Power Chair Makes Great Parade Ride

Kenny Vandeventer has a front-seat view when he joins in local parades. At first glance, his vehicle appears to be just a seat.

 

“I saw something similar at a tractor show 4 years ago and told the owner what a great idea it was,” says Vandeventer.

 

   With that concept in mind, he returned home and looked over parts he had salvaged. The starting point was a Chevy Chevelle differential and rear end a friend had given him some 25 years ago. He also had a 16-hp., V-twin Vanguard engine and a 3-speed transmission to work with, as well as a battery, gas tank, pulleys, chains and sprockets.

 

   For the frame, he had 2-in. sq. tubing left over from a trailer build for his riding mower (Vol. 45, No. 6).

 

   His inspiration at the show had the differential going forward. This placed the drive sprocket and roller chain between the operator's legs. Vandeventer decided to flip the differential around.

 

   “I welded the tubing to the rear end where the leaf springs once attached, giving it a 5-ft. long, 6-ft. wide frame with cross members,” says Vandeventer. “I built mounts to fasten the engine and transmission to the frame, propped it up level and attached them.”

 

   A drive belt from a small pulley on the engine transfers power to a large pulley mounted to a clutch disk on the transmission, all to the rear of the axle. He used a jackshaft to transfer power from the transmission output ahead of the axle to the differential input behind the axle. The output from the transmission is a small sprocket with a larger sprocket on the differential.

 

   “Doing it this way made it more compact, and the rotation was just right to run the differential backward,” says Vandeventer. “The pulleys and sprocket ratios help gear the drive speed down.”

 

   He used expanded metal left over from another trailer project (Vol. 46, No. 1) for footrests. He also added belly wheels front and back to keep the rider level while adjusting for uneven surfaces.

 

   The dolly wheels are welded to 4 by 6-in. channel iron that is hinged to the frame. Vandeventer spring loaded them by attaching one end of a leaf spring to a cross member with the other end over the plate. A T-bolt threaded through a nut on the leaf spring applies tension to the dolly wheel plate.

 

   Vandeventer can increase or decrease suspension by turning the T-bolt. When he loads the power chair on a trailer when going to a parade, he decreases tension on the front wheel, removes the leaf spring and flips the wheel up and out of the way. This allows him to drive the chair onto a trailer.

 

   “I have steel rollers on the ends of tubing at all four corners of the chair,” says Vandeventer. “They help get it up and onto the trailer when the belly wheel is out of the way.”

 

   The seat is hinged to the framework so he can flip it forward to work on the engine and drive. When in place, it sits on springs mounted to the frame to provide suspension.

 

   Vandeventer used new master brake cylinders, wheel cylinders and brake lines. Each master cylinder is controlled by a push rod that is hooked to a lever in front of the operator.

 

   “When I pull back on a lever, it applies pressure to the wheel cylinder and slows the wheel down to turn gently or locks it to spin around like a zero-turn mower,” explains Vandeventer.

 

“A belt tightener on the drive belt in the rear is connected to a deadman foot pedal. If I take my foot off the pedal, the power chair stops. However, it is spring loaded, so I can push it all the way down, and it stays down without keeping tension on my foot.”

 

   To change gears, Vandeventer reaches behind the seat where a gear shift lever sticks up on the right-hand side. The ignition key and throttle are located under the seat.

 

   While “Pappy’s Power Chair” was complicated to make, Vandeventer says it was fun. The whole family enjoys it.

 

   Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Kenneth Vandeventer, Ottawa, Kan.