1999 - Volume #23, Issue #5, Page #30[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
"All Terrain" Wheelchair Rides Like A Cadillac
What prompted Tom Finch of TEFTEC, the manufacturer, to start building wheelchairs was a terrible accident between his son Jim and a drunk driver. The accident left Jim so badly paralyzed he can only move his head. Tom says, "Jimmy was just 14 years old at the time of the accident in 1978. When he got out of the hospital a year and half later we were scared to death because the chair seemed to have a mind of its own. We tried another model with the same results. So we decided to build something better."
The OmegaTrac chair is designed to handle obstacles û it'll jump right over a 6-in. curb û and it's so heavy built one chair was hit by a Ford F-250 in an intersection and it stopped the truck.
Jim Finch himself did much of the engineering on the chair. His father taught him engineering and he uses a voice-activated computer.
Tom's oldest son, Tom III provided all the computer and software backup. Also an engineer like his Dad and Jim, Tom III primary does electrical designs and runs the manufacturing division.
One unique aspect of the OmegaTrac chair is that the suspension components are aluminum and heat-treated like those on a Corvette so the chair has a smooth and comfortable ride. This ride is not cheap. A basic chair sells for around $18,000, a price that Tom says is not out of line for a specialized chair.
The chair features height adjustment that lets the rider adapt to tables of various heights. It also makes it easier to ride in a van.
"Many people spend $10-$15,000 dollars adjusting a van to be the right size. A lot of people in wheelchairs never get to see out a window. Our chair makes it easy to drop down. The chair is designed for people up to 600 lbs. It's also designed for rough terrain and can be fitted with dual wheels."
Other options available are air suspension, power tilt and recline, luggage racks, and a tow hitch. The chair will tow about a half ton cart. Directional stability is also where the OmegaTrac chair really shines, besides allowing the driver to steer straight, the chair is also very maneuverable and will turn in an area with a radius smaller than a yardstick.
The chair can also cross through water up to 4 in. deep. The normal maximum speed is 6 mph. Although most of the chairs come in black, you can also order them in John Deere Green.
TEFTEC individualizes each chair's seat to fit the user. Tom says they provide springs to match the weight of the person. "I usually tell people that this is not an all terrain vehicle. Drive with care."
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Tom Finch, TEFTEC, 6929 Old Spring Branch Rd., Spring Branch, Texas 78070 (ph 888 234-1433 or 830 885-7588; fax 830 885-7586).
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