1996 Ford F350 Powerstroke 4x4 Ambulance Build Thread

I orignall posted this in Domestic full size expedition vehicles, but I think it probably belongs here(?) since I will be converting it into a camper. I recently sold my 2016 Ram Promaster that I had built out as a weekend get away camper primarily used for mountain biking and started searching for something 4x4. After looking at a lot of great rigs, I came accross this thing on facebook and now my flights are booked for a 1 way ticket to Pheonix then a 31hr drive back to Michigan.

I am venturing from my van-based roots to the type 1 for a couple reasons. One, it just seems easier to work on, and two I have a soft spot for square body fords as an '89 f150 was our family truck growing up and I had another '89 f350 with a cummins swap I regretfully sold for $5000 back in 2014. So when I found a 1996 type 1 power stroke with a pass through, in 4x4 in Arizona with 41,000 orignal miles I knew I had to scoop it up.

I just got a house with a big garage so hope to tackle most of the build inside during the MI winter and while I have been doing a lot of research already I still have a few things I am hoping some of the knowledgable folks on here can help me with:

  1. I am not sure who makes this box. Hopefully there will be some tag on it I can locate but the seller does not know either. In my research I have not seen one that has the 2 exterior storage doors on the back next to the rear access dors.
  2. Once I know who makes the box, I am hoping I can find some wiring info as well as framing because I won't want to waste any time figuring out where I can cut one or two 14 inch holes for a maxxfans as well as start getting my electrical sorted out
  3. Do these things typically come with insulation? I want to use as much of the high quality cabinets and storage as possible but I'm wondering if I will have to tear all that out to get insulation in.
  4. I'd like to replace every single halogen with cooler more efficient LED's, anyone know of direct swaps?
  5. There currently is no receiver hitch. I am hoping I can get something off the shelf somewhere but am not sure how different it is from a regular f350 back there
  6. Tires/stance: It currently has a pretty agressive knobbed tire with good tread but they seem a bit aged. I've never had a dually before so I gotta figure out what kind of tire options there are. Also would like to raise the ride height a bit but I'm going to see how she handles first. I'd probably wait until after the built out so I could get adequately sized springs
  7. Layouts: Most layouts I have seen on type 1's have been pretty basic keep everything but replace the bench with a fold out bed. I loved my van because it had a permanent bed so no making it every night and we kept the bikes below. Not sure I can do the same thing on this, but I'd like to see some other builds or links to threads or IG's I can get some ideas.
  8. Windows. On the van I could get front window covers and screens from any number of camper van parts companies. Not sure if thats the case here. I figure with the pass through door , i will probably want to just cut off the front from the living space when I camp so I'd like to possibly find windows that open as I think just the door window opens now. I also think I will end up having to custom make window covers unless I can find a source for pre-fabbed ones.

Thanks, I am looking forward to building this thing out. It's rare I have had a base vehicle I am this excited on, a good space to do the work, and some cash from the van sale I can just start ordering parts. Let me know if you have any advice
 

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iggi

Ian
That's a nice looking unit. There was a lot of discussion about it on the Ambulance Camper Conversion Facebook group I run.
 
That's a nice looking unit. There was a lot of discussion about it on the Ambulance Camper Conversion Facebook group I run.
Yup, that's where I saw it! Had to jump on it when I did. I hadn't come accross many type 1's with walk throughs. Thanks for the awesome group!
 
Picked this up and am 16 hours of 31 hours in. So far running beautifully for the most part.

There is a strange issue of the roof over the cab making a ton of noise under certain wind conditions. I see many type ones have what seems like a fiberglass extension and deflector on them, I think I need to track one down especially since it seems like the only logical place to keep the spare tire. I yanked off the light bar and that helped but still an issue

Other issues are some electronic items don’t work and others I don’t know how they work (red switches near doors, don’t know what they do or why they are sometimes lit up).

At this point, I think I am leaning towards stripping everything out then running my own wiring but leaving some of the wiring to components in place. So basically leaving the wires to the lights, but hooking them up to my own switch banks since some switches clearly don’t work and others I don’t know what do then attach them to house batteries and yanking all the relays and what not out.

Couple photos from the journey grabbing tools from harbor freight just in case then the bar removed.




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Got this thing home last week and it ran beautifully the entire 2000+ mile journey. The only issue is that I get a pretty bad "oil canning" on the roof of the cab. Basically sounded like someone was pushing in on the roof, then quickly releasing. Happened the first day only in wind, the second day seemed to be going non-stop. I removed the light bar after day 2 thinking it may be some turbulence. After that no issues for about 200 miles, then it started up again. It does it like clockwork when another large vehicle passes the other way on a two lane, so it's gotta be air related. Plan is to drop the headliner and maybe add some sort of support and dynamat as well as get some form of wind fairing to help air get up over the box.

Part of the fairing will be finding a roof rack. I'd like to toss my spare tire up there since there really isn't anywhere else for it. So I gotta find a good robust gutter mount. I prefer to make my own cross bars from 8020 or unistrut so trying to avoid thule or yakima gutter mounts that only work with their bars. So if anyone has good recommendations for that, let me know

Next priorities are:
1. General maintenance (fuel filter, air filter, oil change)
2. Sort out a trailer hitch, I think I found one that should work as far as drop, but am awaiting etrailer to get me measurements from the mounting holes to end of receiver tube https://www.etrailer.com/Trailer-Hitch/Draw-Tite/41947.html
3. Figure out the roof rack situation
4. Replace accordian seal and door seals (parts on order)
5. Figure out electronics. I still don't know who made the box and the wiring is weird with components not working some times. For example, inverter didn't work when I picked it up then started working randomly the other day. A AC outlet tester suggests reversed neutral/hot wire. The switch labeled "inverter" seems to have no effect on the inverter being on or off. Also, while messing with it that same day the sirens/PA started working. Then a few seconds later stopped again and returned to doing what they did before which is basically a clicking static noise to the rhythm of the selected siren pattern.

What a fun project...
 

Bikersmurf

Expedition Leader
Spray foam or rigid foam glued (silicon or PL) to the ceiling should eliminate any flexibility. Add something rigid to the bottom of the foam to take it to an even more rigid level.
 

Trailwerx

Member
I have the same year and model truck as yours. Mine has a tall Knapheide utility body on back and it had the same oil canning issue. You're exactly right about the cause. Used to scare the heck out of my dog. The issue totally went away when I installed a roof rack and cargo tray which now holds my spare tire.
 

Trailwerx

Member
Also, I love those running boards. Any idea if they were made custom or if there's a manufacturer's logo on it?
 

Trailwerx

Member
Here's my heap. I used Yakima gutter mount rack towers and crossbars. Only problem is that it's quite a production to load and unload the spare tire from that spot.
 

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Bikersmurf

Expedition Leader
Here's my heap. I used Yakima gutter mount rack towers and crossbars. Only problem is that it's quite a production to load and unload the spare tire from that spot.
I’ve got a Mac500 Air compressor to plug into my inverter. That way I never have had to use my spare. I carry one, but don’t have to worry about it being a PITA to access.
 
Here's my heap. I used Yakima gutter mount rack towers and crossbars. Only problem is that it's quite a production to load and unload the spare tire from that spot.
Nice. Does the tire over hang the front of the windshield any? My tires are about 32” diameter, and the roof is only about 2ft long from the back of the markers to the end of the cab. Should have plenty of room to the rear though before hitting the ambulance body. And I suppose it can go over the marker lights. Just hoping to not worsen the aero issue.

As for the steps, I have no idea. I’ll look for a label next time I’m under there.


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Oh and as for the access, I know it won’t be easy but hopefully I don’t have to do it more than once. I also plan on carrying a compressor and plug kit. And if I get a flat it will come down pretty easily with help of gravity and I’ll toss the flat tire in the truck.


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Trailwerx

Member
I’ve got a Mac500 Air compressor to plug into my inverter. That way I never have had to use my spare. I carry one, but don’t have to worry about it being a PITA to access.
I now carry an 8' aluminum ramp which I can slide the spare up and down on. I also use the ramp occasionally to load my motorbike inside the back. I store it on the outside passenger-side wall of the utility body with Quickfist rubber clamps. But I see the appeal of an air compressor.
 

Trailwerx

Member
Nice. Does the tire over hang the front of the windshield any? My tires are about 32” diameter, and the roof is only about 2ft long from the back of the markers to the end of the cab. Should have plenty of room to the rear though before hitting the ambulance body. And I suppose it can go over the marker lights. Just hoping to not worsen the aero issue.

As for the steps, I have no idea. I’ll look for a label next time I’m under there.


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The tire (it's also around 32" as I recall) doesn't hang over the windshield but the rack basket does, by about 9 inches. But not enough to notice it when I'm driving. One could dispose of the rack basket altogether and rig a real tire mount between the rack crossbars. I've been meaning to do that as the cheapo steel basket is already starting to rust.
 

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