Dealership owner modifies tractor for wheelchair access

Tractor Bob’s, an Oklahoma City dealer of Yanmar America Corporation equipment, has designed and fabricated a tractor conversion for a handicapped customer in a wheelchair. The Yanmar YT3 chair lift is the first chair lift on a compact Yanmar tractor and allows a person in a wheelchair access the tractor and operate it by hand. The further addition of a Jiffy Hitch allows the user to easily change tractor implements.

Yanmar dealer Tractor Bob’s in Oklahoma has devised a tractor conversion for wheelchair access.

According to USDA figures, approximately 19% of US farmers suffer from a disability. This can add challenges to an already demanding profession. Technology can help disabled farmers access vital information and services, but assistive technologies which include modified tractors and farm equipment are an important way to keep disabled farmers working on their land.

The Tractor Bob’s team’s outstanding customer focus and deep experience in tractor maintenance and customization have long made them a favorite with rural lifestyle customers in Oklahoma. Tractor Bob’s was approached with a request to retrofit a Yanmar YT3 tractor for easy access for a customer in a wheelchair.

The team fabricated a custom seat lift transfer system and fitted it to the Yanmar YT3 tractor. The system allows the user to transfer from their wheelchair to the lift, be raised to the tractor cabin and easily transfer across to the tractor seat. The seat lift comes with a wireless remote that controls the lifting operations of the chair. Once in the cabin, a hand throttle and a hand-operated braking mechanism enables the user to operate the Yanmar YT3 tractor entirely by hand.

“The Yanmar tractor, by design, is capable of being hand controlled relatively easily,” Neil Snow, owner of Tractor Bob’s, explains of the Yanmar YT3. “Most of the other tractors in that size category just wouldn’t be suitable.”

 (Left) A chair lift transfers the user to the cabin. (Right) The Yanmar YT3 can be easily fitted with hand controls.

Snow also praised the ergonomics of the tractor, the positioning of the joystick and the spaciousness of the cab as being particularly suitable for the conversion. He also highlighted the smoothness of Yanmar’s i-HMT transmission which has none of the “jerky” response that can sometimes happen with tractors under joystick control.

The final element in the conversion was the addition of a Jiffy Hitch implement attachment system which allows the user to easily change out an implement without leaving the seat.

“The system operates really well,” Snow said. “It makes the customer happy and gives you that sense of pride that you were able to take care of the customer.”

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