Other Modifications

Are there foot-pedal-to-hand-control conversion kits for my lawn tractor or at least design plans for “homemade” foot-to-hand control conversion?

  1. 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 http://asae.frymulti.com by typing "Evaluation of Mechanical Tractor Pedal Extensions" in the with-the-exact-phrase search window, click "GO" then "download pdf."
  2. John Deere used to make—but no longer offers—a conversion kit (part no. BM19690) for some of its models. If you would happen to find such a kit or even its installation instructions, you might be able to modify it for other makes or models. Check with your local dealer.
  3. A few companies fabricate custom-manufactured hand controls for lawn tractors 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).
  4. Two companies make joystick controls for cars and trucks that could possibly be adapted for lawn tractors—Electronic Mobility Controls (www.emc-digi.com) and Creative Controls (www.creativecontrolsinc.com).
  5. The Breaking New Ground (BNG) Resource Center at Purdue University has two entries in its Plowshares Technical Reports series that that you might find beneficial—"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.
  6. BNG also developed 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 fact sheets that show tractor, utility vehicle, and lawn tractor foot-to-hand control modifications. 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) on its Web site--www.bngtoolbox.info.
  7. The University of Wisconsin Extension AgrAbility Web site carries an article on a homemade hand-operated clutch lever that you might find helpful. Go to fyi.uwex.edu/agrability and click on "Assistive Technology Resources," then on "Plans for Equipment Modifications."

Due to a recent injury I can't walk, and now use a power chair, but cannot get outside to check on my livestock because I have no wheelchair ramp. Where can I get help in designing and building such a ramp?

For plans, use an internet search engine (e.g., Google), type "Wheelchair ramp plans" for numerous results. The Minnesota Ramp Project at www.wheelchairramp.org makes available a manual and video which include plans with a material list for a modular ramp system that requires no in-ground posts and can be built off site usually in a day. Their site also contains information on permits, building codes, funding, and safety.

For construction help, you might contact the local high school agriculture education teacher or FFA chapter advisor. These chapters are often looking for community service projects to undertake. Other local entities that might help build (or fund) a ramp include civic clubs (e.g., Lions, Kiwanis, Rotary), Young Farmers, building-trades unions, churches, and other faith-based organizations.

For funding help, monies might be available through your local Area Agency on Aging (you do not have to be elderly to use their services). To contact: By phone—look in the white pages for "Area Agency," look in the yellow pages under "Government, U.S," or look in a separate section in front of the white pages that lists government offices. On the Web—go to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Web site (www.hhs.gov); scroll down to "HHS Family of Agencies;" and click on "Show Details" then on "Administration on Aging;" under Elders and Families, click on "Find Local Programs;" then type in your ZIP code, city, or county, and click on the "Search" button.

The Minnesota Ramp Project at www.wheelchairramp.org has a funding section, and another good source for funding is Vocational Rehabilitation or Rehabilitation Services, etc. (titles vary by state). By phone—look in the yellow pages under "Government, State" or in a separate section in front of the white pages that lists state government offices. On the Web—go to www.agrability.org and click on "Resources" then "Vocational Rehabilitation contact information."

I have an arm amputation and have not had any success using a prosthesis. I plan to try to use a chainsaw to cut firewood this winter, and was wondering if you had any advice on how I can safely operate the saw with only one hand.

A significant issue with one handed chainsaw use, which is being practiced by a few, is kickback. Every chainsaw operator will eventually experience kickback or a pinched bar. The injuries to the face from kickback can be significant and even can occur with an anti-kickback mechanism in place. Another behavior that occurs with one handed use is "swing through" that occurs when an operator cuts through a limb, and the saw swings down and makes contact with the leg. Considering these potential incidents, two items of personal protective equipment are essential, a helmet with a protective face shield and chainsaw chaps, which you frequently see with chainsaw artists who often saw with one hand. Protective equipment is available at most large chainsaw dealers.

I need help accessing my boat. Does anyone make a device that will lift a person into a boat?

Listed below are three companies that can custom-manufacture or have off-the-shelf man-lifts adapted for accessing boats by either mounting the lift on a large boat or on a pier. They are:

SS Products, of Tempe, AZ—By phone @ 888-224-1425 or on the Web @ www.coachlift.com and click on "Other Handicapped Lifts."

Life Essentials, of Brookston, IN—By phone @ 765-742-6707 or on the Web @ www.lifeessentialsweb.com.

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).

* Note: When modifying a boat or other water craft for use by someone with a mobility impairment, extra precautions are needed to reduce the risk of injury. All state and federal boating regulations should be followed, including having an adequate number of personal floatation devices available.