Ambulance Camper/ Expedition Rig Conversion FAQ

Bikersmurf

Expedition Leader
The best option for charging off the alternator would be a Blue Seas ARC or similar. Off shore power a modern marine house charger... or in my case an older one that's harder on the batteries. Some inverters also charge the battery... but generally they don't do it fast or super well. My batteries tend to only last about 14 months and then I have them replaced under the 36 month warranty. I'm working on ways to have them last longer, but the single 215 amp alternator is somewhat hard on them. The starting batteries also die after a couple years... I'm thinking I'll rotate them and see if that helps at all.

For AC outlets follow the wiring to where the breaker box is/was and figure out what's going on. I've got 3 shore power plugs, and one in the cabinet from the inverter.
 

rlrenz

Explorer
Instead of trying to revive the vehicle as an ambulance, it would probably be a lot easier to build it out as an RV instead. One advantage is that wiring in an ambulance is labeled every foot or so with what it does, so once you see enough wiring you can figure it out a lot easier. Generally, yellow is for lighting, blue is for the AC system, orange is for warning lights, red is often a feeder to a panel, and so forth. Once you find the relay panel connections, you can make sense of things a lot faster.
 

tgreening

Expedition Leader
I would suggest starting back in the module, at each component you are concerned with. Expose its electrical connection and make note of its color combo and lettering. Then you can match that up at the plugs that used to feed the missing control panel.

Repeat this process for all the existing components. When you're done you should have a ledger of what feeds what, which will make moving forward a whole lot easier.

As mentioned the existing lighting is power hungry to say the least. I bypassed my internal lighting using run of the mill EBay led light strips. I believe I have 2 strips running and they supply plenty of interior light. The exterior lights I have yet to address because frankly, they're rarely used anyway, but it was easier to just leave it all in place.

Anyway, the biggee is making your ledger of what feeds what. That will make your life a whole lot easier moving forward.
 
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rlrenz

Explorer
Good advice! At the same time, concentrate on what you need to save, and remove what you absolutely know you'll never need. You may want to keep the scene lights, but you know probably won't want the warning lights. You also probably don't want the suction pump, oxygen monitoring equipment, and connections for the 2-way radio gear. That will help pare the problem down a lot.
 

rlrenz

Explorer
Your ambulance probably had a relay panel that did the actual switching. You don't need the same panel the manufacturer used - you can do the same with standard automotive relays. If you want to interlock circuits, all you need are some diodes.

Remember the KISS rule! (Keep It Simple)
 

tgreening

Expedition Leader
I would suggest starting back in the module, at each component you are concerned with. Expose its electrical connection and make note of its color combo and lettering. Then you can match that up at the plugs that used to feed the missing control panel.

Repeat this process for all the existing components. When you're done you should have a ledger of what feeds what, which will make moving forward a whole lot easier.

As mentioned the existing lighting is power hungry to say the least. I bypassed my internal lighting using run of the mill EBay led light strips. I believe I have 2 strips running and they supply plenty of interior light. The exterior lights I have yet to address because frankly, they're rarely used anyway, but it was easier to just leave it all in place.

Anyway, the biggee is making your ledger of what feeds what. That will make your life a whole lot easier moving forward.
 
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patoz

Expedition Leader
And one more thing, photograph everything before you disconnect or remove anything. You will thank me later!

I find it's a good idea to take detailed pictures of the entire vehicle, both inside and out, from every angle and keep them on file as stock photos. Then later on when you need a quick photo to show someone something in a post, you'll already have a photo of it. I do a lot of my parts shopping online late at night, so when I need to see something I can just look at the pictures instead of having to run outside in the dark to look at it.
 

epinfRN

New member
And one more thing, photograph everything before you disconnect or remove anything. You will thank me later!

I find it's a good idea to take detailed pictures of the entire vehicle, both inside and out, from every angle and keep them on file as stock photos. Then later on when you need a quick photo to show someone something in a post, you'll already have a photo of it. I do a lot of my parts shopping online late at night, so when I need to see something I can just look at the pictures instead of having to run outside in the dark to look at it.
Wise words. And I echo that sentiment from all the advice I've heard. Thanks y'all!


Since I'm without any of my tools at the moment (long story)I've been left just spending time in the back end imagining what I can do with the space. I was in the middle of one of these imagineering sessions with a buddy who pointed out that the spare chair in the back (that was cut out with an angle grinder by some *** who stole all the missing electrical equipment) is sitting on a swivel base! Might be adding that sucker onto the passenger seat. Exciting! More to come, friends.
 

patoz

Expedition Leader
Hahaha, we all have those sessions. Sometimes a beer or two helps to expand the boundaries of our imagination also. :beer:
 

gtbensley

Explorer
Wise words. And I echo that sentiment from all the advice I've heard. Thanks y'all!


Since I'm without any of my tools at the moment (long story)I've been left just spending time in the back end imagining what I can do with the space. I was in the middle of one of these imagineering sessions with a buddy who pointed out that the spare chair in the back (that was cut out with an angle grinder by some *** who stole all the missing electrical equipment) is sitting on a swivel base! Might be adding that sucker onto the passenger seat. Exciting! More to come, friends.
Few more sessions of just studying your wiring and we will have it all figured out. The advice from others has been spot on and I think we can make a system work with what you have, just on a more simple level.
 

rlrenz

Explorer
Remember, you don't need to build an ambulance - you want to build an RV, and that will simplify things a whole lot.
 

Bikersmurf

Expedition Leader
3"x7" Ambulance Light compatibility

I've got painted over Red & White +/- 3"x7" Whelen xenon strobe lights on the front fender and grill. At first glance the original '97 lights look like Whelen 700 series, but they don't have a series number on the lens. I may have to pull them if no one knows offhand, but was there a predecessor that would be interchangeable with the 700? How do they compare to the Tomar 3"x7"?

The reason I ask is that there are 700 series scene lights that I'd like to replace the deactivated strobes with. They'd be more legal (not being strobing or red) on the front of the rig. I'd like to swap them out for improved visibility and more options to light the area around the rig.

Thoughts? I'm sure LED bulbs could work somehow if the lenses would work.
 

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patoz

Expedition Leader
I've got painted over Red & White +/- 3"x7" Whelen xenon strobe lights on the front fender and grill. At first glance the original '97 lights look like Whelen 700 series, but they don't have a series number on the lens. I may have to pull them if no one knows offhand, but was there a predecessor that would be interchangeable with the 700? How do they compare to the Tomar 3"x7"?

The reason I ask is that there are 700 series scene lights that I'd like to replace the deactivated strobes with. They'd be more legal (not being strobing or red) on the front of the rig. I'd like to swap them out for improved visibility and more options to light the area around the rig.

Thoughts? I'm sure LED bulbs could work somehow if the lenses would work.

Whelen 700 Series lights (without flange) are: 3 1/16" (78mm) H x 7 1/4" (184mm) W. What you may have is the Old Style 73 Series, but there is a kit available to convert 700 Series to fit in old holes.

700 Series Snap-In Halogen Lightheads is probably what you would need to replace the old strobes, or if you really wanted to spend some money there are the 700 Series Super-LED® Lightheads.

I have no experience with the Tomar Brand, so I can't help you there.

BTW, if you find a deal on the Whelen 700 Series Clear LED Scene lights, let me know. I need a couple.
 

epinfRN

New member
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.


View attachment 413004

Quick update and a few questions. I just bought a cheap multimeter to run a few tests. In the above photo connected to the commander 350 is (what appears to be) a 100amp fuse. There are actually two of these; the second is connected by the large-guage red wire the runs up and left off the top.

Hooking this up to the multimeter with the engine at idle I am getting a reading of 13.1-13.2 VDC. So now the questions.

-Can I buy two 100AH batteries, hook them together and charge them off of this circuit?

-If the answer to that is yes, should I be worried about the other random and unknown things in this circuit drawing off of them in the meantime?

-Do I need an isolator or 3-way switch/something of the like to ensure that the only power coming of of the batteries is power I'm asking for?

-If I am only going to be running a fridge and thermostat/propane or diesel heater as well as lights and a cellphone charger off of this system should I really worry about adding some other means of charging my batteries?

Thanks y'all!
 
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