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Hi,
I've been meaning to post these photos ever since I built the ramp, but it wasn't till it came up in another discussion on here that I was motivated to get around to it. I don't know if it will help anyone, but if you have questions feel free to ask. Its for those of us who don't want to spring for the VMI conversion:D. I also have a trivia question to all the engineers. The history behind it is that I am often transporting a handicapped induvidual who walks with crutches. Rather recently the crutches were reduced to a motorized wheelchair. I am the only one in her social circle that has a car capable of carrying it. The biggest problem is that the chair weighs about 300 hundred pounds empty. At first when I was told this I didn't believe it, but I quickly changed my mind. I experimented with it a lot and found that you can disengage the motor, but its so heavy it can barely be pushed on the slightest of inclines. So I set out to build a ramp out of some scrap shelving. It didn't seem all that hard to do until I started testing it. It had to be a certain length or the chair couldn't get up it. In fact the angle in the pictures is too steep for the chair to get up completly under its own power. I also had a few requirements that were hard to adhere to:

1) Have zero impact on the car (ie no drilling or damaging)
2) Have the whole system, components and all, loadable into the car.
3) Avoid disrupting the cars atmosphere. (remove and stow as few seats as possible)

The ramp I ended up with has a lot of flex, which is supposed to compensate for uneven terrain. Its basically as lightweight as possible while being as sturdy as it needs to be. The chair really only goes on long distances due to the fact that it is so time consuming to get it in and out.

Now I do have one question for those with creative minds. I built the ramp so when loading the chair, the stress pushes the ramp up against the car on a board underneath. The only problem is that I have no way of securing the ramp to the car. Bolting it into the sill is not an option. I have thought of all kinds of things from securing it to the seat anchors, the alloy wheels, even under the car to the other door. Any thoughts?

Enjoy....





 

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Very impressive. I don't understand how it works, but still very impressive. Funny story, I pick her up from dialysis twice a week. One day when I couldn't pick her up another friend filled in, and when she got there our friend was in her new electric wheelchair! No way she could do anything, except call her husband who drove a pickup out from work that had a hydraulic tailgate! He had to stop and pick up her other wheelchair. I believe the 300 lbs.
 

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I don't have an answer to your engineering question, but wanted to say Great Job on the ramp. It looks very nice.
 

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You can buy pretty decent aluminum ramps at Harbor Freight I believe, for well under 100 bucks and they have grippy pads on them so the don't slide. I believe they are six feet long and allot less hassle.
 

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secure to vehicle?

Looks nice. I had to make a temporary ramp and also had problems with it sliding off. You may consider adding a piece of wood that drops into the sliding door track that prevents the ramp from sliding off the car, or have something that hooks onto the floor seat anchor. E.g. add a d-ring loop to the wood, then a short strap that loops to the chair anchor in the floor, or take that second piece of plywood you have inside the car, attach it to the ramp (using hinges so it folds), and then cut a slot so that it fits over the seat anchors which can then hold it into place. But this last suggestion is perhaps the hardest since the floor isn't completely flat.

Also, I suggest that you replace the bricks with a couple of 2x4s that drop to the ground. For these pieces of wood, use hinges so that the whole thing folds up neatly. (You could also use hinges to fold the entire ramp in half, if you need to, but then you MUST have a foot in the middle of the ramp to take the weight off of the hinges.)

Finally, it wasn't clear from your photo if the wheelchair is secured inside the vehicle. This is important, for the obvious reasons. You can get ratcheting straps and lock the chair into the second row captain's chair anchors. You could start with a set of consumer-grade straps from a hardware store, but I would recommend getting some specialized straps. If your friend stays in the wheelchair while you're driving, you can also buy an additional set of straps to serve as a seatbelt, but this may require adding another bracket to the floor of your van.

Regarding the length of the ramp, if you are loading the wheelchair with a person in it, the ramp should have NO MORE than 2" of rise for each 12" of run. So if you need to rise 12" into the van, you would need at least a 6' ramp. This could still be a strain on the chair, as commercial ramps (e.g. for buildings) are twice as long as this (12' run for 12" rise).

Great work and I'm sure your friend appreciates all that you've done! Good luck!

[Edited to add note about length of ramp and modified the comment about securing to the van.]
 

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Since you have to have the rear seat out when loading the wheel chair- I would use a simple ratchet strap attached to the ramp and the seat anchor.
 

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Looks like an accident in the making. If you do this on a regular bases Id favor buying a set of folding ramps or a folding ramp just for wheelchairs and see about attaching it to either side or rear of your van for loading the chair. Plan B? How about a lift or hoist that swings out, lifts the chair up, swings in and lowers is to the van floor?

I got the northstar conversion and its great. The van neals, ramp sticks out and door automatically open and close. Either front seat can be used as a wheelchair tie down point with removable fully functioning bucket seat. The mid row is missing, so 2 wheelchairs can be secured there. The rear seat is still there.
 
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