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Old 01-20-2019, 09:28 PM   #1
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Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: Nowhere, IL USA
Posts: 7
Talk me out of a different kind of "bus"

Been a short time member and 2 year lurker. Looking to build a short skoolie for use as a week long home 2-3 times a year. Our base requirements are these....

Sleep 2 adults and 1 dog
AC power
Mini kitchen (MW, toaster, mini fridge)
Gear storage

That said the travel destinations will vary. We're based in IL and travel to FL, NC and ID mostly during the warmer months. Staying with family and KOAs so full food prep and showers are not of concern.

I have found a different kind of "bus" that might fit the bill. It's a 2006 F350 4x4 type 1 ambulance. Truck chassis, auto tranny, 6.0L (yeah I know) 323xxx mi, all for $3k. Its already got AC power (vanner) on board as well as heat/ac (as long as the engine is running). Space is enough for us and it's already got shore power connections for electric. So why wouldn't it work for our needs?
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Old 01-20-2019, 09:37 PM   #2
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Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: Rapid City, SD
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Year: 2001
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: CS RE
Engine: ISC 8.3 L 260 hp
Rated Cap: 36
The 6.0 and milage are the only problems I see. I would guess most of the drive train is getting pretty tired. I'm surprised the 6.0 made it that far.

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Old 01-20-2019, 10:04 PM   #3
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Location: So Cal
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Year: 1935
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Chassis: Chevy
Engine: 317 ci/tid / Isuzu
That ambulance will have hundreds if not thousands of hours running at idle.
I'd pass. Jack
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Old 01-20-2019, 11:00 PM   #4
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Location: Rock Hill, SC
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Year: 1997
Coachwork: International
Chassis: Vista 3600
Engine: DT466E / AT545
Rated Cap: 72
There's snow on the roof in one of the images, which makes the chances of rust from road salt pretty fair. As TJones said the engine and mileage are a bit concerning, but that depends on how well it was maintained and if it's the original engine or if it's ever been rebuilt/replaced.

As for the layout, the only issue I see is possibly the toilet, since that requires the black tank unless you go the more eco route.
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Old 01-20-2019, 11:01 PM   #5
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Location: Texas
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Year: 1997
Coachwork: AmTran
Chassis: Genesis
Engine: DT466
Rated Cap: 84
I had a 6.0L. Run. Hypothetically about $3k will bulletproof them, but to hell with that. Also, ambulances are idled like mad, run hard, and generally operating at the extremes of weight on chassis while doing it. At 323k miles? Very hard pass. While I might accept it for free, it'd only be to sell it to a parts yard. Even then I would be hesitant!
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Old 01-21-2019, 12:26 AM   #6
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Location: Greater Boston
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I'd pass on that one - the mileage is getting a little high, and ambulances can idle a lot. (It really depends on where it's from - my town own it's own ambulances, so they spend 90% of their time sitting in the fire station, nice and warm. The only idle time they get is on a call.)

One plus for the ambulance is the full-size hood - the engine isn't crammed into the dashboard and firewall like a van. The 4x4 could be neat too.

Good idea to explore, just not that particular one.

I was looking for a while at an old Ford rescue truck with a rather large Detroit up front, but the inside was a little cramped, since all the storage was designed to be accessed from outside, not inside.
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Old 01-21-2019, 06:45 AM   #7
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Location: Andrews,Indiana
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Engine: 3116 Cat 250hp
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I think ambulances are cool but you said you want to stay at KOAs which could be a problem. Many KOAs have a "nothing over 10 year old rule" also a "no bus" rule. I doubt they would be any friendlier to an ambulance.
Also the ambulance part may not be as new as the truck part. Since they get so many miles on them, many places send them to get a new truck under the box, more than once. That's probably not a problem since the box gets rebuilt but it happens a lot.
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Old 01-21-2019, 07:11 AM   #8
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 11,656
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
lots of hours of idling will be fore sure.. however being an ambulance myu guess is that they paid attention to every detail on that 6.0 engine..

the fire departments here perform every stitch of maintenance / updates, etc on their fire and EMS equipment..

I think weight is an issue.. ambulances are HEAVY.. the bodies on them are designed to flip and not break in an accident. one of the local coffee shops here converted an international / horton to a mobile KAFFEE-EMERGENCY rig and he said it is a heavy rig.. even with a High output DT-466E and a 5 speed stick, he said it drives heavy and isnt fast..

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Old 01-21-2019, 09:28 AM   #9
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Thanks for the replies. The chassis/drivetrain has seen better days I'm sure. This particular rig was owned by a hospital and sat inside plugged in unless running calls. Still, probably run hard and put away wet a lot so this one is out. The factory 4x4 had me drooling pretty bad.....

As far as box style ambulances go though im focusing more on the conversion process and the issues involved. These are already well constructed/insulated (heavy yes but no leaks), on board power/heat/air/lighting, storage inside and out. My school of thought is do some small remodeling to install a bed, some form of toilet and roll.

My dream is to vert a medium duty short bus. Just don't have the time to do it properly. Using an ambulance body would eliminate half the construction steps to being road ready and cost about the same ($3-5k) as buying a decent bus ready for conversion.
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Old 01-21-2019, 10:00 AM   #10
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Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Eustis FLORIDA
Posts: 18,265
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Freighliner FS65
Engine: Cat 3126
Rated Cap: 15
The slightly larger ambulances on meduim duty chassis would be ones to watch for. They too come in 4x4 sometimes.
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