I got the idea of modifying my back-pack bag on the wheelchair to hold a roof canopy that could be quickly attached to my wheelchair, and when not in use, returned to the bag. Before you begin this project, you must keep in mind that all wheelchairs are not built the same, and every individual in a wheelchair is a different height, and so you may have to modify my design to suit your own needs.
Material (Approximately 4 yards)
2 Dowel sticks or metal spreader bars
6 Eye Loops
4 Metal trigger clips
2 metal rods
needle and thread
Step 1: Step 1: Measure Twice... Three Times
In the illustration, the Bar Bracket is labeled and is shown as attached to the wheelchair. This bracket may be attached higher or lower depending upon what works for a particular wheelchair model. Depending upon the height of the individual in the wheelchair and the angle you wish the canopy to rest, the lengths of the canopy bars labeled BAR F and BAR G may change. You will want to measure the Height of BAR F first using a yardstick measuring from the position the Bar Bracket will be attached to at least three inches above the head of the individual who sits in the wheelchair. Keep in mind, you'll want this bar to be at a slight backward angle so that the roof fully covers the individual's head. It is better to add extra height to your measurement then be too short. Keep in mind, the canopy will be made of material and will sag some in the middle. Next, measure how long BAR G must be. You can vary the angle of this bar which will lengthen or shorted its length. The shorter the bar at any given angle, the more forward sloping the canopy will be. The longer the bar, the more upward sloping the canopy will be. The angle must be taken into account in your measurements. The greater the angle, the longer the bar must be, and the greater the canopy length. You can either measure the angle of this bar with a protractor, or can do it the easy way and take a piece of paper to mark down the angles of the two bars and the length they must be. Work out on paper with pencil first the bar angles and lengths. Next, measure how long the canopy must be given the angle and length of those bars.
Once you know the length and the angle of the two poles, you can solve for the length of the canopy using some trigonometry (The first time ever found a use for trigonometry!). Unfortunately, I was never very good at trig, and so I laid out the angles using three yardstick rulers to get the appropriate dimensions and traced the angles onto a piece of paper. If you want to do the math, you can look at http://www.teacherschoice.com.au/maths_library/trigonometry/solve_trig_sss.htm for how to calculate the dimensions.
Step 2: Step 2: the Bars
The bars consist of a pole with an eye-bolt on each end. The diameter of the eye-bolt you select, and the diameter of the poles will effect the next step of your process, and so I advise reading ahead so that you will fully understand how they will be held by the mounting bracket. The eye-bolts can be attached to the ends of a large dowel if you can find one that is an adequate length. The eye-bolt will be secured by the use of carabiner clips on both the canopy and the mounting bracket, and so the eye hole of the eye-bolt needs to be measure according to the size of the carbiner clip you plan to use. Unfortunately, they come in so many different sizes and styles that I can not recommend a specific size or type. Be careful in pre-drilling the hole on each end of the dowel to screw in the eye-loop. Be sure to properly secure the dowel and use all safety precautions.
The poles that you use must be strong enough to support the canopy. Keep in mind, these poles are going to have quite a bit of weight on them as they will be held out at an angle and must hold the roof on in gust of wind. If the dowels are too small in diameter, you will not be able to drill them on the end to screw in the eye-loops... if the diameter is too big, you will have difficulty making the bar bracket to hold them. Use a hard wood or steel poles.
Step 3: Step 3: the Bar Bracket
To make the bar bracket, you will be sandwiching together the wood in three layers. The two outer layers can be made of thin but strong wood. The thickness of the inner pieces of wood depends upon the size of the bar and the eye hooks you made in step 2. The bars will have to slide in between part B and C and slide between C and D. The angle of these inner parts will vary based upon the angle of the triangle created by the length and angle of the bars.
To lay out the proper angles, I suggest sitting the poles you created in step 2 onto a sheet of paper. Make a template like below in Illustration 2 for parts B, C, and D. Cut out these parts and lay them out as they would be if assembled. Will the poles slide out once assembled or is there not enough room for the eye-loops? You want the fit to be snug, but not tight. Lastly, after positioning the interior parts, cut out a template for part A. Make sure all the parts fit together using the templates before cutting them out in wood.
Keep in mind, you will have to make two Bar Brackets, one for the right side of the chair and one for the left. As there is a right and left side, some things are reversed, so if your cutting out wood, make sure the nicer side of the wood is outward facing. Use your templates to draw out the parts using a marking pen, then use a band saw or other saw to cut the parts. DO NOT ASSEMBLE YET!
Note: You will want to round the corners of these brackets. They will stick out some, and so you don't want to risk injury if someone bumps into the corner of one of the exposed brackets. In place of the eye bolt shown as part E, for mine I drilled a hole into part A for insertion of a lock.
Step 4: Step 4: Painting the Bracket. Measure Again.
Next, paint the individual parts. It is easier to paint the parts while it is in pieces then once it is assembled as I learned. You'll never be able to paint over all the visible spaces once it is glued together. Add any decorative touches to the bracket. For me, I painted a Yin-Yang like symbol with flames.
Step 5: Step 5: Making the Canopy
You can use most any sort of material to make the canopy. I went with a blue vinyl material, though if I had to do it again, I would have picked a lighter material. Ideally, the material should be one that will not let water through in the event that you plan to use the canopy as a rain umbrella as well.
The canopy material should be at least double the size that the canopy will eventually be. You will be sewing two pieces together to make the canopy. In order to keep the roof from sagging inward, you will need two stiff pieces of wire that will be sewn at each end of the canopy. I used thin metal stakes that were intended for garden plants, a heavy wire that does not bend easily, and sewed this such that it would go between where the bars would attach width-wise. This prevents the bars and roof from sagging inward. If you use a lighter material, this might not be necessary. At each corner I attached metal trigger clips that are used to clip onto the loops of the bars.
Note: For my roof, I added additional loops and lots of additional decoration. I sewed pockets for carrying the bars of the roof and a cut-out of flames. I also laced leather around the exterior by first using a hole punch to punch holes around the outside of the canopy roof, then lacing the leather string. This is all optional and time consuming.
Step 6: Step 6: the Back Pack
Step 7: Step 7: Some Assembly Required
When you slide the bars into the bar bracket, in most circumstances, they will remain in place very solidly due to the weight. The eye-bolt within the bar bracket can be used to secure the poles such that they can not be pulled out by wind. Simply use a lock or tie the eye-loops of the poles to the loop of the bar bracket.
That's it! Just attach the poles and hook the canopy to the wheelchair, and your all set for a long ride in the hot summer sun along the boardwalk or down the street. I've road my wheelchair with this roof on, and I often get a lot of people waving at me as if my wheelchair was a parade float and lots of people commenting about how cool my chair looks... so you can expect it to get some attention.
Step 8: Visit DarkRubyMoon.com
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