Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Zen and the art of wheelchair maintenance.

I've been a bit lax over the last couple of weeks about wheelchair maintenance - you need to pump up the tyres once a week or so and strip out the front casters about once a month as grit, fluff and hair builds up.  In particular you end up with lovely little circles of hair.  On Thursday I'd noticed the casters were no longer moving very well and there was a bolt that seemed to be coming loose on either side of back, so I decided it was time.  And for the first time I did a proper job of it.

The basic rule is to take the wheels off, squirt everything that should move with WD40, tighten everything that shouldn't move but is.

So I hauled the wheelchair in the house and started stripping it down with my trust set of US hex keys.  So far so good.  Cleaned everything up, squirted WD40 all over the bearings, etc, and in the socket the front fork goes into on the frame of the chair.  As instructed I did the casters one by one, so I didn't forget which of the three positions they needed to be in.  That's the trickiest part and I've never yet managed to do it without dropping the bolts or, particularly, the washers several times.

I also took the wheels off, pumped them up to their full 110psi (that raised eyebrows when I bought the pump in the bicycle sectionof Decathlon) and squirted a bit of WD40 on the axels.

Fully re-assembled, I put the chair back in my car.

I didn't use it  much on Friday, so Saturday was the first time I used it for any length of time and it just felt weird.  Heading out to Tesco, I skidded on some gravel in the carpark.  It seemed to wobble and, on very smooth laminate flooring of the SNP local campaign office, one of the rear wheels skidded instead of turned.

I finally figured it out late afternoon - I'd managed to put one of the casters at the wrong height and that was enough to through the whole chair off.  Luckily it's a quick fix, so my local parliamentary candidate was treated to a quick demonstration of wheelchair maintenance (I keep a small purse with the hex keys for the casters in a pocket on the chair) and I was good to go.

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