Canadian Hino Ranger FT 4x4 Crewcab

canter tourer

Adventurer
Loving watching this build, reminds me of my own with an ex ambo box.

Another +1 for @mog suggestion for moving the axle, yeah it's a bit of work, but much less than modifying the box, or having a massive overhang. Plus, the reality is that whatever you do will probably be the last time it ever gets modified, so do it once and do it right.

I'd be mounting it as low as practical as well to reduce total height, will make for a nicer long term ride.

Dave
 

mog

Kodiak Buckaroo
A few suggestions (as always YMMV)
As you have your wheels cut, build them up, install and drive with them installed in a bunch of situations and make sure everything is hunky-dory (translated to queen's English - working properly;) )
You don't want to in the future after you have changed the wheelbase, changed suspension, tweeted, and modified have a tracking, wobbling, or vibration issue and wonder if it is the tires/wheels or one of the other modifications.

If you lengthen the wheelbase, as long as your rear spring mounts can be reattached to the original frame, it is very straightforward. Grind, drill the mounting rivets (remembering they are rivets so even with the heads removed they are still very tight in the mounting holes), measure 5 times, and install in the new location using graded bolts.

If you need to extend your frame for the back of your box, no big deal if it is not mounting any of the suspension. Just mount with bolted doublers and you would be good as it will only support a small amount of the load from the box. BOLT to your frame, do not weld. Yes, I know your shortening cuts were welded, but in general, frames are heat treated. The Japanese firetruck modification company certainly did a bunch of these conversions and had engineers that graduated from the Tokyo Insitute of Mechanical Engineering. I'm guessing you don't.

No need for fancy 3 or 4-point mounting subframes. 'Frame on frame' is just fine as your box, being an ambulance box is super ridged, and being a heavy truck and your 'home' you are not going to be rock crawling, etc. Plus you want your box as low as possible, something a subframe would negate.

Stick with leaf springs. While coil or air suspension sounds cool, and in most cases would give you a better ride, that is not happening with your setup. Left springs are straight forward and there is a reason all big trucks (with the exception of Unimogs that are offroad tractors masquerading as on-road trucks :rolleyes: ) use leaf springs. Nothing is going to give you a plush ride, especially being a cabover, so keep it simple. Down the road, after everything is built, installed, and tested, if you want some improvement have left springs (maybe even parabolic leaf springs) build for your weight, weight distribution, and driving conditions.

One thing that will improve the 'ride' is an air-suspended seat(s). Unfortunately on cab overs usually there is very little room for a full travel air-suspended seat. Normally just a few inches, so a very limited selection (a search here on the Expo Portal for 'Fuso suspension seat' will give you an idea), or if you are lucky perhaps some pull-outs from a Unimog. The single best ride improvement on any of my big trucks was a full-size (10+ inches of travel) 20+ way adjustable air ride seat on my Kodiak. I tried a mechanical suspension seat (modified from a Mitsubishi Montario) on my Fuso, but just not enough room for any meaningful use without slamming my head into the roof. My friend has suspension seats from a Unimog installed in his MB1017, and they work OK, but he is short so he is not headroom limited.
 
Last edited:

simonliew

TLC import connection
A few suggestions (as always YMMV)
As you have your wheels cut, build them up, install and drive with them installed in a bunch of situations and make sure everything is hunky-dory (translated to queen's English - working properly;) )
You don't want to in the future after you have changed the wheelbase, changed suspension, tweeted, and modified have a tracking, wobbling, or vibration issue and wonder if it is the tires/wheels or one of the other modifications.

If you lengthen the wheelbase, as long as your rear spring mounts can be reattached to the original frame, it is very straightforward. Grind, drill the mounting rivets (remembering they are rivets so even with the heads removed they are still very tight in the mounting holes), measure 5 times, and install in the new location using graded bolts.

If you need to extend your frame for the back of your box, no big deal if it is not mounting any of the suspension. Just mount with bolted doublers and you would be good as it will only support a small amount of the load from the box. BOLT to your frame, do not weld. Yes, I know your shortening cuts were welded, but in general, frames are heat treated. The Japanese firetruck modification company certainly did a bunch of these conversions and had engineers that graduated from the Tokyo Insitute of Mechanical Engineering. I'm guessing you don't.

No need for fancy 3 or 4-point mounting subframes. 'Frame on frame' is just fine as your box, being an ambulance box is super ridged, and being a heavy truck and your 'home' you are not going to be rock crawling, etc. Plus you want your box as low as possible, something a subframe would negate.

Stick with leaf springs. While coil or air suspension sounds cool, and in most cases would give you a better ride, that is not happening with your setup. Left springs are straight forward and there is a reason all big trucks (with the exception of Unimogs that are offroad tractors masquerading as on-road trucks :rolleyes: ) use leaf springs. Nothing is going to give you a plush ride, especially being a cabover, so keep it simple. Down the road, after everything is built, installed, and tested, if you want some improvement have left springs (maybe even parabolic leaf springs) build for your weight, weight distribution, and driving conditions.

One thing that will improve the 'ride' is an air-suspended seat(s). Unfortunately on cab overs usually there is very little room for a full travel air-suspended seat. Normally just a few inches, so a very limited selection (a search here on the Expo Portal for 'Fuso suspension seat' will give you an idea), or if you are lucky perhaps some pull-outs from a Unimog. The single best ride improvement on any of my big trucks was a full-size (10+ inches of travel) 20+ way adjustable air ride seat on my Kodiak. I tried a mechanical suspension seat (modified from a Mitsubishi Montario) on my Fuso, but just not enough room for any meaningful use without slamming my head into the roof. My friend has suspension seats from a Unimog installed in his MB1017, and they work OK, but he is short so he is not headroom limited.
what i said david.
 

Abitibi

Explorer
Mog, Simon and all, all sound advices!

Mog, how did you figure I didn't graduate from the Tokyo institute?!? lol. I'm a bit surprised by your opinion on not going with a sub-frame. Only 1 or 2 other friends (Simon being one of them) came up with similar conclusion. Having built and camperized two 4x4 ambos on the E350 platform I also wasn't convinced of the need given how rigid those ambo boxes are. If I went that way it would for sure accelerate the build and save me some coins and headaches! I also thought to mount the box on rubber mounts (pucks) as smaller vibrations are usually the silent killers...

I'd have to figure the frame extension past the suspension. Maybe as you mentioned simply bolted but it will need to support the spare tire/storage and also mount the hitch and possibly a winch. But using a liner (L or U shape) would likely be plenty strong.

As for seat I'm hoping to have a few options. Firstly, I ain't tall and my cab has a high roof so plenty of headroom to bounce around. I'm sure my feet would be off the floor before I'd hit my head, lol. I do have a very nice air ride seat from a semi but haven't looked into it yet. I also found a low profile air base that I could fit to a comfy seat but not convinced it would have enough travel. Once I reach that stage I will update. And yes, rule #1... always do one mod at a time and test!!! I won't touch the suspension until I have a better idea of the final weight. I just took over 6k lbs off the truck, doubt I'll get close to that. Would be great to soften the suspension but all in good time!

Simon, good chatting with you the other day!

Cheers
David
 

Abitibi

Explorer
One of my buddy insist that I build a flatbed to haul my camper box. So far I'm more inclined to build a sub-frame so the box wouldn't be too tall. But for now, just to keep him happy, I found this heavy duty treated wooden deck for free which fits pretty good! Comes handy as well for hauling until I'm ready for the next move.

I've named the truck Rhino, combination of Red Hino... Would be cool to add a similar design on the truck as the one pictured below!

I've also named my youtube channel Rhino _ Overland,
https://www.youtube.com/@Rhino_Overland/featured
but it doesn't have much so far, mostly previous builds but I'm planning to keep adding to it as I go along. At least I'll try as I usually loose patient with making videos and prefer to just keep building instead of wasting time with a camera, lol. (I'm not tech savvy).

Weather is supposed to improve this week here in BC so I may start the cab insulation very soon.

Cheers
David

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Screenshot_20230410_155910_Chrome.jpg
 

Abitibi

Explorer
I had been waiting for decent hot weather for quite some time to get this done and this wknd was it! Pretty standard here, take off the headliner hoping to remember how to put it back, put some sound dampener (no need to go crazy like most VanLife Instagram posts), 1/2" strips of closed cell foam in the baffle and one layer of some Australian material similar to bubble wrap. It did cost me way more than bubble wrap so it has to be way better, right? lol. I also filled all the voids with Roxul. And I pretty much managed to put it all back together with limited fuss but let's just say it's a good thing this is not a show vehicle 'cause it may or may not have a few extra screw holes in the headliner, just saying... ;)
(Maybe that's why I'm missing the last picture with all the headliner back in place, lol)

Already made quite a difference with inside temperature but real summer weather will confirm if this was a waste of time. Another plus is that I got to patch some of the holes left from removing the FD equipment before they sold the truck. I had some slow leaks from poor cocking job which I fixed with Eternabound tape, no more h2o ingress from now on!

That's all for now since I ran out of sound dampener material for the doors, back wall and floor. As they say, it's a pace not a race! lol

Cheers
David


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Abitibi

Explorer
Quick kudo to Mog who sent me a bunch of pdf files for my graphics on the truck!

Also, here's a quick video of the day we took the FD box out of the truck's frame. Nothing fancy 'cause I simply don't have the skills to edit videos but it gives an idea of how it went.

Cheers,
David

 

Abitibi

Explorer
How about a preview of what's to come? ;)

2 days ago myself and a very good mate drove from Vancouver, BC to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho to pick up this box. The ride was pretty bumpy, it was my 1st long trip with this truck and didn't know what to expect. Truck never slowed below 55-58 mph even on the steeper grades, really impressed. The engine is also super quiet, bonus! Once in Idaho we met the seller and realized the box wasn't as good as I was told but still a decent match for my project. The owner lied about the condition (keys didn't work for any of the doors, one door couldn't be opened at all, the floor at the back was wrecked, all the clearance lights were gone, all the electrical was sabotaged, some body damage, etc (and it was so filthy inside, bunch of birds nests, mice drops...). Glad I hadn't paid the full amount when I agreed to buy it. At the time, I told the seller I'd kept a part of the payment as a bargaining chip in case of issues. I came back home with that $500 balance in my pocket. The seller was quite upset at me and still thought I should have paid full price; weird people out there!

So we managed to load it up on the wooden deck. No idea if it was legal or not (sure looks sketchy as f...) but we strapped it real good. 9 hours drive to get back home and the box never moved even on some of the rougher roads west of Leavenworth WA. The truck rode way better with that 5000lbs box at the back. It was a bit slower on the steep inclined though... I think I dropped down to 40mph climbing Stevens pass on Hwy 2, I can live with that and once I put the turbo it should pick it up a notch or two!

I'm now in the process of completely gutting the box and starting from scratch. As you can see from the picture, moving the axle by about 24" will be perfect. Once I figure the sub-frame, I expect the box to drop by about 12" which should bring my total height to approx. 10'7" (minus solar panel, poptop, chimney...)

Loads of work ahead of me!!! I'll try to post updates on Youtube as I move along. If interested, my channel is " Rhino _ Overland " (without space).

As for the box, it is 14' long, 8' wide and has 6' standing height (floor to studs) so once insulated it will be closer to 5'10" standing room.

Final word, I'm very happy with the proportion/ratio combo of that box and crewcab! I think the overall length will be under 23'

Cheers
David

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PHeller

Adventurer
I don't know anything about Ambo boxes.

- How similar are the frame width's between what the Ambo box was designed for (which I suppose is a wide variety of domestic vehicles) and the Hino?
- What truck/van did it (the ambo box) come off of?
- How are they typically attached and is there any concern of flex in the Hino's frame destroying the Ambo box?
 

Abitibi

Explorer
I don't know anything about Ambo boxes.

- How similar are the frame width's between what the Ambo box was designed for (which I suppose is a wide variety of domestic vehicles) and the Hino?
- What truck/van did it (the ambo box) come off of?
- How are they typically attached and is there any concern of flex in the Hino's frame destroying the Ambo box?
Sorry, never noticed your post until now.

The Hino's frame isn't as wide as the Ambo box frame so I will need to build a sub-frame with "wings" on the side to reach the ambo frame which came of a Freightliner of some sort. The ambo box is definitely overkilled when it comes to strength (much stronger than composite boxes) and the Hino frame is pretty stiff as well so no need for a 3 or 4 points articulated sub-frame. I'm thinking to have the sub-frame fixed at the back of the Hino frame and have some spring mounts front and middle.

Those ambo boxes are typically simply mounted directly on the truck frame using rubber pucks (1" round puck with bolt in the middle connecting both truck and box) so pretty "stiff" mounted.

And again, because a post without a picture is boring... ;)

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