Hello from Tennessee

You dont have to, but its interesting!

MAIN WEBSITE: www.wheelchairdriver.com

Hello from Tennessee

Postby WoodenBoat » 12 Dec 2016, 06:54

I've only just now found this site and I've read through most of it. But I have to admit that there is enough techno talk that I am a little lost. (...actually a LOT lost. LOL) I suppose that I will have to study, study, study it all until it begins to make sense. Still, I'm thrilled to have found this site. Maybe this is the place to solve the problems that I've been experiencing.

Here is my situation and if I have posted this on the wrong board, I apologize. I tell folks that I have it good and bad. The bad part is that I have two 85-years-old parents in wheelchairs. The good part is that I have two 85-years-old parents. Most people my age have already lost one or both parents but mine are both still alive and doing reasonably well.

We have been able to cobble together two power wheelchairs and an old disability van from Craigslist. My immediate problem is that neither chair has any range whatsoever. Our usual routine is for my mother to put her wheel chair into the van and we will go grocery shopping. We will start with a full charge. We arrive at the store and unload the chair in the disability parking space. Mom will go through the store and I will push the shopping buggy behind her. Her chair only needs to carry her as we expect nothing more from it. But it won't have enough juice to even get back into the van without a lot of pushing and tugging on my part. As far as I'm concerned, this is just absolute nonsense! This chair and its associated battery is barely a year old.

While I am certainly interested in developing my own chairs based on the ideas that I've seen on this site, my first goal is to get some reasonably serious range out of mom's chair.

Where do I start? (Help me Obi-Wan, you're my only hope.)
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Re: Hello from Tennessee

Postby LROBBINS » 12 Dec 2016, 09:43

Here are a couple places to start.

First, check what brand and type battery was installed. There are only a couple out there that can be called decent. For most users, and certainly for the use you've described, the MK GEL is probably the best there is. For "sporty" types the Odyssey Extreme AGM battery can be a better choice. Other than these, they are all junk.

Second, use a voltmeter to check what the charger is actually doing throughout its cycle. From when it's first connected, to when it says "done", and then for as many hours thereafter as you can stand to wait. Post that information here, and John (Burgerman) can tell you how badly it's treating the batteries - most chargers don't do a job that promotes long battery life. (Might post the nameplate information from the charger as well.)

Ciao,
Lenny

P.S. It would be a good idea to go into the "User Control Panel" and add your location to your profile. We have members here on every continent - North America, South America, Europe (from east to west), Asia and Oceania and what's available and how one obtains it can be very different. For example, we are U.S. ex-pats living for the last 18 years in Italy. The two systems are very, very different, and though the problems we have to deal with haven't changed, the way we have to go about things certainly has.
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Re: Hello from Tennessee

Postby Burgerman » 12 Dec 2016, 11:05

You also didn't mention what chairs. They may be just tiny shopping chairs where the batteries are just way too small for what you are doing. Or old... Old batteries die slowly and get worse and worse.
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Re: Hello from Tennessee

Postby WoodenBoat » 14 Dec 2016, 11:12

Hey folks, thank you for the replies.

I didn't get any email notifications saying that someone has responded and so, I just came onto the message board to see if there had been any activity. SURPRISE, there was.

Ok, now that I've gotten some response, please allow me to go gather the info that you're asking for and I will be back. It's currently 4 am and I'm going back to bed right now.

Thanks again for taking me by the hand and helping me get started.
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Re: Hello from Tennessee

Postby WoodenBoat » 31 Oct 2017, 22:51

OMG, it's been so long since I was here. I feel terrible that I'd walked away and this forum completely slipped my mind. Really sorry about that.

Anyway I have intended to gather the information asked for in previous posts in this thread and so, I'm doing it now. But I feel I should mention some of the back story as to how I ended up having a rather eclectic collection of chairs.

I live in Clarksville, TN. here in the U.S. This is home to Fort Campbell and the 101st Airborne. We have a lot of war-wounded soldiers here and also many disabled retired veterans. A very large percentage of Clarksville's population is made up of retired soldiers who have liked the area so much that they just stayed rather than moving back to where they originally grew up. The insurance benefits that these guys can tap into are amazing and often times, power chairs are included without charge to the soldiers who have given so much to this nation. Periodically, the Veteran's Administration will update chairs simply because they feel it's time for a soldier to have a new one. Then the old one gets shoved into a basement or garage and sits until given away.

When my parents advanced into their late years, they became more and more frail and weak. They've lived here in Clarksville for decades and have made many great friends. So, as they have gotten older and weaker, good friends have appeared out of the wood work and offered chairs. Invariably, a chair would only have one problem - dead batteries. My father was trying to get around the university campus one day and took a bad fall. A day later, some of our best friends showed up at the door with a power chair and cured that problem. Then my mother had her stroke and the insurance bought her a chair. Then another ex-soldier friend of ours came by to visit one day and he had with him another chair and asked if we needed it. I told my folks that I would fix the chair and we would pay this generosity forward somehow. I felt that, if we didn't accept the chair, it might end up in the landfill or something.

In the time since then, we've managed to collect four chairs and a scooter. Here is a list of what we have:

Pride Mobility Jazzy Elite ES
Pride Mobility Jet 3 Ultra
Pride Mobility Jazzy 1120
Shoprider 6Runner 14
Golden Companion GC440

All the chairs are in VG working condition. The Golden Companion scooter has drive train problems that I have not yet sorted out. The Jazzy 1120 is the biggest and baddest of the bunch with the Shoprider running a close second.

We have had the Jet 3 the longest. It needed new batteries when we got it and we bought the correct ones at the local Batteries Plus store. But I can't say that I've been particularly impressed with the life of these batteries. Batteries Plus charged me nearly $300 for the two batteries (a pair of UB12350s) and I needed to turn in the old ones or pay a core charge. I felt like they must have seen me coming. LOL Now it's time to replace these as they can barely move the chair from the living room to the kitchen without dumping.

So, when the Jazzy Elite batteries went south, I bought two new batteries from Amazon.com and didn't have to pay a core charge. Also, this chair called for a matching pair of UB12350s. They cost me a shade over $120 and I thought this was GREAT. So far, they seem to be giving good service - especially given the price.

Recently, we acquired the Shoprider chair and it calls for UB12500 batteries. We have been very strapped for money but my mom has been uncomfortable in the Jazzy Elite. So I put the UB12350s from the Jazzy into the Shoprider chair even though they were too small to fill the battery area. I wedged in peices of cardboard and styrofoam to keep them from wiggling around. This is a chair that seems to have been built with a morbidly obese person in mind as it is rated for up to a 450lbs rider. My mother is nowhere near this weight. She's around 140lbs. But she is finding this chair to be SO comfortable that she doesn't want to live without it. She asked me if there would be a problem using batteries that were too small for the chair. I don't claim to be any sort of battery expert but I told her that, to the best of my knowledge, it would simply mean that we might not get the range the proper batteries would deliver. So far, we've been happy at how much range we're getting. The batteries are very new though. Time will tell.

As an unexpected surprise, I found that I can sell the old batteries for the scrap value of the lead inside. A UB12350 brings $3.50 locally but I found a local auto parts store that would give me $10 in store credit if I wanted. I decided to take the store credit and sold all my scrap UB12350s and ended up with $60 on a gift card. YAY!

The old UB12500s in the Shoprider brought $10 cash each because they are large enough to count as automobile batteries. The Jazzy 1120 batteries were 80AH AGMs and they also brought $10 each cash.

So, as you folks can all see, I'm learning about this stuff really quickly.
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Re: Hello from Tennessee

Postby Burgerman » 01 Nov 2017, 00:06

Theres 2 threads pinned at the top of the main forum on lead batteries. You really ought to read it because you seem to be in battery hell! Or soon will be. :fencing
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Re: Hello from Tennessee

Postby WoodenBoat » 11 Nov 2017, 03:07

Burgerman wrote: ... you seem to be in battery hell! Or soon will be. :fencing


Yes, that I am. LOL

I have read EVERYTHING here that I can find and a LOT of what I've read, I done so for the third or fourth time. The batteries for my mom's chair will be ok for a while but the one's in my dad's chair are going to need replacing very soon. I can get the MK Gel batteries on Amazon and this is the way I'm going to go for dad's chair.
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Re: Hello from Tennessee

Postby Burgerman » 11 Nov 2017, 03:37

Before you install them, measure voltage of each, and if below around 12.60V send them back. If above 12.6V connect them together pos to pos, neg to neg, and leave them this way for 24 hours.

Then charge then with a 3 stage charger.

One that has CC (Constant Current) or so called "bulk" by dummies of a minimum of 1A per 10Ah of battery. (Never exceed 12A as the chairs wiring isnt capable)

CV or called "Absorption" by dummies is stage 2. It needs to be a fixed top voltage 28.2V on the chair. If it charges at a higher voltage than this it is shortening the life of your batteries.

Float. Float is another LOWER fixed voltage stage, that the charger moves to after the green ready light comes on. That light lies. It does 2 things. It finishes the charge over the following 5 to 7 hours, which is essential if you want a long service life. And it maintains the batteries over time so that they do not naturally discharge. So leave it connected till you use it again. This should be 27.2V.

And be sure youfit the biggest MKs possible in the space.
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