True, we all have to depend on others once in a while, for a lift, a bootstrap, a little assist. This time it was Suzy’s turn. Because of ever-increasing mobility problems due to her spinal situation, she has been having a terrible and very painful time getting into and out of the motorhome, which of course has severely limited our ability to travel. CoachLift to the rescue!
CoachLift was started 25 years ago when a man seeking aid for his wife designed a lift for her to get into and out of their motorhome. Since then the company has grown so that there are now over 5000 lifts in use in this country.
We’ve known about CoachLift for 4 or 5 years, but were never ready to make the admission that it would be necessary for our lifestyle – until this year. We made all the arrangements in advance, and drove to Phoenix Tuesday. The CoachLift Company arranged for us to stay, at their cost, at a nice RV park in the heart of Tempe (home of Sun Devil Stadium for you football fans). Steve, the husband of the owner, came to the park to meet us Wednesday morning to guide us the fifteen miles along the Phoenix area streets and Interstate highways to Werner’s Welding, where the installation was to take place.
At Werner’s Welding we met Jason Falk, the operating manager as well as chief welder. Jason told us their firm started counting ten years ago, and had installed well over 300 of these units before they lost count. He’s installing four of them this week alone.Jason started to work while Steve explained the system to us. First a supporting bracket is welded underneath the motorhome frame, and another bracket is firmly attached to the exterior wall, just beside the entry door.
Then a lift rod is mounted between the two brackets, and a motor installed at the top of the rod, wired into the 12-volt house battery system. Although it sounds simple in the telling, that part took about three hours, as some of it needed to fabricated to meet Rosie’s specific dimensions.
The lift rod is made of aluminum, with a steel worm screw in the center. That screw is threaded through two steel nuts attached to a lifting bracket, to drive that bracket up and down the length of the rod. In turn, the bracket supports an articulated arm. Think of the arm in terms of your own: at the torso, your arm has a shoulder, and further down an elbow, and at the end a fist. The CoachLift arm attaches to the torso, or rod and bracket, with a swivel hinge, like a shoulder. Halfway down this arm, is another joint, the elbow. At the end is the fist. Inserted into that fist is a removable chair. The screw moves the bracket up and down, the “shoulder” and “elbow” allow the “fist”to rise, supporting the chair and allowing it to swing into or out of the door of the motorhome.
Because the motorhome stair well would be a hazard, Jason made a steel plate that will slide over the stair well; Suzy will be able stand on that getting into and out of her chair. And because the chair is on a free swinging arm, CoachLift provides a safety chain we can attach within the entryway to prevent it from swinging out while Suzy is moving into or out of the chair. Seems they’ve thought of everything!
Isn’t this a lot of expense and bother? Wouldn’t it be better to get Suzy’s problems fixed rather than having workarounds? Unquestionably. But we’ve been trying with our doctors for years to head this off, to fix things up, Two surgeries and months of physical therapy have helped a little on some of it, but other causes aren’t getting better. We have a life to live, and we’ll keep trying to get things fixed. But in the meantime, we’re going to make the life we are living less painful and more enjoyable. Better to be able to get into and out of the motorhome slowly than to not be able to get in and out al all!
That’s how it is, living … Our Life on Wheels!