The son of the previous owners of my dad’s van used a Permobil power wheelchair, and they had installed a Permobil-specific EZ Lock system on the floor of the van. It’s simplicity itself: there’s a bracket on the van floor; a bdocking base attached to the bottom of the power wheelchair clicks into the bracket.
Ah, the Internet. The previous owners of my dad’s van live in a rather isolated hamlet of 400 or so citizens in a tiny county far from — well, most things. Including, significantly, a large market for a used accessible van. I couldn’t find a van in my densely populated suburban haven, but the World Wide Web rendered this geographic disparity irrelevant. Our sellers managed to sell a van they had nearly dispaired of getting rid of, and I acquired one I was beginning to dispair of finding.
OK, I won’t be objective about this. I’ve never used it; have never seen it in use; and have no idea if this particular wheelchair does even half of what the designers claim — or if it performs as well as they claim. But this thing is beautiful — more beautiful than any contemporary exotic car I’ve yet seen on the road. The design, and what it implies of performance, just takes my breath away.
After ploughing my way through the van listings in the entire USA on the Disabled Dealer website, I found an ad for a van in my state that looked right, and made contact with the owners.
After eliminating local dealers, it took another three weeks to work my way through the used accessible van ads on my local Craigslist. There weren’t a lot of listings on Craigslist during the period when I was looking, maybe no more than six or so, and I probably had contact with the owners — or putative owners — of a total of five vans. Having a long lead time for a search would definitely be an advantage. The pickings at any given time were pretty slim.
Where I live, it’s been right around ten degrees — and windy — for most of this week. Someday the temperature will rise, and it will be OK to be outside for more than a few minutes again. Spring will come, and a lot of people’s thoughts will turn, if not to flights of fancy, then to flight itself. Traveling time will be here again!
Only one of the vans I saw on Craigslist passed these preliminary screening described in Part 3 of this series of posts. It was an hour’s drive away, and my mechanic told me that I shouldn’t even consider buying it — it was a converted VW Eurovan — but I needed some experience in the actual process of inspecting a van, and took the trip anyway.
It was time to roll up my sleeves and get down to serious work. Buying an accessible van from a dealer wasn’t going to work for me and my dad, so this meant that I’d have to go elsewhere. It also meant a whole new approach. If I was going to buy from an individual, I needed a lot of information — and some way of screening out potential problems.