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Built A Prop Wheel Chair For Our Church Play


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#1 JDBrian OFFLINE  

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Posted November 09, 2012 - 05:12 PM

Our church play this year is Annie and they wanted a wheel chair for FDR who appears as a main character in the play. I looked up the chair and there was a good photo of the original as they have it in a museum. Notice the ash tray!

FDR's wheel chair resized.jpg

I got a frame from a scrapped wheelchair, some spoked wheels and an old wooden chair and went to work.
I got some welding practice making the L brackets to mount the foot rest. Made a pedestal for the seat out of plywood painted it all black, made the footrest and ash tray and put it all together last night. I think it will do the job. It certainly looks a lot different than a modern chair.

DSCF8287.jpg DSCF8291.jpg
Got a bit of welding practice

DSCF8261.jpg DSCF8292.jpg

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The end result!

A lot of work but fun at the same time. The hardware used on these chairs is unique and unlike anything I have ever worked with before.
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#2 mjodrey OFFLINE  

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Posted November 09, 2012 - 05:19 PM

That's cool Brian. :thumbs: Looks just like the real thing.

#3 UncleWillie ONLINE  

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Posted November 09, 2012 - 05:36 PM

I hear ya on that odd hardware. Whenever we get a wheelchair in a load of scrap we find out if anyone needs parts off of them. I save a bunch of the hardware just because it is so unique. Some of the electric chairs have some really wild stuff on them.

#4 caseguy OFFLINE  

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Posted November 09, 2012 - 05:49 PM

That looks great Brian! It looks just like the original! A lot of the wheelchair hardware is specialized as it is classed as "durable medical equipment" and has to meet higher standards. I have a friend who works in the repair field on wheelchairs and other specialty stuff.

#5 marlboro180 OFFLINE  

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Posted November 09, 2012 - 06:35 PM

That's really neat Brian, nice work. :thumbs:

#6 UncleWillie ONLINE  

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Posted November 09, 2012 - 06:38 PM

That looks great Brian! It looks just like the original! A lot of the wheelchair hardware is specialized as it is classed as "durable medical equipment" and has to meet higher standards. I have a friend who works in the repair field on wheelchairs and other specialty stuff.


And those parts aren't cheap either. A gal who used to live near us has a daughter in a wheel chair. We almost rebuilt the whole thing with parts from scrap ones. As a matter of fact the back cushion in my desk chair came out of a wheelchair that we got from a guy who works at the theater.

#7 KennyP ONLINE  

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Posted November 09, 2012 - 07:27 PM

Awesome, Brian! Great job on the chair, looks very close to the original.

#8 JDBrian OFFLINE  

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Posted November 10, 2012 - 06:36 AM

Thanks guys. It was kinda fun to make this out of what I could find. The frame was off a very light weight chair. It's aluminium and weighs maybe a couple of pounds. I have to keep the kids at rehearsals from joy riding on it as it has no brakes and is not meant to be used as a real chair. I was pretty surprised at the crude chair used by FDR. That must have been as good as it got for someone needing a chair in the 1930's. It looks like it was hand made using bicycle parts. You mostly see electric chairs these days but the newer manual chairs are very different than the 1930's version. I find that having the big wheels on the front makes the chair very easy to maneuver. The disadvantage is you can't see where your rear wheels are and you could back off a step or run over someones toes quite easily.




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