CAN’s former Technical Director James Wong can now be found volunteering his engineering expertise to the national charity Remap.
Remap is a national charity that works through local groups of skilled volunteers, helping disabled people achieve a better quality of life by designing and making equipment for their individual needs. This tailor made equipment helps people to carry out essential daily tasks without having to ask for help. This equipment can assist them in taking part in leisure occupations or sports that would otherwise be impossible.
The emphasis is giving people their freedom. Most of the people that require this kind of important help have physical impairment themselves. Tailoring equipment to suit the needs of these individuals gives them the independence that’s essential.
About James’ involvement in the project
James discovered Remap whilst in recovery from a personal injury, after exploring the idea of volunteering instead of coming back to work. This still stimulated the use of his extensive 30+ years’ experience in chartered engineering and shipbuilding. Many of the other senior volunteers already involved in Remap have previously worked for Rolls Royce in fact.
Making of the mini wheelchair
An all familiar scenario is that the families of the disabled people in question often can’t afford to purchase basic wheelchairs, not to mention have them adapted to suit their needs.
This project was for a brave little boy who had Spina Bifida, a type of birth defect occurring when the bones of the spine don’t form properly around a baby’s spinal cord.
The little boy’s Operational Therapist suggested the use of a mini wheelchair since he would require the use of a wheelchair in the future.
It was then down to James’ skillset to get to work on the mini wheelchair. At this point Dave Wood from Matrix Engineering, a long time CAN friend, was drafted in to help.
James purchased a multi seat following seat testing. The initial structure was tested with a 25KG mass and – given the client was 10KG – all items passed. Utilising his many years of experience and engineering finesse, James made various adaptations, enabling the little boy to get around with ease and maximum efficiency.
An axle frame was fitted along with 10 cm back castors and 7 cm front castors, providing the stability required. The x2 main 12inch wheels were cambered, improving overall position so they were in easy reach for the little boy. The main wheels came with an additional USP – they do not need pumping!
The seat was designed to be level during normal use. On the initial dynamic trial, the wheelchair tipped forward occasionally, so the longitudinal centre of gravity was adjusted slightly.
Another helpful company to assist in the project was Paint FX. They supplied the edge trim for the aluminium plate which the little boy rests his feet onto. The plate in question was made up of 2mm checker plate. A U bolt was fitted on the plate so the splints on the feet could be tied, preventing them from excessive sideway movements.
As well as the wheelchair being a dynamic seat, there were many handle options that enabled the child to be pushed or pulled by his parents, who have full training of all working items.
Finishing touches included a Batman emblem who the little boy loves.
James, being H&S conscious made sure the tyre height was meticulously correct; all materials used on the entirety of the project were strong. Two belts were fitted for extra safety to the main board which the seat sat on. The wheelchair comes equipped with stainless steel fixtures and fittings and a safety belt for added measure.
James is involved in additional projects. He’s just completed work on the upgrading of a loading hoist which raises a wheelchair into the back of an SUV.
It’s safe to say that although James is greatly missed here at CAN, it seems all that experience and good will is put to great use elsewhere.