 Tow Vehicle, but I'll need to change from the aerodynamic style to the work truck style sealed beam headlight assembly to use these. The aerodynamic style with the 9007 Halogen bulb, is pathetic at best.


Truck-Lite is World's First To Offer High Visibility LED Headlights To Heavy-Duty Truck Market

http://www.truck-lite.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/GenericView?pageName=/new/PressReleases_en_US/CustomLEDHeadlights.html&storeId=10001&langId=-1




Truck-Lite 5'' x 7'' Rectangular LED Headlamp, Complex Reflector Optics

http://www.truck-lite.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10001&storeId=10001&productId=92027&langId=-1


They're not cheap at approximately $200.00 each, but if you plan on keeping the vehicle for a while, it's probably worth it. And if they prevent you from having an accident, then they were well worth it.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007ED7HNY/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pd_S_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=3C9V1BNHIIFCX&coliid=IAO0E952N5JAC
 

Bikersmurf

Expedition Leader
Those look like a worthwhile upgrade for anyone who drives at night. Brighter light will help reduce eye strain and fatigue.
 

Ozrockrat

Expedition Leader
Another point to consider for what type of ambulance you buy. Real world fuel comparison between the 1999 FL60 with 2WD and big wheels and my 1995 Quigley stock ambo. We took both of them on a 4 day trip around Arizona. Both vehicles traveled the same roads at the same time and approximately the same speed.

Freightliner was carrying all the gear and fully wet (Fuel, water, potti and all). The Ford E350 had only 2 occupants and some bedding, clothes.

Freightliner got 10.9 MPG and the Ford got 12.1 MPG.

Disclaimer: This was only a couple of tanks for the Ford and 1 tank for the FL. So statistically the results are crap. I only put it out there to say that there is potentially a 10% +- difference in fuel economy between the 2.
 

cjken

Explorer
Interesting!!!
My ford seems to get between 12-14 mpg.
It's a bit narrower than yours.
10.9 is not bad for the FL.
cool comparison being on the same trip.
 

rlrenz

Explorer
11 on the Freightliner sounds right. When I brought mine back from PA to MN, 11-12 was the most common (totally unloaded - just two of us and some suitcases). We had one at 13+, but that may have been a combination of slow through PHL (road destruction season) plus different versions of "FULL" - it's difficult to figure just when FULL is FULL. We covered everything from flatlands through Illinois to mountains in VA without a lot of difference.
 

Bikersmurf

Expedition Leader
As with other vehicles, it's worth considering how and where you're going to use it. Crestline claims their ambulances get better MPGs... Mine got about 16-17 mpg(US) on the last highway trip I took (550 miles). But keep in mind it's 2WD and not lifted. I was traveling with the wife, two kids, a dog, bed, bedding, and luggage (9000 lbs total).

I've decided to keep it 2WD, and use my Fj40 when I need a 4x4 :D


7.3 PSD.
 
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