Ambulance Camper/ Expedition Rig Conversion FAQ


New member
Hello all! What are you doing for spare tire mounts? I thought one of my exterior cabinets would fit my tire, but no luck. I hate to lose flexibility on opening rear doors so thought about putting a roof rack over the cab or a front mounted carrier. Am open to see/hear what has worked for you (pics welcome!). I have a 16" 8 lug tire. Money IS an issue, but would rather have a good spare available in the event of an emergency. Thanks in advance!


Mine is underneath the box in the rear. Factory location. Has one of those windup-wind down mechanisms.


Expedition Leader
Hi Katy,

The problem with mounting a spare tire on the front of a vehicle is you block the airflow to the radiator and risk overheating the engine, especially with something like an ambulance which already requires an oversized radiator and transmission cooler.

You can build a rack and put it on top of the cab, which a lot of people do, but then you have to figure out how you're going to get the 78 lb. stock tire and rim up and down. That doesn't sound like that much weight, but try climbing with one hand and holding the spare with the other hand. So, that leaves building some kind of winch assembly to raise and lower it. Of course if you will always have two people available, then it wouldn't be that difficult for a stock height vehicle.

The rear door on a swing away carrier is a good location, but can be a pain moving it everytime you want to open a door.

That leaves one location, which is underneath in the rear as if it were a van or PU Truck. I have two ambulance bodies which I am converting into camper trailers. I started with a 1993 Type III Wheeled Coach and moved up to a 2005 Type I version. The 1993 model had the spare located in the rear between the frame rails like a van has, but the only person who was going to remove that spare was an experienced mechanic with a pneumatic impact wrench and possibly a cutting torch. The was no winch assembly to lower the tire, only a long 3/4" diameter bolt which ran from the frame down through one of the lug bolt holes, with a big washer and nut on it. The bolt was bent and the threads were stripped. It took me two hours to get that tire and wheel out from under there.

So, there are the options as I see them. The rack on the cab roof is probably the simplest and cheapest, providing you have the manpower to get the spare up and down. The rear door option will be expensive because you can't just go to Walmart and buy a swing away spare tire mount for an ambulance, it will have to be custom built. The underframe option would provide easy access to the spare it you can find a spare tire winch assembly for a van or PU truck and adapt it to work under there. Mounting it on the front would be relatively easy to do, however I would only use that method as a last resort due to the possible overheating problem.

In answer to your question, there is no correct answer... Basically, it's going to be a select the 'lesser of all the evils' and go with that plan.

Recommended books for Overlanding

Dreaming of Jupiter
by Ted Simon
From $13.97
Long Way Round: Chasing Shadows Across the World
by Ewan McGregor, Charley Boorman
From $10.99
Road Fever (Vintage Departures)
by Tim Cahill
From $12.99


Expedition Leader
Katy, have you checked underneath yours to see if there is a location for a spare in the rear? You might just get lucky!


New member
Thanks all! I am not seeing a spot underneath for it, but it is worth bringing it into my tire guys and asking them if they see/recognize something I do not see. An unseen factory location would be excellent! I will be traveling alone 99% of the time, so I see your point of the challenge on the over-cab system. The front would be good, but I also hear your counsel on the radiator, etc. If all else fails, I have a bit of time in June to see if I can find someone to help me fabricate a heavy duty swing-away mount for the back door. I will update to let you know how it turns out! Again, thank you all!


Active member
I have a 2000 E350 with a UJOR kit. Thinking of getting a ambo.

Are they really worth it? How are they 4wd compared to my van with SRW. The one I'm looking at is DRW.


Expedition Leader
Come on over and go for a spin... :D

Mine’s a blast... fun to drive, beautiful on the highway, doesn’t care about wind/rain storms, almost unstoppable in the snow (even though it’s 2wd). Can’t compare to a van, never owned one. It is way nicer to drive than my Grandma’s raised top Dodge LWB campervan.


Expedition Leader
521768Just FYI Guys and Gals! 521769


"Safety recall for select 2009-16 Ford Econoline vehicles with 5.4-liter engine for loss of motive power issue

Ford is issuing a safety recall for select 2009-16 Ford Econoline vehicles equipped with a 5R110W transmission, 5.4-liter engine, and a school bus or ambulance prep package. Affected vehicles contain a capacitive discharge weld within a coast clutch component in the transmission. A substandard weld may fatigue and fail, causing an elevated rate of reports of the loss of the ability to move in the subject vehicle applications. All normal engine, braking and steering functionality is unaffected. Reports indicate that the majority of weld failures occur when torque is highest, which is when the driver attempts to accelerate from a stop.

An elevated rate of loss of mobility in school bus and ambulance vehicle applications could present a unique risk to passengers or occupants including a loss of mobility in school bus applications may result in the transfer of unchaperoned children when the vehicle is immobilized in a roadway. Loss of vehicle mobility in ambulance applications may result in delay of patient treatment. Ford is unaware of any accidents resulting from this condition.

This action affects approximately 4,300 vehicles in North America, including 3,868 in the United States and federalized territories and 445 in Canada. Affected vehicles were built at Ohio Assembly Plant, May 11, 2009 to Dec. 10, 2015.

Dealers will replace the coast clutch cylinder and the single-engaging coast one-way clutch with a dual-engaging one-way clutch. The Ford reference number for this recall is 19S20."


New member
View attachment 466408View attachment 466409View attachment 466410

Looking for options to replace one or both of these bulbs. I know I can wire in replacement sockets or hardwire in something, but my preference would be to find a LED bulb that would fit the socket. Any ideas where to find such a thing, or what the bulbs would be called.

I’m thinking of first replacing the low overhead bulbs... and leaving the high operating lights.

Anyone found a unicorn?
I just looked on Amazon and bought some that worked great. I have been using them for 7 months no issues.


New member
Hello Ambulancers,

Do you all know where the fuel filter is on these ambulances? 1997 ford e-350 wheeled coach. My fuel filter light on the dash is coming on occasionally under heavy load. I looked under hood but could not locate. Does anyone know for sure? I believe the filter is super cheap and will help with MPG and more power?

Thank you,

Recommended books for Overlanding

Vehicle-dependent Expedition Guide
by Tom Sheppard
From $136.99
999 Days Around Africa: The Road Chose Me
by Dan Grec, Dan Grec
From $19.95
Motorcycle Messengers: Tales from the Road by Writers who...
by Lois Pryce, Mark Richardson, Carla King, Sam Manic...
From $9.99