Beach Wheelchair




About: Father, tinkerer, Cerebral Palsy advocate

As the dad of a child with cerebral palsy, I know equipment is expensive. I was pricing wheelchairs to use at the beach, and they were over a $1000. I searched images on the net and decided make my own was possible and cheaper. This is my design, easily modified, to suit the individual person.

Step 1: Materials

The pictures show the PVC connectors you will need. Depending on any mods you might do, you might need different ones. I recommend 2" PVC, schedule 40. Some chairs have been made by others using 1 1/2". I used 2" for strength so as my child grows, it will hold up. I strongly recommend furniture grade connectors, which is usually found on-line. All, in addition to the connectors, you will need pipe. You can get ones without markings on-line or you can get pipe at your local hardware store. The glue I use is above & can be found in most hardware stores.. Be careful, it does stain clothes and other materials. The axle I used came from my local metal supply store and is aluminum so it doesn't rust. The wheels you will find on-line. I bought mind off eBay, but their are other places. Search "beach wheels." Also, you will need cotter pins and washers depending on the wheels you purchase.

Material for seat and seat back- I used vinyl mesh which I bought on-line. When choosing a material, make sure its quick drying.

Various screw or bolts you might need for attaching a foot plate and positioning belts

Step 2: Tools

  1. Miter Saw, power or hand
  2. Drill
  3. Drill press (nice to have but can be done with out)
  4. Drill bits
  5. old rags
  6. mallet
  7. Eye protection and dust mask strongly recommended
  8. gloves when working with the glue advised.
  9. Tape measure
  10. Square (not mandatory but handy)

Step 3: Cut the Pvc Pipe

My diagram has the measurements you need for the pipe you need to cut. Cutting will cause a large mess and create a lot of dust. The measurements can be modified to suit your person with special needs. I use a "T" to so my child doesn't slide off.

Step 4: Dry Fit and Cut Axle

Put the parts together but DON'T USE GLUE. This will allow you to make any adjustments. Also, cut you axle at this time once you have completed "dry mock-up." This will allow for accurate measurement and placement of the axle and mark where you will drill the holes.

Step 5: Final Assembly of the Frame

Make sure you mark the pieces, painter's tape and a Sharpie are good for this, and disassemble. Drill any holes needed.

Then, assemble following instructions on the glue. Most glue drys quickly so you will need to work efficiently. Tap with a mallet to assure a secure fit.

Step 6: Seating

Create your seat. I used a sewing machine, vinyl mesh, and Velcro to secure it while allowing for removable. What you do is totally up to you and your abilities. Pool noodles make make for good cushioning.

Step 7: Finishing Up

Put your wheels on. If you want a foot plate, I used vinyl boards that are also used as trim on the exterior of garages an available at your big box home improvement stores. You can also use vinyl mesh or whatever you might think of. Just make sure it's waterproof or quick drying.

Put any seat belts or harness on. I found the seatbelt from an old bike trailer and used a Velcro strap from an old bath chair. You can buy brand new ones or use ones from old equipment. Car seats are good places to find this item.

Now, you are done. Head for the beach or your local lake!



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    12 Discussions


    4 months ago on Introduction

    We go to beach in North Carolina on emerald island.. and the fire department has wheelchair beach chairs for free to barrow 8am to 6pm!! They have a park setup there to for people with disabilities and wheelchairs.. We have so much fun when we go.


    3 years ago

    Great. Where did you get the wheels? My husband has a new project.

    2 replies

    Reply 1 year ago

    Did you search beach wheelchair wheels on ebay?


    Reply 3 years ago

    Thanks. I found them on eBay.


    3 years ago

    This is great, I like how it's low to the ground so you can be near the water -- I wish I could add an engine/joystick so my son could use it independently.

    I've posted some ideas, too, for building adaptive equipment with PVC. Do a search on Accessible Scooter with Putt-Putt Attachment.

    1 reply

    3 years ago

    This is a great looking wheel chair! Very nice to see how you put this all together. Thank you for sharing! :)

    1 reply

    3 years ago

    That is so awesome. you are a great dad for doing that. it could be modified to caring others things onto the beach too.
    You can look into PVC Snap Clamps to quickly add/remove attachments. or for easy assembly and dismantle get mine from flexpvc.

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    Thanks! Those are good ideas. I built it a bit longer than I needed so I can carry a cooler as well.