DIY: Wheelchair Maintenance
As a gearhead by day, I inherently love to “tinker” with things, and my wheelchair would be no exception. I do all my own maintenance on my wheelchairs and most of the repairs. On a wheelchair, there are really only a few items that require regular maintenance and pretty much all brands are similar, with the same fundamental parts; barring slightly different bolt sizes and bearing diameters.
The question of how frequently a wheelchair should be refreshed depends on many different variables such as: how often you use your chair (some people walk part of the day or use multiple chairs) and where you find yourself going in it (water, dirt or strictly pavement). I tend to spend a lot of time in the dirt --Hello, I’m a boy! – so, I tear down and clean up my chair about once a month or more if needed.
When it is time, I sit down on the living room floor with my chair and tear a few key parts down. I start with the rear tires, making sure that tires are in good shape and still have a fair amount of tread. Then I check all the spokes, making sure they are all tight and the rim rolls straight. On to the bearings to see if they turn smoothly. Also, I check all the bolts mounting the push rings to see if any are loose or missing and make sure the ring surfaces are not overly scuffed or dented. If any of these items need attention I take care of it.
After the rear wheels are all sorted and cleaned I move to the front wheels or “casters.” These tend to take a lot of abuse and attract a lot of hair-- especially from pets and girlfriends. I remove the wheels and spacers and clean them all up also checking these bearings, as well. If all is well I make sure the bearings in the caster housing are turning easily and smoothly from left to right. Lastly, I take a look over the frame and upholstery to look for any cracks or tears anywhere.
With a quick wipe down and maybe a little polish for the shiny parts I am ready to rock and roll once again. All in all, it will take me a couple hours to tear my chair completely down and put it back together. This time will save so much time in the long run.
- Assorted Allen Wrenches (Metric & Standard)
- Screwdrivers (Phillips & Flat Head)
- Assorted Sockets and Wrenches (Metric & Standard)
- Plastic Tire Sticks
There might be other specific tools for your chair that may have come in a tool kit when you purchased it, or you may find that there are others that you may need to buy that might work better that what you have already. Don't worry, there are no need for pricey extravagant power tools to do regular maintenance on your chair. And you can do it while you watch a movie or your favorite TV show.