Ambulance Camper/ Expedition Rig Conversion FAQ

patoz

Expedition Leader
This is what I want to do but I can't get insured without getting the lights removed (what are the covers called you put inplace of the lights) to get one I'm looking at for $3500

Skillfulist, are planning keeping the ambulance intact and using it that way, or building a trailer out of the rear module like I am?

Do you know exactly what Model/Series lights you have, or can you post some pictures so we can see just what we are working with?
 

Skillfulist

New member
Skillfulist, are planning keeping the ambulance intact and using it that way, or building a trailer out of the rear module like I am?

Do you know exactly what Model/Series lights you have, or can you post some pictures so we can see just what we are working with?
Sorry must have miss read your post I'm going to keep the Ambo as stock as I can. (just checked with the owner its sold so a new search begins)
 

patoz

Expedition Leader
Sorry must have miss read your post I'm going to keep the Ambo as stock as I can. (just checked with the owner its sold so a new search begins)

If you haven't already seen it, check the first page of this thread. There are dozens of links to places to look for used/surplus ambulances.

Good luck...!
 

epinfRN

New member
A new type II on the block!

Hello all!

Firstly, thanks to everyone who has contributed to this thread-there's a wealth of knowledge here. I've spent the last month digging through here while my new ambulance has been in the shop getting a clean bill of health and a 6" Action Van lift.


I'm excited to share my Type II with you. This will be my second van build and my first ambulance. Additionally, this is the first diesel vehicle I've owned. I will do a full build thread, especially to contribute to those interested in Type 2's as it seems there are fewer of them compared to the type 3', but in the meantime I'll leave a few photos and details here.

In short, I am a travel/locums nurse and I dig the outdoors. I initially built my first van last year as a means of packing all my adventure gear into and going from contract to contract across this country. This van will have much the same purpose if only a slightly more livable (read: lots of nice conveniences) build. Also, it's a god damned ambulance. What better vehicle for a nurse? I certainly get a giggle out of it.

Lastly, I've found a handful of build threads both on this forum and else where (O'Billy, Two Days Late and Tobias Scott come to mind), but if anyone has any other resource on type 2s, specifically internal builds I would love to see some ideas. I want a raised bed, essentially, and have found no examples of this.

Without further adieu, I give you The Ati-Van:

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patoz

Expedition Leader
Welcome to the Ambo Club!

It looks like you definitely have a nice platform to start your build from. Type II ambulances are a challenge because everyone wants the same things we put into the Type IIIs, but you have a much smaller space to work with.

Good luck with it, and I'm looking forward to seeing how it turns out!
 

tgreening

Expedition Leader
Hello all!

Firstly, thanks to everyone who has contributed to this thread-there's a wealth of knowledge here. I've spent the last month digging through here while my new ambulance has been in the shop getting a clean bill of health and a 6" Action Van lift.


I'm excited to share my Type II with you. This will be my second van build and my first ambulance. Additionally, this is the first diesel vehicle I've owned. I will do a full build thread, especially to contribute to those interested in Type 2's as it seems there are fewer of them compared to the type 3', but in the meantime I'll leave a few photos and details here.

I wouldn't get "too" wrapped up in researching type IIs, and would expand to vans in general. At the end of the day what you are going to want to stuff into your ambo, and how you do it, isn't going to be too much different than folks doing regular E-series. Especially those people with raised roofs. Type IIIs are obviously a bit different animal, but even those are worth looking at. Ideas about across all the platforms.

Oh, and pictures or none of it happens. :)
 

KeyserSoSay

Adventurer
Hello all!

Firstly, thanks to everyone who has contributed to this thread-there's a wealth of knowledge here. I've spent the last month digging through here while my new ambulance has been in the shop getting a clean bill of health and a 6" Action Van lift.


I'm excited to share my Type II with you. This will be my second van build and my first ambulance. Additionally, this is the first diesel vehicle I've owned. I will do a full build thread, especially to contribute to those interested in Type 2's as it seems there are fewer of them compared to the type 3', but in the meantime I'll leave a few photos and details here.

In short, I am a travel/locums nurse and I dig the outdoors. I initially built my first van last year as a means of packing all my adventure gear into and going from contract to contract across this country. This van will have much the same purpose if only a slightly more livable (read: lots of nice conveniences) build. Also, it's a god damned ambulance. What better vehicle for a nurse? I certainly get a giggle out of it.

Lastly, I've found a handful of build threads both on this forum and else where (O'Billy, Two Days Late and Tobias Scott come to mind), but if anyone has any other resource on type 2s, specifically internal builds I would love to see some ideas. I want a raised bed, essentially, and have found no examples of this.

Without further adieu, I give you The Ati-Van:

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Love that van, it has as much similarity (in many contexts) to my school-bus as anything. Please post a link to your build thread as I'd like to keep up with you and your build.
 

epinfRN

New member
I wouldn't get "too" wrapped up in researching type IIs, and would expand to vans in general. At the end of the day what you are going to want to stuff into your ambo, and how you do it, isn't going to be too much different than folks doing regular E-series. Especially those people with raised roofs. Type IIIs are obviously a bit different animal, but even those are worth looking at. Ideas about across all the platforms.

Oh, and pictures or none of it happens. :)
Love that van, it has as much similarity (in many contexts) to my school-bus as anything. Please post a link to your build thread as I'd like to keep up with you and your build.
Thanks for the wise words and the encouragement. Keyser-I enjoyed reading a bit through your build thread...that's going to be a bad mama once you're finished!

I'm hoping I can tap into everyone's expertise here re: ambulance wiring. The situation in the Ati-Van is that, sadly, I didn't buy it straight from the transport company but rather from someone who had bought it after it went to auction. Somewhere along the line someone ripped out all of the special equipment and I'm hoping you all can identify a bit of what is missing and answer some general questions.

As of right now nothing electrical works in the back end (on the inside). There are switches for turning lights on, but no lights come on. There are 6 AC outlets and one 12VDC plug in, none of which have any power to them. I tested this with shorepower and without. I tested it with electricity on and without.

Behind the driver's seat I found the compartment where everything (used to) live. I'm going to throw some photos in this post for reference but here are my questions:

1) Generally, what all is missing in this picture? My hypothesis: 2 deep cycle batteries, an inverter/charger, and some sort of CB Radio/communications receiver and sender.

2)Really vitally, as it will determine how I go about adding in wiring into the back end and whether or not I add solar, how do the batteries in these vans get charged when not plugged into shore power? Off the inverter via the alternator, or simply via the alternator?

3)What are the 4 round, metal plugs and what did they plug into?

4)What is missing to run the lights apart from switches? (The module with switches was pulled from the van and now there's just a hole there where it used to be and loose wires with male connectors).

5)What is the flat, gray, plastic connector for and where does it come from/go?

6)What is the "Commander 350?" I hypothesize that it's some sort of isolator between the starting batteries and what would have been the house batteries?

7)If I buy my own replacements for the missing junk, how the hell do I connect it all?

Now, I can hear some of you already thinking outloud, "Why didn't this sumbitch just call the ambulance MFGR and ask for a wiring diagram?" As it turns out, they're a small, regional company and found out on the phone today that, "if we manufactured it, we just know where stuff goes so there are no diagrams." Awesome.

Thank good grief that there's this community!
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Ozrockrat

Expedition Leader
Somewhwre in the switches they pulled out would be a module master switch. That may be the commander module you have the photo of. Generally they have a positive already to the relay and the module master switch actually switches to ground.
 

zuke

Adventurer
The commander 350 is a load timer, when power is removed from the signal wire, it give a 5 minute countdown and then cuts power to what ever is hooked to the battery out...
 

patoz

Expedition Leader
Identifying what is missing is not that hard, putting it all back to together again is another story.


1) Generally, what all is missing in this picture? My hypothesis: 2 deep cycle batteries, an inverter/charger, and some sort of CB Radio/communications receiver and sender.
Ambulances don't usually use Deep Cycle batteries, because they are designed to operate with the engine running at all times, and the alternator charging the vehicle batteries. Some larger Medium Duty type vehicles may have separate battery banks for the rear, but a Type II van most likely does not. Yes, there should be an Inverter/Charger to supply 120VAC power to the outlets and to charge the batteries when the vehicle is parked at the station. Ambulances and Emergency Vehicles do not use CB type radios. All communications will be VHF, UHF, or Trunking Systems.

2)Really vitally, as it will determine how I go about adding in wiring into the back end and whether or not I add solar, how do the batteries in these vans get charged when not plugged into shore power? Off the inverter via the alternator, or simply via the alternator?
Strictly from the alternator or alternators. The Inverter/Charger will only charge when plugged into shore Power or a generator.

3)What are the 4 round, metal plugs and what did they plug into?
They most likely went to the switch panel that controlled everything in the rear. I have a panel similar to that from an old Road Rescue Type I (thank you Alex).

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4)What is missing to run the lights apart from switches? (The module with switches was pulled from the van and now there's just a hole there where it used to be and loose wires with male connectors).
Just about all ambulance systems are run through relays, so they can be controlled by much smaller low amperage wiring and switches. If all of your relays are missing, you might as well start from scratch and design your own simple system.

5)What is the flat, gray, plastic connector for and where does it come from/go?
That is called an Anderson connector and went to the Inverter/Charger, which most likely was a Vanner Model 1050. The heavy cables go directly to the batteries.

6)What is the "Commander 350?" I hypothesize that it's some sort of isolator between the starting batteries and what would have been the house batteries?
John answered that above.

7)If I buy my own replacements for the missing junk, how the hell do I connect it all?
Impossible to answer at this time.

This is a V-MUX Shunt Interface Module. It provides three channels designed to amplify the 0-50mV signal of current shunt style amperage sensors. V-MUX complete electrical control system.

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This is the main flasher unit that operates the Primary and Secondary warning lights.

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Looks like you have one heck of a puzzle on your hands. Good luck putting it all back together!
 
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tgreening

Expedition Leader
I'm with Pat. At this point you'd probably be time and money ahead to just strip the backend electrical and start over, using off the shelf standard components. Just trying to match those plugs and pin the female counterparts would be a mind numbing chore in itself, requiring tooling you're not going to pick up just any old place.
 

patoz

Expedition Leader
Tom is right, but let me clarify something... When he says, "...just strip the back end electrical and start over...", that doesn't mean rip every wire back there out and replace it. The stuff that's back there now is better quality than anything you can buy locally, and must meet dozens of specifications and regulations. All you really need to do is identify the wires coming from each device and label them. Most items will have their own wires, which will run directly to the panel area and connect to terminal strips. Or, in your case they may go directly to those round connectors.

Once you do this, then you can plan out your system and decide what you need to keep and what you don't. You will still need to buy or build a switch panel of some sort, but determine how many 12VDC circuits you will need before deciding on a panel.

Or you can do like I did and buy this 11.5" x 19.5" Blue sea Systems 19 position panel, and now I can't find anywhere to mount it because it's too big.

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rlrenz

Explorer
Because you don't want to use it as an ambulance, you have many options that you can go with, but unfortunately, you're going to have to start from -0-. Setting it up as an RV is a lot easier - example, you don't need warning lights.

Scene lights can be handy, except your ambulance probably used halogen lighting. Halogen was the standard until about 10-15 years ago, and they are typically about 50 watts each (4-5 amps each). Today's standard is LED lighting, but if you want ambulance LED lighting, plan on spending a lot more - a typical scene light will run up to about $300, but they can sometimes be found used for about $150.

Interior lights are the same way - each ceiling light will be 30-50 watts and uses a halogen bulb. LED ceiling lights are sometimes available as used takeouts for about $70 per each.
 

epinfRN

New member
Damn, y'all sure do know your stuff. Thank you for the answers! Good answers almost always lead to more questions.

So, it seems like my best bet will be to use existing wiring but to put in place my own machinery and disregard most of what is there. My goal for the back end with regards to wiring is to make the overhead lights work and get power to the 120VAC outlets, of which there are a total of 6 (that I have found, anyhow) which will power a cheap fridge mainly and probably just charge my phone beyond that. I plan on having approximately 200 AH of deep cycle battery that I would like to charge mainly off the alternator, but also would like to have the option to charge off of shore power and potentially off of one or a pair of solar panels. I have no interest in VHF comms or the like. Being able to run the emergency lights would be a cool bonus, as well, though it seems it would be easy to just sell some of what's there that I don't need and make money instead. In total these batteries will run the aforementioned accoutrements as well as some LED lighting and a thermostat for a small propane furnace.

So, new questions:

-Do you see here an easy way to tap into the alternators for charging off of what's already in place? Is that how this system was set up?

-Assuming the answer to this question is yes how does this product look as a means of adding shore power charging capability? https://www.tripplite.com/1250w-powerverter-aps-12vdc-120v-inverter-charger-auto-transfer-switching-2-outlets~APS1250/

You're all correct. This is going to be a cluster**** to figure out by all means, but that's part of the joy of a project! Maybe I'll even learn a thing or two. :)
 
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