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Old 01-13-2018, 11:31 AM   #1
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Wheel chair lift hacking / reuse for solar tilt?

Has anyone ever played around with a bus wheel chair lift to reuse parts for something else?

Weíre going to have a large solar array, and Iíve been trying to think of ways to implement a powered tilt on a budget. Iím intrigued by these air powered hydraulic rams from HF, the main down side I can see is they have to be manually released like a bottle jack to lower.
https://m.harborfreight.com/8-ton-lo...not%20provided

That got me thinking about wheel chair lifts that should have remote powered operation in both directions. But Iím not sure how reuse friendly the components will be. Thereís a guy selling them locally off old buses for $200, or I might be able to find one free from someone taking one out of their bus, so the price certainly seems about right.

Anyone played with these?

Thanks,
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Old 01-13-2018, 12:40 PM   #2
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I haven't heard of anyone using the lift parts for solar purposes, but there has been talk about using them to create stabilizer jacks underneath the bus.

That's a good idea. The components of the lift aren't really designed to deal with the weather.
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Old 01-13-2018, 12:54 PM   #3
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I'm going to lengthen the platform to accept motorcycles. Should be easy to do since they have a fold down lip at the back, all I need to do is lengthen that. Do you have a link to the guy with them for $200? I found a free one in your neck of the woods and am waiting on shipping quote to see if I'll jump on it or not. If not, I'l forward the info to you.
I think building what you want from scratch might be easier than modifying these 300lb beasts.
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Old 01-13-2018, 12:59 PM   #4
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Hereís the link, this guy regularly posts school bus parts and seems to have a yard full of old buses. Iíve been meaning to go check it out but havenít had a chance yet.
https://phoenix.craigslist.org/cph/p...423868883.html

Good point on the outdoor use, that could be an issue. If things work out the way Iím thinking the lift component would generally all be concealed under the panels so not too exposed to the elements when flat. But more so when deployed.


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Old 01-13-2018, 01:04 PM   #5
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Hereís the link, this guy regularly posts school bus parts and seems to have a yard full of old buses. Iíve been meaning to go check it out but havenít had a chance yet.
https://phoenix.craigslist.org/cph/p...423868883.html

Good point on the outdoor use, that could be an issue. If things work out the way Iím thinking the lift component would generally all be concealed under the panels so not too exposed to the elements when flat. But more so when deployed.


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Thanks, gives me another option.
I forgot you were out west and I would incur the shipping charges.
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Old 01-13-2018, 01:22 PM   #6
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People are dumping chair lifts all over once they find out how hard they are to sell.

Chair lifts used to be kind of rare and expensive. Now the government agencies will pay to install a new lift in a handicapped individual's vehicle because they need dependability. So why would they mess with a take out?

Personally I'd rather have a lift gate on the rear of the bus so I could use the lift door as an actual exit.
Then again, as o1marc and others have stated the lift is about the nicest way to get a bike in and out when you're alone. No ramp to slip off of while loading.

How feasible would it be to use an oversized lift gate on a bus to open the entire rear wall? Not as a ramp, but as a platform the way the lift gate was designed to work.
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Old 01-13-2018, 01:39 PM   #7
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People are dumping chair lifts all over once they find out how hard they are to sell.

Chair lifts used to be kind of rare and expensive. Now the government agencies will pay to install a new lift in a handicapped individual's vehicle because they need dependability. So why would they mess with a take out?

Personally I'd rather have a lift gate on the rear of the bus so I could use the lift door as an actual exit.
Then again, as o1marc and others have stated the lift is about the nicest way to get a bike in and out when you're alone. No ramp to slip off of while loading.

How feasible would it be to use an oversized lift gate on a bus to open the entire rear wall? Not as a ramp, but as a platform the way the lift gate was designed to work.
I have to laugh when I got to Ebay for wheel chair lifts and find the first one list at $1000 and then one for $99. Good luck with that $1K sale, I wonder what the seller thinks when he sees his $1k next to a $99 offering. I'm definitely adding double doors to the back of mine. I've considered doing a full fold down gate/ramp like a trailer would have. But for loading as a ramp it needs to be at least 8' long which would require a folding extension to the end. I can see where WC lift could be adapted like a Tommy Lift to load bikes with. I stopped the school bus that goes past my house everyday so I could measure the rear door height, it's 40". So an 8' ramp should not be that steep to push a bike up. Of course my bikes all weigh around 400lbs and not like a 600lb full size Harley. My Harley only weighs 331lbs, my Triumph 430lbs. The gifts have an 800b capacity, so it's all doable.

I'm still leaning toward a side WC lift access and a double door in the rear with a folding 3' wide ramp that will side in a hole in the bumper and rest in the frame rails ala U-Haul. Depending on frame rail spacing a wider ramp could accommodate a 4W ATV.
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Old 01-13-2018, 02:10 PM   #8
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My original plan was to carry a quad, but by now we both know a quad won't fit through the lift door, and it certainly won't fit through the even narrower lift.

Your back door idea would make keeping a quad in the back possible again. I'm still not going with the ramp idea but I would like to be able to put larger objects in the bus at times.
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Old 01-13-2018, 02:11 PM   #9
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Hereís the link, this guy regularly posts school bus parts and seems to have a yard full of old buses. Iíve been meaning to go check it out but havenít had a chance yet.
https://phoenix.craigslist.org/cph/p...423868883.html
It looks like a bunch of sad Praying Mantis bots.

mantis.jpg
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Old 01-13-2018, 02:12 PM   #10
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My original plan was to carry a quad, but by now we both know a quad won't fit through the lift door, and it certainly won't fit through the even narrower lift.

Your back door idea would make keeping a quad in the back possible again. I'm still not going with the ramp idea but I would like to be able to put larger objects in the bus at times.
Maybe they make Quads that are narrower and only have 2 wheels?
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Old 01-13-2018, 02:20 PM   #11
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My original plan was to carry a quad, but by now we both know a quad won't fit through the lift door, and it certainly won't fit through the even narrower lift.

Your back door idea would make keeping a quad in the back possible again. I'm still not going with the ramp idea but I would like to be able to put larger objects in the bus at times.
How about cutting lift in half and widening it to quad width with double doors FTW. What's the wheel base on a quad?
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Old 01-13-2018, 02:21 PM   #12
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Maybe they make Quads that are narrower and only have 2 wheels?
They do, they call them motorcycles, but then it wouldn't be quad now would it?
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Old 01-13-2018, 02:52 PM   #13
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They do make a quad that fits through the lift itself, but there are usually six year olds riding them.

I like the idea of widening the lift to use with rear barn doors. That doesn't exactly go with the KISS theory, although I think it could easily work. A liftgate is already designed to do that job and it stays outside. I like how a liftgate blocks access to the rear door idea.
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Old 01-13-2018, 03:13 PM   #14
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They do make a quad that fits through the lift itself, but there are usually six year olds riding them.

I like the idea of widening the lift to use with rear barn doors. That doesn't exactly go with the KISS theory, although I think it could easily work. A liftgate is already designed to do that job and it stays outside. I like how a liftgate blocks access to the rear door idea.
I think with the double door I'm going to do I will have a bar and latch method like tractor trailer doors, so they would be lockable and not need a center latching mechanism I still haven't pictured in my mind how to do. Need a bus in front of me to figure it out.
Now you got me thinking about widening a lift for the rear and deleting the lift on the side. The downside of the side WC lift is w=once you get the bike inside you need to maneuver it around. With a wide lift you could push them right into wheel chocks in side and tie them down. Yep, gonna look at that option now too. I love doing fabrication work. I haven't played with ATV's so don't know how wide they are, but probably too wide to get 2 inside side by side.
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Old 01-13-2018, 03:47 PM   #15
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My quad is 44" wide and 7' long.

It's a Suzuki Vinson 500, and I don't know if that's average for others.
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Old 01-13-2018, 03:51 PM   #16
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Anyone know the width of a standard size rear door? Search says the opening is roughly 33 and the door itself 35". On a 7.5" wide bus, 2 doors will consume 70 of the 90", leaving 10" on each side of the door for a narrow modified side window. With 2 doors and wide ramp you still couldn't get 2 ATV's side by side.
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Old 01-13-2018, 04:26 PM   #17
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At 7' in length it seems quads would be best if side loaded, then use a tranmission jack or something similar to lift and move the quad forward in the cab to make room for the second quad.

It sure is nice to be able to spray off a quad while it's sitting on a trailer. I'm not sure how to deal with that in the garage of my bus.

And yes, I have plans to use a dual sport bike. I currently have a '03 Honda ST1100 and a '87 Honda FatCat. I use the fatcat for sizing the garage for a two wheel bike.

I get 35 x 52 on the back door.
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Old 01-13-2018, 05:39 PM   #18
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I'm thinking about getting rid of my Braun lift, if anyone wants it. Still not 100% decided. Need to drive the bus and see if the rattling can be stopped. I just hate rattly stuff.
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Old 01-13-2018, 06:41 PM   #19
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I don't buy a bus unless it has a Ricon wheelchair lift.
They are rated for much less capacity than they actually handle. And they have a relief valve to prevent damage to critical components.
I use them for lifting 1000 pound tires and heavy garage equipment frequently.
I would not recommend trying to widen them. Easy enough to lengthen or shorten.
The seatbelt safety, door safety, and even park brake safety are easy to bypass making the pendant live at all times.
I've even bypassed the 12v pump and plumbed the lift into a air/hydraulic foot pump.
The lifts are not power up, power down.
When the lift is lowered, the fluid is released to the reservoir. When raised, fluid is pumped into 2 cylinders.

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Old 01-13-2018, 06:52 PM   #20
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Ok, thatís good to know. So the down is basically by gravity? That would still probably work and makes sense. The HF rams would be the same but have to be manually released to lower, which would mean getting on the roof every time. May have to do that anyway to secure for driving, but would still be easier to have remote release.


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