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Old 02-05-2008, 12:46 PM   #1 (permalink)
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I'm all excited about this crazy idea

So I currently tow with a tacoma. My load is about 250 lbs under its rating but it would be nice to have something with brakes to spare. Even more than that, most of the places I wheel are 4-7 hours away. If I don't take off from work that has me showing up at camp around midnight, which is a crappy time to set up my tent, cot, etc. Finally, I think I use 4x4 on just about every trip. Sometimes it's because I'm on ice/wet grass/loose dirt/etc. and other times it's just because 4-lo is a nicer speed for backing up into a tight spot, like next to the Harlan cabins.

So mentally I've been all over the map. I could sell my dented 03 taco for $7k and get an older diesel. I could buy a very old 1 ton for cash. I could drive the taco until I feel like I've gotten my value from it (3-4 years?) and buy a newer diesel as a DD. Or I could get silly.

I found this old m866 ambulance on craigslist. It's 4x4 and has a v8 (318). The tranny is a 727 and the t-case is a np203. They came with a solid front axle (D44) and a D60 in the rear. (Humbly) I'm a pretty good woodworker so I was thinking of building an RV style loft with parts/tools storage. It could actually be pretty nice.

Is this a crazy idea? Is a 31 year old rig going to be too much of a pita and leave me stranded all the time? I don't think I've ever owned anything carburated, that concerns me. Some of my trips are 11 hours+ so I'd want something reliable.

What does the forum think?

This is not a pic of the actual ambulance for sale but it's the same model.
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Old 02-05-2008, 02:42 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I'm risking flaming here, but screw it, Ill put it forward:

You've got a sub 4000lb Taco now, presumably with the 3.4L, and you're close to the max towing:

Would an old (possibly tired) 318, that is trying to lug around 6000lbs+ going to really tow that much better? It'll have a higher tow rating, but it's also got a lot more girth to try to move around at the same time.
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Old 02-05-2008, 02:47 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I sort of doubt it will better. My taco has surprised everybody, it pulls better than you would guess. However, I'm hoping it will stop better (which isn't bad now with dual trailer brakes) and I'm sure it will be nicer for sleeping in.
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You've got a sub 4000lb Taco now
Just for the record, as it sits without camping gear it's 4,680 lbs. (confirmed, not guessed)
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Old 02-05-2008, 03:41 PM   #4 (permalink)
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You mean this one?:

http://dallas.craigslist.org/car/556777264.html

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Old 02-05-2008, 03:58 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Nope, the one I saw is for sale in raleigh. I'm guessing it's gone because I've called yesterday and today and he hasn't called back.
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Old 02-05-2008, 04:17 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I would get something newer. You can get 95-97 PSD in your $ range.
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Old 02-05-2008, 04:34 PM   #7 (permalink)
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BUY IT!!!

jerk the 318 gas POS and insert a 12V CTD. That would be a sweet tow rig.
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Old 02-05-2008, 04:40 PM   #8 (permalink)
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BUY IT!!!

jerk the 318 gas POS and insert a 12V CTD. That would be a sweet tow rig.

winner /thread.
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Old 02-05-2008, 04:49 PM   #9 (permalink)
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that's pretty cool looking.... as far as staying on a budget goes... you could get an old 12v cummins truck and mod it a bit for that 7k. making a decent dd also.

Orrrrrrrrr.... just get some bigger wheels for the taco.... then get a big brake kit. some stiffer rear springs or bags and keep running it.

If you can get that ambulance rig and not DD it... then why not. The brake options are endless... the go options are endless too. as you get money you can mod it more and more.
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Old 02-05-2008, 04:51 PM   #10 (permalink)
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id buy it and do the rv conversion, then eventually find a CTD outta a wrecked truck, swap it in and fix up the dodge to be a nice tow rig, but keep the taco around for a DD

thatd be what i would do if i was in the same situation

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Old 02-05-2008, 04:57 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I'd skip the old iron for a tow rig...

It really is nice to jump behind the wheel, adjust the AC, set the cruise and not be beat up as you drive to or from the trail. No noise, no odd rattles that make your stomach turn, no wierd smells...

I didn't realize how nice it could be until I got a reliable tow rig and the drive home became easy...

And mine isn't even a super lux $40K truck -- just a simple '95 12V Dodge - with all the interior options though.
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Old 02-05-2008, 05:41 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Um...No power steering, no power brakes, 4:10 gears w/ no overdrive, bad lowback buckets. Not exactally what you want in a tow vehicle. Makes a good drivetrain to put under a jeep though.
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Old 02-05-2008, 08:10 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Never Monday View Post
BUY IT!!!

jerk the 318 gas POS and insert a 12V CTD. That would be a sweet tow rig.
yup winner right there.. get it cheap. find a decent low priced 12v to drop in it. re do the interior with better seats. and have a decent tow/camper.

keep the taco for dd.

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Old 02-05-2008, 08:22 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Never Monday View Post
BUY IT!!!

jerk the 318 gas POS and insert a 12V CTD. That would be a sweet tow rig.
yup winner right there.. get it cheap. find a decent low priced 12v to drop in it. re do the interior with better seats. and have a decent tow/camper.

keep the taco for dd.

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Old 02-05-2008, 08:29 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Uhhh... Get 1st gen CTD and transplant ambulance body onto 1st gen. You could even end up with rear duals, and you would have the right front axle, D60. In my opinion it's easier to swap rear bodies than the entire driveline. Plus it would be more reliable too.

But realistically a slide-in camper and a 1st gen would fit your budget and be a pretty bomber rig.
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Old 02-05-2008, 08:43 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I think you guys are right about reliability in a tow rig. I have it now and it's a really nice feeling to know that once what's left of my trail rig after an abusive weekend is chained down to the trailer the adventure is over. It's time to settle in, turn on the gps to get home, listen to an audiobook on the ipod, and enjoy the AC/heat.

Unless they make an affordable modern day 4x4 ambulance maybe I should be aiming toward a 1 ton dedicated tow rig with a slide in camper. I'd just really like to have a nice place to sleep for those times I show up at camp around midnight.

Having said all of that, I'm still a little excited about this idea. Does anybody make a 4x4 van?
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Old 02-05-2008, 09:03 PM   #17 (permalink)
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yes nooob search.. theres plenty of info on 4wd vans
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Old 02-05-2008, 09:11 PM   #18 (permalink)
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yes nooob search.. theres plenty of info on 4wd vans
Ok, ok. You're right. I'm on ebay right now looking at what's available. I think I could make the conversion myself fairly easily. Then again, everything is easy until you look closely at all the fitment details.
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Old 02-06-2008, 03:40 AM   #19 (permalink)
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I think you are on the right track with 4x4 van. I keep thinking that I eventually may go that way with my bumper pull trailer, rather than my current crew cab and gooseneck with slide-in camper. I would make the van a camper, then use the van alone for camping trips that don't involve wheeling but need 4x4 (like fishing at the beach). And with a bumper pull trailer, it's a shorter, lighter combination than my crew cab and gooseneck camper/trailer.

If only the vans came with a Cummins! I'm not up for a swap. I think I'd be happy with an older 7.3L Powerstroke van, or a Duramax one.

I love those Sportmobile camper vans, but can't talk myself into affording a used diesel one yet.

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Old 02-06-2008, 05:36 AM   #20 (permalink)
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i looked at diesel 4x4 vans for a while. They are entirely too proud of em ($) will not make the power a truck will easily, Kinda hard to find. Not a real good engine choice available. (6.0 ?)

ambulance with cummins
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Old 02-06-2008, 05:44 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uglyscout View Post
....It really is nice to jump behind the wheel, adjust the AC, set the cruise and not be beat up as you drive to or from the trail. No noise, no odd rattles that make your stomach turn, no wierd smells...

I didn't realize how nice it could be until I got a reliable tow rig and the drive home became easy...
That right there sums it up for me.
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Old 02-06-2008, 05:49 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Hmmm, http://raleigh.craigslist.org/car/562627713.html

I wish it was 4x4.
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Old 02-06-2008, 06:09 AM   #23 (permalink)
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From what I understand of your needs for a tow rig, the stuff you are finding is too old. As been said before, you want the adventure of a weekend to be over once the rig is on the trailer. Fixing crap on the side of the road on a dirty, greasy, rusty old truck on the side of the road at 2am on a monday will get old in a hurry. Not that newer trucks can't or don't break, but you get the drift.


IMO, you need to be looking at stuff from mid 90's and up.
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Old 02-06-2008, 09:09 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Uhhh... Get 1st gen CTD and transplant ambulance body onto 1st gen. You could even end up with rear duals, and you would have the right front axle, D60. In my opinion it's easier to swap rear bodies than the entire driveline. Plus it would be more reliable too.
I was wondering the same thing. Or maybe look into how hard it would be to transplant it to a second generation CTD. I think it would be easier to start off with a reliable truck with comfortable seats, AC, cruise, etc. than to try to transplant all of that stuff to one of these. Especially since you are planning on reworking the sleeper anyway.

Our truck camper works fine for the wife and I, but the idea of a full width floor has crossed my mind before.

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Old 02-06-2008, 10:00 AM   #25 (permalink)
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Here ya go:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eB...66#description

Or a newer one:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/2004-...QQcmdZViewItem

If I could convince the wife, I would already have one. With three kids, a standard pickup or SUV doesn't cut it. We use an Expedition right now, but I'd rock a 4x4 van in a heartbeat.
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