Yea, I know it’s the middle of an epidemic and we’re gettin desperate… But this is one hot rod chair that came my way for a screaming’ hot price! Couple months back I was attempting to mass produce giant Biden signs in my shop, which required lots of paint and the cheaper the better. Local Reuse Center had good deals on recycled paint and being as they were COVID-19 safe with masks required I took a stroll through the vastness, always on the lookout for bargains. And what should I discover but:

“Nursing home fugitive”

Now what caught my attention was the wheels:

Spinergy wheels with Spox composite spokes built outa straight pull hubs, decent tires and coated handrails too… Just the wheels retail for over $1000! The price tag? $30 for the whole chair. Confirmed that the price was correct and within a minute it was safely inside the hatch of my Golf. Was such a deal that I posted the chair on social media just in case it was stolen.

The immediate plan was to put the wheels on this:

Old Yeller, an early Quickie GP lightweight sports chair that I acquired in another smoking’ deal in the late 1980s. I pushed this chair through an under 4 hour Twin Cities marathon, played dozens of basketball games from that seat, and plenty of picket lines and protests too. It’s the best of early lightweight wheelchair technology, a veritable lego kit built of bits from hardware stores and bike shops ’cause that’s where the inventors of the lightweight wheelchair got them.

We’re now about 4 decades and a couple (d)evolutions into the history of the lightweight wheelchair and my new acquisition turned out to be a current model from the same builder, Quickie. And while the thick seat cushion, deeply contoured backrest, and positioning headrest made it look like a “Geri Chair”, underneath beat the chassis of a hot rod- I had not just the best high performance wheels, but an aluminum framed hot rod with plenty of tuning potential under that massive “seating system”.

First step was to remove said seating system, being pretty expensive it’ll be stored away along with the full documentation that came with the ‘chair. Next off came the seat belt and wheelchair tie downs, which look like something off a half ton pickup and probably overbuilt to some obscure spec.

Next up was adjusting the chairs geometry, this thing has more alignment adjustments than many cars, even front wheel toe! Undoing the “Geri Chair” hyper conservative spec that must have been dictated by an OT with no liability insurance, I slid the rear wheels forward so I can wheelie at will, adjusted the casters for zero caster, and raised the foot rests and wheelie bars so they didn’t scrape on every tall pebble in the concrete. The results:

Took it for a test drive around the house, a couple loops on the concrete garage apron, and down and back a hundred feet of dirt driveway to the mailbox and it handles pretty well and pushes easy, even on the dirt… Definitely a keeper!

All it needs now is some upholstery, Quickie wants $60 for the backrest and a basic foam seat cushion is damn near a hundred, I can probably upcycle something loitering around the shop for less. I’d like more camber in the rear wheels, but unlike the old Quickie where all you needed to adjust that was some 1/4″ ID washers, this new one requires $70 worth of Quickie parts. Like everything else today, the new Quickie chair is lighter than it’s ancestor but has more proprietary parts that aren’t as well made. And for robustness, the frames speak for themselves:

Yup, “Old Yeller”‘s got twice the frame and I haven’t needed to bother Quickie for parts this millennium. Obsolete? Sorry Quickie, your plan failed!