Sunday, March 27, 2011

Goshen coach mileage this past week 11 miles per gallon!!!

      Just filled up tonight.  Diesel was $3.799/gallon which was painful.  The other irksome thing is that the pumps only precertify $100.00 in fuel. So the truck soaks up the 100.00 without stopping, I have to stab the pump with my credit card again and pump another 15 dollars worth on board. So when it was all said and done the mileage calculations comes out as 10.98 MPG of mostly city driving.  This still leads me to believe that I can get 14-15 MPG all highway at 55mph up from the 12.5 I use to get.
     You see I did a bunch of fuel mods around christmas time and haven't had the truck out on the highway completely since.  But sometime real soon we will be having a trip to Nashville, TN to a doctors appt which will be our first full mileage test of the mods. And I'll be sure to report if they did or didn't work.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

aggravating battery troubles!!

     I've been babying the truck for a few weeks now as I haven't had the patience to really work on it. Our 2000 Ford E350 7.3L Powerstroke turbo diesel truck has been having power issues.  I've noticed when you turn the key on the battery light comes on and goes off like normal. but I am having to charge the batteries when I park it every night.  This leads me to believe the alternator is out. but being a van I have to take off the air cleaner to get a wrench on the alternator to take it off and go have it tested, but I just haven't found the time to do that.
      I'm on the lookout for a solid mechanic here in Metropolis, IL that will work on my truck and fix up a few things as I just don't know when I'm going to feel like working on the truck. So if anyone has any suggestions let me know.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ford E350 Powerstroke battery woes

Ford E350 Powerstroke battery woes

My battery problem is back. I go out start the truck today and the batteries are dead. Previously I talked about this issue here and here.  So the trucks batteries lasted 10 days from the last charge, appearing to go down ever so slightly each day.  I had dismissed this notion of the batteries not being as strong as the day before as just over-anxiousness.
     So tonight I have the truck on the charger again.  And tomorrow I'm going to take it up to the parts store and get the batteries load tested. I did pop the fill caps off the front battery today and it was full of water.

I love to sing by SuperGirly

 I love to sing     by SuperGirly

    Ever since I was young, I've loved to sing. I can remember having solos in the children's musicals at church and even singing sometimes with my dad. As I got older, I got braver and started singing on my own during church services. I joined the Junior High School Chrous at Carterville, IL Junior High and when I went on to high school, I joined the chorus there as well. By this time, I had probably been singing solos in church for 5 years, maybe more. I participated in the high school spring musicals "The King and I" and "Anything Goes".
Even after high school, I continued to sing in church on my own and with the choir. For various reasons, I haven't attended church regularly in a few years.

     A few years ago, I found a really neat website that allows me to keep singing and share it with people.  It is a karaoke website called  Here, I can sing just about any genre of music and share it online with people.  I've even done a duet or two with people I've never met on this website.
I would like to share a selection or two with you. 
This first one is one of my favorites, "What A Wonderful World" written by Bob Thiele and George David Weiss and first recorded by Louis Armstrong as a single in 1968.  This song the antithesis of the racially and politically charged year that was 1968.  Dr Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered April 4th 1968. The original release of this song sold very poorly in the United States but has gained increasing popularity ever since as it's meaning has really taken hold.  Louis Armstrong's version of this song was finally inducted in to the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1999 : What A Wonderful World by SuperGirly 
Here's another one I love "Ain't No Sunshine" originally recorded by Bill Withers on his 1971 album: Just As I Am. Withers' was a factory worker at the time he wrote this song making toilet seats for 747s.  This version, one of countless hundreds of arrangements that have been done of the song, was done by Eva Cassidy. This is my version of Ain't No Sunshine

Monday, March 21, 2011

Photos of Harrah's Metropolis Riverboat Casino flooding

      This series of photographs were taken Sunday March 20th 2011.  They show that Harrah's Metropolis Riverboat Casino is still closed from the flooding of the Ohio River here in Metropolis, IL. 

 Water is still high at Harrah's Metropolis Riverboat Casino and remains closed for the time being
 The employee entrance is built up with 2 feet of gravel and plywood gangways
 better view of the gangway they've temporarily built to the employees entrance
 The water has dropped a foot from its cresting height just a few days ago and will continue to fall pretty fast.
 Valet parking underwater, main entrance is sandbagged and being pumped out with a large diesel powered pump like a 10 incher.
 Ferry Street entrance under a couple of feet of water still
Harrah's Metropolis Riverboat Casino's entrance is underwater and the casino will most likely remain closed through this week. Once the water goes down they will have to remove all their sandbagging and repair any possible flooding damage, which if everything went well with the sandbagging effort should be minimal. If I were a betting person I'd say the casino will be back open on the 25th of March. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Gentle waves on a parking lot

     The Ohio river here in Metropolis, IL is falling slowly. It has dropped a foot so far from its high point. I figured I'd share a short quiet video of gentle waves on a parking lot that I shot today. Take not of how fast the water is moving as you look out across the river.  The Ohio is carrying over 6.7 million gallons per second of water by here at the moment.  This volume is over 9 times the amount that goes over Niagara falls per second during it's summer peak.

Disability and Preparing for Disaster!!! *MUST READ*

Yesterday I wrote about the disabled dealing with disaster.  yesterdays story about Japanese earthquake and tsunami and its effects on the disabled.  I noticed I didn't provide any links to any resources that could help you prepare for the unimaginable.
     There are certainties after any disaster and the most important one is you are going to be on your own until such time that the government has a good deal of infrastructure cleared and repaired.  This could be hours days or longer.  If your power goes out no one is going to come knock on your door checking on you and that's just a minor breakdown in societies structure.
     From my limited experience with natural disasters I've dealt with a 7 day power outage in the middle of winter. Our disaster was a severe ice storm which you wouldn't think would be that severe except that it dropped half or more of every tree and broke the power lines everywhere. There was a run on generators, the only gas station that was open in the area had an hour line with no guarantee there would be gas when you got to the front of that line. I was one of the fortunate ones I had gas heat and gas hot water but both required some electricity to operate. I also needed to provide power to an electric wheelchair charger on a daily basis.  I didn't own a generator, so I ran from place to place until I found one that had a generator and a couple of gas cans then I spent several more hours securing gasoline. And I was able to provide 1 light bulb and electricity to operate the furnace and the hot water heater, and charge up the wheelchair as needed.
     Being winter time all the food that was in the refridgerator I put in coolers and placed outside to keep fresh and we ate all the frozen stuff that I had accumulated in the deep freeze for several years that week. We were very fortunate as we also had a gas stove and gas and water was working fine from the city. So we ate very well that week knowing that since we lived in town that our power would be restored quicker then if we lived in the country and we just played cards and listened to the radio for a week.
     Now as you can tell from my story I was not prepared but I knew exactly what I needed to provide warmth food and shelter for some time, and I was lucky enough that what I needed was available somewhere.  The availability of a disaster kit during a disaster is definitely not guaranteed! And I can't stress enough that credit card machines are not going to be working in a major disaster, that plastic will be useless! Keep emergency funds somewhere that you can get to quickly!
      The following are a few links to help you prepare for an emergency:

How would you prepare your special needs family for an emergency?  This one is short sweet and concise.

Disability Preparedness Resource Center This is the government site with a wealth of information and links to help prepare yourself for coping with disaster. Preparing for & Responding to Emergencies & Disasters This one will overlap the previous one to some extent but has some other quick to find resources.
     I hope this post and my previous one will help you to ready yourself and your family for success or failure.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Japan earthquake and tsunami hits the disabled the hardest

     I wanted to take a moment to put the plight of the disabled out front in this Natural Disaster.  A few sobering statistics:

  1. 22% of Japanese citizens are over 60 years of age
  2. 3/4 of all deaths in the United States Hurricane Katrina disaster were over 60
     These number by themselves are frightening but they are only painting a partial picture of the disabled community. The under 60 disabled person, a much harder figure to quantify in past disasters as then your looking at the numbers and trying to decide how many out of the numbers were healthy individuals. The people in skilled care facilities, the people on oxygen and ventilators The wheelchair bound person, or worse the powerchair person with dead batteries and no hope of knowing when they will get charged.
     Japan has 127 million people. 22% are over 60. And I'm going to guess this next percentage based on disability figures elsewhere, I'll say 1% are disabled and not in the overlapping over 60 group.  This means that 29.2 million disabled and elderly individuals are struggling, some of course more then others based on demographically where they are, but the number speaks for itself.
     This paints a macabre picture which wasn't exactly what I had in mind.  A disabled person needs to think about these "worst case scenarios." What would you do? How prepared are you? Do you have an emergency cash fund that is easy to get to? If your in a wheelchair just what would you do if your chair was damaged? There are numerous other and lots of more important questions you should be concerned with based on your situation or the situation of someone you love.
     I'm writing this to raise awareness of this segment of the population that is disproportionately suffering the most.

Flooding of Metropolis, IL 7.5 million gallons of water a second flowing by

     1 million cubic feet per second!  That's what the peak estimated flow from the Ohio River here at Metropolis, IL. It's an unfathomable number to fully comprehend.  To say it in a more comprehendable way 7,480,519 gallons of water passed by here every second! This is over 646 billion gallons of water passed by here in 1 day!!!
     I just don't think people realise how large the Ohio river is here in Metropolis, IL.  At normal pool the Ohio is 1 mile wide. At current flood stage she's about 3 miles wide.
     Harrah's Metropolis Riverboat Casino is currently closed due to the high water and from what I'm seeing Wednesday March 23rd it maybe be able to open up about mid day if current river projections hold true.

 This is a picture of some housing underwater, ,the story does have a human element
 Harrah's Metropolis Riverboat Casino Complex as seen from Market and 2nd Street
 Front street underwater and Harrah's unsightly fencing that blocks the view of the river and probably more importantly people walking from that other hotel over there. Fence also cuts off the sidewalk to pedestrians.
Backside of Harrah's Metropolis Riverboat Casinos hotel and the Players riverboat hotel signage showing front street underwater
 Upstream view of Harrah's Metropolis Riverboat Casino showing the boarding barge complex and the riverboat herself with her paddlewheel pointed upstream where it collects debris.  I never understood why anyone would park a boat as beautiful as this one in this fashion.
 The Ohio River showing a just how wide it is.
 Another section of front street cut off by the rising river.
 Our truck with the choppy Ohio River as a backdrop
a tug boat powering upstream at street level.

Friday, March 18, 2011

My 1968 Mercury Parklane Convertible with yachtpanneling

     1968 Mercury Parklane Convertible with yachtpanel siding

     My grandfather bought this car for me in 1986 when I was 15 years old.  At the time it was parked in a carport and there she sat.  In 1968, 112 of these Parklane convertibles with the yachtpanelling were produced, 12 remain this is one of those 12.
     At the time I acquired it the Parklane was 18 years old a fitting age for a first car.  It's now 2011 and that Parklane is 43 years old! I never would have believed in 1986 that I would still have the car around in 2011, of course at 15 I wouldn't have believed I'd be writing about it in 2011.
     This 68 Mercury Parklane came with the 428 cubic inch big block motor and a 4bbl carburetor.  Miraculously this very same motor is still in good shape today with 120,000 miles on it.  The motor is tied to Ford's robust C6 transmission which has amazingly lasted all these years without requiring a rebuild as well.

 In this picture you can see the 1968 Mercury Parklane Convertible and a 1968 Mercury 4 door in the background that I had planned on using for parts.
 This picture shows the 428 cubic inch Big Block Ford Power plant
Here's a shot showing an overview of the convertible from behind.

The following is some information about this car from an article in "Old Cars" November 21, 1996 entitled: "Boats that don't float" by John Adamek

     The wood grain vinyl on the side was made by 3M and is called officially "DI-NOC woodgrain transfer" and it is walnut in color and comes in 2 layers the Walnut layer then a layer on top that has the 1/8" black pin stripes that run the entire length of the car spaced 2 1/4" apart giving it the appearance of board planking. The original cost for the wood grain package was $129.55
     John Adamek's favorite print ad for this car was in the March 1,  1968 copy of Life magazine on pages 66 and 67.
     It is believed that only 200 of these cars were made with the woodgrain. And according to Adamek he only knew of 15 convertible parklane's in existence.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Harrah's Metropolis Riverboat Casino is closed!!!

     Harrah's Metropolis Riverboat Casino is closed!!!!!

     The water finally got too high and they closed the casino today. The Ohio river as of right now is at 47.81 feet and is projected to now crest Thursday evening at 48 feet.
      The current projections are for the Ohio here to start falling on Sunday.  By Monday afternoon if the projection holds the river will be back to the level it's at right now.  This being the case I don't expect the Casino to open back up until sometime midweek at the earliest.  Which this should have Harrah's and the city of Metropolis in a cold sweat from the loss of revenue and tax dollars respectively.

 Casino Closed Today
Harrah's Metropolis Riverboat Casino is underwater
Just so you don't think I am totally just concerned with the casino here is a picture taken from 3rd Street in Metropolis, IL looking towards the Ohio river at some houses underwater.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Metropolis, IL Ohio River Flooding today

     I figured I'd show a picture or 2 of the flooding as it stands today at Harrah's Riverboat Casino Metropolis.
    The river continues to rise!  The Ohio has now been revised to crest on Wednesday March 16, 2011 at 7pm at 48 feet.  Again for historical significance the 1937 flood hit 60.60 feet. Normal river pool is about 15 feet. So  the ohio which is approximately 1 mile wide here at Metropolis, IL at normal pool is carrying an extra 33 feet of water and right now is flowing about 800,000 cubic feet per second of water by here, which is an unfathomable number.
  These pictures show the employee ramp which currently is about 5 feet deep in the water back filled with gravel and a wooden gang plank connected the 2 dry sides. The other 2 pictures show the Ferry Street valet parking entrance to the casino is now underwater and blocked off to traffic.  The large building in the last 2 pictures is the Hotel.

Our Ford Powerstroke 7.3 powered wheelchair van's battery issue revisited

     Our 2000 Ford powerstroke wheelchair van has cooperated nicely today.  I guess my fairy tell dream that it was just a battery situation that made the truck die the other day was true.
     To give you some background the other night in the rain the 7.3 Diesel would turn over but then went to clicking. I got out and tightened the connection between the two batteries.  After that the motor would turn over but not hit the 100 RPM necessary to fire the injectors off to start which is why I needed a jump.  I put the charger on it at 12 Volts - 6 Amps charge it took over 14 hours to bring the 2 batteries back up.
     Today and tonight the truck has operated flawlessly and I am not seeing any residual problems which is good as I have been sick and haven't felt like working on it.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Our Ford Powerstroke 7.3 powered wheelchair van's battery issue

     Last night I go to get into our truck to go home about 10 pm in the rain. and the truck would only turn over slowly but wouldn't start.  It's always the coldest wettest nastiest time of the night when your vehicle fails.  I'm still fortunate in that I still have people to call who will help me out and come out on the nastiest nights and give me a jump.
     This last fall I replaced both batteries, yeah powerstroke diesels require 2 batteries, with Sears Diehards. And things have been good in the battery department ever since but for some reason last night the truck won't start, the batteries had gone down.
     On the Ford Powerstroke van one battery is in the engine compartment, the 2nd battery is on the passenger side frame rail just behind the front door. This 2nd battery is always the fun one to work with as you have to lay on the ground to get your hands on it.
     The International Navastar Ford 7.3 Powerstroke Diesel is a battery hungry machine.  It has eight glow plugs, one for each cylinder in the motor, that fire off for a brief time prior to starting and run for a brief time after starting.  The glow plugs are tied straight to the batteries with a heavy relay as they pull approximately 180amps when they are on!  The starter on the powerstroke is a gear reduction Mitsubishi starter that pulls anywhere from 400-600 amps when starting. This is why there are 2 batteries as most single automotive batteries have a CCA (Cold Cranking Amps) rating of about 800 amps max meaning with a single battery the powerstroke will just just melt one down pretty quickly as it's almost like the battery was at a dead short. So they put 2 batteries on the truck giving you 1,600 CCA which should be more than enough to give you enough power and reserve to start the truck on the coldest mornings.  But theres a 2nd issue with the 7.3 powerstroke diesel and this ones important to remember. Just because the battery has enough power to physically turn the motor over, if the motor doesn't hit 100 RPM the injector module will not fire the injectors to give the motor fuel. This is where I was last night, the truck would turn over but slowly and it wouldn't hit a lick (to use an old colloquialism.)
     I go out today to start it figuring it would have been fully charged up from the alternator on the ride home last night but the batteries are dead again. So this leads to three possibilities:
     One is hopefully they are just dead, I put the charger on it today and they are charging, this theory is based most likely in fantasy.
     The second possibility is that one or both batteries are bad or low on water. If anything is wrong this one is my hope as the batteries are under warranty and this will be an easy fix. Albeit the batteries are very heavy large batteries and one is not in the easiest place to service
     The third and most dreaded possibility is that there is a short in the wiring. This one scares me to death as I have had zero energy for quite some time and am unsure if I can find the motivation to chase this down.
     Today it has been raining all day. and the temperature outside is 43 degrees F at the moment. You add to that the fact that I'm dealing with a sinus infection and you can see that I have no business being out in the weather to work on it.
     If anyone has any suggestions please post them in the comments I'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Ohio River flooding continues March 13th 2011

   Went down tonight and shot a short video of the flooding and it's impact on the local casino Harrah's Casino Metropolis, IL.  Today the Ohio river is at 46.97 feet, normal pool is about 15 feet. The projections are for the water to crest on March 17th at 47.5 feet. normal pool is about 15 feet so 30 feet water has been added to the Ohio here. This gives the Ohio a flow rate of approx 800,000 cubic feet of water a second passing by in front of where I was. To give you some perspective of the size of the Ohio here in Metropolis, during the summer months Niagara falls flows approximately 100,000 cubic feet per second of water.  Now imagine what niagara falls would look like if it had 8 times more flow!
     The Ohio River' normal pool is at about 15 feet. The river is considered at action stage at 32 feet, at 39 feet it's called flood stage. Moderate flood stage is at 43 feet. and Major flood stage is at 52 feet.
     Some historical river stages to give you some idea of where the water is at.  On Feb 02 1937 the Ohio river finally crested at 60.60 feet in the great 1937 flood.  And if the river crests at 47.5 feet then that would put this flood at number 28 on the list of greatest historical floods. My house sits at approximately 58 feet to also give you some background on why I watch the river closely.
     This photo was taken from my backyard today.
This is a photo of a Canadian National train passing over the mostly submerged approach to the ohio river railroad bridge at Metropolis
Here is a picture of the bridge again and of course our truck which I have been promising to take more photos of for awhile now. This picture is taken on Harrah's Metropolis Casino's parking lot today.

     All photos and videos shot by me March 13th 2011

Friday, March 11, 2011

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn proposes to cut Illinois Circuit Breaker Program

According to:
"The Illinois Department on Aging's Circuit Breaker program provides grants to senior citizens and persons with disabilities to help them reduce the impact of taxes and prescription medications on their lives. When the costs of property taxes and prescription medicines begin to "overload" our seniors and persons with disabilities, this program steps in to help, just as a circuit breaker prevents overloads in an electrical system."
 Our lovely (and I use that term VERY loosely) Governor is at it again. *Insert eye roll here*

It just upsets me that he's decided to go after so many people that rely on funding like this and other things that are being done away with or are taking a BIG cut. You better believe that he and his cronies are still getting paid though....

I found out about this program last year and through it was able to get a discount on the license plate sticker for my car and found out that I can get free rides on public transit buses if I need to. This coming year, I would be eligible to get the money back that I paid the skilled care facility that I currently reside at (if the program is still around). Trust me, that's a good chunk of change that would come in quite handy.

What is our government thinking? Why go after the disabled? Haven't they had enough taken from them already? Is it not enough that they can't do everyday things like they want? I'd love to be able to work, but can't. I'd love to be able to do a lot of things, but I'm disabled and can't at this time. I rely HEAVILY on my Social Security check and I don't know what I'll do if they cut that.

Written by

Sarah Wright

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Braun Entervan XT wheelchair vehicle first impressions

     With keeping up with our aging 2000 model ford E-350 plus the current price of diesel fuel and the fuel economy of driving around a mini bus it should come as no surprise we are in the market for a new wheelchair vehicle.
     Our criteria on height limits our choices plus the fact that we are spoiled with driving around such a large and spacious vehicle doesn't help matters either.  Sarah in her power chair is just short of 56 inches tall, which means that we either have to have a raised roof, or a lowered floor vehicle. You have to have a couple of inches clearance above your head or a rogue bump could end up jamming your neck up pretty good on the ceiling, so we've chosen the minimum interior height of our next vehicle should be 60 inches minimum, and at 56 inches tall the doorway needs to be right at this height to keep from having to duck when entering as this is hard to do and if you forget ramming your head in a doorway is unforgiving in a wheelchair!
     The Braun Entervan XT is the first vehicle we studied in our quest and may be one we revisit soon.  The standard Braun Entervan has a 10 inch lowered floor and can be built on 4 different manufacturers minivan chassis, but this vehicle doesn't give us the height we need.  The Braun Entervan XT has a 14 inch lowered floor with a 56 1/2 inch entryway height, and a 60 inch interior height which falls right at our minimum requirement which means it's quite suitable as our next vehicle.  The XT is only built on Dodge Chrysler mini van chassis.
     The Braun Entervan XT is well suited for wheelchair duty with automatic entry/exit ramp system.  One press of the button and the van will kneel open the door and lower unfold the ramp for you. And with the key fob remote the wheelchair driver/passenger can just just press the remote button and the vehicle will prepair itself for your reentry into your vehicle.  The major advantage of a ramp over a lift is that you can easily bridge a gap say curb parking as the ramp only touches the ground at the very end.  This is different from a lift which has to have the full platform in contact with the ground or the exit gate won't open.
     A side entry vehicle is also one of our criteria as a rear entry vehicle means you either can only be a passenger, or limits you to 1 person and 1 wheelchair if you both wish to ride up front.  There is a risk of being blocked from reentry to your vehicle if the wheelchair is a self driver by having someone parking too close to get the ramp down plus the space infront of the ramp to enter the ramp.  We run into this situation quite frequently in typical handicap parking spaces.
      As our available funding for a vehicle is not $50,000 we are assuredly in the market for a used vehicle which makes this choice more appealing as Braun has been building the XT for about 10 years meaning the availability of used vehicles is better then some of the other choices.
     One caveat I have about the Braun Entervan XT is ground clearance.  I have not been able to find out the ground clearance for this vehicle to date, but my feelings are it is something less then you would get from driving a Corvette, And does pose a minor possibility of high centering the vehicle on a steep parking lot entrance.
Braun Entervan XT's website:

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Picture of the Ohio River from the back window of our bus

The Ohio is on the rise!
     One thing about living next to a major river is you get to see first hand what the spring melt off of all the snow upstream does to water levels downstream.
     Some background is in order I suppose.  We live in Metropolis, IL on the Ohio River.  Metropolis, a river town, is approximately 30 miles by water to junction with the Mississippi River at Cairo, IL.  Living so close to the river we start getting nervous come spring as to how high this major river is going to get and this year is no exception.
     The photo above was taken Of the Ohio River from the parking lot of Harrah's Metropolis Casino.  The photo shows the river is right at the bottom edge of their parking lot, and projected crest is estimated to happen tomorrow late afternoon about 2 feet higher then when this photo was taken.
     I personally am looking forward to warmer dryer weather.  I have quite a few projects at one stage or another on our truck and just can't find the energy in the damp coldness of winter/early spring.

Ford Transit Connect Wheelchair Vehicle

     The Ford Transit Connect Wheelchair upfit is probably the cheapest new wheelchair transport vehicle on the market.  Brand new the Transit msrp's for about $24,000 and upfit will probably cost a minimum of $5,000 with a rear lift. Ford has a $1,000 handicap upfit allowance on a new vehicle, which should put you about $28,000 brand new.
     We checked into one of these from a dealer in florida that had one listed on ebay. But with the 54" entry height and 56-58 interior height it just didn't meet our minimum requirements of 56" entryway and 60" interior height.  But this vehicle was very economical and had a lot of cool features like an overhead storage shelf above the drivers seat and 5 doors which would have made wheelchair tie downs a breeze. If you were transporting someone in a manual wheelchair this vehicle is perfect!
     There is only a small handful of wheelchair capable vehicles that taught and EPA 25 MPG highway, and this is one of them.
     I should add there are other upfits one with a lowered floor and a ramp rear entry (side entry isn't possible as the doors don't open wide enough).  These models have about a 3 foot wide box cut into the floor that extends up to the back of the front seats. There is no maneuvering in a power chair in this design and requires the the powerchair operator to back up in a perfect straight line for about 8 feet before they are on the pavement.
     One of the other problems with the Ford Transit Connect is with the rear entry setup the vehicle is only a 2+1 configuration ie 2 ambulatory passengers and 1 wheelchair maximum.  And there is no storage of any kind if you were wanting to travel.  With the rear entry you can't put a bike rack or trailer on the back. You could probably get a roof rack for it being it's a commercial vehicle but the little van is actually fairly tall so you would need to carry a ladder too to utilize the rack and mileage suffers with odd shaped stuff on the roof of a car or truck.
    I really liked the idea of Ford Transit Connect Wheelchair Van, but after doing some research I couldn't make the little van fit our needs.  How do you feel about this vehicle? Anyone have any firsthand experience with it?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Driving in the rain

     Our truck really shows it's stuff in the rain.  Being 10,000 lbs it never hydroplanes even in the heaviest rainstorms.  Plus the fact that she got 6 new tires on her back in summer 2010 means she's a rain eating fool.
     I am looking forward to dryer days in the near future.  It's been cold and overcast forever it seems with no end in sight.  This has been especially tough as everything is staying mushy outside so just getting the powerchair from the truck to the house is an adventure in trying to keep the tires as clean as possible so that the house doesn't get all tracked up. On days like this I have to take the time to hand dry all 6 of her wheelchair tires before she gets free reign on the house.
     So yeah,  this post isn't so much about the truck as it operated fine today, as it is about dealing with the environment.  We are pretty much mobile everyday with very few exceptions. How do some of you deal with Mother Nature?

Monday, March 7, 2011

More details about our Wheelchair Truck

     I want to shoot a few videos of our truck in action, it's a real monster but very versatile.  There are a few photos in other posts of our 2000 Ford E-350 Goshen Wheelchair bus.
     On the exterior is a Ford Econoline dually cutaway with a bus body. Its about 30 feet long 8 feet wide and 10 feet tall.
     On the Interior it has a 7 foot ceiling and is approx 7 feet wide.  There is seating for 10 ambulatory + 2 wheelchair spots and driver seat.  Wheelchair spots are in the rear with a rear passenger side Braun Millenium Lift.

spring cleaning

     Spring is almost here which means my truck is not only in need of an oil change but it's almost warm enough I can stand to go out and clean up the interior of the truck.   It's been a snowy wet soggy winter and the wheelchair tracks and foot prints and gravel that's tracked in on the rubber flooring of the bus are starting to get on my nerves.
     The L tracking on the floor is full of rocks and dirt to where if I were to move the Q-Straint wheelchair tiedown retractors around they would have trouble locking back down.  How many of you do a full wheelchair tiedown everytime you drive around please leave me a comment below. We generally go out everyday and usually load and unload about 3-4 times each. I have to admit we rarely tie down locally.  They say most accidents happen locally which makes sense as that's where most people spend most of their time.  If we get a new vehicle which we are looking at FMI's Honda Element X-WAV we want to get the auto wheelchair locking mechanism.  Does anyone have one that can tell me about them? I've never seen an auto lock in person.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

7.3 Ford Powerstroke Diesel

     Temperature has fallen here in Southern Illinois again.  It is 37 degrees F outside tonight with a 20 mph wind. Our truck has a large wind exposure being 10 feet tall and about 27 feet long.  But it makes the Powerstrokes' Turbo sing like the big rigs when running into headwinds with lots of pedal left before the floor.
     Now me on the otherhand I was whining! I've been watching the price of Diesel go up and up with no end in sight. Think it's currently at about $3.709/gallon. We are the slow people everyone passes on the interstate, as we have to hop on the highway briefly pretty much every day.  We are back to travelling along at a religious 55mph to save a couple mpg.
    But no real complaints about the truck tonight she operated flawlessly as she should. The wheelchair lift made several trips up and down as we made a few stops tonight.  I'm just looking forward to warmer weather!

Friday, March 4, 2011

rain, lots of rain...

(Begin hatred of dealing with a rain day rant)
     We are supposed to get about 2 inches of rain here before it's all said and done tonight.  This creates quite an obstacle when you can't just run and dash from the car when you get home.  When travelling with someone in a wheelchair you have to safely take the time every time to load and unload.  This is all perfectly grand on nice warm days, but on these damp cold days it is very fatiguing.
     Our machine has a hydraulic lift.  The operator (me) has to stand outside
  1. Open door
  2. then you hit a switch to unfold lift
  3. wheelchair loads onto ramp from inside
  4. hit a switch to let it down
  5. wheelchair exits lift
  6. hit a switch to raise empty lift
  7. hit switch to fold lift back away
  8. Close and secure door
Now this sounds like I'm making a big deal about little things but each one of these takes time and makes for an unpleasant time in the rain.  The really fortunate thing is our vehicle has rubber flooring so rain doesn't bother me inside unless you count the muddy tracks on the floor that looks like a bicycles been doing circles in the floor lol.  Tell me what you think about dealing with mother nature below.

Spring is almost here!

     The winter has been harsh on the finish of our truck!  I'm hoping I can find the time to clean and give it a good coat of wax.  The truck has not been without faults all winter but I was always able to beat it back into running if it failed (ie starter failed).
     I personally am looking forward to warmer weather.  I believe our Diesel rig is looking forward to warmer weather too!  I've got a long list of projects I want to do with her; relocate the batteries to rear frame rail, cut in a belly toolbox, and resupporting the lift being the 3 largest projects I've got planned.
     I was just noticing that I have to go get a sticker for the license plate, I'm not looking forward to throwing my money there that's for sure.  But, I guess it's one of them things you have to do.
     In the next few days I want to shoot some new pictures of the truck. In looking through the thousands of pictures on my computer I seem to only have a small handful of pictures which I've allready posted. I also want to shoot some videos, particularly I want a video that captures the sound of our straight piped powerstroke turbo diesel.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Honda Element X-WAV wheelchair vehicle Test drive

     We got to try out Freedom Motors Honda Element X-WAV wheelchair conversion vehicle today.  We really liked it and with it's 60" of headroom makes it awesome for an everyday vehicle. Sarah had no problem entering and exiting the vehicle in her power chair on the first try.  Demo vehicle was driven right to our door so that we could see it.
     Freedom is different in that they build and sell their vehicles, all the others have a retailer in the middle, I am not sure if this makes the vehicle any cheaper, but it makes it to where they can afford to have demonstration vehicles to come to your door!
     Please check out their youtube video to give you an idea about this cool vehicle.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Braun Millenium Lift

     Truck operated perfectly tonight.  I was digging the sound of the turbo whistle as the motor would wind up. My chief complaint today is the Braun Millenium Lift, which is quite awesome and very strong. The flooring in the truck is plywood, and the lift had a leaking hydraulic cylinder for the first year we owned it, until I replaced the cylinder (see related posting), and the flooring has gotten soft. So when the lift operates it bounces slightly and I think it's losing it's grounding while it's bouncing so the lift does a few quick start stops on the first bit of lifting.  I'm hoping to find the time in the next few weeks to weld some steel under the flooring to the truck frame and rebolt the lift through the heavy steel with some grade 8 bolts and hardware which I'll pick up at Tractor Supply as they sell by the pound and it's the cheapest place I've found to get hardware. Once I've completed that fix it will fix the start/stopping when the lift bounces I'm sure.

People are so dumb

So we park in the handicap spot like usual the night in the rain right.  And this dude pulls his car up right up on the ramp to this place! I gave him the evil eye as he got out, although mentalling I was running my key up and down the sides of his car right! How do people this stupid manage to pass the driving test? Was I over the top, he looked really nervous as the power chair went really close to his precious car. You throw a cold rain into the mix and peoples IQ's drop 50 points I think...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

fenders cut for larger tires

Here's a couple of pictures showing our truck with its new larger tires 235/85R16E's. Had to cut some relief out of the rear fenders to keep the tires from rubbing, they fit great up front! Tires raised the truck about 1 1/2 inches and really smoothed out the ride if you can really say that about an E350 on 80psi tires.