Monday, May 13, 2024

Why would I still lurk about building a "glamping pod" from a Volkswagen Kombi bodyshell?

Among those vehicles which not only are easy to recognise, but also dearly beloved by so many people, sure the Volkswagen Kombi holds its fair share of distinction. Making a surprisingly good use of space in proportion to its exterior dimensions, despite the engine bay and wheel wells, it's no surprise much sought after by camping enthusiasts around the world who often resort to some sort of motorhome conversion. Despite the lack of interior height for most people to stand up inside, some folks even manage to install a functional (yet somewhat small) bathroom, rendering it a fairly reasonable alternative to blowing money at hotels. Sure it won't be a one-size-fits-all solution, but for temporary living quarters it's undeniably better than a camping tent...

Sunday, May 05, 2024

Would a more compact ambulance make any sense at all?

Ambulance fleets tend to vary substantially from one country to another, and it's usual for it to also happen within one country, due to circumstances such as a harsher off-road terrain condition eventually demanding the ruggedness of a 4WD body-on-frame truck or a narrow street with constantly heavy traffic making it easier to reach the emergency in a more compact van for instance. In-between all that, specific controles such as the United States historically favored full-size trucks to fulfill this role as the one-size-fits-all, which could eventually be OK in the middle of nowhere with little traffic and the need for as much medical supplies as possible inside the ambulance, or even some specific tools to remove a wounded driver from a wrecked car. Sure the perceived low cost difference of keeping a full-size truck as the default option to fit a modular ambulance body may sound too hard to overlook, not to mention now the compact and mid-size body-on-frame trucks usually resort to fully boxed frames, while a full-size can still be specified with the boxed section of the frame only around the engine bay and driver cab, with a large unboxed section of the frame rails rendering it easier to install specialty bodywork and requiring fewer redesigns across different generations of full-size trucks.

Maneuvering through congested city traffic is still quite a challenge for the ambulance drivers,  despite every other driver being demanded to make way for an ambulance on-duty with lights flashing and the siren blasting, so it might not be so dumb at all to eventually consider the suitability of some smaller truck models to be converted into ambulances in the United States, just like it's usually done elsewhere. An example which I remember is the usage of the Ford Ranger as a rural ambulance, in contrast to how vans in general tend to be more common in urban ambulance service or highway rescue, and it may eventually resemble the appearance of a (stereo)typical American ambulance with that modular box body, except for its smaller overall size which in fact had never become a compromise for its aptitude to the task. I would never expect American ambulance fleet managers to switch from automatic to manual transmissions, or to suddently being more favorable to a 4-cyl turbodiesel instead of a V6 or V8 regardless of fuel type, yet for some operators a more compact ambulance with improved maneuvering through either heavy traffic or a woodland dirt-bike trail could effectively mean the whole difference between life and death for someone...