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Lift Puts Handicapped Farmer In Driver's Seat
Thanks to a hydraulic "lift", handicapped Nebraska farmer Norman Wegner, of Scribner, is able to operate his tractor despite being paralyzed from the waist down as the result of a tractor-truck accident four years ago.
The hydraulically-powered platform gently lifts Wegner from ground level to the threshhold of his tractor cab. From there, Wegner is able to grab handholds and a bar inside the cab to hoist himself into the driver's seat. Once in the seat, he is able to operate the clutch and brakes with his hands, using special designed levers fitted to normally footoperated controls.
The lift doesn't run off the tractor hydraulic system. Instead, the power comes from a hydraulic pump which is driven by an electric motor drawing its power from the tractor's batteries. This hookup permits Wegner to get on or off the tractor when the tractor isn't running. He directs the lift up and down from a push-button control mounted at waist-level on the lift's guard rail.
Using hydraulics rather than a direct mechanical link with an electric motor adds another safety feature. For example, if a gear or pulley would happen to break, using a mechanical hookup, the lift would suddenly drop the rider with a thump. With hydraulics, it's "plumbed up" so that if the pump should fail, the lift will drop
slowly. It unbolts and can easily be transferred to another tractor, or to a combine or other self-propelled implement.
The lift was designed by Leonard Bashford, part-time engineering instructor at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, and a partner in AB Consulting, a private engineering consulting firm in Lincoln. Blueprints for building the hydraulic lift platform are available from Otto Link at the Nebraska Department of Education, Division of Rehabilitation Services, Oak Park, 7355 Pacific Street, Omaha, Neb. 68114 (ph 402 554-2100). (Reprinted with permission from the Nebraska Farmer Magazine.)

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1980 - Volume #4, Issue #2