International 4700 4X4 Rescue Conversion

motorman

Member
Hello everyone, collaborators, experts, seasoned travelers, trailblazers, neophytes and lurkers

I myself am a long time lurker and sponge

So much still to learn from those who have taken the road less traveled

My saga begins with owning a 42’ Monaco Dynasty flat towing our suburban w/ 5 bikes on the back with a length that often exceeded 79'!!! We used this for family travel all over the US and stayed in campgrounds suitable for ‘big rigs’ and I was able to work on the road with my business. We frequently stayed out for 3 weeks or more and traveled with grandparents for weeks on end. We owned this unit for almost 8 years and put tons of miles spending 70+ weeks in the unit. During this time we rebuilt an x-military M1009 and hit most of the forest service roads in the SE US.

I then began looking for ways to get off the beaten path with an RV type unit and try ‘the road(s) not taken’ previously in our adventures. We were always off road in the 4x4 suburban but returned each day to the mothership.

We dad a utility body camper / hauler to bring all our junk into the bush. This became a flash in the pan due to facilities availability and my inexperience.

Next, I blinked, and missed the opportunity to purchase GNTY awesome Bigfoot 21’ C class. Was going to purchase and travel all over Western Canada for business and drive home writing the whole thing off. Lost opportunity there for an awesome unit.

Then the idea has been sidelined with life and family commitments for the past couple years.

Enter a new stage and I knew the ambulance was the way to go for us. I have experienced quality in RV’s but know the price tag associated with this. Big rigs only play on concrete and I wanted to feel the dirt between my toes and not deal with check in / out, hooking up and/or dumping.

I have read all the threads on the ambulances (and more) and would like to thank specifically, Rlrenz, Rossiter78, Scotty, Baloo, OZrockrat / Bevin, Patoz/Pat, Fatboyz, Scooter, IDASHOW, pennersm, Neil, Sitec, Dreadlocks, Iain, Diplostat Mattersnots, Cowpig, Healeyjet, java, coachgeo and so many many others . . .
I liked the size and configurability with the medium duty units but never saw a 4x4 unit except for mattersnots. Conversion to 4x4 was not in my capability or experience realm so I was focusing on type I or III 4x4 units. I investigated the costs for the U-Joint conversion and relegated myself to find a 1 ambulance that was 4x4 already. I have driven crew cab diesel trucks for years (OBS F350, W350 cummins conversion and now 2001 F350 super duty) and am comfortable with the lack of turning radius a truck allows but prefer the access for maint & repairs.

Looking for simplicity and longevity I honed my search in on an IDI powerplant unit, found it and subsequently purchased a 1990 ex coroner ambulance with 108k miles on the clock. Promptly replaced the injection pump, injectors, return lines and lift pump. This is great for bombing around the east coast but I was looking for something more capable for a long term voyage. I seriously considered cutting the top off and making a ‘c-class’ type extension after raising the roof 24” but soon realized that I would be well over the design capabilities of the f-350 chassis.

Then I stumbled on this! A 1998 International 4700 rescue unit that was converted by Tulsa Truck when new to 4X4. This unit is from the high desert plains of Durango Colorado and is like new . . . for a 20 year old truck. DT 466, Allison, air brakes, air cab, air seats, 58k miles, 22.5 tires at 90% and Thelma driveline brake! Phew. Seeing how the 4x conversion is in the 25-35k neighborhood not to mention the air brakes and themla I earmarked this for ‘purchase’.

I then visited the Portal each day and night to see if the pesky ‘check out this deal’ folks found my listing and attracted attention to this great platform. I appreciate their efforts but it many times exposes those looking for a value to have their project slip out of their hands. I personally believe this results in higher prices to the seller and is counterproductive for those who are digging for a value . . . rant over!

Well the day of the auction came and I was the winner. My daughter and I fly out THIS WEEK the 24th of Oct, to Durango to pick up the unit and spend a couple days in the great state of Colorado working our way to Denver. I have planned some meetings for Monday and then with the aid of my teenage daughter we intend to drive this kritter 25 hours or so straight through to the metro ATL area hoping to arrive by midnight the 29th.
Somewhere in the mix this past year my soon to be 88 year old father became involved in this project from a merely stick poker and rock throwing instigator to full blown collaborator. He said that the ‘maiden voyage’ is to be to the Arctic Circle! He wants to go with myself and my sons & daughter . . . and is pushing the schedule as he believes that he has less time in front of him than behind him. He is strong and had a good mind but this is probably a true statement.

So the objective will be to make it to the Arctic Circle on or before October 2020! Only time will tell.

Our plans are a full gut, possibly cut the roof and make a ‘C-class’, wet bath, composting toilet, solar, AC separate from truck system with extended off grid capabilities, heating loop with the engine for cold start & heat recovery with electrical electrical a la Bob Renz & blue sea. I have already found an isotherm take out marine fridge & freezer (2 compressors) 12V/120V on CL for $300! and am looking for generator option vs big battery bank. Cabinets and interior fixtures will be made out of ultra-flat maple die board and finished with no stain only poly for ease of cleaning, durability and ability to lighten the space.
So here we are.

My first need is again to say thanks to you all and the moderators for this resource. This continues to demonstrate that the ‘human’ element remains the most valuable.

Second: We have Thursday afternoon, Friday Saturday and Sunday in Colorado. Where should we go? I intend to head up the 550 toward through Silverton, Ouray Montrose and then head east? She wants to see the best of Telluride, Crested Butte, Aspen and or Twin Lakes. And im a doting father on my baby girl. Any advice?

Thirdly: Please chime in with any sage advice seeing my ‘big picture’ objectives with the unit. Im an engineer by trade and can generally find myself in pleasant company whether in a biker road house or convention center.

Only to say that im not afraid of much but disappointing ‘her’ my better 98%! I have doubled from 1% to 2% over the past 20+ years. It is not that she is being reduced but I am bringing so much more to the table than when she first found me!

Thanks again and very best regards
M
 

jgrow

New member
I love this project. Seems like a reasonable way to get into a very capable rig. Have thought about it many times, just never got to the point of execution(too many hobbies!!). Good luck!

As far as what to do in Colorado; you are going to see the most beautiful part of our state. The San Juans will not disappoint. One of my wife's and mine favorite hikes is Ice Lakes in Silverton. It has been many a year since we've been there(15?) but the memories of the beauty are still vivid. https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/colorado/ice-lake-basin-trail Telluride and Crested Butte are great; small towns, nice vibe. Aspen would not be high on my priority list. Pretty for sure but, in my experience, too hoity toity for my likes. So maybe a drive up 550; Durango>Silverton>Ouray>Ridgway(Telluride if have time) then hit 50 in Montrose and check out Salida on the other side of Monarch pass(neat town but I think there is still a forest fire going on). Anyways, should be a fun trip creating great memories and the start of even bigger ones.
 

shortbus4x4

Expedition Leader
Have a truck shop give it a once over or do it yourself before you hit the road. What Allison is in it? Hopefully not an AT545.
 

motorman

Member
It is an allison 634. The 545 would have been a deal breaker. At least this locks up and is 1:1 in fina. l Will probably go to 41' tires as we have 4 low

Good idea in the service shortbus! The vehicle has recieved a full service and filter change in anticipation of our journey
I have another set of filters here and will change them all again. All the bouncing around should suspend any trash and send it through the appropriate filters

This thing also has a pto hydraulic 6kw generator that i will remove and sell anyone have a need for a service truck generator?
 

shortbus4x4

Expedition Leader
Bring one of those temperature ray guns for monitoring your wheel bearings, axles, and transfercase temps. Might head off a problem before it kills your drive back.
 

sancap

Member
It is an allison 634. The 545 would have been a deal breaker. At least this locks up and is 1:1 in fina. l Will probably go to 41' tires as we have 4 low

Good idea in the service shortbus! The vehicle has recieved a full service and filter change in anticipation of our journey
I have another set of filters here and will change them all again. All the bouncing around should suspend any trash and send it through the appropriate filters

This thing also has a pto hydraulic 6kw generator that i will remove and sell anyone have a need for a service truck generator?
Is keeping the PTO generator a bad idea as a backup? Can that be run while cruising or does the truck have to be idling?
 

motorman

Member
jgrow thanks for the tips. looks like we are probably going to take the 550 north and hang a right at montrose taking in monarch pass then to cumberland pass from pitkin to tin cup

sancap i was originally thinking the same thing but as i understand the design of this rig the pto generator was engaged once on site and then the power cord reels and scene lights would be deployed so they could use the jaws of life on the vehicle that was down the cliff or off the road some how

i have a single cylinder 0 hour hatz diesel pump that i intend to put a generator head on in the 3kw / 20A continuous range so i can run the ac on the road or charge batteries if the solar is out. the hydraulic unit takes up a space of 31 x 15 x 15 which should allow for 25 gal aux tank and only weigh 30 lbs more when full of fuel. this being low on the CG it cannot hurt and i have weight capacity with this rig to spare

thanks guys . . . keep em coming and keep me thinking
 

cjken

Explorer
Awesome project!!
Excited to see how this turns out and how the platform performs!
I was tempted to bid on a similar truck this summer, but held off because I was looking at another truck as well.
Here is the one I saw come up for auction.
 

cjken

Explorer
Bring one of those temperature ray guns for monitoring your wheel bearings, axles, and transfercase temps. Might head off a problem before it kills your drive back.
Great Idea!
Ironically I had a wheel bearing fail near Glenwood Springs CO during a cross country trip in my Ambo. Never thought of a temp gun or IR camera. I’m sure the bearing was super hot before it failed.
 
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