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 > Conversion - ambulance to tow vehicle???

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jansj

NC

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Posted: 11/10/12 06:42am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I'm thinking about buying a used ambulance to convert to a tow vehicle for a TT. Good/bad idea? Has anyone done this? Any idea about insurance? We would also want to use the ambulance for short overnight trips - bed ideas?
Please respond with your opinions - I'd like to hear them all!


JanJ
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Thunder Mountain

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Posted: 11/10/12 07:06am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

My main concern is that by the time most ambulances are retired they are pretty tired.


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jetboater454

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Posted: 11/10/12 07:16am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Well if the price is right,you have time and money anything is possible. Saw one in WI that did it. Had a bed,sink with a water pump for water from a 5 gallon jug under the sink that drained into a 5 gallon bucket with the drain pipe through the lid. He pulled about a 25' camper behind it. Was a nice mod he did with it.


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MeandMyLabs

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Posted: 11/10/12 07:19am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I know a lot of race car drivers in this part of the country like to buy them and pull their race trailers. Many ambulances may need a new rear end gear because they are not often equipped with a gear ration designed for towing. If you can find the right rig, it could make a very good setup for your needs.


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mistressofdistress

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Posted: 11/10/12 08:00am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I am doing what you are suggesting but with a short school bus in place of the ambulance. I intend to pull a 22' tt with it but I don't have it ready yet.


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tatest

Oklahoma Green Country

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Posted: 11/10/12 08:27am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Is this ambulance a high-top van, a box on a cutaway van, or a box on a Class 5 truck? Assuming all the heavy medical equipment is gone, and you have just an empty box, the useful towing capacity might be:

3500 to 9000 pounds for the van depending on drive train (assuming at least 3/4 ton).

3500 to 12,000 pounds for the cutaway, depending on Chevy vs Ford, 1 ton vs Class 4 (i.e. E-450) and engine, and weight of what is left of the ambulance box. Original GCWRs for these cutaway vans ranged from 14,000 to 22,000 pounds, you subtract weight of chassis and box and what's in the box.

8000 to 16,000 pounds, maybe more, for a Class 4 to Class 5 conventional truck carrying an empty ambulance box, again depending on weight of what's left of the box. Original GCWRs for these two classes were usually 18,000 to 26,000 pounds.

What you usually get with an ambulance package is a heavier duty cooling system to cope with long periods of idling and sustained runs at close to full engine output, and either a high output alternator, or a second alternator, to cope with electrical loads of the medical and emergency equipment, particularly at engine idle speeds.

These are usually better than old RVs for towing, because ambulances are not often built with frame extensions and oversize boxes.

The bed would be easy for me, I can sleep on a camp cot or a single-size foldaway, which would not be hard to anchor to the floor.

If you want seating too, it is not too difficult to find a jack knife sofa from a conversion van, at a garage sale or second hand store. My kids picked one up at Goodwill for $20 and after using it in their guest room for a year, left it behind for me. It is going into a van when I find the one I want to convert into a tow vehicle.

If you are thinking about an ambulance built on a beefed up luxury car or SUV chassis, it may already be overloaded by the ambulance coachwork, and would not be a good candidate for towing its own weight or more.

Once it is no longer in use as an ambulance, it should license and insure the same as any other truck of that size, and that would depend on the state and the insurance company. For example, the company I use for my personal vehicles does not sell policies for commercial trucks, so I would probably have to find a different insurer for an old ambulance.


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JJBIRISH

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Posted: 11/10/12 09:40am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I believe in some states they have branded titles and insuring them can be a problem…


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MichDoc

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Posted: 11/10/12 10:27am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I can't see why you'd have any more of a problem insuring it than you would with any conversion or modified vehicle. Call your agent, but I'm betting "no problem".

Jarlaxle

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Posted: 11/10/12 11:15am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

It's no different than any other E450 underneath...though tagging and insuring the MDT-chassis (International, FL, GMC C5500) versions could be pricey.


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Dakzuki

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Posted: 11/10/12 11:39am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

JJBIRISH wrote:

I believe in some states they have branded titles and insuring them can be a problem…


Branding on it would be just to disclose that it is a former fleet vehicle. I cannot see an insurance company worrying about that.


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