M2 Freightliner Ambulance Conversion Project. 2007 Crew Cab

locrwln

Expedition Leader
Axles are all in hopefully for the last time. Panhard rod installed, driveline sort of red neck Aussie aligned. Now to get some brake lines and I hopefully will be doing a lap of the block tomorrow.

Then I can bring it back and retorque everything.
WhooHoo!! Can't wait to see it move. 🍻 to a successful lap.

Jack
 

Ozrockrat

Expedition Leader
It did a lap of the block. 1 issue with crossed brake hoses (they have the same fittings for service and park brakes and I f’ed up). But I am going to need a power boost I think. Definitely a bit slower on uptake but not sure how much until I reset the speedo. Transmission will need the adaptive learning reset as well to give it half a chance.

Now to fit the rear sway bar and retorque all those bloody ubolt nuts . Also going to run it over the scales before I do anything with reprovisioning.
 
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java

Expedition Leader
It did a lap of the block. 1 issue with crossed brake hoses (they have the same fittings for service and park brakes and I f’ed up). But I am going to need a power boost I think. Definitely a bit slower on uptake but not sure how much until I reset the speedo. Transmission will need the adaptive learning reset as well to give it half a chance.

Now to fit the rear sway bar and retorque all those bloody ubolt nuts . Also going to run it over the scars before I do anything with reprovisioning.
SWEET!

Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk
 

Strouty

New member
How do you plan on lowering it two inches?

Looks pretty good overall.

Do you know what the change was in gear ratio and tire sizes?
 

patoz

Expedition Leader
Bevan, it looks like the front definitely needs to come down some, but it also looks like the rear needs to go up some just to get the wheel well to tire clearance you need.
 

Ozrockrat

Expedition Leader
How do you plan on lowering it two inches?

Looks pretty good overall.

Do you know what the change was in gear ratio and tire sizes?
Originally I had 4” block made up of 4 lumps of 2” thickwall box welded together with a plan to remove 2 if I only needed 2”. But earlier in the week I welded them all up and boxed the ends in. So this morning we grabbed some 6061 4 x 2 1/2 aluminum and used that to make the spacers.

I could of come down the full 4” clearance wise but I will need to leave some for clearing the driveline.

I also have the ratio changes on my laptop and I will post them later.
 

Ozrockrat

Expedition Leader
Bevan, it looks like the front definitely needs to come down some, but it also looks like the rear needs to go up some just to get the wheel well to tire clearance you need.
The rear comes up 5” when the bags air up. When it is sitting on the bump stops it just clears the body.
 

Ozrockrat

Expedition Leader
Made it to Expo West. Had a great time in the DIY area giving a few classes and chewing anyone silly enough to ask any questions ears off.

But it has been bloody cold and sometimes miserable.

As for the axles and running gear. There have been no problems. Even the missus was commenting on how smooth it has made the ride. Not much extra noise (up to 55). Steering is stable and straight. Seems to have the same get up and go. So far all good.
 

Ozrockrat

Expedition Leader
So we made it to Overland Expo without an issue. On the test run the planetary's were hotter than I would of liked. 55 c at the front and 65 c on the rear. When I flush the axles after a couple of thousand miles I will fill them with synthetic but it was too big a hit on the wallet to do that for run in oil. Hopefully both adding drive to the front ones and synthetic will bring the temps to my acceptable range.

On the trip up we were limited to 55 mph by the tires. I got to see stuff on that road I have never noticed before. The slower speed being one factor but the extra height was also a bonus.

The truck got a lot of comments especially with the little ambo (DOANR) sitting beside it at normal height. Obviously the men were more easily impressed than the women but once they discovered the inside shower-toilet they thawed a bit. DOANR got a lot of good reviews as well especially the blue loo (aqua padded walls in the toilet) and the wide open floor plan. It seemed to be the people looking at them from a weekend/vacation use case liked the layout of DOANR and the ones looking for a fulltime or long tour liked BigRed.

Now overall on the transition from ambulance to camper I have made a couple of decisions that may need revisiting:
  1. I have never been that concerned about heating the interior of the box. We have used it below freezing a few times and survived so I figured the only heating that was really needed was altitude or lattitude (move up/down the country or in elevation to get the required temperature zone). I realized after the wind and the cold this weekend that I will need to heat the rig as well as have good AC. Even though we were warm inside when sleeping it got cold in there with no supplemental heat. For this I will be using the Chinese copy of the Airtronics and will install one in the cab as well.
  2. Truck cab heat and AC. Again this has not been a high priority for me. That changed on the trip down from Flagstaff. I had the privilege of bring Ted Simon (author of Jupiter's Travels and a bunch of other great travel books) down the mountian with me. He is 83 years old and his feet were freezing in the truck (as were mine). I could not get the heater in the truck to function. Not sure if it is a result of the way they configured the control system to integrate with the box controls but whatever it is I need to fix it.
  3. Now the truck is so high it has created another interesting situation. Normally we can park the truck on the upwind side and enjoy a bit of shelter. Now the wind just whistles through underneath. I will be investigating a set of skirts to clip to the bottom of the truck/module and be pegged to the ground. While this was wet and windy we are often either in the desert or the beach and the wind always is present.
  4. The on demand hot water system. I was going to use a full diesel fired "Aquahot" system but it was very big and heavy plus expensive. I sold it off with the though of using a propane fired unit I already had until I could source a diesel burner and the associated plumbing to build my own. Well the Eccotherm system I had has 2 short comings. The first is that when it gets cold it cannot put enough heat into the water to actually have a shower. The second is that it is susceptible to freezing. Mine is inside cabinet number 2 (drivers side 2nd cabinet) and it now leaks from the internals somewhere.
  5. Cooking equipment access. We used to store most of our cooking/eating equipment at the top of the cabinet beside the entry door above the fridge and freezer. This is now too high and a PITA to get stuff in and out of even with a ladder. This will be migrating to another cabinet on the same side of the truck.
  6. Fridge and freezer location. With the height of the truck now it is not feasible to use the top freezer. The lower one is usable but not great. We will be installing a front opening fridge inside the box and probably removing the top fridge/freezer. We are considering leaving it in place and using it only as a freezer for longer term travel. The lower unit is a candidate for being replaced with a drawer type unit when the $$$$$ allow. Low on the priority list but would provide a much more usable solution.
  7. Lighting. Currently too much of the lighting is controlled via the touch panels in the cab and box. These require the main isolation switch to be on as well as the module switch to be on. This lights up both control panels (Cab and box) as well as introducing a heap of parasitic electric loads. At a minimum all the box and any lighting mounted to the box will be coming off to a separate control system. (currently I have wired the outside LED area lights to the checkout lights for ease of switching and the timer feature.
  8. Access. Me having to jump out of the truck and bring a ladder to allow passengers to enter/exit got old very quickly. An alternative needs to be found asap and will initially probably be something along the lines of the AMP Research power steps.
  9. Power. Getting those big wheels rolling takes some effort. I need to reduce the mass of the tires (get some beadlocks to replace the run flats and save 130# per tire) as well as up the power (reflash to 330HP).
  10. Tires. 55mph rated tires are not going to cut it. I will probably keep this setup for Baja etc where the speed is not an issue and either get the 10 ply Goodyear's which are rated for 80 MPH or weld/machine up some super single rims I have here for a road suitable set for cross country trips (and reduce the tire size to 43" so I can have 6th gear back). Not something I have to jump on straight away but it does need resolving.
  11. Generator: I still have not needed to fire it up at any time. The 840W of solar and the batteries I have handled all our requirements even with the shade (parked under the trees) and the overcast conditions plus supplying charging/power for every man and his dog. My inverter was on all weekend along with outside lighting and it never dropped below 12.5 v. Obviously with the fridges being my main load the weather conditions helped. So we will be investigation the practically of adding more solar capacity and changing the battery types/capacity to eliminate the generator while still allowing for some off-grid AC.
What doesn't need changing yet:
  1. Access to the box. The Little Giant Safety Steps worked great. We had over 100 people climb into the rig over the weekend and no one had any troubles. Wife is happy with them and I have an easy system for latching them inside the door. So this one is a case of "if its not broke don't fix it".
  2. Axle/wheel/suspension combination. Absolutely no issues with the ride, steering, vibration or handling of the Faux 4WD conversion.
  3. Inside the box and cab still functioned well for us as a family. With the camp chairs instead of the attendants seat there is plenty of room inside to sit 5 people when the weather sucks. Our grand daughter still likes the fact she has her own bedroom in the cab even if it got a bit cool at times over the weekend and grand dad kept opening the door to show people the "2nd bedroom"
  4. Shower / toilet setup. While we didn't get to have a shower due to the water heater failure having the toilet accessible from inside really works well for those nocturnal visits. I did have to empty the pee tank on the composting toilet over the weekend but it is easy and not a chore at all. Given our use pattern I do wait a few weeks or trips to do anything with the solids but again that is not a problem (as long as the fan keeps working). Having the toilet easily removable works well for expanding the shower space.

What else is on the wish list:
  1. Change the cab setup to captains chairs that swivel and move the 2nd bedroom to a popup tent setup. This will give me an area to us as an office when we go full time in a few years.
  2. Open the pass through up to be a walk through. (to make use of the office above).
  3. Change the door setup at the back to be a hatch at the top (above the spare tire/motorcycle carrier) while maintaining the lower doors as they are in case I need to put the motorcycle inside or carry something long. The hatch will have a window in it but also have struts so that it can be used as a massive window.
  4. Slide and murphy bed setup where the current sleeper sofa is installed.
  5. Hatch/window combination on the wall accessed when the murphy bed is is use.
  6. Water tanks in the wheel wells where the old tires went. Plenty of space to hold sufficient water that is currently no utilized for anything.
  7. Gray water tank using the bilge pump design for those times we cannot just dump straight to the ground.
  8. Carpet for the floor.
  9. Spare tire carrier system.
  10. Motorcycle carrier redesigned to actually reach the ground (currently about 12" off the ground at its lowest point now.
  11. New front bumper setup including headlight because the current ones are too high now.

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