ďFive working days till SEMA? No problem my friend.Ē Those are the words that settle frazzled nerves when you see a picture that has miles of wires hanging out of your project. I was sent these pictures today by email to let me know how well the project was going.
The guys at Sportsmobile West have been here before and know what they are doing. If they tell me the Wheelchair Accessible Van for Expeditions can be finished in five days, and say it with that kind of smile, then I trust them.
A couple of things to note in the picture above, you can see the Sure Grip hand controls that Nor-Cal Mobility was able to bring over from out previous FJ Cruiser project. Also on the floor you can just see the track for the B&D Independence power driverís seat base.
Here you can see the Aluminess front bumper and as massive as that looks it really isnít heavy due to the aluminum construction. Plans are to include a Ramsey 9500 UT Patriot winch. It has a wireless remote and most importantly a semi-auto clutch that saves a potentially hazardous trip back to the winch just to flip a lever.
The recent Overland Journal winch test (Gear 2009 issue) saw the Ramsey get the Value Award and out pull itís rated capacity. I really hope we receive the winch in time to install it before SEMA as I am looking forward to evaluating this unit for the disabled community.
Also you can see the very cool custom roof rack by Aluminess. With a vehicle this tall saving weight up there was important and Aluminess is well versed in that regard. The rack holds a Kyocera solar panel antennas for ham radio, cb and cellular booster. And of course you canít miss the Rigid LED lights. Up front there is a center mounted spot beam with floods to each side. The shop guys tell me these things are wicked bright even with all that overhead light. Arizona night runs as a therapeutic technique for the newly disabled, sounds great!
Here is a better look at the B&D Independence power drivers seat base. The idea is that when a wheelchair user is lifted into the rig there is still a height difference between their chair and the drivers seat. This can make transfers difficult and dangerous.
With the B&D unit the seat comes back 24Ē rotates and rises to the best possible position next to a wheelchair. As an amputee Braun Millennium lift and this B&D unit are beyond me. However the purpose of the W.A.V.E. is to get the newly disabled or those new to backcountry travel behind the wheel and discovering the please of overland adventures in remote areas.
This shot gives a great view of the roof rack and rear bumper build by Aluminess. The storage box on the back is reachable from wheelchair and it provides a good bit of lockable outside storage. Speaking of storage the rear bumper has another lockable compartment built into it also. There is an option for a rear winch and that might be something we look at in the future.
Up in the roof rack you can see another one of the Rigid LED lights. One fun feature we are setting up is to have the side and rear lights come on by key chain remote to provide camp light or scare away unwanted wildlife (including the desert wash flying quad kind).
On each back door Sportsmobile places a fold out table and the drivers side includes storage space for the shower wand or other goodies.
From the pictures it looks like Nor-Cal Mobility did a great job installing the Braun Millennium wheelchair lift. While Braun makes a wide range lifts not all have the ability to extend to the ground on a raised 4wd van. While we will lose some interior space when the lift is stowed it shouldn’t be a major problem and of course worth it for those folks who will get their first off road experiences in this rig. It will be very interesting to get this setup out in a variety of terrains and see how it works in sand, rocks, mud and such.
Nor-cal was a huge resource during the design and build process, they also were able to get thing installed in record time. One thing we don’t have that a chair users would is automatic door openers. It was an additional expenses and since I can walk and open doors we opted to wait and see about adding the openers later.
I hope to be in Fresno at Sportsmobile West in a few days to help finish up the final details before we talk the rig to SEMA. We have been very lucky throughout this project to receive the support of our sponsors and the enthusiasm of the public. SEMA has even come on board with a very gracious donation of a 20×30 ft split island booth #30193. If you are planning to attend the show please stop by and check out the W.A.V.E. for yourself.