Making a wheelchair van ramp is a convenient way to add mobility equipment to a van for the disabled. Electrical, motorized and foldable ramps are usually installed by professionals. They require maintenance due to having electric or electronic components. A simpler, manual wheelchair van ramp is a feasible DIY project. It requires very low maintenance and is a lot less expensive. You can make a ramp using a few tools and materials, and following the simple steps shown in this guide.
Tools and Materials Needed:
- Sheet metal
- Electric drill
- Metal hinges
- Measurement device
- Sheet metal cutter/shears/saw
- Welding torch
- Angle grinder
- 2 big bolts and washers
- Protective goggles
Step 1 - Taking Measurements
Before starting out you need to decide how big of a wheelchair van ramp you need to make. You will have a smaller width than the van’s door and a certain inclination. Measure the van’s entrance and the inclination you will need to reach it. In order to determine the inclination needed, use a piece of cardboard to reach from the van’s door to the ground. Keep moving it away from the van until you get an inclination that is no steeper than 1:12.
Step 2 - Cutting Metal Panels
Use the cardboard to put together a mock version of the wheelchair van ramp. Test the mock version for fit against the van. Adjust your measurements according to any rectifications you make for the mock-up to fit. Put your protective goggles on. Using your tools, cut the sheet metal panels to the specific measurements you took. Apart from the panels needed to construct the ramp, you will need a shorter panel that is attached to the van. Use the cardboard cutout to trace the sheet metal and then use the saw to cut it. Sand the rough edges off using your angle grinder or coarse sandpaper.
Step 3 - Construct the Ramp
Using the cut metal panels put the wheelchair van ramp together. Tack-weld the pieces to hold them together and then finalize the weld using the welding torch. Weld the hinges to the short metal plate that is going to be attached to the van using nuts and bolts. Weld the entire assembly together and then weld the hinge and panel to the assembly. If you’re using metal that is harder to weld such as aluminum, use specific electrodes when welding. An electric welder is also better for aluminum. Use your protective goggles. Use the angle grinder to remove any excess weld and sand off all the rough edges of the ramp. Use an abrasive cleaner to clean the welds and sanded parts.
Step 4 - Add Bolts to the Van Plate
In order to make the ramp easy to be attached to and removed from the van, you’re going to add a couple of bolts. You will then be able to use these bolts to attach the van plate to a van. Use your electric drill to drill a couple of equidistant holes in the van’s floor. This is where you will attach the metal plate you’ve built. You’ll want these holes to be big enough to fit the bolts through but not big enough to let them slip through. Slip the washers on the bolts and then feed them through the freshly cut holes. Use the welder to tack them and then weld them completely. The hinges will allow for the ramp to be released or retracted. Your wheelchair van ramp is now done and can be attached by screwing in the bolts.