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John Williamson

Interesting email discussion about modifying the Sunrise F55 Power wheelchair

I wouldn't normally post an email but this just proves what I have been saying all along and is one of many I gat weekly about the very same problems. Detailed PowerChair Only Menu

 A MK 2 version off road version of the homebuilt PowerChair
 My rebuilt and heavily modified BETTER powerchair

And my latest off road as well as do everything else powerchair!

Which is what we are talking about via email copied and pasted with corrected grammar below!

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Monday, May 11, 2009 3:01 PM
Subject: HELLO!
I have been visiting your site back and forth for a few years now, loving the pictures and your accompanying text!
I have been using a Sunrise Quickie F55 for about 2/3 years, which I bought for a bargain 1,500 on eBay.  It was reconditioned and had new batteries.  I've been extremely impressed with it's performance (for a powerchair!) and it's reliability. 


It can be improved a lot.
It's never broken down (touch wood) and has survived a couple of airline journeys - where the handlers seem to do their best to wreck anything and everything in their possession!
I was disabled before becoming a powerchair user.  I am Thalidomide impaired (I have shortened arms and legs).  My mobility has always been compromised, but became even more so in 2002 when I was involved in a little prang when I drove off on the wrong side of the road whilst on holiday in France... Oops. 

Wrote off my Peugeot 206 and ended up with a broken leg.  The injury wasn't severe (pinned and plated and put in a cast) but the recovery was far from straight forward.   Despite physio, having the metalwork removed, I was left in constant severe pain and ended up having an ankle fusion in 2005. 

Ever since the original accident, a powerchair has been a crucial part of me continuing on with y very full life.  I'm a Mum and do a lot of voluntary work, so am always gadding about the country!  I'm Chair of a national charity that provides information and peer support to disabled people who are parents (where the parents are disabled, rather than parents of disabled children.  www.disabledparentsnetwork.org.uk)

Looks good...

A bit like you will have done, I have found the limitations of a (standard) powerchair VERY frustrating!  I want to live life in my chair, and so I do, regularly going over the sorts of terrains that wheelchair manufacturers don't advise!

That's why I had to make all the C of G and programming/wheels/tyres mods etc. I couldn't live with all the issues when I could see how to do much better!
I don't know what you are actually looking at that's mine though because I have built and modified a lot of powerchairs and have 27 sites! Seriously...

The latest ones (this year) are:

My standard chair "fix" which is not too involved and took me a week or so. (Actually I did 2 at once total cost 3k for a pair...)
Here http://www.wheelchairdriver.com/powerchair.htm and with that done I started another more involved build that is still the same size that will give me a better ride and let me walk the dog in the woods etc without getting stuck or sinking in mud here http://www.wheelchairdriver.com/power-wheelchair-off-road.htmm
The two areas where I'm struggling with my present powerchair are:
1)  The control location - I have short arms, so constant reaching forward and to the right give me ongoing back issues in my lumbar spine that radiate around to my right arm pit
Easy to fix.
In any number of ways.
I cant do it for you here but any engineer will sort that out.
The pod on mine is already moved inside the arm for compactness and back. Took me about two mins with a few tools and a saw...

But more importantly now its using a proper parallel link mounting that doesn't wobble and fall to bits like a stock one as well! It's strong enough for flights too...

Seems a shame the manufacturers are obviously ignorant of the problem as mine too was too far forward and my arms are normal length.
2)   The fact that I have shortened femurs mean that my centre of gravity is all wrong in the chair.  I am too far forward of the wheels, and so often lose traction (and control!) and find myself careering into roads or off slopes, etc!!
Actually the bigger and longer your arms and legs the WORSE that gets. The weight on the F55 is way too far forwards with a standard cushion and sling back Its worse still with a Recaro seat. They should be banned! Or at least fitted lower and further rearward.

Mine (sling back) is moved rearwards so that I keep both rear wheels on the ground for control at all times and so that I can take a front wheel completely off and still go to the pub! Front punctures are no longer either as likely or a problem
Because I am able to walk (about 50m max) I hoist mine in and out of a 2006 Renault Espace with a 4 way hoist that can lift a maximum of 150kg (that appears to be about the weight of the chair)
Well they could be lighter too if they cared. All steel and iron...  But you need my van... 
All the stuff that you mention in terms of modifying your chair really ring true with me....  I wondered if you have contacts with people in other parts of the country who are as talented as you seem to be, and enjoy tinkering so much who might be prepared to do a bit of work on mine?  Or indeed whether you ever look to "take on"  projects (paid of course!)? 
There are about a dozen that are doing the same/similar things that I know of and basically copying my modified powerchairs. But they are all disabled and struggle to do it or get it done. As I do. But there isn't any choice if you know what you want. Nobody makes anything that's half decent ready to roll! If anyone thinks otherwise then they either don't understand the difference (most people) or don't care.
I totally agree that the 6k or so that I'd have to pay for a brand new F55 would be a total waste of money (oh, and so pleased that you agree the F55 seems just about the best powerchair around!))
As a starting point. At least as far as I know. There isn't any other mainstream chair that fits the bill. And I hate overweight "modular" compromises. Non seem much good for a variety of reasons but ALL suffer from crappy finish and detail in construction at the very least. But then my latest one discards everything but the frame and the front casters and seat rails!  And the latest 4 pole motors.
I'm all the way down in Reading, Berkshire by the way..
Hope to hear from you, but recognise you probably get emails like this all the time... I'm very patient :-)
You wouldn't believe how many and mostly from people saying the same as you.
If you'd rather Skype or MSN me, I'm xxxxxxxxx on Skype, and the same email address as this on MSN.
Sorry but I hate Skype/phones, I am a bloke!






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