One of my priorities is to be able to get in and out of the bus by myself.
I traveled across the country in a bus with a standard bus lift. While it was reliable, to use it required turning on the engine. Diesel engines in old buses are noisy at 7am and did not make my camping neighbors happy.
To make it work, someone else had to start the engine so the battery wouldn't run down while I used the lift. Then they had to open the lift door. Then pass me the lift controls. When I was down, they had to put it all back up.
A bus lift requires at least 7-9 feet of clearance. 4-5 feet for the lift itself then at least 3 more feet for my wheelchair to get off the front of the lift.
I always felt a bit trapped so for this bus I want a completely independent system. I have good use of my arms and hands so I figure it's possible.
I went looking for existing lifts and the only one that matches some of my needs is the Superarm
lift especially the 129 Basement Motorhome model which works for 34-52" ground to vehicle floor distance.
But the Superarm lift has a weight limit of 600 lbs but that weight limit is too low for today's power chairs.
When I got my first power chair, the amazing Quickie P-200, it weighed 250 lbs empty. The newer chairs, such as the Permobil M-300 preferred by my friends, weighs 450 lbs empty. With add-ons a power chair can go up over 500 lbs empty. So the Superarm won't work for them.
The weight limit seems fine for a manual chair. Here's a video
of it being used by a manual wheelchair user getting into an RV.
The other problem with the Superarm is that it does not swivel.
On the bus I need a lift to both get in and out of the bus but also out of the bathtub. My most recent layout has the lift arm between the lift door and the bathtub.
Finally the cost is very high. For the motorhome model it's well over $8,000 new.
I began to look at devices that can lift up to 1,000 lbs, can swivel and are reliable enough for daily use.
I started to look at small industrial cranes like this Jib Crane. This one swivels 360 degrees, can be bolted down to the floor of the bus, lifts 1000 lbs and the arm can be extended.
This particular model doesn't work because you have to hand pump it. But there are tons of variations on this idea where I can have the crane frame and add a small electric motor and straps.
The price of the cranes are so much cheaper than the Superarm - like cranes are in the hundreds and Superarm is in the thousands.
Hoping to get some bright brains working on this problem. I'll post as new ideas emerge.