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Sunday, 20 December 2015

Regular maintenance

After yesterday's little panic of realising my tyres were getting flat, I'm now thinking about what kinds of regular maintenance tasks I should be doing. It goes without saying that when you buy a car, you keep it in good working order, with regular servicing and ongoing checks, so it's just as important to maintain your wheelchair.

Tyres are obviously important. If you've got bicycle type tyres, with air inside, they need to be kept at the right pressure. Mine are 6 - 8 bars. Yesterday, they had dropped to about 2 bar, which meant that when I sat in my chair, they were quite flat. Because this had happened gradually, I hadn't noticed but once they were pumped back up, it was so much easier to propel and steer.

Brakes are another important maintenance check. In the off position, there should be 5mm between the brake bar and the tyre. Too big a gap and the brakes don't hold properly. Too little gap and the pressure on the tyre is too much and they become stiff to handle. Mine can be adjusted by loosening the allen key and then retightening it when it's in the right position.

Less of a safety issue but important for comfort, the back straps need checking. Mine and many others are velcro straps. Each individual strap can be tightened or loosened to provide different levels of support. I need good lumbar support. It's helpful to have someone else to help with this so that they can adjust whilst you sit and assess the comfort levels.

For a while now, I've been meaning to buy some allen keys to keep in my bag, for urgent adjustments. Sometimes my footplate comes a bit loose and needs the connectors tightening. If something suddenly goes, it can be really frustrating but having the basic tools to fix things is really useful. At some point, I'll post some photos and video to show how to do some of these tasks.

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