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Thread: 2009 Kodiak 5500 Duramax Crew Cab Ambulance Conversion Project

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Virginia, USA
    Posts
    4

    Default 2009 Kodiak 5500 Duramax Crew Cab Ambulance Conversion Project

    Hey Everyone-

    New to the Ambulance conversion world. I picked up a 2009 Chevy Kodiak C5500 Crew Cab (6.6l Duramax) Ambulance with 138K on it from a University in Virginia with the goal of converting it into an RV. I figured for what I paid for it and what I will put into it, I can get a luxury (as luxury as I'm able to get it) rv for a fraction of the price...lol
    I found the ambulance at an online auction site and drive down to give it a general inspection, having basic mechanical skills but not really knowing what I was looking at. I've owned diesel trucks before and figured I know enough to be dangerous...and I was right. The batteries were dead so I couldn't start it up to inspect the rig but my gut was telling me it was good so I continued to bid under careful eye of my wife, who though it was as good of an idea as I've ever had( which is saying something). I won the auction, with a high bid of under 10K so I figured I was ahead of the game even if this blew up in my face. I headed to NAPA to get some batteries and fluids in the event I had to do some work in order to get it up and running to make the 2 hour ride back home to Northern Virginia.
    Had one of the facilities guys help me out, hooked up the jumper cables and let it sit for about 20 minutes and...it fired right up. HUGE sigh of relief. It started and that was half the battle. The rig has sat since August and it was now December12th. I checked the fluids and everything looked ok. Refreshed the DPF and hit the road. Ran like a beast, had it up to 75mph without issue. With the wife following me home, we made it back with a grin from ear to ear and now the work starts
    The general details
    Its a PL Customs ambulance box
    its a 4 door/crew cab with 4 individual air ride seats and a rear pass through to the back.
    It has a on board 6.5 Stadco diesel generator tied into the 60 gallon fuel tank
    A Vanner Bravo 1800 inverter.
    Roof Top AC
    Ducted rear heater in the box
    Built in tire chains and air ride suspension
    brand new tires all the way around.

    Since I got it home I have going back and forth between using the existing cabinets or stripping everything out and starting fresh but I eventually decided to start from scratch and removed all of the cabinetry out pulled the insulation. I am going to spray foam the inside to seal it up nice once I get everything on the inside right.


    trying to figure out how to get the pictures loaded the right way.

    Anyhow any and all help is greatly appreciated. Going to do the full kit: shower, sink, cook top, cabinets and counter top, propane instant hot water heater, a big bed for mom and dad and a smaller bunk for the little one.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Location
    Northwest Washington
    Posts
    55
    that's awesome, great rig - would love to have the extra space (mine's a regular cab) but then again I don't mind having a shorter wheelbase for offroad. for the pictures i had the same problem -turns out you have to open each .jpg and rotate it then save it to your computer.... then upload to this website. no clue why expeditionportal requires this as every other forum i'm on allows you to rotate the photos as needed ... anyway will be following your thread as i wrestle with my own kodiak build

    btw, good call ripping everything out ... i had the same thought when I first got mine, but once i assessed it in real life it was readily apparent it would be way easier and a much better final result to just tear it all out and start new.
    Last edited by Cowpig; 12-30-2017 at 01:42 PM.
    Jim

    2008 Chevy C4500 4x4 Duramax, former Wheeled Coach "medical attack vehicle" ... transformation underway
    2015 Grand Cherokee 3.0 diesel ORA-II with doodads and stuff added

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    ny
    Posts
    755
    Awesome rig!!!
    Thanks for sharing.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2017
    Location
    North Carolina
    Posts
    36
    Welcome. I look forward to following along with your build.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Virginia, USA
    Posts
    4

    Default demo has begun

    Made some progress on the inside. Been cold here, in the teens and 20s so nut as much as id like.
    Question for the group:
    Has anyone tied in solar panels into their existing inverter battery setup? If so, how hard was it?
    I have 3 batteries in a tray under the pass side front and the inverter is run to the back drivers side box. Wanted to mount a few panels to the roof and tie it in somehow. Also, the remote for the vanner inverter was ripped out. ideas as to how to get that back in and connected?
    what is are the thoughts on the light bar on the cab? keep or remove? thought about adding a cargo rack in that area with a led light bar
    IMG_3242.JPGIMG_3241.JPGIMG_3233.JPGIMG_3260.JPGIMG_3288.JPGIMG_3289.JPG

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Southern OH
    Posts
    724
    Thought that body looked familure. Mine is PL Customs body too. Think mine little longer though. 14.5 footer and no window.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Location
    Northwest Washington
    Posts
    55
    solar - lots of options on how to do this, i decided against roof panels because I like the desert and as i was researching installing panels to the roof i read someone commenting about 'if you do that, then you have to park in the sun' ... oh, yeah, duh, lol .... i have goal zero briefcase panels that i'll use along with a yeti instead (so I can put the panels out in the sun, hopefully park in the shade, and either tie into the vehicle to charge/power it or recharge the yeti)

    lightbar - i had thought about converting mine to clear led flood/spots for offroad use. it wouldn't be all that difficult and could be cool, but i also wanted to put one of those fiberglass 'nose cones' on my box where the bar was mounted and in any event it's overkill (I'll have lights in the grille and bumper).

    have fun in the cold - i decided to rent a garage for this project, it would take too long trying to do it in the weather it's nice being in heat, concrete floor to roll around on, lighting, and no rain worries! oh.... don't do what I do and shop online for new parts because you'll keep finding other things you could do and the project will balloon $$$ . the rent sure motivates me to finish asap ... and of course I want it done so I can actually take a trip in it - so the ability to work quickly is worth the cost to me

    * check your air cleaner box - I pulled mine yesterday and found the bottom had sort of burned/melted through! not sure if this is an issue with duramax diesels, or just peculiar to mine (see my build thread for pics). I thought about fixing it but went ahead and ponied up for a new one - ain't cheap though!
    Jim

    2008 Chevy C4500 4x4 Duramax, former Wheeled Coach "medical attack vehicle" ... transformation underway
    2015 Grand Cherokee 3.0 diesel ORA-II with doodads and stuff added

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Southern OH
    Posts
    724
    Quote Originally Posted by Cowpig View Post
    solar - lots of options on how to do this, i decided against roof panels because I like the desert and as i was researching installing panels to the roof i read someone commenting about 'if you do that, then you have to park in the sun' ... oh, yeah, duh, lol .... ...!
    It's the desert..... you think your going to find a tree large enough to park under??? don't think so.

    But having read a post that mentioned that too as well... got me thinking of two things.. one two layers.. maybe three. Top layer permanent fix, Bottom of two layers slides out and tilt.. AKA creating an awning. If third layer; it instead would be bottom most layer and could slide out Fore and Aft. Ultimate would be ability to tilt any of these a bit using say a design like is done with AG 3 way tilt beds. Second thought is Flexible Solar panels.. if it ever gets flexible enough..... make it into an awning.

    Granted that is Dream set up for me. will keep it in mind in my build though.
    Last edited by Coachgeo; 01-02-2018 at 06:18 PM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Location
    Northwest Washington
    Posts
    55
    Quote Originally Posted by Coachgeo View Post
    It's the desert..... you think your going to find a tree large enough to park under...... don't think so.
    .
    There is shade in desert areas , it’s not all flat sand and dunes ya know
    Jim

    2008 Chevy C4500 4x4 Duramax, former Wheeled Coach "medical attack vehicle" ... transformation underway
    2015 Grand Cherokee 3.0 diesel ORA-II with doodads and stuff added

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Southern OH
    Posts
    724
    Quote Originally Posted by Cowpig View Post
    There is shade in desert areas , it’s not all flat sand and dunes ya know
    Actually I don't know lol. Only been in Nevada open areas. Not really Desert-ish I don't think. Up north Near Reno. Also in AZ hills four wheeling. Shade was not tree's per say but in tucking behind hill and dale? Is that what you refer too? If so .. that grey of a shade you compensate for by how much solar you mount. Mount enough solar to work for you in some shade instead of only enough to work for you in bright sunlight?

    Guess best is a balance? Mount some semi permanent.... and have some you can run out under the sun with a good wire back to the Expo. Rig ?

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