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Parts 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 Mk1 Version

Mk1 | Mk2 | Mk3 versions + Timeline

Starting to build a few parts onto the main freshly powder coated frame. While the photos look involved it actually only takes a couple of hours to reassemble everything in super clean style.

A new evolution of this project over here Off road version (for when you have read this 6 page epic! Or Detailed PowerChair Only Menu


best powerchair

fitting caster fork

Tighten with care! You might want to undo it one day! The nuts are self locking (use Nylocks - stainless steel)
Fitting caster fork big  |  Fitting caster fork bigger

new moss blanking plug

These are just plastic plugs. Very cheap and disposable. Available from Sunrise Medical, see the parts list at the top of the page!  Fitting new blanking plug bigger |  Fitting new blanking plug bigger


moss plug

After fitting the caster fork and coating the internal spaces in grease the new cap is fitted by Brian my chief engineer on this project! Most people would use a large soft hammer and a thick cloth. This works too... 
Fitting moss plug big |  Fitting moss plug bigger

2 new wheels and tyres -- tubeless for powerchair

Tubeless wheelchair wheels & tyres  big |  Tubeless wheelchair wheels & tyres bigger

The wheels I use are commonly available (Halfords for E.G.) complete with tyres but usually tubed. Tubes are bad! So I order the wheels from here specifically 8 x 2.5 and 100mm PCD like these. They do many other sizes depending on your project. As above.

Stock wheels have several issues. They are too narrow for the tubeless tyres I want to use. So that rules them out already. They corrode on to the motor drive shaft so badly that they cannot be removed without heat and much abuse! Great if you get a puncture at 3 am. If you use some grease to stop corrosion problem then the keyway and key that transmits drive wears fast and backlash develops and the wheelchair lurches about making clunking noises when trying to turn left/right etc. And they are split rims. Meaning you have to disassemble the rims to swap a tyre every time you get a punctured tube... And these bolts also corrode and seize!  Not very good all round then. Stupid method of attachment is the main problem though. Fitting the wheels above using a different method of attachment cures all of these problems and makes the rear wheels practically puncture proof at the same time without the disadvantages of solid. foam filled, or other puncture proof tyres.

Tubeless tyres I buy online from here and they do lots of different tyres including stock sized 8 x 3.00 as well as the slightly bigger and stronger tubed and tubeless 8 x 3.50 size. Standard powerchair wheels cant take tubeless tyres, and are too narrow for the 3.50 width size. I use these 8 x 3.50 tubeless ones as shown above.  The reason I use tubeless tyres and get rid of the standard rear wheels is many.

Tubeless tyres are about 15 times less likely to go flat as there is no tube to burst or pop like a balloon. (Ref, the Dunlop tyres web site) I cannot ever afford to be stranded as the recovery options are too slow and complicated expensive and possibly dangerous especially in a strange town at 3 am!   These particular tyres also have a very tough construction and a thick crown so are even less likely to puncture. So far since changing over to these I have never had a single puncture in 7 years. I used to get around one a month with the stock tubed supplied as standard tyres. Even so they are 1/3rd filled with OKO Off Road tyre seal... http://okosales.co.uk/  as a real belt and braces precaution.

Plus I always keep a spare wheel and tyre combination in my Van!  With a 4 bolt fixing they are easy to swap over "just in case" as you never really know... And as the tyres are a little bigger it increases the overall gearing and top speed at the same time by a noticeable amount.

new 4 pole wheelchair motor and gearbox

4 pole motor big  |  4 pole motor bigger

A brand new 4 pole motor. I have 6 here and about10 old knackered or very tired ones... Including 2 that have failed very traumatically and suddenly! They locked up rock solid on different occasions and for different reasons. Collapsed bearings at one end of the motor and shattered magnets jamming the armature solidly.

So now at ANY sign of funny noise or any other movement problem they get replaced same day and the old ones stripped so I can see what is happening. I am a hands on sort of guy and I just have to know. Knowledge is power.

Sod the expense getting stranded isn't an option. If they make 2 years they are generally buggered anyway, at least mine are, so they go into the pile of old motors kept as spares after a good strip and inspection. I have some old 2 pole ones as well -- these really are crap and destroy gearboxes and motor brushes about twice as fast as the later better 4 pole ones.

The thing is that contrary to what some online power wheelchair supposed self proclaimed "experts" may tell you they wear out fast if you actually use and abuse them hard every day. If you sit at a computer all day then maybe they last a lot longer but it pays to check before you are stranded.

The same source claims motor brushes last the life of a powerchair!  Don't know what he's on, but I have a big pile of totally buggered ones here, that all made about one and a half years before dying to prove he's wrong. Here's a picture of a new brush versus a eighteen month old one... 
See here !!  I have a big pile of these knackered motor brushes. Along with my pile of worn out noisy motors and clunky gearboxes. 


So contrary to what you may read elsewhere on a self proclaimed experts website it is a good idea to check them every year or eighteen months and while you are at it to also blow all the dust out with an airline. I get clouds of it out so do it outside! It only takes a few mins and is peace of mind. If you don't worry about failure and getting stranded somewhere then don't bother!  At least you will know how heavy you and your chair are on motor brushes.

Its also worth examining the connections here too as they burn and corrode -- at least mine do -- pretty regularly.  Motor brushes don't just wear but they burn up if you live in an area full of steep hills and ramps. Make sure they are clean and secure and show no sign of heat. These simple connections have to cope with 100 amps often while wet or dirty and they are pretty small. I have had them burn off completely on one occasion and cause intermittent operation on several other occasions. Mainly caused by the salt and crap that they throw on our streets and pavements. So assemble with some petroleum jelly to help stop that happening.

But when the brushes do get to that state the gearboxes as well as the motor bearings and the internal magnet strength (and so motor efficiency) are all a bit doubtful anyway. So its really false economy to re-use old motors. At least for me. If yours have been used by grandma, on a softly programmed powerchair and are quiet, smooth and the brushes show no sign of wear or other damage then you may be OK to put them back on.

Fitting power wheelchair motor

Fitting a new motor to the battery tray / swinging arm assembly. Stainless bolts and everything greased...  I hate corrosion.  Fitting wheelchair-motor big  | Fitting wheelchair motor bigger

wheelchair motor

One fitted, or at least 2 bolts are!  One-motor big  |  One motor bigger

a pair of wheelchair motors fitted

Woo -- Looking good.  My rooms not very tidy though. Its my bedroom/office/workshop/and even has a lathe. I live like an animal.  24v Powerchair Motor big  |  24v Powerchair Motor bigger

empty tub opf lithium grease

Brian, my chief engineer, and long suffering carer, car washer and grass cutter looking at the date on the grease because it ran out already and I only bought it in 1977... How time flies. No wonder its an odd colour.
Grease big  |  Grease bigger

partly asembled powerchair

This is the battery tray, rear swinging arms that allow suspension, with brand new 4 pole tall geared motors fitted.
Partly assembled big  |  Partly assembled bigger

powerchair suspension

Now a Spring / shock absorber is fitted. This is 13 years old. Stripped cleaned, blasted, and powder coated and rebuilt like the rest of the chair! Nothing from the donor chair goes back unless its redesigned, rebuilt, or better than "new".
Powerchair Suspension big  |  Powerchair Suspension bigger

wheelchair shock absorber

Above: And the other one!  Suspension Unit big |  Shock absorber bigger

main power wheelchair frame

Partially reunited with the main frame. Main powerchair frame big |  Main powerchair frame bigger

assembled powerchair frame

The motor/battery tray/suspension now fully reunited with the main frame. 6 Bolts!  But now its looking better. Total rebuild time genuinely only about 3 hours, 1 of which was me wasting time with the camera!  Its all in the preparation and planning. And I have done this a few times before.  Powerchair big  |  Powerchair bigger

powerchair wheels fitted

Cant remember what we were doing here.  Oh yes!  Wheels...  Fitting wheels big | Fitting wheels bigger

electric wheelchair construction

I give up... Electric wheelchair build bigger |  Electric wheelchair build bigger

Thrown on floor, time for pub. But now it rolls! And is getting heavy.  Powerchair base big |  Powerchair base bigger

sling back seat upholstery and powder coated seat back frame

Seat Upholstery big |  Seat Upholstery bigger

Above: The "push handles" have been shortened by about 5 inches with a big hacksaw. Then were filed and powder coated along with all the other black brackets and parts. The reason is that the chair is way too heavy to push anyway. And because in the interests of keeping the powerchair compact and manoeuvrable they just had to be shorter!  After moving the seat back to shorten the chair and help with a multitude of things they were the very thing that hit the wall first so where now in the way. So now they don't hit the wall when I reverse but my head does. That's how all chairs SHOULD be EVERY INCH COUNTS. Anything else means your powerchair is excessively long meaning manoeuvrability is limited. Nothing else at the rear of the wheelchair sticks out further than my head. This keeps it compact and short as the footrest plate is also about 6  four inches further back too so turning in tight spaces or in my van, public bathrooms etc is all so much easier. Or easily possible where it just was not possible before.

powder coated cross bar

As you can see even the seat back bar is refinished...  Powder coated big |  Powder coated bigger

Seat frame, seat back reassembly. Stainless bolts, grease, much care and new upholstery! And its in the wrong order...
Seat Back big |  Seat Back bigger

Seat frame

Seat Frame big  |  Seat Frame bigger

This is the front corner of the seat frame. It used to have a big bulky fitting/connection to allow the swing away footplates to connect to the frame. Until I sawed it off... Horrid old fashioned bulky things that get in the way of my transfers and hit every doorframe and obstacle in the universe!  PowerChairs SHOULD NOT HAVE "CORNERS"! These things are just too bulky for indoor use in small areas. See the stock green chair at top to see what I am rambling about. Or click here

seat frame moss plug fitting

Seat frame moss plug big  |  Seat frame moss plug bigger

With new plastic plug fitted. These are really meant for the other end where the backrest goes, I just ordered 4 instead of 2 from Sunrise Medical along with the rest of my parts.

seat now assembled

Here's where the other end needs them!  Moss plugs seat assembled big | Moss plugs seat assembled bigger

linear actuator

Powerchair Linear Actuator big  |  Powerchair linear Actuator bigger

The big black square thing is a "linear actuator",  Woo!  Its a ram with a motor in it. Allows the seat to tilt back to chill with a beer. But this chair can do that on its anti tip wheels with a little use of the throttle!  So you have to remember not to do both together or you land upside down. Been there! Be warned. there are no cuddly safety Nazi "inhibits" on this chair, it allows you to do what you want. This chair requires some actual operator common sense and isn't controlled by the safety Nazis.

power module

Penny & Giles power module big  |  Penny & Giles power module bigger

Power Module. This thing lives under the seat plate and actually is the part that controls your powerchair. Inside is a programmable computer and some "speed controllers" that take the battery power and distribute it to your motors in the form of pulses at high frequency. This one is a standard (and dirty) one. It is 80 amps max. That's "just" enough for a 6mph power chair with a light user. I'm not light, and this powerchair has slightly taller gearing due to bigger wheels so its not enough. The ones that I use on my 3 powerchairs are Penny and Giles Pilot Plus 100 Amp modules.  Only slightly better than stock, but noticeable when trying to manoeuvre on ramps or when reprogrammed to allow 100 percent acceleration and wheelies etc.-- both are exactly the same to look at as this one shown so you cant tell just by looking. This allows more torque and amps to get you over thresholds, and to manoeuvre in difficult conditions once programmed correctly.  

Power module connections

Wiring just involves reconnecting 4 connections. 1 battery, 2 right motor, 3 left motor, 4 the serial data cable that goes to the pod. Very simple stuff that any dummy can do.  Fitting power cables big |  Fitting power cables bigger

power cables

Then push all the wires back into the battery box  Wiring Powerchair big  |  Wiring Powerchair bigger

power module 100 amp

Powerchair power module big |  Powerchair power module bigger

And then add the 2 stainless steel cap screws to hold it in place! Wiring done! 

powerchair seating

Fitting the seat frame to the main chassis.  Notice the new home made seat bracket. It has 5 holes to allow the seat to be relocated back by up to about 3 inches. This is ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL if you want a controllable light steering chair that can wheelie like a manual wheelchair! It saves battery power and means front punctures no longer slow you down too. There's a drawing somewhere here below...  Powerchair Seating big |  Powerchair Seating bigger


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