Expedition Vehicle

Tom’s Expedition Vehicle Build:
Part of the reason I came to Arizona in May was to see Tom’s truck. While I’m here mooching electricity off of Tom’s family I though I would chip in on the Expedition Vehicle Build. This post is mostly about cutting in the windows. If you want to follow the whole build you can see it at https://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/2009-chevy-medium-duty-4×4-kodiak-ambulance-conversion.191535/

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The door window stays. The other window will be removed.

The house-part of the truck had only one window on the curb-side to start with and it was in the wrong place for the interior design. Tom planned the windows so a person standing inside can see out without needing to crouch down (A feature most coaches lack in every way). That meant the windows needed to be placed high on the walls. First Tom cut in the rear street-side window, then we cut in the forward street-side window. We needed the cut-out from the forward street-side window to plug the hole left behind when we took out the factory curb-side window which was too low and in the wrong place.

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Removed the window and plugged the hole with a cut-out from the other side

Once we plugged the factory window opening with the cut-out we could cut in the new window openings for both curb-side windows. After the new window openings were cut in we added structural supports on the inside to carry the roof load to the floor and mitigate any diagonal-load issues.

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Cut two new openings

The end result is a very spacious and airy living space with ample cross ventilation. The windows are at eye-level when standing inside and also at eye-level when sitting on the raised dinning area. Given the height of the truck and the raised windows it’s also very difficult for someone outside to look inside without standing on a 6-foot ladder.

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Two new windows in the correct place

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Tom and his dad cut in the window on this side

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Tom admiring his handy-work

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Projects and Modifications in Oracle, AZ

We’re here visiting friends and working on vehicles. Tom is building an expedition vehicle and has chosen a 4×4 ambulance as the staring point. More on that later

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Tom’s expedition truck and my ’95 Dodge

Tom told me about a trick to save water and propane so I’m going to install that while I’m here.

Plus we’re going to ride Mountain Bikes! How fun is that!?

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Tom’s truck is 23′ long, about 10″ tall

 

First up, the Water Heater:

There is a 10-gallon water heater in my coach that can run on either electricity or propane gas. I suspect it heats water up to about 120/140* F before it shuts itself off. Of course 120/140 is too hot to be comfortable on my skin so I add some cold water to get the temperature just right. Seems simple enough.

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There are two issues in my coach about hot water. First is that the shower faucet (mixer valve) has a cruel habit of sending cold water to the shower head when the shower head switch is off. When I switch the shower head on to rinse I get a shot of cold water before the warm comes back. I though it was a back-flow issue so I installed two check valves, one in the hot and one in the cold supply lines to prevent any cold-feeding-to-hot water flow. That did nothing to mitigate the issue so it’s probably a fault with the design of the mixer valve.IMG_1821

Anyway, one solution to the problem is to just run only the hot water and no cold. That saves the shot of cold water going to waste. The way to create just the right temperature of hot water is to put a temperature probe on the water heater tank. I choose a digital thermometer with a wired probe to sense outside air temperature. I inserted the probe between the tank and the insulation at the top (hot water out) connection and mounted the readout nearby.IMG_1822

I turn the water heater on and watch the temperature rise to about 100* F then shut the heater off. The water temperature rises about another 5* after the heater is off. Partly because of sensor lag and partly due to the time it takes water in the tank to mix and stabilize at the same temperature.

The second issue I’m trying to mitigate is propane use. I don’t fancy the idea of heating water up beyond what is useful and wasting propane to do that. By switching the heater off at a lower temperature I save a fair amount of propane. For example, with low temperatures in the 50’s and highs in the 80’s it only takes 5 minutes to heat the water up to 104*. The benefit of this set up is that I save both propane and water – Plus I don’t get zapped with a shot of cold water at bath time!IMG_1823

• Side note: You could use a wireless system and the sensor is going to be much bigger. That requires cutting the insulation away and replacing it over the sensor. Also if the probe is wireless they update about once a minute so there will be a bigger delay in reporting the temperature so it will get hotter after shut-off •