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Old 02-04-2013, 03:09 PM   #1
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Widening door for wheelchair accessibility

I'm in the planning stages of purchasing & renovating an Airstream to be universally designed/accessible to people of all abilities. I'm planning to eventually make the trailer available to rent, but feel strongly about it being wheelchair accessible. I know this topic has been discussed over the years, but I'm wondering if anyone has specific recommendations for a shop in CA (or nearby) who would be able to widen the door and install a lift? (I know it is a difficult alteration to complete.) Any recommendations would be appreciated! Thanks so much.
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Old 02-04-2013, 03:12 PM   #2
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I'm in the planning stages of purchasing & renovating an Airstream to be universally designed/accessible to people of all abilities. I'm planning to eventually make the trailer available to rent, but feel strongly about it being wheelchair accessible. I know this topic has been discussed over the years, but I'm wondering if anyone has specific recommendations for a shop in CA (or nearby) who would be able to widen the door and install a lift? (I know it is a difficult alteration to complete.) Any recommendations would be appreciated! Thanks so much.
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Old 02-04-2013, 06:20 PM   #3
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You need to be really careful when picking out a trailer for this, on many trailers the door is wider and easier to get through then the rest of the trailer, unless you're going to gut it and start over.
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Old 02-05-2013, 11:11 AM   #4
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How about an Eddie Bauer with it's rear gate?
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Old 02-05-2013, 11:21 AM   #5
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Check the Handicapped Travel Club web page at Untitled for some potentially useful links.
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Old 02-19-2013, 05:44 PM   #6
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access.air,
Widening the door and frame will involve modifying the skin and removing at leas one side rib on the body. Then the door and frame will have to be replicated (newly built), in my opinion, to the new width. Then comes the part about installing a lift. Due to the weight and structural reinforcement required on the floor frame and the lateral imbalance on the trailer, this is a daunting task!

Take a look at some of these links from the Goggle search on this topic https://www.google.com/search?q=whee...x=&startPage=1 for more ideas and folks with whom you could discuss this whole project.

I applaud your whole concept and I'm not against your attempting to do the project. However, with my background as an engineer I think that it will be difficult to make this work well, be durable and relatively trouble-free. Airstreams are pretty light-weight trailers and you're talking about adding a lot of weight that the trailer isn't really designed for. On the other hand, a motor-home with a more truck-like chassis is a better candidate.

All my best,

Steve
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Old 02-19-2013, 06:48 PM   #7
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Please post the results and any plans you would like to share with us...thanks for your innovative thoughts.

Tom
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Old 02-20-2013, 06:52 AM   #8
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Then comes the part about installing a lift.
Rather than a lift, which is mechanically complex and beastly heavy, a lightweight folding ramp (of aluminum, of course) might be better. Partly because once you've set up camp, the ramp can be left in place, unlike a lift that has to be raised and lowered for each entry and exit.

Check out WheelchairNet: Accommodating Wheelchairs: ramps, lifts, door openers, etc. for a comprehensive set of links for products related to wheelchair access, including vehicle ramps.

Or check out Van Ramps for ramps designed for use in vans, that could easily be used for a trailer instead.

At work, I'm a member of our Disability Awareness Resource Team (DART) so handicapped access is a subject that I've taken a special interest in. Emphasized by having to spend four months straight on crutches after foot surgery befoe I was sure I'd be able to walk without assistance again.

On edit: Also run your ideas past the nice folks at Jackson Center. They may be willing to give a hand with the design, especially if you grant them the right to use the design later if they decide to make a handicapped-accessible Airstream as a factory option. It is a largely-untapped customer base, after all.
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Old 02-20-2013, 08:54 AM   #9
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Protagonist after reading your post I couldn't help thinking an Interstate would make a better handicapped access RV then a trailer.
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Old 02-20-2013, 09:13 AM   #10
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Protagonist after reading your post I couldn't help thinking an Interstate would make a better handicapped access RV then a trailer.
Not a chance. Too narrow. An Interstate is only 6'7" wide, and the aisle down the center is only 19 inches wide at its narrowest point. You simply don't have the floor space to provide wheelchair access to anything in a Sprinter-based RV.

At best, if you start with a stock empty Sprinter van, and design an interior where all interior fittings are on the driver's side, leaving the whole passenger side for wheelchair access, you would end up with a mini-kitchen and wet bath, and nothing else. No sleeping quarters at all, and very little storage since the wheelchair-bound couldn't use overhead lockers.

A full-sized motorhome, or a trailer, where you've got about 8 feet of width to use, and more length, whould be much better than a Sprinter van.
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Old 02-20-2013, 09:57 AM   #11
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The EB or a rear entry would be the best choice. A standard wheelchair is 26 in wide, (18 inch seat width plus another 8 inches for wheels and hand rims)and needs about 30 inches for turning including foot rests. elevating leg rests require even more room, about 36 inches. As for a lift, there are lifts that are available that attach with a 2in. trailer receiver. These are quite "wobbly". A SOB would be a better choice to adapt.
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Old 02-20-2013, 10:00 AM   #12
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There is a 28 foot Argosy MH listed in the classifieds that might be a better choice to adapt
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Old 02-20-2013, 10:02 AM   #13
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The EB or a rear entry would be the best choice. A standard wheelchair is 26 in wide, (18 inch seat width plus another 8 inches for wheels and hand rims)and needs about 30 inches for turning including foot rests. elevating leg rests require even more room, about 36 inches. As for a lift, there are lifts that are available that attach with a 2in. trailer receiver. These are quite "wobbly". A SOB would be a better choice to adapt.
Or if you can afford it, there are handicapped-accessible SOB trailers already on the market. Not many, but some.

www.freedomtravelerrv.com
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Old 02-20-2013, 10:08 AM   #14
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It would be easy access for a WC on our EB if you added a ramp ... headroom would be the limiting factor.
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