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Thread: Off-road Project

  1. #1

    Off-road Project

    Hi, new here. Couldn't find anywhere to introduce myself, so this will have to do. Older guy, retired Army, 40% disaility rating for arthritis of the spine. And, of course, the VA doesn't know what type of arthritis, so I asked them to check what kind. They told me I did not have rheumatoid or osteo arthritis. So, I asked them to check for another type. Wound up going for retesting eight more time, and was told eight more times I do not have rheumatoid or osteo arthritis. I coped for years, then in 1995 the back, and headache, started really kicking again, and I wound up with 100% SSD. Been using canes I made, for a number of years now. Recently my back has been aggrevated more. I don't use a wheelchair, and honestly do not anticipate using one. However, there are a couple of pick-your-own-parts junkyards close, and I am just plain not up to walking around in them anymore. They don't allow four-wheelers, etc., there, so I figure if I can make an off-road wheelchair they won't say no to me using that. Buying one is out, first because they are expensive, and second because none I saw really match my wants/needs. Almost forgot, it will have a small gas engine; yes, could go electric, however, would have to hunt down the parts, and pay a lot. I can get a small, running, used engine, very cheap, possibly even free, or a new one for around $100. And if it quits, I can just yank the engine, and replace it, simply, fast, cheap.

    OK, I'm calling this project a off-road wheelchair, altho it might be more accurate to call it a power chair. But my design, I call it what I want. It will be an off-road design, because it will be used mainly for junkyard crawling, which are mainly dirt pathways, which are lined with ruts and bumps, I do not consider my proposed design as particularly suitable for really rough terrain, could be but that is not my goal.

    What I'm after here is comments/input, from actual wheelchair users, of their thoughts on what/how I've got this planned out, and how they thing my ideas will work. For parts I have available: One pocket bike with engine, two three-wheel ATVs, one lawn tractor, one moped, some 8 or 10 foot pieces of angle iron. After tons of research, the only thing I will actually be using is one of the three-wheel ATVs. I could use the angle iron for the frame, drill holes, and bolt it together, the frame will be that simple, however I will get some square steel tubing, and weld it. The basic design will be two wheels in front, and one in the rear, steering will be with a lever on each side of the seat, with the grips horizontal, with throttle, and brake lever(s). Engine under the seat, with jackshafts to limit top speed to about 10 MPH tops. I'll use a centrifugal clutch, so it will be one speed, and a lot simpler than trying to figure out a transmission, and a whole lot less cost than a CVT would be. Keep it simple, keep it cheap. I figure that I should be able to put this together for around $200-300, max, depending on just how much I would have to buy; add around $100 more if I had to buy a small welder, which I do not have to.

    Now comes the interesting part.
    ONE: I can make it rear drive, with the one wheel, and steer with two wheels off the lawn tractor and ATV wheels and tires; the tires are at least 8 inches wide at a guess, forgot to measure them.
    TWO: Make it rear drive, AND make the drive wheel the steered wheel also.
    THREE: Make the two front wheels drive wheels, and make the rear wheel steer. Right now this is my preferred choice. I think that this will be the simplest route, as well as the fastest.

    I'd appreciate your thoughts on this project, anti as well as pro. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Why not try www.wheelchairdriver.com you might get advise on geometry and dimensions .I use a Molten Rock Boma 7 and know from experience that you have to get the wheelbase and width correct or risk tipping on adverse camber. In the UK to qualify as a wheelchair speed is limited to 8mph, maybe check your local regulations as typically petrol powered come in for a lot of objections so best to keep within the law.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by mrb View Post
    Why not try www.wheelchairdriver.com you might get advise on geometry and dimensions .I use a Molten Rock Boma 7 and know from experience that you have to get the wheelbase and width correct or risk tipping on adverse camber. In the UK to qualify as a wheelchair speed is limited to 8mph, maybe check your local regulations as typically petrol powered come in for a lot of objections so best to keep within the law.
    Thanks for sharing that site www.wheelchairdriver.com. Interesting resource.

  4. #4
    That is one of just many I have been researching. I'm not worried about width, the ATV axle should have no problems, as far as wheelbase it will probably work out close to the donor three-wheel ATV, but that's what clamps and tack welds are for, with final welds only after that is determined. I'm not really worried about tipping, which is one reason I opted for three wheels rather than four, but also my plans for it are mainly junkyard crawling, with pretty level ground, and a few unavoidable ruts and puddles, plus I plan on top speed of ten MPH or so, or less. A better title for it might well be junkyard crawler, rather than wheelchair. Regardless of what it is called, there are no plans for using it for other uses, so no issue on gas powered either.

  5. #5
    I forgot to say, this will be electric start. Not a conventional electric start engine tho, which could boost costs a lot. Rather, a cordless drill, with socket, will be used to start it, with cord starting as backup. The drills are not terribly expensive new, and craigslist or your local pawn shop always seem to have plenty at low prices. But of course, there would be no issues with using a real electric start engine, except for the added cost.

    The rear wheel will be the ATV front wheel, steering will be rods, or cables, from the steering levers, this will be worked out during assembly.

    I chose levers for steering, over a wheel or handlebars, because I thought those would be more awkward for getting in. With the levers, all I have to do is walk up to it, turn around, sit down, put my feet on the foot rests, and ready to go - as long as it is running or someone starts it for you that is. There will be no foot controls, because I figured that perhaps one day someone might want their own version, but could not use foot controls.

    Forgot too. I checked, and the width of this ATV axle and tires should just fit between the wheelwells of my Jeep Cherokee, that and a fold forward back on the seat should allow inside carry with no issues.
    Last edited by theoldsarge; 11-02-2015 at 04:56 PM. Reason: left out

  6. #6
    I'm working on this according to what I want. Being as I've never used a wheelchair, figured I'd get some tips from people that do. Well, nothing, so I guess I'm doing it all right. Thanks anyway.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by theoldsarge View Post
    ...clip...With the levers, all I have to do is walk up to it, turn around, sit down, put my feet on the foot rests, ...clip...
    This is the thing, I'm sure there is interest, I've read and thought about what you are trying to do and hope you succeed. I am a pick and puller junk yard diver from from way back. But I have not been to one since landing in a wheelchair. Surely one of my chairs would manage the main aisles, but the rows get crowded and the cars are stacked. I'd have way too much trouble hauling tools, finding the right car, getting to the part etc. to even try. If walking up to a ten mph scooter was my only problem, I'd just take a wheelchair or maybe get an old electric scooter off Craigslist and do a little modifying. That said ten mph is too fast, five is enough for what you want.
    I have had periodic paralysis all my life. I lost my ability to walk in 2011 beginning with a spinal block, which was used for a hip fracture caused by periodic paralysis.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by nonoise View Post
    This is the thing, I'm sure there is interest, I've read and thought about what you are trying to do and hope you succeed. I am a pick and puller junk yard diver from from way back. But I have not been to one since landing in a wheelchair. Surely one of my chairs would manage the main aisles, but the rows get crowded and the cars are stacked. I'd have way too much trouble hauling tools, finding the right car, getting to the part etc. to even try. If walking up to a ten mph scooter was my only problem, I'd just take a wheelchair or maybe get an old electric scooter off Craigslist and do a little modifying. That said ten mph is too fast, five is enough for what you want.

    Oh, I'll succeed, no doubt in my mind about that, just don't know yet just how well I will succeed. Apparently your junk yards a vastly different than the ones around here. Here, they are all outside, a lot of acres, each brand grouped together, with makes separated into sub sections, lined up, single vehicles on welded wheel stands, and the lines about 15-20 feet apart. Easy access, but I don't think a wheel chair would do so well there, as there are often puddles, mud, ruts, etc./ which is why I want wide wheels. The donor 3-wheeler has a rack, which I can use for tool carrying, or just make one. Pretty sure most scooters wouldn't work out so great either. And, no, 5mph would not be sufficient, in fact what with the large areas I am not sure that 10mph might not be marginal in speed, but what with the ruts and all figure it will get me around at a reasonable speed, but not so fast as to be risky.

  9. #9
    Maybe use this for some ideas.

    http://www.gennymobility.com/

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim View Post
    Maybe use this for some ideas.

    http://www.gennymobility.com/
    Thanks, but the only thing that even remotely interested me was the foot rest, and I will be using one much simpler, cheaper, and probably sturdier.

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