My (soon to be 4x4) Red Cross ERV Build and Adventures

Rebuilder

Builder of Things That Interest Me
Hi All. I've seen a few other ERV builds on here so I figured I might as well start one too. I've been meaning to start one for a while but just haven't gotten around to it.

A little back story on myself. With regards to hobbies and general lifestyle I consider myself a builder first and an traveler/adventurer second. What I mean by that is I generally get as much, if not more, enjoyment out of building things than I do actually using them. Case in point here's a previous project I started on and really enjoyed the process but then realized it might have been just a little impractical for the traveling I wanted to do. https://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/another-lmtv-build-for-sale.175747/ It sure was fun to have around though. After re-evaluating what I really wanted I did some research on box vans, shuttle buses, school buses, ambulances and then I stumbled upon these Red Cross ERV's and it checked all the boxes for what I was looking for. I really like the ambulance idea but really didn't like the low ceilings so the ERV is perfect because it's built like an ambulance but has 75" high ceilings. Most of the electrical system is already there so it took very little to redo it for the new layout.

The van is a 2001 E450 with a 7.3 Turbo Diesel and had 82,000 miles. This was another huge plus over any of the other vehicles I mentioned above. It's hard to beat a low mileage, fleet maintained 7.3 diesel.

Here's what it looked like when I bought it. These are the pics from the Ebay ad so they're a little color enhanced but I was really happy with how clean it was when I picked it up. I flew down from Minneapolis to St Louis to get it but unfortunately didn't take any pics on the way home. Thankfully, It was uneventful.

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eporter

Adventurer
These things are so sweet. I had an ambo and then a chinook, but the ERV is what I really want. It might be just a foot or two longer than I’d like, but oh well. What is the bumper to bumper length? That box height is great too. Going from the 64” ambo to the 6’+ chinook was great. What’s the inside box length?
 
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Rebuilder

Builder of Things That Interest Me
These things are so sweet. I had an ambo and then a chinook, but the ERV is what I really want. It might be just a foot or two longer than I’d like, but oh well. What is the bumper to bumper length? That box height is great too. Going from the 60” ambo to the 6’+ chinook was great. What’s the inside box length?
Bumper to bumper is just over 21'
Inside box length is 163ish"
 

eporter

Adventurer
My minimod ambo box was 145 long, 84” wide.

The Chinook was about 156x90”

The ERV seems a lot bigger but I guess it isn’t.
 

Bikersmurf

Expedition Leader
Those ERVs are a cool rig. Crestline New Era rigs are somewhat under 21’. Box is 148” long, 88” wide, and +/- 66” standing height. Mini-Mods are a touch smaller and regular Ambulances are bigger (96” wide and all).

I’d like to have a bit more height inside... but overall I’d not want to be taller than the 8’6” tall that it now is. Every vehicle is a compromise... you need to make your own choice what is important to you.
 

Rebuilder

Builder of Things That Interest Me
I wish I would have taken more progress pics but I usually forget when I'm in work mode.

I decided I to gut the interior so I could make some mods and do a better job of insulation. For others that are building these you'll notice I cut away the diamond plate aluminum from around the inner wheel wells. There' s quite a bit of wasted space under them.

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I'm leaving all the electrical but decided to remove the factory heater/AC unit. I'll be reusing the heater lines to heat hot water through a calorifier and I'm just deleting the AC and will probably replace it with a roof mount or a modified house window unit.

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This is another reason these ERV's are such a great starting point. They have basically all the necessary circuits already in place and enough extra unused circuits so they can be repurposed for other things. I imagine this is very similar in ambulances but I'm guessing this is a slightly simplified version? It also has dual alternators and everything needed to charge the house batteries.

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The orange spray paint lines are my initial layout plan but that changed a bit as I went along.

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Rebuilder

Builder of Things That Interest Me
Adding the door was a bit of a dilemma because I wasn't sure if I wanted to replace the big window on the passenger or go with a more unorthodox drivers side door. After reading some negatives to a drivers side door I realize those negatives didn't really matter to me so drivers side it is. It really was the best option. The only reason I was contemplating removing the big passenger side window is I think it'll suck in the winter but in reality I think the benefits will outweigh the negatives.

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Some may be concerned with cutting away the box frame structure but I don't really think it matters. There's still plenty of support around the opening and I built an aluminum frame and box to fit into the opening and tie into the floor and frame. Looks like I forgot to take pics of that part. I'll climb under there tonight and take some.

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You can see here all the aluminum tubing that's still intact around the opening. What could possibly go wrong?!!!

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There was a bunch of unused space under the floor so I decided to make a little cubby hole for shoes and things.

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eporter

Adventurer
Ah, that’s good to know. I wasn’t sure how hot/cold the diamond plate floors would get in these.

Good idea on the shoe cubby. Did you weld that area back together? My old ambo had a nice little downlight/steplight in the step/footwell area that went on with the door. I always liked that at night.
 

Rebuilder

Builder of Things That Interest Me
Here are a few shots I took tonight from underneath of the supports and welded aluminum box I added for the entry step and cubby. The alum channel is under the step and the cubby is the part at the top of the first pic... if that helps.

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Rebuilder

Builder of Things That Interest Me
Next was installing the MaxxAir fan. Of course the fan is 14" and the roof supports only have 12" between so I had to do some more cutting.

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I just took some 2" alum channel and added some 3M VHB tape to the mounting surfaces and screwed it in place. It's plenty strong.

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And then I started on the insulation. This is 2" thick between the roof supports and then I added furring strips and another 1/2" layer of insulation to help avoid thermal bridging. I wanted to go thicker but I also didn't want to loose any more head room.

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HAF

Active member
Awesome-love aluminum body campers. Insulation looks good. Another thin layer of insulated panel over the frame will make a bridge where cold will stop.
Your workmanship looks good.
 

Rebuilder

Builder of Things That Interest Me
Do people prefer full size pics or thumbnails? Let's give thumbnails a try.

So there's a ton of wasted space up in the wind deflector so I figured I'd open it up so I could use it. The bummer is there's a 1" gap that needed to be filled to make water tight. It's filled in now but time will tell if it's water tight. That area will be outside of the insulation envelope anyway so I plan on considering damp storage for lack of a better term. Everything will be stored in bins.

I didn't get pics of the different steps but I basically just made a frame around the opening with some aluminum u channel, bent alum sheet and a bunch of silicone.

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I still might jam a foam seal around the outside between the layers to deflect water around the sides.

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Overall I think I'll be glad I did this. I can see it being useful for seasonal or longer term storage.
 
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