...And the Doomrunner BOV saga turns to a new chapter

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URBAN ASSAULT
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...And the Doomrunner BOV saga turns to a new chapter

Post by URBAN ASSAULT » Tue May 22, 2018 6:58 am

First I started with a 1989 2wd GMC one-ton van with a jillion miles on it. I added a big homebuilt cowkiller grill and super heavy-duty running boards.

Then a 1986 Ford E350 4x4 van with a 7.3L IDI entered the picture. This was a major project (non-running) that hadn't been on the road since 1993. A succession of misadventures with various "mechanics" has gotten it to the point where we were able to bump the engine over at least. We are close enough to getting it running I bought all fresh fluids and filters in anticipation.

And then...

everything changed for me yet again.

I was wandering thru Craigslist and found this...

Image

A 1991 Ford E350 type 3 ambulance with a 7.3 IDI engine. Had a hundred thousand miles on it. New rearend, transmission, brakes, injectors, radiator, and water pump. The seller was going to use it as a tailgate party rig but it was too big for the stadium parking space he considers his.

He had it listed for only $2500 but he was honest enough to admit that he thought it had a developing head gasket problem, and that's why it hadn't sold yet. It kept wanting to overheat even after a couple of new thermostat changes and a new water pump. Folks didn't want to take a gamble on it and wanted the seller to fix the head gasket problem and THEN they might be interested.

We went to look at it up in Washington, took it for a test drive and yup, it overheated some. Didn't want to charge like it should have either. The ambo box was also very filthy inside. My mechanic guy quietly told me that he didn't think it was a head gasket issue. I asked for some wiggle room on price and the seller came down to $2200. I rolled the dice on it and paid the man. We headed for home and made it maybe two miles before it started spewing antifreeze everywhere.

I limped into a parking lot and set my car guy onto it. He pulled the old thermostat, which is a pain to get to, and I dashed to the nearest parts store for a new one. He put it on, we tried it again and sho nuff, it overheated again. I threw in the towel and contacted AAA for a tow home to Oregon. As soon as they found out the weight and that it was a former emergency vehicle? Screw you you Uncle Urban, you are on your own! Hahaha, what a sad joke on me. So much for 21 years of renewals. Now we are stuck on Fourth plain in Vancouver WA and it's getting dark. Finally had to take a chance and leave it until the next day.

Came back in the morning and thankfully it was unmolested. We might have gotten a bum thermostat, so I bought a different one from a different store. Put it on, and of course it still overheats. I went and bought a new water pump out of desperation. I pulled the Ambo up on the curb to tilt the engine so any trapped air bubbles could escape(we were spitballing here!), and while eating lunch I started checking the web about this problem.

A couple folks who run 7.3 diesels had the same overheating issues and solved it by using a genuine Ford Motorcraft thermostat, not a knock-off. The knock-offs don't flow well enough and so it eventually overheats. After a bit of a struggle I found one, dashed it back to my guy and it worked like a charm! We made a run for home. Got here right before it got dark, so the weak charging issue was a problem.

So now I have THREE vans and the wife sez enough. To get the okay from her for the Ambo I had to promise to sell the GMC van I currently drive AND the Ford 4x4 van project. Fair enough.

Okay, my fingers hurt so I'm out for now. I'll post more pics soon and updates as well.

Cheers.

-urban
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Re: ...And the Doomrunner BOV saga turns to a new chapter

Post by majorhavoc » Tue May 22, 2018 10:20 am

Sell off/scrap the first 2 candidate vehicles to free up some driveway space/raise a little capital/get back on wifey's good side. Can you retrofit that cowkiller grill to this new rig? We want to see some pictures of your converted ambulance with a new paint scheme, some big ass comm gear and maybe a winch.

Up armoring and a gun turret would not be un-appreciated either. :crazy:

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Re: ...And the Doomrunner BOV saga turns to a new chapter

Post by JeeperCreeper » Tue May 22, 2018 10:42 am

majorhavoc wrote:Sell off/scrap the first 2 candidate vehicles to free up some driveway space/raise a little capital/get back on wifey's good side. Can you retrofit that cowkiller grill to this new rig? We want to see some pictures of your converted ambulance with a new paint scheme, some big ass comm gear and maybe a winch.

Up armoring and a gun turret would not be un-appreciated either. :crazy:
That 7.3 will bring a nice paycheck to the Cult of Powerstoke. Or just pull the engine and tranny and axles, save for spare parts if they are compatible, and scrap everything else (including the whole GMC)

I think half the battle of old cars is the initial cut. Once you take a sawsall to a car body, you can strip it for good parts in a weekend.

Oh, and I love those old lights on that new van, reminds me of my dad's work van when I was a youngin'
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Re: ...And the Doomrunner BOV saga turns to a new chapter

Post by Stercutus » Tue May 22, 2018 2:21 pm

I don't recommend it but you can run without a thermostat. The vehicle will run like crap with high RPMs and low power as it is trying to warm the vehicle up constantly but it will be enough for limp home mode if you run in to that problem again.

I'd get rid of the GMC and keep the other two with the one for parts. Most stuff should be compatible.

Nice deal on the truck. Plenty of room in the back you can do whatever you want with it.
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Re: ...And the Doomrunner BOV saga turns to a new chapter

Post by URBAN ASSAULT » Tue May 22, 2018 7:35 pm

Thanks for the replies guys. If I could keep the 4x4 project I would, but a promise is a promise and I won't lie to my wife. I was hoping to combine the 4x4 van with the Ambo but my mechanic is less than impressed with the conversion work done previously. Besides which the running gear under the 4x4 is F250 and he wants what goes under the Ambo to be E350 or higher. I guess we'll be putting together parts needed over the next year or so. I can live with it being 2wd for awhile. Future Ambo plans are for a fold-down sleeping platform, upgraded A/C, a large sink, a Camp Chef propane oven, a flat screen TV, an on demand water heater and a gray water system. Also hope to replace as many energy-hog incandescent bulbs with LED's as possible. No interest in "pimping my ride", but more like "tasteful utility". Ps, I know about the thermostat trick, if I couldn't have found a motorcraft that would have been the next option.

-urban
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Re: ...And the Doomrunner BOV saga turns to a new chapter

Post by URBAN ASSAULT » Wed May 23, 2018 5:08 pm

Major, I'm hoping that the old grill will fit on the new Doomy and look okay. If not I can always work on creating another one that is more appropriate.

The old running boards and roof rack will come off the old Doomy and very possibly sold on Craigslist. I could widen the roof rack to fit the new rig without too much trouble, but since I rarely used it I'm not sure if it's worth the work.

Another idea would be to go ahead and add the roof rack, but use it as a solid mount for future solar panels. The height between the panels and the vehicle roof would be enough to keep the heat down on the panels. More airflow means less heat and overall increased energy efficiency.

I also think it might be possible to build a simple tilt mechanism onto the rack for the panels themselves to maximize energy output.

I was considering about the use of flexible solar panels but I can see some drawbacks to them.

Keeping the roof rack would also let me attach a nice retractable awning on either side, or even both.

I have multiple options right now and everything is still on the table LOL.

-urban

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Re: ...And the Doomrunner BOV saga turns to a new chapter

Post by Stercutus » Wed May 23, 2018 6:05 pm

Last night I was reminded that the lights on the sides of most ambulances are nearly as bright as the sun. I don't know how much power they draw but if you plan on using them you might check that out. I can tell you that won't need any off road light add ons. You could spend thousands and still not get to where you are now with those lights.
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be rememberèd—
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
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Re: ...And the Doomrunner BOV saga turns to a new chapter

Post by URBAN ASSAULT » Fri May 25, 2018 2:34 am

Stercutus wrote:Last night I was reminded that the lights on the sides of most ambulances are nearly as bright as the sun. I don't know how much power they draw but if you plan on using them you might check that out. I can tell you that won't need any off road light add ons. You could spend thousands and still not get to where you are now with those lights.
Yup, they are extremely bright.

The problem is that the energy drawdown from having them on is CONSIDERABLE, enough so that these halogen lights will have to be replaced with either singular led units or perhaps an led lightbar on each side. Wish I could keep them as they are but they just aren't practical.

-urban
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Re: ...And the Doomrunner BOV saga turns to a new chapter

Post by Stercutus » Fri May 25, 2018 3:53 pm

If you don't need them, you don't need them.

I believe most ambulances are equipped with a larger charging system and often with two or more batteries to provide power for the lights and all the other equipment. It should be producing and storing enough electricity to make up for the draw. The nice thing is if the power ports and providers are still installed you can put some high draw equipment in there that you do find useful.
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be rememberèd—
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
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Re: ...And the Doomrunner BOV saga turns to a new chapter

Post by URBAN ASSAULT » Sun Jun 03, 2018 4:35 am

Took my wonky old 165 amp Ambo alternator in for a test, and it was essentially more useful as a doorstop. A rebuild would start with 60 bucks labor just to crack the case on it, with no idea what it might eventually cost AND no warranty given.

I hopped onto Amazon and bought a brand new 250 amp alternator with a one year warranty. Should recieve it next week sometime and it set me back a total of $270.

Cheers!

-urban(broke, but content)
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Re: ...And the Doomrunner BOV saga turns to a new chapter

Post by URBAN ASSAULT » Sat Jun 09, 2018 12:13 am

Just installed the new HO alternator, seems to charge fine now.

Decided to swap the worn-out front seats with a more comfortable pair and am also going thru the mass of relays, grounds, isolators, switches and heavy electrical cabling that was concealed in the seat base.

This ambulance had a dual battery system and a converter/inverter, but that particular piece of equipment wasn't there when I bought the rig. Just one more thing to add to the "buy it" list.

-urban
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Re: ...And the Doomrunner BOV saga turns to a new chapter

Post by Stercutus » Sat Jun 09, 2018 7:50 pm

Somebody nicked it for their personal stash or the company kept it for a spare. The commercial ones tend to run on the expensive side.

My envy level did drop from a solid ten to about an eight seeing the electrical work it requires. But the 8 is solid. You can do a lot with that unit.
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be rememberèd—
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
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Re: ...And the Doomrunner BOV saga turns to a new chapter

Post by URBAN ASSAULT » Tue Jun 26, 2018 3:30 am

Things are moving slowly here at Casa Urban. Finally have my updated seat put in, still have to do the passenger seat. The old Road Warrior grill guard from my old van has been removed and ill start some rehab work on it soon. I want to clean up some of my welds, add some new structural steel, then media-blasting and bedliner. Same treatment for the roof rack I'm putting on top of Doomer. Can't do much interior work tight now, Doomers rear bay is full of stuff taken from the other van I'm selling.

-urban
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Re: ...And the Doomrunner BOV saga turns to a new chapter

Post by URBAN ASSAULT » Wed Jun 27, 2018 11:20 pm

Image

Image

Image

-urban
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Re: ...And the Doomrunner BOV saga turns to a new chapter

Post by URBAN ASSAULT » Thu Jun 28, 2018 2:18 am

Image

Image

Image

Image

-urban
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Re: ...And the Doomrunner BOV saga turns to a new chapter

Post by URBAN ASSAULT » Thu Jun 28, 2018 2:22 am

Image

Image

-urban
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Re: ...And the Doomrunner BOV saga turns to a new chapter

Post by Stercutus » Thu Jun 28, 2018 7:43 am

I see a ready made kitchenette area and a place for a couple of bunks or fold down double bed. Although with your mad welding skills it could be anything.
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be rememberèd—
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother

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Re: ...And the Doomrunner BOV saga turns to a new chapter

Post by JeeperCreeper » Thu Jun 28, 2018 1:25 pm

That this is already B rate zombie movie ready!!! I love the retro guts, you should try to keep it as old-skool-cool as possible.
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Re: ...And the Doomrunner BOV saga turns to a new chapter

Post by Stercutus » Thu Jun 28, 2018 1:57 pm

Yeah but get rid of the nasty ass bench seat. God only knows what it has seen. It looks like they had some equipment sitting on it in the one light spot for years.
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be rememberèd—
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother

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Re: ...And the Doomrunner BOV saga turns to a new chapter

Post by Dorsai » Thu Jun 28, 2018 4:00 pm

Hit it with some Lysol and you're good to go!

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Re: ...And the Doomrunner BOV saga turns to a new chapter

Post by URBAN ASSAULT » Sat Jun 30, 2018 3:20 am

Stercutus wrote:Yeah but get rid of the nasty ass bench seat. God only knows what it has seen. It looks like they had some equipment sitting on it in the one light spot for years.
Haha, that pic was to show the test cleaning spot I made. The bench is much nicer now. I think it will usable for now until I design something different.

Put some miles on the rig today while taking care of some 'honey do's' and rode pretty decent for a 10000 lb pig with a dually. Got two or three compliments and the kid at the gas station was drooling over it.

I am experiencing an intermittent starting issue where it will not turn over. Try it again once or twice and it starts right up. The glow plugs are newer, but the glow plug controller might be on its way out.

I was looking for a console/cup holder for between the seat but was pretty shocked at how flimsy the one at WalOfChina was. Decided it'll be easier for me to make what I am looking for and incorporate a handgun safe into it as well.

-urban
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