New to wheelchairs

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New to wheelchairs

Postby robintheplumber » 11 Oct 2020, 20:20

I'm Robin and I live in Southampton, U.K. I feel a bit of a fraud compared to you proper wheelchair dependent people. I have a strange (apparently) neurological condition, probably due to some duff joints in my neck. I've had a couple of ops to whip out disks and fuse vertebrae but I’ve been broken somehow in amongst all that. Can't walk anywhere beyond my front door, can't safely drive anymore, let alone get back on my motorbikes. Motion and vibration in car/bus journeys do something bad to me.

After months stuck in the house I bought myself a secondhand Pride Fusion powered chair, and telescopic ramps to get it into a car. My world opened up again. In the wheelchair, I can get to the local train station and go all over the place. Car journeys inevitably result in a load of pain for a while but I get over it in a day or so. Inevitably I can be shaken up using the wheelchair, particularly on rough paths, but happy that's a price of being able to go out.

Since then, I've been in limbo physically, hoping the medical folk will find and fix what's wrong. Sadly, more than a year after buying the wheelchair, I'm nowhere with that.

So I may be a wheelchair user forever or not, who knows. Like everyone on here, wheelchair travel bumps up against some limitations. kerbs, even small ones, vibration on footpaths, wheel spins on wet grass, bogged down in mud or sand. Anti-tip safety casters which routinely lift the drive wheels off the ground on slopes and tiny kerbs or steps. I'd love to regain some of my former freedom. Get out, so I can walk our dogs with my wife again. Quickly found some limitations with my chair. It's got two lead acid car batteries in it so it weighs a ton. If I try anything off the tarmac, I always end up stuck up to my axles in mud/sand/gravel. Even on tarmac, footpaths with a steep camber (which is all the paths near my house) often cause the chair to career off into the roadway, as I give the joystick a bit too much left or right wheel. I have a constant preoccupation with how close I am to running out of power. And, when I do try something off the tarmac, my front casters which sink into everything soft, bringing me to a halt or they turn sideways and get stuck, so the only way out is backwards or worse, getting out of the chair and getting someone to help me pull it out of its predicament

So I'm after something which is like this:
- Outdoors in all weathers chair. I don’t generally need it to operate in my house but shouldn’t tear the floor up in shopping centres.
- decent range so I can be out for several days without fretting about the next charge, even if the going has been tough.
- Compact enough (short and narrow) to fit on a train easily, with those tight turns and narrow aisles.
- Absorb some of the bumps on gravel paths and doesn't shake my neck about too much.
- Can handle ordinary kerbs when I have to.
- Doesn't weigh half a ton, and/or, easily dismantles into light enough components to lift.
- Won't sink or lose all grip on wet or soft surfaces
- Won't career into the roadway when things get a bit slopey on the footpath.
- Will let me drive up/down ramps whilst not sat in the chair, without having to keep my hands on the joystick.
- Bored with clouting my big feet into everything as I manoeuvre whilst sat with legs apart as if I’m in a gynaecological examination rig. Maybe have nothing sticking out at the front corners and my feet stowed in the centre, like Burgerman has done.
- Has a powered backward tilt and maybe a powered seat height lift
- Maybe anti-tip rollers which can be altered temporarily, if the steep slope angle is causing the drive wheels to lift off.
- Has lights which don’t cut my range in half but still make me visible to cars in particular.
- doesn’t blow a fuse or worse, whenever it gets wet.
- Has some sensible, compact way of being made shower and wind proof without me wearing some ridiculous ginormous plastic mack.
- Happily drive through water several inches deep
- has a seat which doesn’t absorb water like a sponge.
- Maybe manage a few stairs (I was dropped at a railway station recently, on a platform island with no way off except up a staircase. Another time, the platform lift was broken so I had to drive a mile round roads to get to my connecting train on another platform. Even doing stairs without me sat in the chair would be a massive help.
- and whilst I’m in cloud cuckoo land, get me on or off train without ramps if the ramp guy doesn’t turn up. I could just carry some sort of ramp to get over this one.
- A chair which works with those shopping trolly attachments in all big food stores which clip to the front of wheelchairs. My casters won’t turn if I try to use one currently.

My first thought was surely someone already sells something like this. Obviously, after a bit of research, it’s clear that this kind of thing just doesn’t exist. Some chairs have some of the things but none are close to a complete package. Depressing. Then I found this site, fantastic. I love the attitude that all of us who need this technology to move around, shouldn't be beaten just because a product doesn't yet exist. So now all that’s stopping me is knowledge. I can do most metalwork (welding, cutting, some fabrication etc.. but knowing what to buy and where, programming controllers etc. is currently beyond me. Hoping I can find a way to emulate the BM3 chair, or possibly just copy it. Maybe improve suspension on the front, without it turning into a 3 year project.

I’ll keep you posted and any advice or help is very welcome. Likewise, If I can help anyone, I’d love to.
robintheplumber
 
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Joined: 05 Nov 2019, 19:18
Location: Southampton U.K.

Re: New to wheelchairs

Postby Burgerman » 11 Oct 2020, 21:05

Like everyone on here, wheelchair travel bumps up against some limitations. kerbs, even small ones, vibration on footpaths, wheel spins on wet grass, bogged down in mud or sand. Anti-tip safety casters which routinely lift the drive wheels off the ground on slopes and tiny kerbs or steps. I'd love to regain some of my former freedom. Get out, so I can walk our dogs with my wife again.


Caused by CG position (way too far forwards and too high.)
Programming.
Solid tyres and zero or ineffective suspension and small cross section tyres.
Badly designed or too low/long anti tips.

Quickly found some limitations with my chair. It's got two lead acid car batteries in it so it weighs a ton. If I try anything off the tarmac, I always end up stuck up to my axles in mud/sand/gravel.


Caused by narrow skinny tyres and too much weight. Adding 200Ah of lithium gives 5 times the range and half the weight.
Even on tarmac, footpaths with a steep camber (which is all the paths near my house) often cause the chair to career off into the roadway, as I give the joystick a bit too much left or right wheel. I have a constant preoccupation with how close I am to running out of power. And, when I do try something off the tarmac, my front casters which sink into everything soft, bringing me to a halt or they turn sideways and get stuck, so the only way out is backwards or worse, getting out of the chair and getting someone to help me pull it out of its predicament


Caused by rediculous stock programming and too nose heavy design. So gravity makes it head downhil, sing casters, prevent the contoller from steering the chair aided by rediculous stock programming.

So I'm after something which is like this:
- Outdoors in all weathers chair. I don’t generally need it to operate in my house but shouldn’t tear the floor up in shopping centres.

Define chair?
You might be better of with a non tank steer machine like a car outdoors like a Meyra or a scooter.

- decent range so I can be out for several days without fretting about the next charge, even if the going has been tough.


Converting to lithium PROPERLY as many on here have now done will give you 5x the range and for half weight. And last a decade rather than a year.

- Compact enough (short and narrow) to fit on a train easily, with those tight turns and narrow aisles.


Stability outdoors comes from LOW CG and wide and long chairs. These are things like the X5 or V6 from magic Mobility. Crap indoors, great outdoors because of that. Its a compromise.

- Absorb some of the bumps on gravel paths and doesn't shake my neck about too much.

Long chair, wide chair, low seating, decent suspension, low pressure large cross section tyres. Everything you cant have in a narrow compact indoor chair. Compromise.

- Can handle ordinary kerbs when I have to.

Define ordinary. See above.
- Doesn't weigh half a ton, and/or, easily dismantles into light enough components to lift.

Small battery, smaller 2 pole weaker motors with lower speeds, no heavy suspension, and short and narrow wheelbase with small casters and skinny drive tyres = small and light and easy to transport. And also crap outdoors.

- Won't sink or lose all grip on wet or soft surfaces

Avoid mid drives, and mae all rear drives far less nose heavy. So the CG is more over the drive wheels instead of the casters. As I do.
- Won't career into the roadway when things get a bit slopey on the footpath.

CG position. As above. And get rid of the stock programming!!!
- Will let me drive up/down ramps whilst not sat in the chair, without having to keep my hands on the joystick.

Get rid of crap programming.
- Bored with clouting my big feet into everything as I manoeuvre whilst sat with legs apart as if I’m in a gynaecological examination rig. Maybe have nothing sticking out at the front corners and my feet stowed in the centre, like Burgerman has done.

Centre footrest is the ONLY sensible way. It also allows seat to move back to fix all the problems above and stop it being as long as an oil tanker.
- Has a powered backward tilt and maybe a powered seat height lift

Comprmise again... A seat lift, tilt, recline adds a massive amount of weight up high. That redices stability, grip, control, and seats you higher which also raises CG position even further. Its all a compromise. You must decide and understand the effect of all these choices.
- Maybe anti-tip rollers which can be altered temporarily, if the steep slope angle is causing the drive wheels to lift off.

Mine are higher, shorter and small. They do allow me to tip out occasionally. Compromises...
- Has lights which don’t cut my range in half but still make me visible to cars in particular.

LED lights take so litle power that it wont knock 1 mile off the range if you ran them all day long. And with lithium its totally irrelivant as you wear out first.
- doesn’t blow a fuse or worse, whenever it gets wet.

No chair should.
http://www.wheelchairdriver.com/gopro/hosepipe.mp4
- Has some sensible, compact way of being made shower and wind proof without me wearing some ridiculous ginormous plastic mack.

Impossible.
- Happily drive through water several inches deep

All chairs should easily do that. http://www.wheelchairdriver.com/gopro/hosepipe.mp4
- has a seat which doesn’t absorb water like a sponge.

You use whatever cushion YOU choose, waterproof or otherwise. These can cause pressure sores etc so choose wiseley. Compromise...
- Maybe manage a few stairs (I was dropped at a railway station recently, on a platform island with no way off except up a staircase. Another time, the platform lift was broken so I had to drive a mile round roads to get to my connecting train on another platform. Even doing stairs without me sat in the chair would be a massive help.

There are chairs that climb stairs. It compromises EVERYTHING else to the point of being rediculous. Weight, batt size, length, width, speed, CG, manoeverability, suspension etc. Its all a compromise.
- and whilst I’m in cloud cuckoo land, get me on or off train without ramps if the ramp guy doesn’t turn up. I could just carry some sort of ramp to get over this one.

Or you could just buy a van.
Note no drivers seat. The chair locks in place. And no feet required.
http://www.wheelchairdriver.com/gopro/ramp.mp4
- A chair which works with those shopping trolly attachments in all big food stores which clip to the front of wheelchairs. My casters won’t turn if I try to use one currently.

Dont use one. Grab the prettiest shelf stacker you can find and monopolise her for an hour. I do all the time! Even loading my van.
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Burgerman
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Re: New to wheelchairs

Postby Jayde1976 » 14 Oct 2020, 10:05

yeah as he says above..i dont ever use them trolleys you can use a normal small trolley with a powerchair or a basket if getting a few items them trolleys are really horrid,, I am in a mid wheel drive which some dont like but they are ok for me and goes off road ok but dont expect 4x4 rock crawling with one unless its designed as such mine will go over dirt paths as long as not to muddy as i get wheel spin, best way is try a few diffrent chairs but beware unless you got a programmer or a friendly person who can reprogram the chair will control like a drunken elephant, managed to get mine better but no perfect but am working on it.. seat lift are ok but remember once elevated the chair isnt as stable and could tip if at a angle i know mine isnt as stable on sideways paths or side ramps but is fine elsewhere.. other option is build your own chair as you can add better batteries to how you want as well as led lights which are great..
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