Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Permobil -Need I say more?

I was lucky enough to be offered a Quantum power wheelchair from a friend after seeing the never-ending problems I was experiencing with my Permobil M300 powerchair.  The Quantum was a "discard" after the previous owner operated the chair for some five-plus years and qualified for ADP assistance for a new replacement model.  The Quantum would have gone to the scrap heap.

With my ongoing move to another home in another city, I was delighted that I could now take the Quantum to my new home while leaving the Permobil at my old residence.  My primary wheelchair now became the Quantum with the Permobil as an unreliable back-up.  The Quantum was a 'God-send' as it was about an inch narrower and could fit through the doors of my new 1960's era home where the Permobil could not.

The condition of the 'hand-me-down' Quantum could not be guaranteed.  Regardless, I found it more reliable than the Permobil which has had just about every part replaced on it.  The Permobil is in essence a new powerchair which still refuses to run reliably.

I return to my old home with my manual wheelchair then use the Permobil to sort and pack my possessions for shipping to my new home where I have the Quantum.  Works out great!...Sort of.

Over my last four visits the Permobil has 'failed' three times.  By fail I mean that I have the continuing problem of the right motor becoming nonoperational resulting in my only being able to drive around in circles using the left operating motor.

My wheelchair service provider, Motion Specialties, has been great in trying to resolve this problem. The Permobil manufacturer - not so much. Both motors on the Permobil failed within a month of each other and were replaced -one twice.  The computer-controller unit has been replaced, yet the problem of why one motor cuts out cannot be solved.

Permobil headquarters in the U.S. asks for the 'error/maintenance code' that is being displayed on the joy-stick controller.  There is no error code being displayed!!!  Then they can't help us!  Their machine won't run, but they can't help.  Permobil U.S. did offer to sell me another motor at $1000+ Cnd, which would be the third replacement motor, to replace the one that cuts out.  That was their solution!

My service tech found out that if the motor is unplugged and then reconnected, the system appears to reset itself and the chair runs again....for a while.

So this is what I do now.  Every time the Permobil powerchair acts up, I have my wife unplug the 'Molex' plug to that motor -wait a few seconds and then plug it back in.  Just like turning a desk-top computer off and on again to reboot it.

The plugs are located under the plastic housing at the rear of the powerchair which is held on by two thumb-screws.  In anticipation of this being an ongoing problem, I have left the back housing off permanently.

The photo above shows the Permobil M300 with the rear housing removed.  The yellow arrows point to the three 'Molex' plug-in connectors.  One for each motor (Left and Right) and the central one which powers the controller [box in photo] itself (& joystick connection on the controller also).  Whenever my chair fails, I unplug the connector (right in this photo), wait a few seconds and plug it back in.  From this pattern, I suspect it is the controller which is the problem however it has been replaced (new) and my service tech even tried another from the shop with the identical problem reoccurring.  I do not believe it is the cable itself that shorts out or fails as simply wiggling it about does not solve the problem -it has to be physically unplugged and re-plugged.

As mentioned in previous posts, the Permobil fails when trying to reverse from a stand-still.  The chair is not under any additional load and it has always been on flat tile flooring or a low-pyle carpet.

So, for anyone else experiencing similar problems, try this and see if it works for you -temporarily as it may be.

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