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My challenge was to create an exercise machine for a friend who is in a wheel chair. The idea was to allow her to exercise her arms while passively moving her legs to increase their circulation and flexibility, while staying in her chair.

I was in the early stages of design and was weighing building something completely from scratch vs. using old bicycle parts. While visiting family in Ottawa it was suggested to me that I visit Michael Watson who was known as the neighbourhood bicycle tinkerer. I dropped in on him out of the blue at his home which was surrounded by piles of old bicycles as well as strange hybrids that he had built. Over the next couple of hours he gave me a primer on bicycle mechanics and tools greatly increasing my comfort level with going that direction. As I was leaving he asked me to drop in the next morning before I headed back to Barrie “in case I have a brainstorm”.

Next morning I dropped by and he handed me a detailed design for the machine. While I did end up modifying and adding features I have to admit that Mike’s design handled nearly every problem that came up. Amazing! Thanks Mike.

The generosity and advice of Morgan Lemmon, owner of Barrie’s Bikeland, was also very appreciated in this project as were the suggestions of brothers-in-law Ray Dillard, Kent Daniels and Blake Leminski.

It was nice to work on something where detail and accuracy were so important. This machine is completely adjustable so that the optimum position of arms legs and feet can be set for people of different sizes and needs. It also has gears and tensioners to vary the speed and resistance of the moving parts.

I would be happy to share this design and give suggestions to anyone who is interested in building one.


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