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Vans for Expeditions

Reprinted from PN January 2010

Disabled Explorers and Sportsmobile West have built a custom recreational vehicle specially equipped for backcountry adventuring by people with mobility challenges.

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Disabled Explorers and Sportsmobile West have built a custom recreational vehicle specially equipped for backcountry adventuring by people with mobility challenges. The van is based on the four-wheel-drive Sportsmobile platform and features equipment and modifications to make remote self-sustained travel possible and enjoyable for everyone.

The Wheelchair Accessible Van for Expeditions (WAVE) project is the most recent and largest vehicle from Disabled Explorers, an Arizona-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit run by volunteers with disabilities and supported by donations. Sportsmobile West, of Fresno, Calif., has more than 50 years’ experience in converting vans into RVs.


The Wheelchair Accessible Van for Expeditions (WAVE) received lots of attention at the SEMA show in Las Vegas, Nev.

“We’ve built and traveled extensively in other cars and trucks and had fantastic experiences,” says Disabled Explorers founder and director Lance Blair. “But the Sportsmobile will allow us to extend our outreach programs to a much larger group of people with disabilities. Its capabilities far surpass anything we have done or could imagine. This new vehicle will bring outdoor adventure into the lives of people we couldn’t help until now.”

The WAVE is based on a diesel-powered Ford E-350 van with four-wheel-drive running gear. It includes custom interior layout; electric water, cooking, sleeping, shower, and toilet systems; and traction, enhanced ground clearance, and body protection systems.

According to Alan Feld of Sportsmobile West, “The heavy-duty drive train is tremendously important for people with mobility challenges. If they get stuck in the back country, walking out may not be an option.”

The WAVE features a Braun Millennium wheelchair lift, a B&D Independence powered driver’s seat base, and Sure Grip Hand Controls, all installed by Nor-Cal Mobility. It also has an upgraded system capable of recharging power wheelchairs. Especially important for paraplegic and quadriplegic travelers who are sensitive to temperature variations, the van has an additional rear air conditioner and diesel-fueled auxiliary heater.

A self-spotting camera system delivers views from the front and rear bumpers and underneath the front and rear axles.

The WAVE will become the flagship for Disabled Explorers and will take people with disabilities on extended overland adventures. The vehicle’s debut was scheduled for the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show in Las Vegas, Nev., in early November 2009.

Contact: www.disabledexplorers.org / info@disabledexplorers.org.

 

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Vans for Expeditions

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