Buying & Building a Medium Ambulance into an RV – The FAM-BULANCE

rlrenz

Explorer
Just when I'm convinced I'll never track down the official owner's manual for the truck---- I find that the gent who was the Medic Master Chief Engineer when the company closed down has all the build records. I believe he also has the capability to re-program the VMUX systems. I just ordered a set of PDFs for my buggy from him - price, about $275.

Then, By accident, I find a guy who lives only 30 miles from the FD who used to have my truck. He's going to snoop around and see if the builder's manual is still hiding on a shelf somewhere.

The world is very small, isn't it?
 

rlrenz

Explorer
It cost me some bucks, but I now have the complete build package of drawings for my ambulance -- framing, cabinets, compartments, electrical schematics and wire lists, and a full set of American LaFrance's wire color codes and numbering conventions. I started plowing through them tonight, and many questions I've had are being answered. I've attached the ALF wire numbering / color codes for anyone else with a Medic Master. I also have a full set of electrical schematics for a VMUX Medic Master that I'll scan in once the US calms down a little.
 

Attachments

rlrenz

Explorer
Been chopping into some cabinets. I need to install my 12 volt marine refrigerator and a Broan electric heater. The Broan is rated at 1500 watts, but I'm only going to run it at 750 watts. That will give me about 2500 BTU, which will be plenty for my non-winter usage.

The refrigerator's challenge will be to figure wire size. I have to factor in the wire length, voltage drop, running current, and starting current. The numbers put it on the border of 12-10 gauge, but since I'm a retired engineer, I'm going to test first. I'll grab the right length of 12 gauge, and measure the starting current and voltage drop. I have clamp current probes, and a dual trace oscilloscope.

Overkill? Yup. But my curiosity is fired up. Maybe that's also because I ran a test lab? Whatever....
 

rlrenz

Explorer
If anybody has halogen warning lights, and you convert to an LED bulb (Amazon, ebay), remenber to save your halogen bulbs. Why? These little bulbs sell for about $35 new, and used for $5-10 each. If you plan to convert down the road, your existing halogen fixtures aren't designed for an LED bulb, and your light output will be a lot less.
 

FDM2012

Adventurer
You mean size matters?


Been chopping into some cabinets. I need to install my 12 volt marine refrigerator and a Broan electric heater. The Broan is rated at 1500 watts, but I'm only going to run it at 750 watts. That will give me about 2500 BTU, which will be plenty for my non-winter usage.

The refrigerator's challenge will be to figure wire size. I have to factor in the wire length, voltage drop, running current, and starting current. The numbers put it on the border of 12-10 gauge, but since I'm a retired engineer, I'm going to test first. I'll grab the right length of 12 gauge, and measure the starting current and voltage drop. I have clamp current probes, and a dual trace oscilloscope.

Overkill? Yup. But my curiosity is fired up. Maybe that's also because I ran a test lab? Whatever....
 

rlrenz

Explorer
If you want lights, radios, and anything with a motor to operate correctly, it needs to have 12 volts AT THE ITEM. The factors affecting this are the amperage needed, the length of wire, and the size (gauge) of the wire. If my refrigerator was installed next to the fuse panel, I could probably use 16 gauge wire to connect it, but because its 15 feet from the panel, I will have to include the voltage drop in the wire. When I run the numbers, it looks like I can use 12 gauge wire, and still have enough voltage at the refrigerator to start the compressor. The drawing shows what I mean.

For help on this, check out the Blue Sea web site (www.bluesea.com). They have a wire size calculator that does a good job of sizing wiring. For lighting and similar, you can probably figure with 10% voltage drop, but if you're running a motor, you might want something like 5%.

If you see a chart for marine use, remember to include the return wire as well as the supply. For example, a motor located 15 ft from the panel, with the negative lead returning to a panel negative location, would have 30 ft of wire total.

Do some Googling to see more data on voltage drop.

electricity.jpg
 

Recommended books for Overlanding

Vehicle-dependent Expedition Guide
by Tom Sheppard
From $334.34
Into Africa
by Sam Manicom
From $25.52
Long Way Down: An Epic Journey by Motorcycle from Scotlan...
by Ewan McGregor, Charley Boorman
From $1.65
Overland: A Mercedes-Benz Journey Through the Americas
by ri M. Stroh
From $20

FDM2012

Adventurer
Good call, Bob.

Not sure what I did with them, but I thought the same thing when I converted my scene lights to LED's.



If anybody has halogen warning lights, and you convert to an LED bulb (Amazon, ebay), remenber to save your halogen bulbs. Why? These little bulbs sell for about $35 new, and used for $5-10 each. If you plan to convert down the road, your existing halogen fixtures aren't designed for an LED bulb, and your light output will be a lot less.
 

Attachments

rlrenz

Explorer
My warning lights and scene lights are either Whelen LED, or Tecniq LED. Because my rig is used to support the USCG Auxiliary, I needed amber warning lights, but I wanted clear lenses. I was able to track down what I needed through my ambulance electrician friends, so the cost was a lot less than list. Tecniq offers a lifetime warranty, and they're made in Michigan. They're available from many emergency vehicle builders and through their dealers. Even better, they run about half Whelen's price.
 

rlrenz

Explorer
Reality raised its ugly head, and I decided on PLAN-B for my fridge -- since the correct size wire is a toss-up between #12 & #10, and since I have rolls of each, I can use either. Number 10 won out.

One question I've been asked is if the scene lights should be kept, or replaced with a different light. Scene lights are intended to light up an accident scene. If you want to throw light farther, you'll probably need to replace them. I have some Tecniq D30 loading lights that will be on each side, between the scene lights - they primarily light down and out at about 45 degrees. They are a much more humane light in a camping area.
 
Top