Rambo - GMC Ambo Conversion (Roof Raise)


Active member
Not too much more to report. We pulled the front seats and some sort of radio racking out of the front and continued to gut the back. My wife got an unexpected large chunk of time off so I think we are going to try to get a usable version done ASAP which means I think the roof will not be raised. I kind of want to do it still since this is the only time I plan to have it to the studs.

I ordered some cab sound proofing material and insulation. I’m also finding it a bit difficult to just order a Dometic fridge online. If anyone has any recommendations for fridges I’d be all ears. I’m also trying to get a Natures Head. I’m planning on having a small shower hidden in the floor on one of the sides of the frame so I’m also looking for recommendations for a shower pan.

I also picked up 500W of solar panels still in the packaging at the auction on Friday. So now I need to order my charge controllers and BMS. This part isn’t too daunting for me but it’s definitely a learning curve since it’s the first time I’ve done it. The batteries in the ambo are Two 103ah. From what I’ve read, my solar panels might be a little overkill for that.

anyhow, that’s it’s for today. DE91B5BE-ABB2-4802-9204-01635B128591.jpegE062D48E-7406-422C-8908-6E26936B50CD.jpeg

Recommended books for Overlanding

We Will Be Free: Overlanding In Africa and Around South A...
by Mr Graeme Robert Bell
From $17.87
Long Way Round: Chasing Shadows Across the World
by Ewan McGregor, Charley Boorman
From $16.69
Vehicle-dependent Expedition Guide
by Tom Sheppard
From $147.5
Tortillas to Totems (Every day an Adventure Book 4)
by Sam Manicom
From $9.99


Active member
OK, today I got nothing done but ordering things. I'm basically piecing together my electrical system. Right now it's 400W of solar on a Renogy PWM Wanderer. I hummed and hawed about going to MPPT but I figure this was cheap enough to get me started and has battery monitoring with the bluetooth dongle.

Right now I'm trying to decide things such as, do I need shore power. I think I should put it in because in the winter we will be doing ski trips and the solar might not pan out. I'm also trying to decide if I want an inverter. Again, I think I should just put it in because it's all open right now. I was thinking of combining those two units with the Renogy 2000W inverter charger. Does anyone have any input on this? There are a couple bad reviews on amazon. I could have a 1200W inverter and a separate charger set up for the same price. If I went up to 2000W pure sine, it seems like it will end up being more than the combo unit.

I was also looking at the Viltron combo unit but it is double the price and also has unhappy amazon reviews.

Also, I have a secondary 220A alternator. I am planning on just running the two 103aH lead acid batteries I have for now. Do I need any fancy DC-DC charger? Or is that more for Lithium.

I've done electrical systems on planes I have built so I'm pretty familiar with electrical but there are just a couple things I'm still trying to grasp how they play together.

On a final note, I'm finding ordering an RV specific things in Canada super annoying. Even after the exchange rate is factored in, everything is 30% more. Truckfridge's Dometic, etc. Dometic CFX 3 95 is $1850 CDN.

Also, I am interested in swivel seats with a large track. On other threads I have seen them come out of a Delica but none of the wreckers in town have any. If anyone else has any models of Van's I can pull seats out, I'd appreciate it.


Active member
Well today I got the roof cut off and raised up a bit.

My roof is bolted on in one big section. I took out the bolts and then the corners were the only thing I had to cut(so I thought). They are welded aluminum and ground smooth but they had been cracking so that needed to be addressed anyhow. So I cut where the cracking lines were, loosened up the silicone that was bonding the drip trough and started jacking up. After what I thought was a decent amount of tension with my jack, nothing moved. So I started playing around with some pry bars and POP! Some small tack wells that were stitched before the roof skin was put on were letting go. Perfect. I started moving around and I did one side and the back in about 15 minutes. This is fun. Then I went to the other side.

They definitely had a different welder on this sides. Those little tacks we’re about and inch long. That’s after I finally figured out how to locate theM. It took me about 3 hours to do the other side. I pried back the Drip catch and stuck a cutting wheel in there. It worked ok but it did leave some visible scars as you can see in the one picture. However, still think that’s better than pulling the roof skins off. If I ever paint again I can probably make it look ok.

I was originally going to bolt in full length of 6”x2” channel to fill the gap but I would still have to put aluminum sheeting on so the water wouldn’t run in. So now I’m wondering if I can just bolt in sections of channel to save weight. I’m also toying with the idea of welding in studs but I’m on a bit of a time crunch and I don’t weld so I would be at someone else’s mercy. It would be nice if I could Just sew in a screen and have 4 jacks that lift the roof up a foot!!

Any comments appreciated F730F92B-4A81-42C7-AE80-16DC288964E0.jpeg


Congrats on the ambo!

I was about to raise the roof on mine and at the last minute came up with a different plan.

In my case (and I think it could work for you) imagine a very skinny aluminum ladder (made of 2"x2" square tubes) place on its side between your top and bottom part. So you can easily pre-fab your spacer on a work bench then tack it in place. Last you re-skin the gap.

Good luck!

Sent from my SM-G973W using Tapatalk


Active member
Phew! I thought I was just talking to myself there for a bit. Not a ton got done today as I have evening plans that cut everything short Plus I had to some running around to do what took several hours.

I found a tank that will fit. It’s big at 55 gallons but there will typically be three of us in here and the two girls do like showers. Even if they cut them short I figure it will be 10 gallons total for all of us to have one shower.Either way, I have the room for it, it doesn’t always have to be full.

Abitibi, thanks for the input, I think you have a great idea but since I already have a bottom and a top rail and I don’t weld, I figured the easiest was to bolt these channel pieces in. I might be cursing tomorrow as I try to line up all the holes though. I only got 4 Drilled and bolted on the bottom.The rest are just sitting there. 601DA560-7745-4C6B-B8E9-7865D668FB4A.jpeg


That is one big tank! But you can't really have too much water, just balance your weight :)

What you came up with for your roof should work great. If I were you I'd just secure a few and either have a mobile welder come to your place to tack weld them or slowly and carefully drive to the nearest welding shop. But if none of the options are available it just means more labour and not as strong but likely strong enough. Have you considered bounding them as well with Sikaflex or the likes?

Keep it coming, very nice job!


Ps. You don't talk to yourself, some people just prefer to listen ;)

Sent from my SM-T560NU using Tapatalk


Great progress on the roof raise, and thanks for sharing.
Being able to stand up straight in mine would be a HUGE improvement.


Active member
That is one big tank! But you can't really have too much water, just balance your weight :)

Have you considered bounding them as well with Sikaflex or the likes?
For the tank I wanted it close to my drying room and heater as I want that to stay pretty warm. I attached a rough layout. I guess since my cabinets and everything are on that side too, maybe I should switch the tank to the other side.... Something to think about for sure.

I do want to use sikaflex but with how hard it is to get all the bolts in perfectly and me having to move it around. I'm worried it would start to set up too quick....maybe I can get all the bolts started, Lift it up, and then shoot some in and then bolt her down. That might stop future squeaks too.



Expedition Leader
You’re just need an industrial piano hinge at the front, some 1500 lb gas struts to lift the rear, and a bit of canvas for sides. ;)

It looks good. Much easier to lift than mine which doesn’t bolt on. I’d make a filler panel with angle aluminum top and bottom. I’d fit 1/2 of it or so with windows.
Probably best to stick with aluminum for the filler section. Run skin in between windows.

I suppose fiberglass over a steel frame could work also.

I’d think bolts to the top. And bottom would be fine... welding would seem unavoidable. Last time I hired a welder I had everything cut and fit in place.

Guess that ship has sailed now that I hit post.


Active member
Sorry about all the sideways pictures. The site seems to be flipping them on me.

I wish I could just pop the top! I got the roof all bolted in today. It went well but was slightly time consuming to drill all the holes and line everything up. My welder buddy is coming by and I might still get him to weld them.

Natalie helped me out today. She pulled up the floor mat to start sound proofing the cab and found a bit of rust so we dealt with that and got the door sound proofed and stuffed full of Roxul. I wish we could do more since that’s where most of the cold air will come from. I’m open to any suggestions. Has anyone drilled into places you can’t get to and put low expanding foam in? Other than that I just chased wires and took off the main scene light.

OK so for insulation I have 1” foil backed iso rigid foam, then silver bubble wrap that is aluminum taped to all the studs, and a tiny black thin black latex rubber maybe less than a 3/32” thick on the studs. The aluminum taped silver bubble wrap makes me think that condensation could get caught between the aluminum exterior wall panels and the taped up insulation. Am I over thinking this? Also, there is a TON of thermal bridging with a highly conductive metal. I know spray foam can trap water but is there a product out there that I could spray in every where with furring blocks on the studs so they can be covered too? Or am I over thinking this. We like to ski so I picture us using this a lot in the winter.


Recommended books for Overlanding

The Total Approach of Getting Unstuck Off Road: 4WD Self-...
by Robert Wohlers
From $59.95
Crossing the Congo: Over Land and Water in a Hard Place
by Mike Martin, Chloe Baker, Charlie Hatch-Barnwell
From $32.5
Overlanders' Handbook: Worldwide route and planning guide...
by Chris Scott
From $23.82
Motorcycle Messengers: Tales from the Road by Writers who...
by Lois Pryce, Mark Richardson, Carla King, Sam Manic...
From $9.99


Active member
Ok so Nat got all the sound proofing down in the floor. What is everyone using for thermal insulation between the floor and the floor mat? And the ceiling for that matter. I think the cab is going to be the coldest spot and while the seats are pulled out I want to get it done right. I’m reading now that I should put some mass loaded vinyl which I can’t get very quickly. I figure if I put down something for thermal insulation it will do that same thing?


I also modified an old counter to take the stove/oven. It was a little banged up so I spent some time fixing it up too.