Monday, 28 September 2009

Bulkhead Removal & Yet More Wires

Over the weekend I was able to snatch a few hours here and there. The job in hand was to remove the factory bulkhead to open up the cab and bring it into the vehicle.  

This is what it looked like beforehand.

And this is what it looks like now.

I was able to increase the height through by fixing a batten to the stainless steel cross member that is hidden and forms part of the GRP shell structure.  Some people have removed this but I am inclined to keep it.  By making a small slit about 50mm either side of the GRP moulding I was then able to bend it up and attach it to the batten.  Once the glue has gone off I will be able to remove the temporary fixing screws.  I have shortened the ambulance headlining trim to meet the join which will then be covered by an aluminium carpet joining strip (or similar) to finish the job.  This modification has given an extra 5"-6" of height going through.

Behind this GRP trim was the path of most of the ambulance loom.  These 2 bundles of wires needed to be removed to permit the GRP to be folded back.  Here they are. In this picture you can see the GRP that I have folded back.

Unfortunately in the process of culling these wires I lost my central locking to the side door.  Ho Hum! I'll sort that out at a later stage.  The top A/C still works though :-)

Saturday, 26 September 2009

MOT Passed

The 46 passed its MOT re-test yesterday requiring only £173.00 of parts and work. I'm pleased that's out of the way.

The search for a doner caravan continues.

I had a useful chat this morning with Craigs Blog He is a lot further down the line than me.
This afternoon I have a chap coming to buy some of the interior of the ambulance.

What I need to do now is accurately measure the space I have and put together a plan for the internal layout.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

MOT Work & Caravan Hunt

While the 46 is at the garage having new ball joints and other front roll bar related rubber related bits replace I got on with sorting out some minor fails on the rear light wiring as they weren't that keen on messing with an "ambulance" electrics. 

I now need to find a doner caravan.  This is proving a bit more difficult that I thought it would be.  I have scoured all the normal places, and a few specialists that either break or sell complete damaged caravans. I honestly thought there would be a plentiful supply of them.  Not so.

The reason I want a caravan is basically I'm rubbish at woodwork.  Plus in a caravan there will be a whole host of systems that can be adapted like heating and ventilation, gas fires and water heaters, power chargers and management, kitchens, shower rooms, windows, as well as the soft and hard furniture and water systems.

So the hunt is well an truly on, and I suspect is going to be harder than I initially thought.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Whats The Flap About?

What’s the flap about?

On the offside behind the drivers door is a flap for which I had no keys. Having drilled the locks I was delighted to find the “domestic “ batteries”. Just look at the slide out tray. There’s no question these ambulances are so well designed and built.

Having found these I set to finding out where they got their power from and where it went to. I traced it all under the passenger seat. What I initially thought was an inverter turns out to be a 12v power supply and charger. This fed into a huge isolator which at some point was remotely operated by a solenoid.

The output of this isolator fed into the panel behind the passengers seat via a set of 40 amp MCB’s just to the right of the picture above.

The "Big" Panel

Having isolated the 3 40 amp feeds to the “big” panel I checked all the primary vehicle electrics. The only thing to go out was the high level marker lights which would not have been part of the original VW chassis cab wiring. The other 2 circuits I was very keen to preserve were the side door central locking, and the rear A/C power & controls. Having spent some considerable time tracing the 100’s of wires I removed the “big” panel and terminated the wires. Phew! Success. Retained circuits working, rear A/C working, central locking working, masses of ambulance wiring gone.

The Removed Ambulance Wiring

Tomorrow the 46 is off to the garage to have the MOT work done.

Friday, 18 September 2009

I feel a bit Snippy

Friday afternoon and I had a few hours before setting off for the boat for the weekend.

I decided that it would be removal of ambulance electrics as the task of the day. I thought the dash was a good place to start.

Its not for the faint hearted. I have had many years of dealing with vehicle electrics in my former business. As well as the trailers we also fitted towbars and other accessories like cruise controls, reverse sensors and the like so dealing with this lot really didn't bother me. I just kept reminding myself to check and recheck before snipping anything.

The first stuff I removed was the communication's wiring. That was all pretty straight forward, followed by a massive loom that must have fed a box of switches that was screwed to the dash.

I followed this to a multi-plug behind the instrument panel and was able to disconnect this and remove the loom. That pretty much took care of the dash. A bit of tidying up and putting back was all that was needed to finish the job.

I had reason to lift the carpet in the cab to trace wires for the next phase. It was wringing wet underneath, presumably (hopefully) from the jet wash I suspect the cab had. So I have removed that to let it dry out completely.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

MOT this morning

The 46 was booked for an MOT this morning. I took it to a class 7 site as I assumed it would be over 3500kg, but to my surprise it was already on the DVLA system as 3500kg and therefore a class 4. That saves having to plate it lower. The main reason to get a a lower GVW is newer qualified drivers can drive it without having to do an additional test. My and my wife would have been OK as we have been driving for years. I will post more on the weigh issues when I know them as there are a few other benefits to having a lower GVW.

IT FAILED :-( oh well no surprise there considering how woolly the steering was. 2 x ball joints, anti-roll bar bushes, and a couple of things like wipers and lights. On the whole not too bad.

I contacted the previous owners,
Avon NHS ambulance service, who very kindly emaild me an Excel sheet of all the maintenance the 46 has had during their 2 year ownership. The person I spoke to even remembered the 46 and said it had been mothballed quite a while before it was decomissioned and this was why it had no MOT.

Once back from the MOT I had a spot of lunch before setting to stripping out the rear.

All the blues and twos had been removed as well as most of the "ambulance stuff" so it was mainly the "furniture" that needed removing.

The build quality is excellent, and they take some stripping. This is what it looked like at the start.

Three hours later............

Its surprising how big it is inside. The best bit was the discovery of an additional A/C unit in the over cab area to provide A/C in the rear. Result!

Tomorrow the electrics. There are masses of them, no seriously, look......

This is just one of the panels, there's another 2 smaller ones under each seat and a another behind the passenger seat.

Train Trip Wednesday 16th

Having pre-ordered my train ticket on-line I set off to South Wales. Six and a half hours later 3 trains the Underground and 1 taxi I arrived at the auction site.

I have to say that train travel is pretty good in my opinion. I have had 3 long trips to get various vehicles in the last couple of years. In each case they have been on time and reasonably priced if you get them in advance on-line.

The train from Paddington was going along at 125mph. I know this because as you will become aware I like my gadgets like my phone that has GPS software to record journeys and their details. These can then be uploaded to a site like EveryTrail

So with all paperwork in hand I set off for the 259 mile drive home. M4 all OK, M25 normal nightmare but little realistic alternative.

Anyway 6 hours later I was home on about £40 of diesel. The 46 (not yet named it) went well reaching and maintaining 70mph with ease. Steering was a little woolly otherwise a nice drive.

Ambulance Hunt

The first stop of course was ebay. I had done my research and decided I wanted either a 412 Sprinter or a LT46 VW. Apparently these are supposed to go on forever (lets hope so) but are a bit dearer as a result.

I arranged to view and test drive a couple with ebayers, but in discussion with both they revealed their reserve and in both cases I felt these were unrealistic which was indeed born out by one not selling, and the other having a very strange set of late bids that weren't snipes. The latter I wouldn't be surprised to be re-listed.

Then I came across an auction company with an LT46 with low mileage, well low for an ambulance 140,000 miles, but of course these are maintained regardless of expense.

I arranged to bid on the phone, something I'd never done before and was a little exciting I have to admit.

On the fall of the hammer I became the owner of..........

Now I need a train ticket.

Where It All Began

In August 2009 we went France again for our summer holiday, to the beautiful Lot region. While there we notice this year the amount of motorhomes around and we mused the idea that it might be nice to have one.

When we got back and caught up with friends we had missed during the summer while every on was off doing their thing. Several of them went to a music festival, one of them in his motorhome. There it is again "motorhome". Things seem to creep up on you sometimes in life. We also have a narrowboat and many other owners also have a "motorhome".
So I started looking around, Auto Trader, E&M, Ebay, dealer site even sites abroad and became very quickly aware that anything in my price bracket was going to be very old and end of life. We once had a caravan, but didn't want to go back to one of them again. I had to think of options. During a Google session I found a web site and forum. The Self Build Motor Caravanners Club. This struck a chord as my previous business was the manufacture of trailers. I did this for 20 years before selling it and going into semi retirement. Much of what we built entailed custom fit outs.

Afetr a week or so I decided a retired Ambulance would fit the bill, especially when I saw this conversion by a self builder.



So the hunt began.