Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Saga of the Power Chair Lift

Some of you may remember that I mentioned that it was unusual for us to be at Magee Marsh late enough to see a sunset.

There was a reason we saw this sunset.  We were all set to head back to our motel after finding Kentucky Fried Chicken to bring back with us.  Tom was in the van.  I put the chair on the lift, pushed the button,  and then this happened.

Nothing!  For some reason, at the time I was more interested in the situation than in taking photos so I took the them yesterday.  You will have to imagine...an enormous parking lot, filled with vehicles from all over the United States, gravelly outer edges (like where we were parked).  We are facing the woods that the boardwalk is built through.  On the other side of the parking lot is a wild grassy sandy area that was once a sunbathing beach and beyond that is Lake Erie.  The sun is low in the sky and little black flies are beginning to bite.

The first step is to take the power chair off the lift.  Next...try the toggle switch again...jiggle the lift left and right...not much movement...  I try pushing the manual restart buttons. (The problem has happened before so I have learned about the buttons.) No reaction.

Tom helps me get out the tools we have in the van.


Among them is a diagram and instructions.  Not any help to us.

Finally, Tom calls the lift retailer, Cecil, at his home.  He is two and a half hours away.  He tells us to push the button behind the arm but to use a screwdriver so I don't lose a finger when the lift suddenly starts working.

No problem following instructions.  No problem worrying about my finger.  Nothing happened.

Finally Cecil starts searching on his computer and gives us the 800 number of the lift's manufacturer.  Tom starts to work...after phone calls and referrals, he connects with a dealer in the Toledo area which is less than an hour away.

Remember it is late in the day, afterhours for the business.  The on-call technician isn't in Ohio.  He is visiting in Michigan.  He really doesn't want to make a trip.  It is nearly dark and he has never heard of Magee Marsh.  He doesn't know where it is.

He keeps telling us to press the white button.  There is no white button, only a black button.  After a lot of negotiation, he agrees to come but it will cost us two hundred dollars, the afterhour charge...and it will take him about two hours to get to us.

 During the discussion, he learns that Magee Marsh is what was once Crane Creek State Park.  He remembers going there when he was a teenager so he knows where it is.  We learn that he is just over the Ohio-Michigan line so two hours is an exaggeration.

We can't close the back end of the van...the lift is out and not moving.  The biting flies are happy. Then we remember we have insect repellent in the van.

We wait.  More birders leave.

The technician comes a little over an hour after the last phone call.  He was right. The fix took only fifteen minutes.

We find our Kentucky Fried Chicken and our motel room.

The next day the lift operates perfectly.

Our local lift technician replaces the motor.  This photo was taken from inside the van.  The platform the power chair sits on is behind the arrow...the thing with the row of holes.



Hooray!

But the problem is obviously something else we learn  a month later when we have the same problem again.

This time we are only an hour and a half from home and Cecil talks a mechanically savvy friend through the repair process as I watch and help where I can.

Once we are back home, our local technician goes over the lift carefully.  The lift still isn't working so he installs a loaner lift and promises to check everything over and to talk to the manufacturer again.

We come back.  This time the technician  replaces the rollers the lift rolls back on.  He and the manufacturer cannot come up with any other possibility.

The next day we learn the lift is still not fixed BUT I can get the lift in if I jiggle it and give it a little push.

Never one to give up, Tom decides to try a repair shop in Cincinnati.  This technician has worked with lifts for ten years.  After one and a half hours he FINDS THE CULPRIT!  The wire connecting the lift and the motor is corroded under its plastic coating.

Isn't technology wonderful!!

We haven't had any more trouble.  We're feeling confident.  We may start taking longer trips again.

1 comment:

Far Side of Fifty said...

I am so glad you finally got it all resolved! Add lift mechanic to the list of things you do! :)