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Old 12-14-2013, 09:20 PM   #1
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The Class A industry must evolve for the handicapped...

With more and more Boomers retiring and the mobility industry starting mature, it's time for A coach builders to get on board with simple and easy design templates to accomodate the mobility challenged customer.

Especially with all the new floor plans out with multiple slideouts that leave no sacrificial room to cut a hole in the side of the coach for a lift system.

Something has to give. I could wright a book on how difficult and time consuming...and LIMITING such a search for a suitable A coach for modification.

I've been exposed to the daily needs of a mobility challenged person for over ten years, now. My dear mother. Over all these years, my family has had quite a challeng to meet her needs, across the board, and make her life a bit better and more inclusive in our daily lives and, yes, travels.

The mobility industry is still evolving in leaps and bounds. But, the cost of admission SURE is expensive. And, yet, the customers in this industry are still quite limited in the choices and modes of accomodation. The mobility van seems to be the most evolved at this time. I've seen some of the custom BraunAbility vans that the Braun company have assembled and they are the top in the industry. The next best thing to OEM quality design. They do cost twice what a regular van would.

I think the A coach industry can do much better and almost immediately!

I've some ideas that I will lay out later in this post. However, for whomever wants to play, what would your ideas be for the A coach industry be to offter mobility customers. I know some of you are traveling down my path, as well.

A hint. I'm talking about one fundamental, singular design change that, would not only revolutionize the A coach industry, but across any RV type, for the most part.

This one thing, could make it possible for manufacturers to provide for their customers their mobility needs with a simple check box on an order. It's not as simple as this. I know. But, this one modification could be done quite easily and with minimal loss to most any floorplan.

I'll post back after a few member guesses. Hey, it's snowing outside and I am marathoning Game of Thrones and surfing the interwebz. Nothing much else to do and this has been on my mind for about TWO years.

As some of you know, I have modified my 99 HR Endeavor 37WDS with a lift for a cost of 10k. Had to sacrifice a couch to do it. There's got to be better ways to help our mobility challenged loved ones with new A coaches without a massive cash and space penalty. The cost of a new lift will not change. However, I believe the industry can do better with how to accomodate the handicapped.





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Old 12-14-2013, 09:43 PM   #2
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Our Alpine Coach is fitted with a lift but in some ways that is the easy part. You have to have access inside for a wheelchair from front to back, a roll-in shower, accessible toilet, sink etc. We have all that in our coach now but finding a new coach to modify is not easy given the floorplan of most. Winnebago will modify some of their models, Rexhall will build you one and of course Newmar has a gas coach you drive off the lot. North Trail in Fort Myers has modified some coaches but these tend to be older coaches that do not have slides every where. I guess there aren't enough of us to make a difference in manufacturer's design aims.
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Old 12-15-2013, 12:25 AM   #3
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It seems that the entry design on these rigs could change to be a lower entry height and utilize the mechanisms on newer city busses that have a ramp that deploys rather than the lift style approach.
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Old 12-15-2013, 01:20 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wanderso View Post
It seems that the entry design on these rigs could change to be a lower entry height and utilize the mechanisms on newer city busses that have a ramp that deploys rather than the lift style approach.
Essentially, wanderso, you have nailed it! Well done.

It's the entry system!!!

Coach builders only need widen an entry a few more inches to around 34" or so to accomodate a lift system and most wheelchairs/powerchairs.This would be a very minor impact on overall floorplan design.

Braun makes a UVL under vehicle lift system that is only a few inches tall that fully retracts into a van chassis. This would not be much of a challenge for coach engineers/designers. It could go between the standard extending steps in an entry and the steps in the coach itself.

Once you make it possible to get your handicapped loved one inside the coach, with all the slide outs making epic amounts of room, it would be no problem for them to move about.

The other component for full coach access is hallway width to the back room. These are simple design changes coach builders can make on standard floorplans. This ain't rocket science.

The entry system is key, though. If coach builders could just do that one thing, they would sell a LOT more coaches.

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Old 12-15-2013, 09:25 AM   #5
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I disagree with a ramp as being a solution. To have access throughout the coach the floor has to be above the basement/engine bay which makes it around 40" off the ground. Using the 1' per 1"" rule you would a ramp 40' long! A much easier solution is to have a mid-door coach with a 30" wide door and use a Superarm lift, or use a chair lift (although you would have to transfer to this). Newall still offers mid-door DP's with wide enough doors to do this but I can't afford one of those. The new Palazzos etc. do offer mid-door in a DP but the doors are too narrow and the floorplans are not wheelchair friendly. Gas units are definitely more amenable to this conversion but I am a diehard DP guy so will keep looking for that perfect coach.
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Old 12-15-2013, 09:41 AM   #6
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Some manufactures are trying to address your concerns. Check All-Access Motorhomes - Rexhall Industries Manufacturer of Class A Motorhomes - Aerbus, RexAir, RoseAir, American Clipper & Vision
for at least one OEM that can provide some of what I think you are asking for.
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Old 12-15-2013, 09:50 AM   #7
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I believe that Newmar has a handicap entry option on the Bay Star class A
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Old 12-15-2013, 09:52 AM   #8
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Just my thoughts on this, New homes are not built w/ramp excess, nor any kind of RV, auto, van....etc. everything is customized to suit ones needs. I have ever seen maybe just a handful of rv's with this modification done to them(maybe 5 for sale) What do you think the percentage of people buying RV's with these needs would be? I would think that the percentage would not be very high, just like homes w/ramps on them. The Motorhome mfg.'s might custom build one from new if you asked and paid for the option but it would cost the same as a after market install like you did. The after market install tailored to one's needs makes more sense to me than expecting them just to build them at the factory like this........ the majority of buyers don't need this option and the largest percentage never will. This is just my thoughts and my opinion on your post and is not meant to be inconsiderate or hope I did not come across wrong in my posting on this subject. Your set up is A-1 and looks like it works good for you.
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Old 12-15-2013, 09:55 AM   #9
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Winnebago has offered modifications for handicap access for many years. I doubt if you will find it offered on units on the dealer lots as it is expensive and has a more limited market.

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Old 12-15-2013, 10:31 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by palehorse89 View Post
Just my thoughts on this, New homes are not built w/ramp excess, nor any kind of RV, auto, van....etc. everything is customized to suit ones needs. I have ever seen maybe just a handful of rv's with this modification done to them(maybe 5 for sale) What do you think the percentage of people buying RV's with these needs would be? I would think that the percentage would not be very high, just like homes w/ramps on them. The Motorhome mfg.'s might custom build one from new if you asked and paid for the option but it would cost the same as a after market install like you did. The after market install tailored to one's needs makes more sense to me than expecting them just to build them at the factory like this........ the majority of buyers don't need this option and the largest percentage never will. This is just my thoughts and my opinion on your post and is not meant to be inconsiderate or hope I did not come across wrong in my posting on this subject. Your set up is A-1 and looks like it works good for you.
Again I must disagree.
In the housing industry there is something called "universal design". Architects have come up with designs for multi-generational families that enable houses to fit the needs of everyone from young children through to the infirm and aged. With these designs doors are wide enough for wheelchairs, some counters are lowered and so on. It is not that these houses are built for handicap people but that they can be adapted as needs arise without major expense.
The same issue with motohomes. We don't expect them to come with lifts etc. but it would be nice if they were designed to allow for this option. As you say this is not a big market but the Canyon Star handicap is selling fast and we got to try one out at the factory. I asked Newmar if they would offer this in a DP and was told no.
It is not true that a handicap coach from the factory would cost as much as an after-market conversion. If you put a lift in where a slide would go the factory would save the cost of the side-out and any furniture that would normally go there. A roll-in shower would replace a walk-in and you would save the cost of that etc. etc.
Only Winnebago, Rexhall and Newall seem prepared to do these mods at the factory. Perhaps we should just give them our business and have done with it.
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Old 12-15-2013, 10:44 AM   #11
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John, I am going to take a guess here saying that if you were to "custom" order one of Newmars top shelf coach's you could order it anyway you want , but again, I disagree with your idea on the cost , you are going to pay for your custom wishes. If I was to call Newmar and tell them that I wanted a new King Aire custom built without the one front slide........extra - wide mid entry door......with a lift installed , they would build this for me based on my knowledge of Newmar and what they will allow the customer to customize when building a new Coach, especially the higher end of their line. Might be wrong..........
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Old 12-15-2013, 11:22 AM   #12
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My knowledge of Newmar is just based on doing the factory tour for 2 hours and spending some time afterwards discussing the handicap coach issue with them. I agree it would be expensive if they did modify a coach but a lot less than doing it afterwards. How do you undo a slide-out for example?
The handicap Canyon Star 3911 is $198k and the 3920 is $186k so you pay $12k for the handicap option. I think most people would think that a reasonable price to pay. I have been quoted $30k to do a similar mod on an existing coach.
Fleetwood made some coaches in the 2006+ timeframe that had a full wall slide-out on the driver side and no slide-out behind the passenger seat, this made it possible to add a lift and have room to move around inside. The market now demands side-outs everywhere so this floorplan is no longer made. I apologize if I sound argumentative, and I didn't even start this thread.
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Old 12-15-2013, 01:09 PM   #13
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Glad to see I've stirred up a good discussion.

I truely believe the entry space is the key for access with minimal floorplan impact. It's a matter of only a few inches of width.

A good designer could work up a standard design, based on their chassis and plug it into a standard floor plan where it would make the allowances for whatever was on either side of the floorplan. Many floorplans have blank wall on at least one side.

I agree that mide coach entry floorplans are better suited. But, with some work on the front door A coaches layout, maybe they could make a passenger chair base that slides back an extra few inches to make wheelchair access a bit easier.

They could even just make the space for the Braun UVL lift if the customer just wants the option for a future lift install.

Heck, I'm sure there are a lot of folks, not handicapped that would welcome a wider entrance for ease of ingress/egress and maybe moving large items in and out.

I had to remove two couches from my coach and bring a new one in for the slideout. Had I not had the new lift entry space, I would have to completely disassemble all of the couches. A huge headeache.
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Old 12-15-2013, 03:00 PM   #14
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I know my comments are likely to be viewed negatively but why should an entire industry change for a specialized need?

The auto industry, housing industry ect, doesn't do this for handicapped people. The solution is as the original poster has done and that is to retrofit an existing design to their specifications. Same with autos and vans for handicap transport.

I have no prejudice against handicap persons. However, aside from pubic buildings and institutions which I agree must be assessable, it is not realistic or fair to expect an industry to spend enormous money and resources for the benefit of a small minority of people.

Just my humble opinion.
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