All You Ever Wanted to Know about Converting an Ambulance to a Campervan- The Bad Stuff

Ramp on Campy Van
Ramp on Campy Van

I’ve shared some of the good things about Campy Van so far, but there are certainly some complications arising from this Peugeot Boxer having been an ambulance in its first life.  These all add up to extra time and cost on the conversion.

In the previous post I already mentioned about the weight and it’s categorisation.  This is something still in progress, something I’m having to chase paperwork on.

There are more.

It goes HOW fast?!

We got Campy Van delivered and when I asked the delivery driver about her, he immediately mentioned that she’s got a speed limiter.

Turns out that she’s restricted to 60 miles an hour.  That’s 104 kph downhill with a following wind… I tested her last week as we were running late to the airport and I was desperate to gain some time. Not a chance:  A specialist company has reprogrammed her and have actually done it in an annoying way. I could live with 60mph…just about.  But what the company did was limit the max revs, to 3000 rpm.

On one hand, this is great, as I know she wasn’t pushed… ever!  On the other hand, getting up a large hill fully loaded becomes very frustrating.

The turbo also seems to kick in at about 3000 revs. At the moment, I’m not even sure the turbo works, I’ve not heard or felt it activate yet.  I was quoted £90 by the company that installed it (as evidenced by another sticker on the door frame) to remove the speed limiter.

Convoluted wiring

I’ve eluded to the complications we’ve had from sneaky battery draining from some unknown things in the previous post. Maybe the old incubator plug?

There are huge clusters of wires going to the battery. I never expected there to be so many.  It’s going to be a fun task tracing these and re-routing those that we need to a leisure battery set.

Wheelchair ramp and lift

Campy Van currently has a wheelchair ramp and a wheelchair lift installed in the rear.  The ramp has been absolutely brilliant for using the van to relocate us to Sweden for the next few months and for the numerous IKEA runs we’ve done since. I have literally rolled a trolley full of shopping up the ramp, unloaded it with minimal lifting and then returned the trolley.

Now, though, that it’s time to start thinking of Campy Van’s second life as a campervan we need to get rid of the ramp and the lift: the ramp rattles and they both add weight which we need to eliminate in order to be able to add weight back in for things we actually need to get Campy Van usable as a campervan.

For the wheelchair lift, which doesn’t actually work, the original converters have rerouted the exhaust and cut away a large section of the rear flooring. I expect, taking this itself will give us some interesting challenges and opportunities.

I’m not sure what to do with this void:  Is this a good spot to locate the fresh and waste water tanks?

Wear and tear

Campy Van is 6 years old with 130k miles (210k km) on the clock.  Of course, one expects dings on such a vehicle. So far, I think we are lucky, there aren’t many on the van.

The driver’s side mirror keeps wanting to fall out, some clips are missing. For the time being, I keep pushing it back in every couple of days and I’ve looped some electrical tape around the mirror housing to stop the mirror from actually falling out and shattering.

There’s a scratch on one side and a dent on the front, where someone probably drove into an overhanging tree.

The most surprising wear and tear is of the front seats: both driver and passenger seats have virtually no side support left in the seat base on the side of getting it.  They are in much worse condition than my Volvo with similar mileage and double the age. This has made me ponder and realise that these vehicles are sat in much more than driven; with the driver often having to wait around a lot and do a lot more in and out of the vehicle than me on my daily school- and errand runs.

The worst wear and tear suffered by this retired ambulance is that of its key:  It is knackered!  The key looks like someone has been using it as a rosary bead and then played darts with it.  Another one of those unforeseen expenses and complications when we come to replace it. (Especially as we didn’t get the key code confirmation card with the sparse paperwork that came with the van and the manual informs me this is necessary for getting a replacement.)

So that’s where we are now, as we start planning for repurposing Campy Van to our needs, adapting budgets as we find things that need to be changed or fixed.

Have you used a retired ambulance as your base vehicle?  How have you found it?

Would you love to convert your own van?

14 thoughts on “All You Ever Wanted to Know about Converting an Ambulance to a Campervan- The Bad Stuff

  1. Very interesting read, currently an ambulance driver and planning on converting one into camper van for myself, gf and dog. Look forward to reading more

    1. Thanks Brendy! I have so much to write up…comments like yours really help me get on with it. 🙂 Please feel free to share your conversion progress once you’ve made the leap.

  2. Very interesting read, currently an ambulance driver and planning on converting one into camper van for myself, gf and dog. Look forward to reading more

    1. Thanks Brendy! I have so much to write up…comments like yours really help me get on with it. 🙂 Please feel free to share your conversion progress once you’ve made the leap.

    1. Keith, Good luck on your search! It’s a lot of fun creating your own van. From expereince: if I was to start again, with all the work that goes into a conversion, I’d probably buy a new van, where I know the mileage and have full service history.

      1. OH LORD! i just bought an ambulance to convert. (Vauxhall). Picking it up next week. But now ive read this post I am getting scared 🙁

    1. Keith, Good luck on your search! It’s a lot of fun creating your own van. From expereince: if I was to start again, with all the work that goes into a conversion, I’d probably buy a new van, where I know the mileage and have full service history.

      1. OH LORD! i just bought an ambulance to convert. (Vauxhall). Picking it up next week. But now ive read this post I am getting scared 🙁

  3. We the Royal we have just started the conversion-
    Very interesting info that we hadn’t considered .
    How do we sign up to the blog ?
    We have read your first positive and negative ones .

  4. We the Royal we have just started the conversion-
    Very interesting info that we hadn’t considered .
    How do we sign up to the blog ?
    We have read your first positive and negative ones .

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