DIY Wheelchair Transfer Platform – Part 1


Click to read more about Part 1 of this wheelchair platform build! This was a really satisfying project because I got to build something that directly makes somebody’s life easier.

The whole point of a wheelchair platform is to get the wheelchair up at the same height as the vehicle seats, so the person in the chair can use a transfer board to slide into the vehicle. This becomes a problem though when the vehicle (in this case pickup truck) seat is ~12″-14″ above the height of the wheelchair seat. I had to put some serious thought into this project before I started building it. Particularly because the challenge was to make the platform with adjustable height for different vehicles and fold-able legs for storage.

We had briefly talked about making it out of aluminum but since the only method I currently have to weld aluminum is TIG welding, it would have taken FOREVER for me to do. So to make it out of steel but still relatively light, I picked thinner materials and decided to use expanded steel as the deck.

I did a lot of research trying to find examples of portable wheelchair transfer platforms. The ONLY result I found was a company located in London with a small 30″x30″ aluminum platform and ramp (link to it HERE). I have no idea why US companies don’t build these unless they actually have to adhere to ADA compliance which would mean the ramp for my 12″-16″ high platform would have to be approximately 12+ FEET LONG and at least 36″ wide. Needless to say I won’t be meeting the ADA guidelines for businesses with this ramp, though a part of THIS article states that “most residential applications do not need to meet ADA code and ADA guidelines…”.

Enough talking, on to the pics!!

SKILL LEVEL

Intermediate to advanced (though I would lower this requirement considerably if it weren’t for the adjustable and fold-able legs)

MATERIALS

4×8′ sheet of Expanded Steel 3/4″ 9 gauge raised

4ft 1″x1″ square tubing 14 gauge

4ft 3/4″x3/4″ sqare tubing 14 gauge

~12′ 1.5″x1.5″ angle iron 1/8″ thick

~24′ 1″x 1″ angle iron 1/8″ thick

~4ft 1/4″ round solid rod stock

8  7/16″ pins with wire retainers

4 rubber crutch / cane tips

Part 1 – Platform and Ramps

Wheelchair Transfer Platform

Laying out the materials.

Wheelchair Transfer Platform

I threw the 4×8 sheet of expanded steel on top of some 4×4 boards so I could measure and cut it to 33″ wide with an angle grinder and cutoff wheel.

Wheelchair Transfer Platform

I then took the piece I just cut and cut off the bottom to 44″.

Wheelchair Transfer Platform

The frame for the platform will be made out of 1.5″ angle iron.

Wheelchair Transfer Platform

the 1.5″ angle iron with the expanded steel inside of it leaves an ~1″ safety curb to stop the wheelchair should it be needed in an emergency.

Wheelchair Transfer Platform

Marking the angle iron with soapstone for cutting.

TIP: When marking material for cutting it is a good idea to put an X on the ‘drop’ or piece that you won’t be using. That way if the drop happens to be similar in length to the piece you plan to use, you are less likely to get the two confused.

Wheelchair Transfer Platform

I then cut one of the flanges of the angle iron off so the two pieces would fit together without overlapping. I could have done two 45* angles here but I hate changing the angle on my chop saw…so I didn’t 😛

Wheelchair Transfer Platform

Fit together after cutting off bottom of the flange.

Wheelchair Transfer Platform

After tacking the expanded steel to the angle iron, I measured, cut, and welded on a piece of 1×1″ angle iron to hold the ramps in the front.

Wheelchair Transfer Platform

Gertrude was helping of course…

Wheelchair Transfer Platform

The ramps will be built out of 1×1″ angle to keep them light. I also made them just less than the 44″ of the platform that way the ramps could nest within the platform for easy storage.

Wheelchair Transfer Platform

Ramps nested into the platform.

Wheelchair Transfer Platform

Next up, mark the expanded steel at 12″ with soapstone (or sharpie) and cut it with angle grinder and cutoff wheel.

Wheelchair Transfer Platform

WE HAVE RAMPS!!

Wheelchair Transfer Platform

Cut the tails off because the ramps are only 44″ and the material was 48″ wide.

Wheelchair Transfer Platform

MIG Weld the angle together then weld on the expanded steel.

Wheelchair Transfer Platform

I then cut and welded a piece of 1/4″ solid stock onto the bottom of the ramp for extra strength without adding too much of a lip.

Wheelchair Transfer Platform

I didn’t have a wheelchair to test it out with so Sammy’s cozy coupe will have to do for now 😀

PAINTING

I ran into naptime so I had to choose something quiet to do for a while. For quite a while now I have been rolling paint on my bigger projects with a foam roller and it has suited me pretty well so far. Less fumes, no overspray (other than some drips), and I don’t have to wear a respirator. Rolling the paint works especially well on expanded steel. When trying to spray paint it seems to get paint on everything BUT the expanded steel…

Wheelchair Transfer Platform

Rolling paint on the ramps.

Wheelchair Transfer Platform

Drawback: Rolling doesn’t get all the way into the corners, you can see here on the left where the roller missed. I have touched it up with spray paint on the right.

Wheelchair Transfer Platform

Painted! Rolled most of it with Rustoleum from a quart can, then touched up what I couldn’t get to with regular black spray paint.

 

Stay tuned for Part 2 where we build adjustable legs, then cut them back off and rebuild them stronger!!