Farm Vehicles (materials-hauling trucks, pickups, utility vehicles, ATVs, etc.)
Do you have any information as to vendors, dealers, fabricators, etc. that offer accelerator, brake and clutch hand controls for large trucks?
- First off, if you're going to apply for a CDL license, contact the CDL testing agency you plan to use and ask if they have any requirements or suggestions for hand controls.
- If you have a choice, you should choose a truck with an automatic transmission, which will make the driving much easier. Modifying a manual transmission truck can be so time and monetary consuming that often times it is better to trade for one with an automatic transmission. Even large heavy-duty trucks and semis are available with automatic transmissions that will eliminate the need for clutching.
- If you must drive with a manual transmission, a possible alternative is an electric clutch. Butterfield, MN, farmer Dale Baerg built one for his tractor, which also might work for a truck. He is willing to share his 'solution" with others, Dale can be contacted at 507-956-2074.
- Go to the Hand Controls Corporation Web site (www.handcontrolscorp.com) and look at the photos of their hand controls on automobiles to see if you think any would work on your truck. You can call them at (800-470-7067); they have installed such controls on semis, but applicability depends on how the brake pedal goes through the firewall and how the accelerator is located. By sending them photos from the steering wheel on down, they can advise you. (For other distributors of hand control units for cars and truck, go to fyi.uwex.edu/agrability and click on "Assistive Technology Database," then on "Truck Modifications.")
- If interested in modifying the accelerator from right foot control to left foot control, search on the Internet for "Left foot accelerator" and "Left foot gas pedal" to find manufacturers and photos, or go to the Able Data site at www.abledata.com for a listing of eight companies that sell left foot accelerators.
- The following Web site discusses two designs of hand controls that utilize different hand motions to apply the brakes and accelerator. Go to —www.accesssolutions-ky.com, and click on "Vehicle Hand Controls." You will need to decide which technique of operation you prefer.
- There are a few companies that make custom-manufactured hand controls or perhaps provide design plans that you or a local machinist could use to make the conversion. Three such companies are Life Essentials of Brookston, IN (765-742-6707 or www.lifeesstentialsweb.com); John Hancock of Lexington, KY (859-227-7099), and Northend Mobility of Welland, Ontario (905-735-5552 or www.northend-mobility.com).
- Two companies make joystick controls for cars and pickup trucks that could possibly be adapted for large trucks—Electronic Mobility Controls (www.emc-digi.com) and Creative Controls (www.creativecontrolsinc.com). Also, Butterfield, MN, farmer Dale Baerg, with quadriplegia, has tractors that have been modified for joystick control and he is willing to share with and help others, he can be reached at 507-956-2074. His ideas may help in modifying a large truck.
- Breaking New Ground (BNG) Resource Center at Purdue University has two publications in its Plowshares Technical Reports series that you might find beneficia—"Hand Controls for Agricultural Equipment" (Plowshare #2) and "Farming with a Lower Extremity Amputation" (Plowshare #24). They can be viewed and downloaded from the Center's Web site—www.breakingnewground.info.
- Check out the "Toolbox," which is a catalog of commercial and farmer-modified equipment and assistive devices for farming with a disability. It includes sections on tractor/self-propelled equipment control modifications and truck access and controls. It is available for purchase in CD-ROM and hard copy format at www.breakingnewground.info and available on-line (in pdf format) at www.bngtoolbox.info. Your county Extension office and local high school agricultural education teacher should have a copy of the CD to view (perhaps borrow).
I have a hard time getting into my two-ton truck. Are there any design plans or companies that build lifts?
There are a number of small companies that custom-manufacture farm machinery adaptive devices, including man-lifts to access large trucks. Among them are Life Essentials, of Brookston, IN (by phone @ 765-742-6707 or on the Web @ www.lifeessentialsweb.com) and John Hancock, of Lexington, KY (by phone @ 859-227-7099). They will discuss your needs and suggest possible solutions, including building one for your specific situation.
For lighter and less expensive lifts that might be more compatible with large trucks and equipment, check out: the Coach Lift, made by SS Products, of Tempe, AZ (by phone @ 888-224-1425 or on the Web @ www.coachlift.com and click on "Farm Handicapped Lift") and the Glide 'n Go Power Seat Lift, made by Access Unlimited, of Binghamton, NY (by phone @ 800-849-2143 or on the Web @ www.accessunlimited.com and click on "Other Vehicle Products).
The Breaking New Ground Resource Center at Purdue University also has printed materials that address this topic. They include the following four fact sheets found in The Toolbox (a CD-ROM and on-line catalog of modified equipment and assistive devices for farming with a disability): "Commercially Manufactured Lifts," "Independent Mounted Lifts," "Equipment-Mounted Chair Lifts," and "Equipment-Mounted Platform Lifts." Your county Extension office and local high school agricultural education teacher should have a copy of The Toolbox CD to review (or perhaps borrow); also you can access it (in pdf format) on BNG's Web site—www.bngtoolbox.info.
There's a possibility that your state's rehabilitation services or vocational rehabilitation program will purchase, or at least help you purchase the man-lift(s). To find out, contact them either by phone (look in the yellow pages under "Government, State" or in a separate section ahead of the white pages that lists state government offices) or via the Web (go to www.agrability.org and click on "Resources" then "Vocational Rehabilitation contact information."
* Note: When modifying truck for use by someone with a mobility impairment, extra precautions are needed to reduce the risk of injury.
I have difficulty in making that first big step onto my tractor ladder and into my truck. Are there any add-on steps available?
- Check out these Web sites for commercial extra or add-on step kits. Fixed, hinged, and electric step kits that could work for large trucks:
• AVS steps - Fleet and Commercial Vehicle Steps
- Check out the "Toolbox," which is a CD-ROM and on-line catalog of commercial and farmer-modified equipment and assistive devices for farming with a disability. It includes sections on tractor operator station accessing and truck cab accessing. Your county Extension office and local high school agricultural education teacher should have a copy of the CD to view (perhaps borrow), or you can access it (in pdf format) at www.bngtoolbox.info.
I have no use of my legs and therefore need hand controls for operating my Polaris Ranger UTV. Do you know who sells hand control conversion kits or could make the necessary modifications?
- The following Web site compares two designs of hand controls that utilize different hand motions to apply the brakes and accelerator—go to www.accesssolutions-ky.com, and click on "Vehicle Hand Controls." You will need to decide which technique of operation you prefer.
- Here are four companies that offer ready-made hand controls for automobiles that can usually be adapted for UTVs:
• Howell Industries, Ltd. (Upper Kingsclear, NB, Canada). Contact—by phone @ 888-370-5050 or via the Web @ www.suregrip-hvl.com; click on "Recreation" to see photos of UTVs with hand controls.
• TNT Portable, Inc. (Chattanooga, TN). Contact—by phone @ 866-423-2402 or via the Web @ www.tntportable.com. They advertise adaptability for ATVs.
• AllegroMedical.com (Mesa, AZ). Contact—by phone @ 800-861-3211 or via the Web @ www.allegromedical.com, then in the search window type "Hand Controls."
• Access Solutions, Inc. (Lexington, KY). Contact—by phone @ 877-426-3482 or via the Web @ www.accesssolutions.com and click on "Vehicle Hand Controls."
- You might also contact Life Essentials, LLC, Brookston, IN, (765-742-6707 or www.lifeessentialsweb.com), John Hancock of Lexington, KY (859-227-7099), and Northend Mobility of Welland, Ontario (905-735-5552 or www.northend-mobility.com) which design and fabricate vehicle and equipment custom modifications for persons with disabilities.
- Three other sources of information on homemade hand control ideas and designs are:
• University of Wisconsin Extension AgrAbility Web site—go to fyi.uwex.edu/agrability and click on "Assistive Technology Resources," then on "Plans for Equipment Modifications."
• Toolbox, which is a CD-ROM and on-line catalog of commercial and farmer-modified equipment and assistive devices for farming with a disability. It contains fact sheets on control modifications for farm equipment (including utility vehicles). Your county Extension office and local high school agricultural education teacher should have a copy of the CD to view (perhaps borrow), or you can access it (in pdf format) at www.bngtoolbox.info.
• American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, A hand control can be made by attaching a bent rod by means of a bracket to the foot pedal for the clutch, brake, or hydrostat transmission. The rod can be clamped onto the foot pedal and bent to come up to a convenient location for hand operation. An article with color pictures and evaluation of different designs of bent-rod hand controls can be found at asae.frymulti.com by typing "Evaluation of Mechanical Tractor Pedal Extensions" in the "with-the-exact-phrase" search window, click "GO" then "download pdf."
I'm a right leg amputee; is there a way to convert my pickup truck accelerator from right to left foot control?
- For ways to modify the accelerator from right foot control to left foot control, search on the Internet for "Left foot accelerator" and "Left foot gas pedal" to find manufacturers, or see companies listed below.
- Go to the Able Data site at www.abledata.com for a listing of eight companies that sell left foot accelerators.
- Contact Howell Industries, Ltd. (Upper Kingsclear, NB, Canada)—by phone @ 888-370-5050 or via the Web at suregrip-hvl.com for photos of their design.