Ricon Wheel Chair Lift

The Ricon wheel chair lift featured in the video is a very well designed piece of equipment. They use hydraulics to operate the lift cylinders that stow and unstow, lift and lower the lift deck. Micro switches limit the amount of travel during each action. There are interlocks that don’t allow the lift to operate for safety reasons. One particular safety feature is a switch located in the seat belt on the lift that will disable the system if the seat belt is not fastened.

We have seven school buses with wheel chair lifts in our fleet. Two of those are spare units. The regular buses run in the suburbs picking up students from their homes delivering them to school where there are CEA (Certified Education Assistant) personnel to look after them. Every bus has a CEA on board as well to assist the driver who has to concentrate on the road.

The Ricon S Series lifts we use weigh just over 400 pounds and can handle a capacity of 1,000 pounds. The hydraulic pump is driven by an electric motor. If the electrical or mechanical side fails there is a backup system consisting of a manual hand operated hydraulic pump that raises up the lift and a pressure relief valve to let it back down.

The roll stop springs in the video were both missing probably from breaking and falling out of the mounting holes. This is a common failure because of the tension on the spring steel. The government vehicle inspectors check out the lifts when they carry out their inspections and I have never seen any reports that were severe. They might notice a frayed restraint belt, weeping cylinder or loose fastener at the very most.

On the electrical side the electric motor is fed directly from the battery to a 90 amp breaker connected to the hydraulic pump solenoid. There are adjustable limit switches for all of the lift positions including a fold safety pressure switch which prevents the lift from folding when a wheelchair is on the platform. To test this out a 50 pound weight is placed on the lift platform which should not fold when actuated. This can be adjusted at the hydraulic solenoid.

There are a few maintenance steps to follow to keep the lift ship shape. Lubricate the knuckle links, torsion springs and hinges with penetration oil. Use dry graphite spray on the rollstop hinge. the hydraulic oil needs to be checked on a regular basis when the lift is stowed. The hydraulic cylinders will be fully retracted so the hydraulic oil level can be checked accurately.