Hope you’ve enjoyed the long break from your brevity challenged reporter here but your time is up and I’m back! 

 

Hard for me to get my head around but it was almost exactly one year ago today, July 11, 2023 to be precise, I posted THIS and thought it would be the last article here on the Möbius World blog.  However, as is often the case with me, I was wrong.  Turns out that it was just a case of one door closing while another one opens.  My sincere thanks to all of you who sent all the supportive messages and emails, including the more troubled of you asking when I was going to get back to blogging because you were missing these regular updates.  I’ll leave the need for you getting help with that problem to professionals but I’m glad to be back at the keyboard here and will be doing my best to provide weekly updates again in the all new version 2.0 of Wayne’s World and the joint adventures of Christine and I as we make the transition into this newest version of Möbius World V2.0.

   
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To say that the past year has been a bit of a whirlwind might well qualify for one of the greatest understatements of all time and fortunately for you I am not going to resist the temptation to summarize it all as it would be excessively long even by my verbose standards. 

 

Instead I happen to know someone who is a “proper” writer as my British friends might say and unlike me, she knows how to write clearly, concisely and can synthesize large topics into succinct text and photos.  So for those of you interested enough in the back story of the wild roller coaster ride that has been our life for the past year, I’m going to let my Beautiful Bride Christine provide you with the updates for you to read at your leisure.  You can do that by simply clicking on the links below that will take you to several of the posts Christine has put up on her Sailing Writer substack newsletter

Here are the relevant links that will provide those interested with a relatively quick summary to fill in the gap between my post last July and this new one today.

FYI:  if you like what you see and read you can subscribe to Sailing Writer to get automatic updates whenever Christine posts a new article which is typically every month or so.

For my part my goal with this first new posting is to bring you to date and closer to real time with Möbius version 2.0.  Buckle in and here we go ………………

 

From Möbius to MöbiLance

No surprise to most of you I’m sure, while it came as quite a shock for us to have to “swallow the anchor” after decades living at sea and move on to life ashore, it did NOT diminish our adventuresome spirit and passion for exploring this awemazing world of ours.  Indeed if anything it has reminded us both of how much we love living an exploratory and adventuresome lifestyle.  We very much remain the “Nomadic Grandparents” you’ve come to know and have simply pivoted to adjust to our new situations and are now in the process of creating what Christine so aptly calls “Möbius on Wheels” or Möbius V2.0 as per the title of this post. 

Come on now, you didn’t really think that we’d just settle into a retirement community in Florida now did you???!!!

Lance picking up Front view doors openSeveral months of introspection, reflection, research and intense discussions between us rekindled the spirit that drove us to create eXtreme eXploration Passage Maker or XPM Version 1.0 aka XPM 78-01 Möbius.  We hit upon the idea of converting a medium duty ambulance into an eXtreme eXploration Vehicle which I will now refer to as either the portmanteau of MöbiLance ( Möbius Ambulance) or just “Lance” as we have come to call him. 

For those wondering, there is no particularly good reason though it seemed in keeping with the severity of the transition for us, to also switch genders from all our boats being female to our new big boy Lance being male.  He’s a beauty but he’s a brute! 

Lance and his Pewaukee buddies 1Serendipity and synchronicity continue to be my guides in life and so in December I stumbled over an online post that mentioned a 2016 Kenworth medium duty ambulance being retired from its first life and looking for a new home.  I tracked it down and reached out to what turned out to be the original coach builder that created this ambulance and they had just taken this vehicle back from the fire department after delivering an all new one to them. They were anxious to get this vehicle off their books by the end of the year and short on time but willing to be flexible with the price. 

Lance hood   side doors openThat triggered a flurry of emails and phone calls to answer my endless questions but Shawn at Foster Coach had been the one who created the original specifications for both the Kenworth chassis and the Horton ambulance module so he knew every detail and was able to expertly answer my every question.  Shawn could not have been more helpful and generous with his time.  He also worked with the fire department and their service center and was able to send me every invoice with detailed descriptions for every bit of work ever done over the almost eight years it had been in service.  The more we learned the more this seemed to be the Goldilocks, just right, just for us base upon which to create our Möbius on wheels.

         And yes I am going to continue to use and overuse and abuse this metaphor.  Shocking I know!  



Lance picking up FL corner view doors openPerhaps it was the Christmas spirit that was in the air at the time (third week of December) but I submitted what I thought was a rather low all cash offer to buy this beauty without ever seeing it in person and to my delight and surprise when I woke up the next morning, there was an Email from Shawn saying “offer accepted, when would you like to pick it up?”  I turned to Christine and said Holy flaming fire trucks Batwoman, I think we just bought ourselves an ambulance!!!!

IMG_3764It was now the week between Xmas and New Years and we had just moved into our little sanctuary on Saturna Island in the Gulf Islands of BC Canada (see Christine’s post above for those details and photos) so it took several weeks to make all the arrangements for a trip out to Illinois where Lance was waiting for us at Foster Coach as we not only had book flights and hotels, we also needed to make all the arrangements for transferring title, plates, insurance, renting a truck to pick up all our belongings we had left in Portsmouth Virginia after selling Möbius. 
But we are well seasoned travelers and we soon had flights booked for mid January to Jacksonville Florida as we needed to be at the DMV in person to do the out of state transfer and have Lance registered as an RV.  That was a whole adventure in itself but I’ll leave that for another time.  With papers and plates in hand we then flew up to Norfolk the next day to pick up the rental truck and move all our belongings we had moved off of Möbius in October that were in a storage locker in Portsmouth and start our cross country drive.

Lance in snow outside Foster CoachWe made the drive from Portsmouth to about 100 miles West of Chicago just as what turned out to be one of the coldest winter storms in history was building but we soon had our hearts warmed by meeting Shawn and finding Lance sparkling inside the warehouse at Foster Coach as you can see in the photos above. 

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We spent a few hours with Shawn going over just a few of the unique features of this very unique vehicle, transferred all our belongings (and Barney) from the rental truck and we were off on our first adventure in Lance.
 
IMG_3843It was bitter cold but we managed to find mostly all clear dry roads all the way across the US and up and up to Vancouver where Lance took his first ferry rides to get him over to his new part time home on Saturna Island.

Total miles for drive from Illinois to Saturna was 2469 and we were pleasantly surprised to have averaged 11MPG for the trip. 

Meet Lance:

IMG_3787I will write a separate blog post to go over the details of why we chose a medium duty ambulance as the base for building “Möbius on Wheels” and try provide answers to the many questions some of you may have but for those curious, here are the quick details of our new rig:

  • Make & Model:  2016 Kenworth T270 with a Horton Emergency Vehicles ambulance module
  • Engine:  Paccar PX-7  (modified Cummins engine) inline 6 cylinder 6.7 litre 300HP @ 2600 RPM  723 Lb-Ft Torque
  • Transmission:  Allison 5 speed w/ PTO
  • Air brakes and rear suspension
  • GARW:  11,713kg / 25,822 lbs
  • Odometer:  121,619 miles (195,726 km)
  • Engine Hours:  8569
  • Wheelbase:  4.37m / 172 inches
  • Bumper to Bumper Length:  7.6m / 24.8ft
  • Overall Vehicle Height/Clearance:  2.87m / 9’ 5”
  • Interior dimensions of bare ambo box:  4.3m / 14’ 2” Long x 2.4m / 7’ 10” Wide x 1.91m / 6’ 3” High

Let the Demo(lition) Phase Begin!

That brings you up to date to the end of January 2024 with Lance safely parked in his wooded home on Saturna and I spent the next few months doing a combination of building a full 3D model in Fusion 360 of the existing structure of the “Happitat” which is our name for the ambo box on Lance which is technically called either the ambo module or the habitat and then starting the major job of carefully removing all the cupboards, seats and interior cabinetry of the ambulance.  We qualtiy of construction of these Horton ambo boxes is incredible and we considered leaving it largely as as we designed the layout transforming this into a full time XRV, it quickly became clear that the best approach was to remove EVYERYTHING and strip it down to the bare aluminium framework and starting the new build from there.  I will have MUCH more details on all that in future posts but here is a quick run through of the lengthy process of removing everything.
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Difficult to capture it all but this photo shot from the rear looking forward will give you an idea of what the inside of the ambo looked like to begin with.  Side entrance door on the very far Right, pass through window into the cab you can see behind the jump seat, refrigerator (black rectangle) top Right, Oxygen controls above what they call the “bar” on the Left of the seat and then lots of extremely well built cabinets, drawers and doors throughout.

PXL_20240201_232052187There is a LOT of electronics in these modern ambulances and this is a small sample of one of the 5 LCD touch screens on the top Left, controls for the Oxygen and vacuum pumps below it, pass through door into the drivers side DS external compartment on the lower Right and then 120VAC and 12VDC plugs on the Right side of the wall.

 


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Looking back here out through the rear double doors as the demo begins.

PXL_20240218_212803963To be certified for emergency use these ambulances must be able to go through a complete 360 degree roll over without any damage to the interior or its occupants, more on that in future posts, so they are built like a proverbial tank, just all out of aluminium with a bit of stainless steel and in the case of the countertop here a Corian like composite.

PXL_20240218_212628987If you check out the exterior photos up at the beginning you will see that there are compartments on all four corners of the module/box and a double door one in the middle of the drivers side.  These are all accessed through eXtremely robust aluminium doors on the exterior and on the inside they are all built out of aluminium diamond plate. 
As per this example on the passenger side front compartment, they also have equally robust adjustable shelves also built out of 3mm / 1/8” diamond plate.  Compartments also have 120V and 12V outlets throughout.    

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There was literally not a toothpick worth of wood in the entire build, EVERYTHING is built from either aluminium plate or ACM (Aluminium Composite Material) and so I carefully unbolted all the fasteners holding the modules together and moved them into my storage building for future use in either the new build or for future home projects.

As you can see by peering into that tall cupboard on the mid left, there is also a LOT of wiring and electronics involved which added to the puzzle.

PXL_20240311_014256672The builders at Horton also went to great lengths (pun intended) to build the cabinetry out of very large single sheets of AL and ACM (Aluminium and Aluminium Composite Material) This piece that I finally wrestled off the driver side wall was over 4 meters or almost 14 feet long!

PXL_20240311_014847952Starting to empty out. 

PXL_20240312_005207407Getting down to bare AL framework in walls. You can see the stairs leading out the passenger side (PS) door in the bottom Left corner here and then the bench that runs down the PS side.  The AL track embedded in the middle of the floor is for the Stryker stretcher to slide into and lock in place but that will need to wait for another day.

PXL_20240409_224310182This is a very small amount of the material that I removed from the interior.  Some covered with contact cement or padding as you can see but all very high quality material and very valuable for using in future projects so it all gets stored away.

 PXL_20240227_233325623Another one of the LCD screens, this one while I was running the engine every few weeks to keep battery levels and systems all working. 

It was cccccccold in Saturna this past winter but not quite as cold as the disconnected “interior temp” gauge says but the exterior temp is accurate at 35F/ 1.6C! 


You can control most everything in the Happitat or ambo module from these screens and all the option buttons on the sides.  May try to repurpose these for use in Lance as we build but for now they all go in the rapidly growing electronics pile.

Oregon Here We Come!

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As part of our pivot to new landlubber status we are going to establish a type of “mobile snowbirds” lifestyle where we will spend the warm summer months on our lovely island getaway we refer to as “RavensRidge” on our 4 acres on Saturna Island which I’ve circled in Red here.  Click to expand any photo and Click on the link to Christine’s article “From the Canary Islands to Saturna” above for details and photos.

Saturna Island is is nestled amongst the Canadian Southern Gulf Islands and the US San Juan Islands as you can see by the very zig zag border line.  We live on The No Plan Plan but our intent is that when the weather turns cooler on Saturna in October or so will move into Lance full time and head to warmer climes in the southern US, Mexico and Central America.  As those areas start to get too warm we‘ll head North back for more warm and sunny weather at RavensRidge.       

Right now though because we ended up buying both Lance and RavensRidge quite unexpectedly this past January we are out of synch with this snowbird like schedule and officially we are both residents of the US and so we need to keep our total time in Canada to be less than half the year.  Factoring everything into the equation, we decided to find a place to rent in the US for the rest of this year where I work on transforming Lance and Christine write her next books.  It took quite a bit of online searching but we found the ideal spot in southern Oregon and drove Lance down to Klamath Falls mid April and set up our latest home base here.

          You didn’t really think we would stay in the same place for very long now did you???

PXL_20240413_001222241.MPIt is a rather unique property that matches our equally unique needs as it is a commercially zoned location with a two bedroom home adjoining a huge workshop/garage.  We even have our very own parking lot that you can see in front of Lance here so not much grass for me to have to mow!

 

 

 

 



PXL_20240424_213326611Lance feels right at home here as his brothers and sisters all live in the big Fire Department across the street.


Klamath Falls is the Goldilocks not too big, not too small, size for us where we have all the shops and services we need, great Amazon, FedEx, UPS, USPS deliveries for all the equipment and supplies we need to build out Lance AND no sales tax!  Both of which are a huge benefit for this latest project.
       

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This is one half of the garage after I set up some workbenches and unloaded some of my tools and equipment I brought down in Lance. Provides a great place for me to work and Christine has her latest office all set up in the 2nd bedroom so it suits us very well. 

PXL_20240417_002440878On the other side of the workshop, this is about a quarte of the materials that came out of the ambo.

 


Demo Part II

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As you saw in the photos above I had removed most of the interior in Lance’s original ambo box while in Saturna and so I was down to the bare AL frame & skin on the walls as you see here.  So once in Klamath Falls mid April I continued with the demo and removed the ceiling and the floor. 
You will also note that I have yet to remove the miles and miles of wiring and electronics inside but like eating an elephant it is one bite at a time right?!

PXL_20240420_235336732The ceiling was a double layer of ACM (Aluminium Composite Material) with a foil faced backing sandwiched between it and the AL ceiling ribs. 

PXL_20240421_004925946All of which came out relatively easily.

PXL_20240420_235321940 Leaving just these battons of insulation to remove that were also simple to remove and left me with the bare ceiling to work from.  The entire box is framed with 2” x 2” or 50mm square aluminum tubing with 3.2mm or 1/8” thick walls.  The frames are all welded gogether and you’ll notice that many have additional 45 degree gussets for additional strength and rigidity. 
For those wondering why it is all Black, all the surfaces have been sprayed with black sound deadening.  

PXL_20240621_231811767I tackled the floors next. First by peeling off the diamond pattern rubber sheet floor surface.

PXL_20240621_235354881Under the diamond pattern flooring was a layer of AL faced 13mm / 1/2” thick ACM board and then under this ACM floor was a 5mm / .2” thick rubber sound deadening matt.  The ACM board was bolted through the 10 gauge AL floor pan that is welded to the 2” x 3” AL floor joists.   Stainless bolts in aluminium tend to corrode over time so it was quite a chore to remove each of these floor bolts with my manual torque screwdriver but I was able to finally find and remove all of them.

PXL_20240622_231728341With all the bolts removed I was then able to carefully pry up the ACM board ………

PXL_20240622_232115650 ……… and flip it and the underlying thick rubber sheet up and finally reveal the actual AL floor panels.  

PXL_20240622_233325441They had cut the ACM floor out of what must have been a huge single sheetso to make my life a bit easier I used my track saw to cut it lengthwise into two halves to make it a bit easier to get out of Lance.  I will reuse this ACM and be able to butt the new straight edges up to each other to avoid any seam.

PXL_20240622_235245745I was very familiar with ACM or Aluminium Composite Material as we used it extensively in building Möbius V1.0 and it is an incredibly useful building material that many are not aware of.  It comes in large sheets in thicknesses from 2mm to at least 55mm or 1/8” to 1” and each sheet has three layers, a 1mm thick layer of aluminium on both sides of the center polyethylene foam core. 
ACM is eXtremely rigid, flat and easy to cut with regular carbide saw blades, routers, etc.  You will see me working with ACM in future posts as it is a key material I will be using in the new build of Lance.

PXL_20240623_001458433There were a few of he SS bolts that had sheared the heads off during removal so I went through and removed all of them.  The black surfaces you see are thin rubber non skid sheets which are very solidly glued to the AL floor panels.  I’m debating whether or not to peel them off and take the floors down to bare AL or leave as is.  For now I am leaving them alone as it makes for a good surface for me to stand on and work from.

 

 

 

 

 

       
        

OK enough already Wayne!!!

Whew!!  That was a bit of a marathon to bring you up to about mid July and my congratulations and condolences to any of you who persevered to reach this point. 

I’ll try to get back to posting about every Sunday and bring you up to about real time with this build process in the next few postings.  Next week I will show you the significant task of carefully removing literally miles of wires and then starting to add in the new framework for the three big windows are will be installing.  I’ll also add some posts about the extensive amount of 3D modeling I’ve been doing to create both the existing box as well as then designing the layout and virtually building all the interior cabinetry, bed, galley, etc. 

So if you are still interested in following along with our adventures as we make this transition from sea to land please do subscribe and stay tuned for more and join us on our latest adventures into Möbius World V2.0.

 

Thanks,

Wayne