Topic: Thoughts on Tow Rig/RV (AKA why don't more people have Ambulances?)

So I'm in a potential spot to go from one Ram 1500 as both DD and Tow rig, to two specific vehicles.  I have an office relocation to thank for that.   What this leaves me in is a spot of trying to decide what I want (AKA what the wife will permit).

I have been REALLY thinking about getting an Ambulance - Leaning towards Ford E series and have been bouncing back and forth between older 7.3 and newer 6.0. No need to turn this thread into a 6.0's have issues conversation. I'm well versed on that; and in most cases that's already been addressed on the Ambulances.

Wife seems to cringe at the thought of a "Magic Bus" at our home.. some BS about living in NYC and not being a redneck... I don't understand.  So I'm trying to look at some other more "city folk" acceptable things.

Here's my trailer/car situation. 18ft open trailer. 2x axle with electric brakes (2300lbs) Cars and gear onboard the trailer are 2700-3000 max, so 5,300lbs on the tow at most. Parts and gear that normally go IN my Ram 1500 are another 500ish lbs

If I haul my fuel, that could be another 750lbs.   All this is fine for the Ram, but will play a role in the items below

$$ sitch: I pay $620 for the ram now (it's a 2014). I've been looking at a Mini or Focus as DD which is in the $400 range, so looking sub $20K on a tow rig to keep me at or below $600/m combined. $10k-$15k would be even better if I could find a score.


Some things that have crossed the table

2007-2008 Grand Cherokee Diesel. 7,200lbs rating - with airbags and TrBrController,
points :This would work for most everything except hauling fuel. Bonus is it's not big and an eyesore and the wife could even drive it in bad weather. This doesn't cover my desires of being able to haul fuel too nor does it give me a place to sleep.

Older F-150 or Ram 1500 (gas or diesel)
points: This would cover all my towing needs, but doesn't work for wife use option nor does it give me a nice place to sleep.

Excursion or GMC large SUV (diesels or gas)
points: This would cover all my towing needs, but doesn't work for wife use option nor does it give me a nice place to sleep though better sleep option than a pickup.

Ambulance - specifically Type III's and mini-mods
points: God this screams awesome rig to me. I can haul everything and with the module having its own HVAC, I can pop in a small generator and have heat or AC for sleeping. The shelf and cabinets are just begging for car parts and tools. and the lights (with a few mods) would illuminate a work space all through the night.
Obviously this is least appealing to the wife and she'd never admit her husband has it, let alone be seen in it. (so bad?)
HOWEVER, I don't see any of these at races. Is there something I'm missing?


Any other thoughts or ideas? Insults or totally irrelevant comments? (Bacon)

BlackMaven Motorsports - a tiny, less creative, division of Three Pedal Mafia   Supporting the United Leukodystrophy Foundation - www.ulf.org
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Re: Thoughts on Tow Rig/RV (AKA why don't more people have Ambulances?)

For me, lots of people die in the back of those. So I am a bit creeped  out.
Why not get a Class B RV? with a larger engine? Also, regular E350 would be a nice rig to tow with, and you can get them very cheap from NYS Park department, and government surplus auctions.
Where are you in SI? I am in brooklyn, 11214

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Re: Thoughts on Tow Rig/RV (AKA why don't more people have Ambulances?)

I was 11204 Bensonhurst born and raised... out in Old town now 10304 since 2002.


I've also those of an E350 diesel van. That has 10K tow which is better than my Ram. It just gives me more cargo space (which never hurts) but still no good sleeper option.  It is in the mix though. I've found some for decent price. Though they are close in price to a matching E350 ambulance.

I have to get wife in a better mood to talk about these.. She's still hating me for owning a race car in the first place.

BlackMaven Motorsports - a tiny, less creative, division of Three Pedal Mafia   Supporting the United Leukodystrophy Foundation - www.ulf.org
'68 Ford Cortina - 2 Races: 1 Motor dead, 1 wheel driven clean off the car (axle included)
'86 Toyota Cressida - B Class win at Thompson
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Re: Thoughts on Tow Rig/RV (AKA why don't more people have Ambulances?)

haha, that is an issue, how to please SO wink
When I was looking for mine, I got my self Class A RV. it can tow 3500 lbs(hitch rating). But many can tow a lot more.
Class B is based on a van usually, like E350. Has all amenities. Not much cargo capacity. Bunch have weak motors, and bunch have heavy duty engines.
what about a School a bus?

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This car....Is said to have a will of it's Own. Twisting its own body in rage...It accelerates on.
1978 Opel/Buick Isuzu(B) - IOE, C class, Incredible Feats in Badge Engineering; 1996 Ford Probe GT(B)

5 (edited by OnkelUdo 2015-08-26 02:52 AM)

Re: Thoughts on Tow Rig/RV (AKA why don't more people have Ambulances?)

The E-series diesel is absolutely the worst vehicle to work on from all reports.  Worse that a BMW 850.

Now, the very nice and very rare F350 diesel ambulance with the AL box is what I woul love to have if it had the IDI 7.3.

Unrelated but frame of reference...even my 5.7L TBI NV4500 single cab work truck can "comfortably" tow a 24' trailer with at least 4K # of crap in it for 12 hours on back to back days...just take your time.  So any truck/van/ambulance with a 9K tow rating will work IF you just spend your time on the towing equipment.

6 (edited by TeamLemon-aid 2015-08-25 06:45 PM)

Re: Thoughts on Tow Rig/RV (AKA why don't more people have Ambulances?)

2002 Ford F350, ambulance super duty, 7.3 L diesel - $5000 (Ronkonkoma)


http://newyork.craigslist.org/lgi/cto/5116701593.html

LemonAid - Changing kids lives one lap at a time.

Re: Thoughts on Tow Rig/RV (AKA why don't more people have Ambulances?)

Keep in mind that Ambulances tend to have a lot more hours than miles.  Can have low miles, but the engine is completely worn out from all of the idling that they do.

Re: Thoughts on Tow Rig/RV (AKA why don't more people have Ambulances?)

OnkelUdo wrote:

The E-series diesel is absolutely the worst vehicle to work on from all reports.  Worse that a BMW 850.

This would have been my concern as well. I have no desire to own a vehicle with the engine crammed under the dash.

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Re: Thoughts on Tow Rig/RV (AKA why don't more people have Ambulances?)

We tow with an 03 e450 7.3 22passenger bus. It was probably not the best choice. The drivetrain has been a bit of an issue. New injectors, CPS, AC bracket and currently it is having major electrical problems. It left us stranded in Georgia coming back from Sebring. Otherwise it tows great. Good brakes, good power.

We have also towed with an 03 Yukon XL. It tows fantastic. It's been to Birmingham twice as well as CMP a few times. We can fit plenty of stuff in it and a person, or couple, can sleep in the back at night. The old girl has ~400k on it and still runs like a champ.

Our trailer is a double axle ~20" with no brakes. We load it up with a 3500lbs car, a few hundred pounds of stuff and a dirtbike.

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Re: Thoughts on Tow Rig/RV (AKA why don't more people have Ambulances?)

You bring up a good point Rich...  This probably explains some of the prices I've seen on Ambulancetrader.com

There's an hours counter on my Ram, that should Driving, Idling and Towing hours... It's actually amazing that even on my own truck, I have so many idling hours.. If I have 350 driving  and 150 towing, I have around 200 idling.  Crazy how stop lights and traffic add up. plus remote start, etc...

Onkel and Frank,
That's interesting. I had been looking at F's to start.... My team wrench said he'd rather an E than an F which is why I changed over. I think he said if you have to pull the motor, the E drops out, where the old F you have to remove most of the front end, or something like that.


TL-A,
Wow, that's both sweet and scary as hell all at the same time. Guaranteed to have my wife living with her parents again. Also, brings up something I didn't know (at least in NY); that they'd have to pull the lights and sirens out before selling. I had planned to use the replace the flashers with solid lighting, but if they have to pull all the housings and wirings, that is definitely a negative

kakarot,

Wifey has an issue with the idea of anything big and unsightly. Mind you I don't have any place to put a rig other than the street so it has to have standard plates on it... an RV can't be on the city street for more than 24 hours, so that's out. a bus isn't all too different than an ambulance, other than the Ambie has the independent HVAC I could run much like an RV... Basically, I see it an an "RV for 1".


I tow 2 or 3 races a year with NHMS being the longest haul at about 350 miles each way. So with that as a grounding, something that can be used for other purposes (even though I lose a track side bed) is probably more in line with the wife.



The bottom line at this point is I don't want to drive the Hemi 300 miles a week all year round for work. That's 15,000 miles BEFORE I do any tows or night/weekend driving.  Seeming more like what is going to happen in the end. Maybe I keep the Ram and go the other way... sub-$5,000 commuter car. pay off in full and just have insurance cost.

BlackMaven Motorsports - a tiny, less creative, division of Three Pedal Mafia   Supporting the United Leukodystrophy Foundation - www.ulf.org
'68 Ford Cortina - 2 Races: 1 Motor dead, 1 wheel driven clean off the car (axle included)
'86 Toyota Cressida - B Class win at Thompson
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Re: Thoughts on Tow Rig/RV (AKA why don't more people have Ambulances?)

FPRbuzz wrote:

We tow with an 03 e450 7.3 22passenger bus. It was probably not the best choice. The drivetrain has been a bit of an issue. New injectors, CPS, AC bracket and currently it is having major electrical problems. It left us stranded in Georgia coming back from Sebring. Otherwise it tows great. Good brakes, good power.

We have also towed with an 03 Yukon XL. It tows fantastic. It's been to Birmingham twice as well as CMP a few times. We can fit plenty of stuff in it and a person, or couple, can sleep in the back at night. The old girl has ~400k on it and still runs like a champ.

Our trailer is a double axle ~20" with no brakes. We load it up with a 3500lbs car, a few hundred pounds of stuff and a dirtbike.


This is what had me looking into other/smaller SUV type vehicles. I.E. the Diesel Jeep.  I thought if it was something wifey would drive or be driven in, it might help the cause.

BlackMaven Motorsports - a tiny, less creative, division of Three Pedal Mafia   Supporting the United Leukodystrophy Foundation - www.ulf.org
'68 Ford Cortina - 2 Races: 1 Motor dead, 1 wheel driven clean off the car (axle included)
'86 Toyota Cressida - B Class win at Thompson
BlackmavenMotorsports on Facebook

Re: Thoughts on Tow Rig/RV (AKA why don't more people have Ambulances?)

As a firefighter I always recommend against retired service vehicles.  Sometimes you can get lucky and get one from a not busy area, but generally ambulances sit around all day idling, then get beaten like a 2 dollar crack whore.  They are maintained well, but hammered on.  Ohh and the whole death in the back seat thing....

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Re: Thoughts on Tow Rig/RV (AKA why don't more people have Ambulances?)

I'd prefer to focus on all the lives saved in the back......

TO be totally honest, until this thread, I never once thought about death in the back. What does that say about me???

But you have all made good points about the idling and general abuse concerns. Time to take another direction here.

BlackMaven Motorsports - a tiny, less creative, division of Three Pedal Mafia   Supporting the United Leukodystrophy Foundation - www.ulf.org
'68 Ford Cortina - 2 Races: 1 Motor dead, 1 wheel driven clean off the car (axle included)
'86 Toyota Cressida - B Class win at Thompson
BlackmavenMotorsports on Facebook

Re: Thoughts on Tow Rig/RV (AKA why don't more people have Ambulances?)

Years ago, one of my racing buddies had the same thought about hte ambulance.  So he bought one as his tow rig for his IT car.  It turmed out to be less than ideal in my opinion.  First thing is that it was really heavy in it's own right.  That limited his towing capacity and killed his fuel mileage.  Second, there really wasn't all that much room inside.  There was a lot of storage space, but for small stuff. The ambulance had a thousand little storage cabinets and cubbies.  Before you buy, check out where you are going to store your tool boxes and big stuff. like tires.  Then there's engines, gearboxes and suspension parts that we like to carry.

Re: Thoughts on Tow Rig/RV (AKA why don't more people have Ambulances?)

snuffy wrote:

Years ago, one of my racing buddies had the same thought about hte ambulance.  So he bought one as his tow rig for his IT car.  It turmed out to be less than ideal in my opinion.  First thing is that it was really heavy in it's own right.  That limited his towing capacity and killed his fuel mileage.  Second, there really wasn't all that much room inside.  There was a lot of storage space, but for small stuff. The ambulance had a thousand little storage cabinets and cubbies.  Before you buy, check out where you are going to store your tool boxes and big stuff. like tires.  Then there's engines, gearboxes and suspension parts that we like to carry.

All good points, and yes the Ambulance body is HEAVY... The things get like 9 mpg....

Tom Lomino - Proud to be a 21x Lemons Loser, 3x Class B, and 1x IOE Winner!
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Re: Thoughts on Tow Rig/RV (AKA why don't more people have Ambulances?)

The dual control Bug/TDI 911 bunch use an old Ambulance as a tow vehicle, you might hit them up.  I thought about an ambulance but it seemed like a bunch of extra dead weight to be hauling around all the time plus it's kind of a single purpose vehicle.

I went with a 15 passenger V10 E350 because

1.  I'm cheap and trucks/diesel trucks/diesel vans were quite a bit more
2.  With a van, you can lock all your crap inside.
3.  Passenger vans seem to live a gentler life than trucks.
3.  With the last 3 rows of seats out, a queen air mattress fits in there for me to sleep on.
4.  While the van parked on the street annoys the neighbors some, the noise is a lot lower than if it was an ambulance.
5. The 15 passenger vans all seem to be XLT/loaded, lower miles and not beat to hell like the work vans.
6.  12 and I think 14ft beams fit flat on the floor with the doors closed whereas it gets trickier in a truck.

The one bad thing about a van is that it uncontrollably veers towards bouncy houses, sort of an invisible hand like a divining rod to water.

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Re: Thoughts on Tow Rig/RV (AKA why don't more people have Ambulances?)

RogueLeader wrote:

All good points, and yes the Ambulance body is HEAVY... The things get like 9 mpg....

The Aluminum boxes are much lighter but still heavy.

And to the point about always dropping an E450 motor out the bottom is valid but the weight is a serious concern (less so for the gas motors).  If you do have to pull and IDI, which is possible but very unlikely, from a F350 chassis you pull the radiator, radiator support. grill, tip the AC coil forward remove the hood ...and work things out slowly...from what I have read.  Turbo replacement on an E-series...engine removal.

Still, the elusive Excursion V10 or Yukon XL 2500 are about the best compromise.

For me, the "math" made sense to run a 3/4 single cab and an enclosed trailer.  The teammates have two RV's and if we choose to travel the single cab truck plus 4 in the RV is our team.  If we choose to travel with our hangers-on and dogs, truck with trailer (one giant dog), RV with 4 (two medium to small dogs) and economy car (two passengers, two small dogs).  The point is, unless you run more that two destination races a year, the tow vehicle is NOT that big a consideration and mid-90's 3/4 ton trucks are cheap as Geo Metros.

Re: Thoughts on Tow Rig/RV (AKA why don't more people have Ambulances?)

OnkelUdo wrote:

and mid-90's 3/4 ton trucks are cheap as Geo Metros.

Just one thing to keep in mind regarding those trucks.  Where Ray lives (and myself) a whole lot of trucks are used to tow boats.  They require a LOT of extra attention around the back of the frame, and the reason they are so cheap?  That frame is eaten alive by the salt water because these guys never clean them off after dropping their boat.

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Re: Thoughts on Tow Rig/RV (AKA why don't more people have Ambulances?)

RogueLeader wrote:
OnkelUdo wrote:

and mid-90's 3/4 ton trucks are cheap as Geo Metros.

Just one thing to keep in mind regarding those trucks.  Where Ray lives (and myself) a whole lot of trucks are used to tow boats.  They require a LOT of extra attention around the back of the frame, and the reason they are so cheap?  That frame is eaten alive by the salt water because these guys never clean them off after dropping their boat.

Up here, they are blue-collar work trucks.  If you go 2wd, they were never used to plow and likely were only used 9 months out of the year.

I still had to be very picky mainly because I wanted one of two transmissions and one of two engines and no structural rust.  I now have lost my cab corners in the interim, my receiver had to be replaced due to rust and suspension fasteners snap before loosening.  That said, $1300 initial investment and (not counting extra towing equipment) a total of about $350 in unscheduled maintenance ($160 of it a catalytic converter to pass emissions) over more than 18 months is hard to beat.

Re: Thoughts on Tow Rig/RV (AKA why don't more people have Ambulances?)

You guys continue to echo the same shit rolling around my head.

Adding in the wife requirement of not having a fugly turd around the house, I showed her some older Yukons (2005ish). amazingly, she thought they were nice... Helps that a friend of hers drives one. and with an XL, I can sleep in the back. So this may be the route we go.

You're right in the thinking that for only 2-3 race weekends a year, it's not a critical as if I was towing 2-3 weekends a month. This truck will spend more time sitting or being used to haul scuba gear than race equipment.

If I was single I would probably take your comments and go towards simpler truck at lower cost, in fact. Tom's comments about living in the NY/LI area, plus a wife with opinions deems I spend up a bit.

But thanks for talking me off the Ambulance ledge (and likely bottomless pit).

Anyone have pros/cons on the GMC Yukon XL?  Having been a ford/Ram guy, I'm not familiar with engine issues or other things to be weary of.

BlackMaven Motorsports - a tiny, less creative, division of Three Pedal Mafia   Supporting the United Leukodystrophy Foundation - www.ulf.org
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'86 Toyota Cressida - B Class win at Thompson
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21 (edited by RogueLeader 2015-08-27 09:06 AM)

Re: Thoughts on Tow Rig/RV (AKA why don't more people have Ambulances?)

WarpdSpazm wrote:

You guys continue to echo the same shit rolling around my head.

Adding in the wife requirement of not having a fugly turd around the house, I showed her some older Yukons (2005ish). amazingly, she thought they were nice... Helps that a friend of hers drives one. and with an XL, I can sleep in the back. So this may be the route we go.

You're right in the thinking that for only 2-3 race weekends a year, it's not a critical as if I was towing 2-3 weekends a month. This truck will spend more time sitting or being used to haul scuba gear than race equipment.

If I was single I would probably take your comments and go towards simpler truck at lower cost, in fact. Tom's comments about living in the NY/LI area, plus a wife with opinions deems I spend up a bit.

But thanks for talking me off the Ambulance ledge (and likely bottomless pit).

Anyone have pros/cons on the GMC Yukon XL?  Having been a ford/Ram guy, I'm not familiar with engine issues or other things to be weary of.

Its essentially a 2500 HD Yukon, the motors are LSx based and bulletproof, just make sure you use Mobil 1.  Considering the weight you're towing it will not even notice it.  My 2500 HD Silverado is like "this is all you got??".  The problems you may see are electronics and interior based.  Bullshit like the blend door in the HVAC system.  But parts are more than plentiful and cheap.

My truck has turned into a daily driver as I have been trying to keep the Camaro as nice as possible, and I'm lazy so when I wash it I'm like "oh it's gonna rain today I'll take the truck"....

Tom Lomino - Proud to be a 21x Lemons Loser, 3x Class B, and 1x IOE Winner!
Craptain, Team Farfrumwinnin - 1995 Volkswagen Golf #14
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Re: Thoughts on Tow Rig/RV (AKA why don't more people have Ambulances?)

Oil pump pressure relief valve
Instrument cluster rebuild
Self-leveling suspension components...what was it, "Comfort Ride" or something

Anytime anyone asks what to get to tow >7K and carry 5 or more folks my answer is always "Suburban".  Yukon XL 2500/Suburban 2500 are just a grill and trim level from each other.  In older models you get the 4L80 tranny and the 454.  In the newer models you get the HD 6-speed (forget the designation) and the 6.0 or V10.

The other answer to your question is Ford Exurcsion but they tend to demand a premium over the GM twins and you have to go V10 or Diesel is you want the over 8K towing capacity.

23 (edited by Sonic 2015-08-27 10:31 AM)

Re: Thoughts on Tow Rig/RV (AKA why don't more people have Ambulances?)

Ray, you've probably driven my Yukon XL 2500.  It has been a great beast of burden, had nothing significant go wrong with it in 3 years, and it tows very well, even the heavy ass Rolls Royce and the rest filled with a race weekends worth of stuff.  Bruce's old 10k lbs magic trailer had it really working hard, but other than that it has been fantastic, and it being a loaded SLT it cleans up nicely for when we put the third row in for big family outings, and it's nice enough to not mind driving it in the winter, etc.  after having it, I can't imagine not having it.

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Re: Thoughts on Tow Rig/RV (AKA why don't more people have Ambulances?)

having towed about 20k miles with a 2.8 VM motori diesel, I'll say it's the most powerful and possibly wonderfullest engine i've ever owned. but literally EVERYTHING attached to it is complete shit. it gets really good towing mpg, but everything else is shit. It's also the only vehicle i got for 6k below book, and still lost my ass on it.

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Re: Thoughts on Tow Rig/RV (AKA why don't more people have Ambulances?)

As I mentioned, we've used the 2003 Yukon XL Denali. It's nearing 400k with a lot of towing boats, car trailers and equipment trailers. It's on the third fuel pump and second transmission. Also the driver's side running light burns out frequently. With that kind of mileage though it's not hard to justify.

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