My partner has just got a Salsa M2 powered wheelchair which is fantastic around the house, but we’re planning how to use it out and about. We saw roll-a-ramp on the web and would be interested to hear if has experience of using this product. It looks to be very useful but is quite expensive so I wanted some advice before buying.
We’re looking for something firstly for loading a chair into a vehicle but also for general use - going up steps, entering building over thresholds etc. Other options seem to be to use several different products which could end up costing the same. It also seems that many premises have ramps available but which would not be suitable for use with a powered wheelchair for various reasons.
My wife has a Salsa Mini 2, which I think is the same as your partners. I already had a hoist in the back of my van to lift her scooter in with and so opted to get the correct lifting bar for the wheelchair.
To do that, I had to get the wheelchair into the van using a ramp and over to the fitting chappy.
Because of the low ground clearance and the central wheel drive, it’s not an easy task using a ramp for this. I already had a couple of ramps, with the longest being 5’ 0". When you drive the wheelchair onto the ramp the front wheels rise up and lift the driving wheels off the ground. I had to put a brick behind the wheels, disengage the motors, remove the brick and push until the driving wheels were in contact with the ramp and then reinsert the bricks until I could re-engage the motors. It’s not something I would want to do very often.
It will work with a longer ramp of the correct length, but I’ve not yet discovered the maths to work out what that is, it has to be something that takes into account the pitch of the ramp and the distance between the front wheels and the driving wheels and the ground clearance. (I had a similar problem with the front door and a different wheelchair and just worked it out with a scale drawing and a bit of trial and error).
Thanks for sharing your experience. The Salsa manual says it can climb a 1:7 slope so a height of (for example) 1.5 feet would mean a 10.5 foot ramp which is rather long. But this figure is meant for a chair with an occupant so you could probably get away with less if you were just loading the unoccupied chair, though not having the weight of a person to compress the suspension will make it more likely that the driving wheels are lifted in the way you describe.
I’ve also been advised to go the hoist way, which has lots of advantages but I’m reluctant to fit a hoist to our old car when we might end up with a wav in the next few years.
The ability to climb a 1:7 slope is just that, it doesn’t necessarily take into account the hard transition from flat to 1:7 which is what you’ll have going into the back of a vehicle, although at a guess a ramp long enough to take 1:7 into account will probably work.(The 5’0" ramp into my van would have been more like 1:4)
We’ve fudged our way into our current situation with a hoist for the chair and later another fitted in the front to lift my wife into the passenger seat, as when the scooter/wheelchair hoist was fitted my wife could still weight-bear.
With hindsight, a WAV would have been a better aquisition and I’ll be looking into acquiring one some time in the not too distant future. So far, I’ve only found one where the wheelchair sits where the passenger seat would normally be and I really do dislike the idea of my wife being in the back like an item of cargo.
Just to follow up on this, we found 7’ x 26" of Roll-a-Ramp on eBay so thought we’d take a chance. It was still quite expensive, even second hand. It is on the heavy side and a bit awkward to unroll so the person doing this needs to be reasonably fit. The good side is that it does work reasonably well and does the job to get the unoccupied chair into our old Yaris Verso which is about 18" high. In theory, as it is modular, we could buy more and extend it but I think the length is about right. Shorter would be steeper. Longer would be shallower and easier for the chair but also heavier and bulkier to load. Also, a longer ramp would, of course, require more space behind the car.
I take the back off the chair to reduce the height.
When it goes onto the ramp, I have to lean or sit on the chair to compress the suspension, otherwise the front castors just lift the driving wheels off the ground.
When I unload, I have to tug the chair a little to coax it onto the ramp.
Once loaded, I move the chair as far forward as possible and use tie-downs to secure it to the seat anchoring points.
The ramp rolls up and fits easily behind the chair. I use a strap to keep it from unrolling itself.
So far, I have only tried with all the rear seats folded. It might be possible to have one passenger seat up but I haven’t tried this yet.
So overall, a success and a rather cheaper solution than swapping the Yaris for a WAV. In the long term, though a WAV is probably the way to go when the Yaris gets replaced.