Introducing O'Billy - our new Type-II Ambulance

Bikersmurf

Expedition Leader
Because the 10 leaf sat lower than the 19 year old stock 9 leaf on the other side... 10 leafs on both sides to carry rated GVRW.
 

mike.marcacci

Adventurer
OK, so yesterday and today I ended up wrestling the ambulance wiring, and tonight I got a partial victory (after a lot of failures, bruised egos, and a couple unnecessary splices). When I first got the ambo, I reached out to Leader (the ambo upfitter) several times for a wiring diagram, but never got a response; this hasn't been much of an issue until now, since their wiring is generally so understandable (each small wire has its number and a description printed every 2 ft or so). BUT, when trying to figure out how their system interfaced with the Ford system, I struggled quite hard.

For anyone else working on a Leader ambo, here are a few things I figured out by a lot of trial, error, and monkeying around with the multimeter:

While we had one battery up front and two in the aux battery box; there were actually 2 banks of 2 batteries each. The primary bank consisted of the front battery, and the first side battery, and was directly connected to the alternator, shore power, all Ford stuff, and all Leader (module) stuff.

The secondary (backup) bank (consisting of the remaining 2 side batteries) was isolated from the other system using a battery isolator. This bank was connected to BOTH ports 1 and 2 of the isolator, while *all of bank 1's system* was on the A port, essentially turning the isolator into a single diode. This allowed the secondary bank to charge from either shore power or the alternators, but kept it from providing *any* power to *any* system unless the "emergency start" switch was flipped on, essentially bypassing the isolator.

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While this fully redundant system makes total sense for an emergency vehicle, it's not at all what we are going for. Instead, we want the Ford systems to run off of the front battery, which should be isolated from the house battery bank in the rear. All load from the "module" – house lights, flood lights, fridge, fans, inverter, etc – should be driven exclusively by the house bank, and be isolated from the starter battery up front.

The 2 alternators should be able to charge both systems, but the shore power and solar system only need to charge/maintain the house bank. The two systems should be able to be connected via the emergency start switch, allowing the house bank to "jump start" the starter battery.

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Right before calling it a night, we had:

- run a 13ft 1/0AWG wire from the alternators to the isolator under the driver's seat (to match the overkill 1/0AWG Leader had run there from the front battery)
- moved all the "vehicle" loads onto the starter battery's system (using a couple temporary "posts" – taped bolts actually)

We still need to:

- make sure all "house" loads are on the "house" bank's system
- find any components that connect to both systems and either: 1) if possible, disconnect the component from one system; 2) if we want it connected to both (like the radio, etc), put heavy duty diodes in place to prevent the device from bridging the two systems!
- attach a permanent post and make sure all the wire lengths are correct

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I finally bought a Ford wiring book off ebay, which should help somewhat, but if anybody has any other pointers, it would be VERY appreciated!
 
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FDM2012

Adventurer
I'm about to go through the same thing on my McCoy Miller to tie in my solar. Ugh..........

Unfortunately, beer won't help while doing this. lol

Question: Are you going to put in a breaker or fuse for the alternator(s) circuit? I'm thinking I will use a 150 or 200 amp
breaker.
Have you chosen your diodes? Ok, you got me. That's 2 questions....

I'm thinking I will go with this in my alternator circuit, so my large solar bank won't bridge/pull from
my 2 vehicle batteries:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/150A-1000V-STUD-MOUNT-DIODE-WIND-GENERATOR-SOLAR-PANEL-150-AMP-BLOCKING-/111247550958?hash=item19e6dee9ee:m:mPppZ6YRzlz-yhgEt0ZQ6JA
 
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mike.marcacci

Adventurer
Unfortunately, beer won't help while doing this. lol

Question: Are you going to put in a breaker or fuse for the alternator(s) circuit? I'm thinking I will use a 150 or 200 amp
breaker.
Ya this one definitely took a bit of thinking, and I was sick at the time and probably could have saved some frustration by waiting until I had a clearer head. All that said, now that I fully understand the system they had in place, it was a really simple set of changes. I haven't added a fuse/breaker yet, although that might not be a bad idea. The house batteries can be cut off from the system with this switch, but I wasn't sure how many amps I might pull to simultaneously charge batteries and run a load from the rear. I snagged one of these hall effect ammeters which I can use to get a baseline at various points in the circuit (much easier than using a shunt, and my multimeter won't even think about reading 400A).


Have you chosen your diodes? Ok, you got me. That's 2 questions....
Right now I'm actually only planning to send only 1 alternator through the isolator, but will route both if it causes too much of a voltage drop – it's unclear to me how the factory regulators work on a dual alternator setup when each is exposed to different loads. The isolator is a diode-type Sure Power 24023A-1B that I got a pretty good deal on, which can handle my 220A if I route both alternators through it.

As I think more about the "shared devices" issue, particularly the stereo, I am leaning towards completely switching it to the house system (maybe sans the super tiny "trigger" wire). This would remove the need for complex diodes or relays to prevent bridging or draining the starter battery when the key is in "down auxiliary" mode (I'm sure there's a real name for the key turned opposite from the start direction, but that's what I'll call it until I learn better). With the house system charging from the alternators, unless I really under-sized our battery system, there should never be an issue playing tunes off the house system while driving. I imagine this would be the same for any other devices I would consider sharing.
 
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mike.marcacci

Adventurer
Here are the solar install photos I've been promising! We added 4 100W Renogy panels, and their 40A MPPT controller.

IMG_0665.jpg

To mount them, we used cut and spliced 15ft of Renogy's aluminum rails, and attached them to the fiberglass top with – wait for it – tape!

Yep, I basically memorized the spec sheet before I could convince myself to trust it, but both rails are only attached with type 5952 VHB tape. After LOTS of cleaning and measuring and re-measuring, we pulled off the liner, and... the fiberglass had some waves in it that prevented the tape from touching in several places... by a fraction of a millimeter. I tried giving the aluminum rails CPR to push them down tighter, but they wouldn't bend. When I was just about to give up and start taking apart our ceiling – the ambulance has a completely separate fiberglass ceiling on the other side of the roll cage – Emily suggested I try my glass suction cups to pull up the fiberglass - best advice ever. I simply pulled up for 15-20 seconds, moved it 4 inches or so, and did it again. The gaps were so small to begin with, and the glass so willing to move, that I actually think my second run on each side was probably unnecessary. The current setup should shade the fiberglass, keeping it as cool in the sun, and allow plenty of air flow to keep the panels running as efficiently as possible.

IMG_0670.jpg
IMG_0675.jpg
 

patoz

Expedition Leader
That looks good and if it's the right kind of tape, it should be more than strong enough to keep the panels in place.

Do your panels angle up, or is there anyway to get under them for cleaning purposes? You may not have a problem where you are, but here in Florida with our high humidity, mold and mildew buildup is a considerable problem. Without a way to clean under them, we would have a black fuzzy mess growing under there in less than six months.
 

gtbensley

Explorer
I need to try and attach some panels to my roof which I think is the same. So just cleaning and tape and thats that? Mine seems so flimsy through most of it. Always worried about how to add attachments to the roof.
 

Bikersmurf

Expedition Leader
In principle I know VHB tape is rated to do the job... But I've hung signs using anchors with VHB tape designed to secure them... Long story short, they all fell down as soon as the sun warmed the tape. Fortunately no one was hurt... Wouldn't be the same if you loose a panel on the freeway.
 

mike.marcacci

Adventurer
That looks good and if it's the right kind of tape, it should be more than strong enough to keep the panels in place.

Do your panels angle up, or is there anyway to get under them for cleaning purposes? You may not have a problem where you are, but here in Florida with our high humidity, mold and mildew buildup is a considerable problem. Without a way to clean under them, we would have a black fuzzy mess growing under there in less than six months.
That's a great point - while they don't angle on a hinge or anything, they can easily be detached from the rails with an Allen wrench, lifted, and cleaned. That was a big reason for using their rails over individual attachment points.


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mike.marcacci

Adventurer
In principle I know VHB tape is rated to do the job... But I've hung signs using anchors with VHB tape designed to secure them... Long story short, they all fell down as soon as the sun warmed the tape. Fortunately no one was hurt... Wouldn't be the same if you loose a panel on the freeway.
Ya, this is my big concern as well, and I really, really (overly) consulted 3M's data sheets on this one; the tape I ended up using has slightly higher temperature ratings than their general purpose version, and the fiberglass does an amazing job at staying cool even in direct desert sun; the one thing I am going to monitor diligently at first is the temperature of the aluminum rails themselves. If the are subject to heating up too much, I'll have to add some sort of reinforcements, but by being uncoated aluminum
(And not steel) I suspect they'll do a better job at staying ambient air temperature.


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mike.marcacci

Adventurer
I need to try and attach some panels to my roof which I think is the same. So just cleaning and tape and thats that? Mine seems so flimsy through most of it. Always worried about how to add attachments to the roof.
Ya, just clean really, really well (make sure there's no more white coming off), degrease w/ alcohol, and that's it. We attached the panels to the rails first, applied the tape to the rails (keeping the backing on the fiberglass side), got the rails exactly where we wanted them, and then just peeled the backing off without moving the panels. It was a SUPER easy install, thanks to the suction cup.
 

tgreening

Expedition Leader
It might not be a bad idea to head to your local RV place and get some self leveling Dicor. If you go all around the perimeter edge of your rails it'll keep water from getting to the tape and doing what water likes to do in such cases, somehow screw everything up.
 

mike.marcacci

Adventurer
It might not be a bad idea to head to your local RV place and get some self leveling Dicor. If you go all around the perimeter edge of your rails it'll keep water from getting to the tape and doing what water likes to do in such cases, somehow screw everything up.
Yes, I've been considering that but mostly out of paranoia: according to the technical data sheet, 72 hours in water, salt water, hydraulic fluid, motor oil, or antifreeze had no effect on peel adhesion; their technical bulletin on durability shows that wet/dry cycles are not harmful.

All that said, I think I'm going to do what you suggest and add a seal anyhow :)
 

gtbensley

Explorer
Ya, just clean really, really well (make sure there's no more white coming off), degrease w/ alcohol, and that's it. We attached the panels to the rails first, applied the tape to the rails (keeping the backing on the fiberglass side), got the rails exactly where we wanted them, and then just peeled the backing off without moving the panels. It was a SUPER easy install, thanks to the suction cup.
Thinking either this or just mounting a single panel up from where the light bar used to be.
 

hobovan

'00 E350SD PSD
So in the middle of the deadener install myself and was looking at pics of your install. If you are worried at all about SQ, you can go back and seal those large holes in the door between the inner and outer skin...the idea is to make the door once sealed airspace. Might not be worth your time/expense at this point, but thought I'd point it out. Hope everything is going well, and thanks for the inspiration!
 
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