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“Emergence” is the name of this 1988 Horton Type III Ambulance that is being converted to a vessel of fun and enjoyment for all. Inspired by the concept(s) of emergence in the physical world, I hope this vehicle will become something more than all its parts; a unique phenomenon created by many small interactions and developments that come together to create something entirely new and unpredictable.

Primary goals include capabilities for the sequestration and use of alternative fuels and electricity, provision of life support (i.e. food, shelter, climate) for at least two humans, and as much autonomy as possible.

People often ask me “What are you going to do with that?”. I don't have a straight answer for that, but it's not for lack of plans or ideas. I don't have a straight answer because there isn't one. Part of the beauty of this vehicle is that it can serve multiple purposes - Work Truck, Party Wagon, Grocery Getter, RV/Van Down By The River, ATV (Apocalyptic Transcendence Vessel), Community Transportation, Moving Truck, Spy Van, etc. Another part of the beauty I hope for it is that I won't have to come up with everything it will be - that's up to anyone who wants to imagineer with me. You have ideas for it? Let me know what they are and we'll see what we can do. I can use all the help I can get.

Invest some time/energy/resources and I'll lend it out to you one of these days. I checked with my insurance, and as long as you aren't a frequent driver, it's still good. I will have to request you sign a waiver of some sort, though, because it's not comprehensive. Please add any suggestions or discussion-y things at the suggestions section at the bottom.

Project Scope


I do have a few concrete ideas that I'm planning at the moment. It will have onboard Waste Vegetable Oil (WVO) harvesting and processing equipment and a modified fuel system to allow it to burn said WVO. It will have a decent sound-system. It will have a sweet (but not-yet-determined) paint job. It will have an on-board integrated computer system to monitor and control certain functions (although I'm trying to keep most essentials mechanical or mechanical fallback - you never know when an EMP might just saunter along and fry your ECU, right?). It will ideally have a dedicated set of tools stored in the vehicle to allow complete on-road service.

Work to Do - Short Term


  • Re-check GVWR/weight


  • Replace Fuel Filter
  • Blow out radiator
  • Test Fan Clutch
  • Change Rear Differential Fluid and re-seal w/ RTV
  • Grease front ball joints, test for play
  • Fix Transmission cooler hose (slight leak)
  • Fix coolant line @ front of engine (slight leak)
  • Fix high-idle solenoid

Replace Fuel Lift Pump

  • Install relay and wiring, including manual override (see wiring diagram)
  • Remove old pump hard lines
  • Loop or block-off mechanical pump
  • Install New fuel lines, supply to pump and pump to filter head
  • Test


  • Need to get access to spares in front dash, Driver Side (DS).
  • Install GP bypass/enable (see wiring diagram)
  • Install fuel system bypass/enable (see wiring diagram)
  • Install amplifiers, re-route speaker wires
  • Install Motorola MW800 Vehicular Computers
  • Replace rear exhaust fan

Work to Do - Long Term

Cooling System

  • Drain & Flush
  • Replace hoses and valves Hoses to front and rear heater cores and coolant return from rear were not replaced due to sufficient condition; could still be replaced in future (esp front heater core w/ quick-connects)
  • Install tees/QuickConnects for alternate accessories
  • Install or leave room for secondary coolant pump
  • Install real temperature sensor

Install Diesel-Fired Heater

  • Acquire diesel-fired heater Note: I ended up cobbling one together from two Webasto DW80/Thermo 90 units “for parts” on eBay. That project has its own page.
  • Decide on location and construct mounting bracket.
  • Connect to fuel system, coolant system, and electrical system.

WVO Fuel System Conversion

  • Work out fuel system routing, allowing for proper switching and monitoring
  • Pressure/temperature sensors to monitor flow and temperature
  • Heated TIH lines, AN bulkhead fittings
  • Coolant heated arctic fox
  • Secondary fuel tank for WVO
  • Secondary fuel pump
  • Secondary fuel filter

WVO Harvesting and Processing

Current plan is to be able to harvest and process ~15-20 gal of used vegetable oil for use as fuel. Current plan for harvesting is to use vacuum pump to evacuate a tank, preferably cone-bottom, attached via valve to hose with sieve and heated shroud. After oil is sucked into tank, it will be heated and settled. First X portion will be dumped to waste, next amount will be fed to secondary processing vessel of ~5 gal, where it will be heated and run through the OC-20 Centrifuge under vacuum to remove any excess water. During the last cycle, it will be diverted to the final holding container until the shutdown cycle, where the last remaining oil will be dumped to waste. I would like to eliminate at least one of the three tanks this will require by modifying the design, but I'm still working on that. Suggestions welcome.

The processing system will be located in the compartment behind the passenger to allow access from the interior and exterior of the vehicle. The final holding tank may be located in that compartment or under the vehicle.

Comprehensive page for WVO system: Jambulance WVO System


MasterCom Siren Contoller

  • Mount and wire in console
  • Connect accessory sound device to allow playback of select pop-culture sounds (dub-alarm?)


  • Determine location and run high-current DC supply
  • Determine audio signal routing
  • Add accessory ports


  • Locate and install intercom system for cab/module communication

Mobile Computer System

  • Install MW-800 mobile workstation

Auxialiary Equipment Reference

Electrical Systems

Onboard Computer

The onboard computer(s) are Motorola MW800 (FLN5206A) Mobile Workstations. These are designed for in-vehicle use, are built quite well, and have software and documentation available. They can be picked up secondhand for reasonable prices. The system consists of a head unit, generally mounted in a SECRET COMPARTMENT, which is connected to various peripherals by the means of copper wiring. There are a variety of different monitors available; I have the FLN3062A (for rear) and FLN3063A (for front).

The 5206 uses the following: Chipset: Via Hypervision 4 in 1 (Via USBF 110 Driver update recommended as well for USB?) Audio: Via AC97 Wifi: Symbol Wireless PPC 2002 Serial Communications: Oxford OX16C95x Video Capture: Conexant Video: S3 Super Savage (SSAV5333?)

FLN3062A - Color Display 12.1“ SVGA 300NIT, Without Bluetooth FLN3063A - Color Display 12.1” XGA 1200NIT, Without Bluetooth (via)

A/V Overview

The audio and video systems are an essential part of the vehicle. They will both provide diagnostic information, additional views, and, importantly, documentation of various happenings. The audio and video systems will be linked with the computers, cameras and GPS to provide live video feeds and updated travel information.

Audio Systems

Speakers in front doors and rear compartment have been replaced and head unit upgraded to Nakamichi CD-350Z. Future upgrades include installation of power amplifiers to drive speakers and addition of a high-efficiency horn-loaded subwoofer (AutoTuba design by Bill Fitz-Maurice). I'm still trying to figure out what to do for the back. Right now I have two 6×9 coaxial drivers, but I'd like to build something more enveloping and probably do some DSP to fix timing issues. All audio signals from equipment and ports will be patched to a matrix switcher for excellent functionality)

Amplifiers: Boston Acoustics GT-42 (4x100W @ 4Ohm), Soundstream Reference 300SX (1x300W @ 2Ohm Bridged [high power mode]), Xtant x1001d (not currently used, 5-500Hz response, 1x1000W @ ?Ohm)

Video Systems

Vehicle will have rear-facing, front-facing and Interior cameras. Video feeds from cameras will be routed to either a standalone DVR with multiplexing capabilities or sent to a multiplexer and then to the MW-800 for recording. Potential DVRs have been investigated and include

Video Screens

At least two video screens will be provided as monitors for the MW-800 computers, one in the front and one in the back. Mounting system has yet to be determined. I have also considered installing additional monitors (I have a small extra w/ buttons on it from the Integrian system).


Front-facing Currently investigating a camera originally provided with the Integrian DP-2 system. It has auto-focus and an RS-232 interface. I am going to try using the sony VISCA camera control protocol and sniffing the bus to see if I can figure out how to control it. It is mounted with ball-and-socket type “RAM” mounts.

Rear-facing A rear-facing camera shall be installed for the purposes of viewing the exterior of the vehicle.

Internal A number of wide-angle cameras will be installed throughout the vehicle for the purposes of viewing the interior and recording AWESOMENESS happening with occupants.

DVR Systems

Integrian DP-2 PC-based system with disk or solid-state storage. I have purchased a system without the CPU for the cameras, cables, and microphone. This system (in its native state) was ruled out due to proprietary formats. I am still considering purchasing one for the purposes of gleaning RS-232 information for the front camera if need be and/or looking into replacing the OS. Backend systems for offloading video are complex, requiring multiple servers. Total cost used on eBay was $60 for cameras and backplane and $70-100 for PC system and storage blade.

i1000/F70 This is an inexpensive import DVR based on an integrated chipset from Amarella. It supports a built-in front-facing camera and an external camera. I purchased this to evaluate the video quality and get me started. There's some excellent information on the Dash Cams forum. Here's the Discussion Thread. They also provide a really detailed comparison of different models that's useful if you're looking to get one and even a sort of development environment for the Ambarella chipsets. Hats off to those folks.

Other Units under consideration I've also considered a number of 4-channel DVRs that run embedded linux (e.g. Fuho E10). I think this might be the best option in the long run - less hacking than the integrian, more options than the other imports. Many of them also have RS232, RSS485, CAN bus, etc available. DTY sells a couple. CDR-E103GH (“Fuho E10”) looks pretty good, maybe no serial? More Fuho. Here's another example, MD504, more robust, has multiple serial.


All the wires will be inserted into one giant wire nut and twisted REALLY HARD.


Red flashing lights are going to be replaced with RGB LEDs and clear lenses. The original lamps will be left installed. ~2m of 30 LED/m SMD5050 RGB LED strips (15W/fixture) will be attached to the reflectors and wired to a 27-channel DMX controller. An additional 27-channel DMX controller will be provided to control accessory lighting and effects. Update: after removing the lenses, I realized that there was no relector, it simply uses a bulb with integral reflector which appears to be approximately PAR36. I'm also not sure if I'll be able to cast the replacement lenses and have started considering alternatives, probably a flat clear plastic lens and something to mount the LEDs onto. While I did find an RGB LED that appears as if it's exactly the same, it uses a wireless controller and I'm not sure how tough it's going to be to remove the housing. Almost all of the RGB LED floods from china have these wireless remotes, but I did find some information on controlling them via alternate means.

A mastercom B-series lighting controller with PA interface will be provided in the front compartment, locked during motion to prevent misuse.

WVO Fuel System

Collection Tank
The main collection tank is a 12.14 gal DOT-certified air tank, originally sourced from SurplusCenter.
  Capacity 2,865 cubic inch capacity
  Pressure 150 PSI max.
     Two x 3/8" NPT
     One x 3/4" NPT
     One x 1/4" NPT
  Mount Four bolt mount on 2-1/4" x 29-1/2" centers
  Mounting holes 7/16" dia.
  Size 12-1/4" O.D. x 31" long
  Shpg. 40 lb.
Fuel Pump
There is an auxiliary electric fuel pump installed. It is a Facet/Purolator Gold-Flo, Part number 477060E
Model Volts PSI Min-Max GPH Fitting Size Lift, min, dry Check Valve Positive Shut-off Valve Int. Fuel Filter
477060E 12 2.75-4.0 34 1/8-27 24“ N N 74u

Mechanical Systems

I got some bilsteins, yo. Also have some sliding mounts for a battery tray that will be added for use with the house batteries.


Ceiling will be replaced with wood that isn't all shitty and warped.

Other Misc Ideas - No ETA

  • Battery or fuel operated engine pre-heater
  • RGB LED Lighting in clear side-lights
  • RGB LED lighting in rear compartment
  • Fog machine
  • Lasers
  • Cover the entire side with an LED array like this
  • DC UPS for backup power, low-voltage cutoff
  • On-board multi-camera video capture with GPS metadata for documenting trips
  • Mini-split heat-pump for A/C and aux heating


Vehicle Specifications

1988 Type III Ambulance, manufactured by Horton

  • Chassis: 1988 Ford E-350 Cutaway/Cab-on-Chassis
  • GVWR:10,500lbs, DR (Dual rear wheels)
  • Wheelbase:138”
  • Body Type:EK
  • Engine: 7.3L InDirect Injection (IDI) Diesel produced by International Harvester more
  • Rear Differential:E2, Dana 70-1 HD 4.10 ratio, 7400lb capacity
  • Tire Size:
  • Current Vehicle Weight: ~10,000lbs, weighed


  • Oil:15W40, Rotella
  • Differential: 80W90 (Dana) 75W-140(?), Mobil SHC ID, 4qt, LSD Additive?
  • Wheel Baring Lubrication:NLGI No 2 Lithium EP Grease
  • RTV: Permatex Ultra Grey
  • Grease (regular and disc brake bearings, all chassis points, U-joints, etc): Lithium Complex, No. 2, EP, GC-LB
  • Grease (tie rods, rack and pinion, ball joints, and CV joints): Moly-fortified ref


  • IP Inlet: 1/2-20 ORB (#5)
  • Fuel Filter: 1/4“ NPT
  • Lift Pump (stock): 1/4 NPT
  • Fuel Lines: 5/16” return, 3/8“ Send, stock nylon


One of the reasons I chose this vehicle was the inclusion of the Horton documentation for the additions made to the vehicle.

I have copies of most of this on my website (including a 9.6MP wiring diagram).

Design Files

I made some svg files in inkscape to use for fleshing out design concepts. They are multi-layer so you can change the designs and should be complete, but no front view yet. They are also not to scale.

Driver Side

Passenger Side






Waste Vegetable Oil/Biodiesel


projects/ambulance.txt · Last modified: 2014/07/06 18:03 by jackd