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posticon 1964 ‘Fambulance’ – Ambulance turned Fire bus


To try and stem the relentless questioning from Andy, Matt, Stuart, the milkman etc etc ……… and explain why we keep turning up in a new Beetle to every show, we thought it was about time to post details of our ‘Fambulance’ restoration. A ’64 Type 27 ambulance that served in Germany from 1964 to ‘70, before being handed over to the Freiwillige Feuerwehr (voluntary fire brigade). It then served with the Kapellen branch of the Moers (near Duisburg) brigade until 1988. We managed to get this shot from the history page of their website showing it in service in the '70s.
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Our first van was an early Bay that I spent 18 months rebuilding with a tuned 1776 and twin carbs, but within 6 months of getting it back on the road we lost it to an engine/fuel fire whilst in France
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so the first job with the Split was to fit a fuel cut off valve immediately after the tank outlet (we now change the fuel hoses regularly, carry two fire extinguishers and are waiting for an automatic extinguisher for the engine bay).
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After being decommissioned in ’88 it was owned by one family in Germany, until being imported here in late 2006. Unfortunately it was ‘part restored’ (ahem) when we got our hands on it, hence the grey primer (?!).
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Many of the original ambulance parts/features had survived the move over from Germany:

The ambulance drop down hatch to enable you to lift the bodies in and out :-o
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The red paint and door logos were laid over the original cream paint by the fire brigade when they converted it for their use.
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Ambulance fans
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Ambulance divider
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Ambulance shelf
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Switches for the various lighting options
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Reserve fuel and heating controls for front and rear.
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Since it came into our hands we’ve spent a lot of time tracking down the missing ambulance parts that had disappeared over the years:

The Eisemann RKLE130 was bought at Vanfest and now works
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The front spotlight is original to the van and features the fire brigade logo rather than the usual red cross
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The original two-tone horns were 6 volt and didn’t work properly. Months of scouring German e-bay eventually lead to a very lucky find of a replacement 12V set, the dash mounted switch and also the rare tone control sequence box that runs them
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The grab handles for the rear windows were found in the US courtesy of [sign in to see URL]
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The M-plate codes showed an Eberspacher heater that was unfortunately long gone, so when a fellow Sussex VW Owners Club member mentioned one he may sell, I set about hounding him, cheers Neil :o)
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All of these started to make it look a bit more authentic.
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We had a hefty roof rack made to take the weight of two kayaks.
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1/Aug/2009, 6:41 pm Link to this post Send Email to Monx   Send PM to Monx
 
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Re: 1964 ‘Fambulance’ – Ambulance turned Fire bus


The bodywork in the main appeared solid, however since the paint had already been ruined with the primer we decided a sympathetic restoration was the only way to bring the van back to it’s former glory. So after running the bus for a year, we took it off the road and started to strip it back to a rolling shell ourselves. Ready for the final journey to the body shop (I’m OK with mechanicals, electrics, trim etc but can’t weld, have never tried painting and don’t have the kit or facilities for either).
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Further investigation has (as always) revealed a few horror stories that are currently being put right:

The long side panel had a patch riveted along its length
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so had to come off (as putting a repair panel in to that height wouldn’t have left a straight side and clean lines).
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The cargo floor had been patched by previous owners along the same side, so was partially removed
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revealling rotten outriggers, top hat and I-sections
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that were repaired along with the chassis, jacking points, rear wheel arch and side panel supports.
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The driver’s side front arch was in need of attention, so the outer skin was removed
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which also enabled repairs to the cab floor, A-post, bulkhead and jacking point
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before putting the new skin back on.
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Once all this was done, it was finally time to get the new Auto Craft side panel back in.
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The front panel is excellent and only needs a small hole at the bottom of the left hand screen frame repairing.
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The passenger front arch looked at first as if it only needed an outer skin, but once the grinder was put to work it was easier to replace the inner and outer as a complete unit.
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Removing the arch and some of the cargo floor on this side gave access to repair the rotten sections of the A-post, bulkhead, top hat, B-post and jacking point.
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(you can just see my bodywork monkey in the background, alright Ken ;o)
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Before putting the new wheel arch in, not an Auto Craft one unfortunately and definitely inferior in quality :o(
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The lower section of the cargo doors had no inner frames when the van arrived, so Auto Craft inners were mated to their outer repair panels to make both doors good.
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The doors, sill and arch needed a little tweaking to get a straight line down the side.
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The cargo floor now looks a little more solid.
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The rear short sill had seen better days so was replaced (Auto Craft again).
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The more you poke around with a screwdriver the more you find?!
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The rear corners had more filler than Halfords
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so have been repaired.
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We’re still looking for missing parts:
1) An ambulance step (may have to sell a kidney).
2) The buzzer unit that connects to the rear cabin switches (never seen one so if anyone has a picture I’d really appreciate it).
3) We have two of the original panes of ‘frosted’ side glass but would like the missing four panes.

So that’s the story so far. The welding is almost complete bar a few bits of tidying, so this month should see it prepped and painted back to the fire bus red. I’m stripping and refreshing the 1500 single port engine at the moment ready to put it back in, a quick brake overhaul, re-install the windows and rubbers, new camping interior and over to a sign writer to have the logos repainted (he took photos/sketches beforehand, and is going to recreate them in paint by hand as they were originally)?! Piece of cake.


Last edited by Monx, 8/Aug/2009, 10:40 am
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gailus Profile
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Re: 1964 ‘Fambulance’ – Ambulance turned Fire bus


Wow!

---
Why aim for perfection when a lampost is a reachable target?
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Re: 1964 ‘Fambulance’ – Ambulance turned Fire bus


Nice write up [sign in to see URL] amazing what you find under the surface of these old vans.

I have one question for [sign in to see URL]'s it gonna be Red??

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'67 Bay all the way!!

August 1967 - Devon Caravette
November 1967 - 1200 Beetle
1968 - 1200 Beetle
2/Aug/2009, 10:58 am Link to this post Send Email to flyingbusman   Send PM to flyingbusman
 
Monx Profile
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Re: 1964 ‘Fambulance’ – Ambulance turned Fire bus


quote:

flyingbusman wrote:

Nice write up [sign in to see URL] amazing what you find under the surface of these old vans.

I have one question for [sign in to see URL]'s it gonna be Red??



ha ha, I'd ask Ken but then Michelle asks him so many times he's starting to think his name is 'When's it gonna be red Ken' emoticon It'll be red before yours is blue fella, pull your finger out emoticon
5/Aug/2009, 10:52 pm Link to this post Send Email to Monx   Send PM to Monx
 
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Re: 1964 ‘Fambulance’ – Ambulance turned Fire bus


Haha!!!At this rate it will, roll on show season 2014 for the unveiling of my bus!! emoticon

You got any pictures of after the welding was cleaned up?

How much did you salvage from the Bay or did the insurance not let you near it?

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'67 Bay all the way!!

August 1967 - Devon Caravette
November 1967 - 1200 Beetle
1968 - 1200 Beetle
5/Aug/2009, 11:10 pm Link to this post Send Email to flyingbusman   Send PM to flyingbusman
 
Monx Profile
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Re: 1964 ‘Fambulance’ – Ambulance turned Fire bus


Not yet, Ken's dressing everything this week so I should be able to get some more pics Saturday morning.

Only got money from the Bay and that was a struggle, after sending in wads of receipts and photos of the restoration work they eventually coughed up an additional £2000 on top of their first cheque, note to self, never accept an insurance companies first offer. My dad has the VW nose badge in his garage, the fire melted the plastic holding it on and he picked it up off the French motorway when the fire was eventually out.
6/Aug/2009, 11:51 am Link to this post Send Email to Monx   Send PM to Monx
 
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Re: 1964 ‘Fambulance’ – Ambulance turned Fire bus


[sign in to see URL]

Check this item out for the ultimate accessory for the Fambulance!

A 62-67 VW Fire pump!
26/Aug/2009, 1:47 pm Link to this post Send Email to Michael H7   Send PM to Michael H7
 
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Re: 1964 ‘Fambulance’ – Ambulance turned Fire bus


Certainly cool but not [sign in to see URL]'s asking for a deposit of $500 at the end of the [sign in to see URL] wonder what the reserve is??

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Any fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage - to move in the opposite direction.
26/Aug/2009, 3:20 pm Link to this post Send Email to soundcatcher   Send PM to soundcatcher
 
Monx Profile
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Re: 1964 ‘Fambulance’ – Ambulance turned Fire bus


Ha ha, I can just imagine the reaction I'd get when I tell Michelle I'm taking the rock n roll bed out to replace it with a pump?! emoticon

Never mind the deposit, I shouldn't fancy paying the postage emoticon
26/Aug/2009, 5:00 pm Link to this post Send Email to Monx   Send PM to Monx
 


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