Saturday 26 January 2019

Tools for the job

I am always happier when I have the resources to repair whatever task I'm on. In my small zodiac inflatable boat I have tools for the spark plug, a screwdriver, a few spanners and a replacement starter cord. My van also has tools along with roadside assistance insurance. On Genny there is very limited room but I still carry a small but comprehensive toolkit. I researched what I needed and came up with the following solution

With a few alterations this great little tool kit covers most of the things you need to service and maintain your wheels. The Torx bits, the Allen keys and the sockets are great but I dumped the Philips head driver bits and larger Pozidrive  bits replacing them with high quality Snap-on Allen bits sized 1.5, 2.5, 3, 4, 5 & 6mm. This tiny tool kit is only 45 x 35 x 15cm and has room underneath the black insert to stash a couple of stay ties that can hold most things together at a last resort.Instead of carrying this in a backpack i have a tiny bicycle saddle holder that fits the toolkit like a glove
Using the built-in Velcro strap this fits neatly between the Genny side handle and the seat - how neat is that?
I have used this kit many times to remove covers, fix the tiny metal locator lug from the bottom of the lean-steer handle and even change a wheel with the 13mm socket. One thing I would say is don't attempt to use the tiny ratchet when applying force like removing a wheel as it is not up to it and you will bust it. Something I have recently ordered as an addition is some tiny tubeless tire plugs for punctures. These plugs are self-adhesive and vulcanising and will fix a thorn or nail puncture. I think they are also small enough to fit in the base of the toolbox but I will let you know Designed for bikes these plugs are a repair-on-the-road aid, they are very light and compact. I have not tried these yet but I have had issues with punctures and like the idea of this.If you are interested here are links to the various products I have used: ToolkitCaseTyre repair plugs

Saturday 5 January 2019

Tyre troubles

For a while now I have had a slow leak on one of my wheels. Over Christmas things got a whole lot worse so I took the wheel into a local tyre service centre.
When they removed the wheel we discovered the tyre has a leak from the patch repaired in Antigue (see this post)

Unfortunately there was also an internal split (see above photo) which stopped the tyre shop from repairing the wheel leaving me with a one wheeled Genny for Christmas. They refused on safety grounds which is understandable

I hunted all the local tyre shops but they had nothing suitable directing me to motorbike shops. They were all closed so I wasted a whole day looking for a new tyre. In the end I got a bike tyre repair kit and made the repair myself - see above

I found replacement tyres on ebay at a great price so ordered a set that arrived yesterday. I fitted the new tyres to the rims and today will inflate at a garage and pray all works

I removed the old tyres using a few spanner handles as tyre levers. The new tyres are exactly the same tread and design but made by a different company. The size is 80/80-14 which is width (mm), height (mm as a % of tyre width) and rim diameter in inches. I later considered looking for slightly wider tyres which I think would protect the rims better as they are easily damaged. When refitting the wheels/tyres I will check if there is room for a wider tyre. Wider tyres are available but will not fit within the tight Segway mudguards
I also made a fibreglass repair to the Genny mudguard that got busted a while back

I'm aware this is turning into a "how to maintain your wheelchair" blog, but things will change soon as I am off to Antigua again next month for some sunshine

Tuesday 18 December 2018

Breaking News

Genny Mobility is up and running again

I Just spoke to someone in Switzerland who tells me the Genny company is working again. I was told that they are in the early stages of service training but that sales and service will resume shortly.

The company website is now working here: Genny Mobility

I think the factory is closed over the Christmas period but I have left an enquiry to include me on a Genny training course. I will update you when I hear back

Sunday 28 October 2018

Ireland Oct 2018

I had a road-trip to Ireland planned for a while with my car and wheels in the back however as my van came together in time and I got Jersey registered and plated, I changed the booking and I'm now in Ireland with the VW

Jersey to Ireland is quite a trip with 2 ferries and a substantial drive. It is not unusual to get caught out with the weather and I have had some previous epics. As expected the second ferry from Pembroke to Rosslare got cancelled due to the tail end of some storm so I had an  additional night where I stayed with my sister in Oxford. The following days ferry was on time and with only a bit of smashed glass

Sunday 21 October 2018

Project Van

I have long been excited about travelling with my wheels. In previous posts I have made various trips flying BA which work really well but I want the freedom to go off the beaten trail. I can use my current car to move my wheels about but it involves rolling it up ramps and takes up the entire back of the vehicle with the two back seats folded down. I have been planning a project for a while now to broader my horizons so let me introduce my new go anywhere, do anything van


VW's in Jersey are like gold dust. There is a big surfing and travelling community and a lot of tradesmen use Transporters. I have searched the various local classified pages as well as but nothing grabbed me. I liked the idea of a basic automatic transmission van with a wheelchair lift but am used to parking sensors, Bluetooth phone connection and other options that are hard to live without nowadays

I came across one wheelchair adapted VW (WAV) for sale locally at a good price but it had a lowered floor and a massive unfolding ramp that took up most of the back of the van.
Van with ramp and lowered floor

Adapted vehicles seem to be jinxed and their value is lowered on the general market which says a lot about the perception of disability I think. You can get a WAV van, strip out the adaptions and have a well priced van. From the disabled customer perspective however new adapted vehicles can cost a fortune. Anything "special" is about ten times what you would expect to pay

Working on the principle that if you can't get 100% what you want, 90% is worth considering, I found a 2013 VW Caravelle for sale on an auction site in Preston. It was actually the executive model with leather seats, electric doors and all the trimmings. Unfortunately it has a rear unfolding lift taking up about 50cm at the very back of the van and was missing the front passenger seat being built for wheelchair upfront but hey? I had a UK contact that traded from auctions and so now I am the owner of a beautiful all-singing and dancing metallic toffee coloured spaceship of a van

My van with current fold out lift

My van currently has a fold out lift which works well but takes up loads of room in the back. My mission is to fit one of these neat cassette type lifts that are mounted underneath the van giving easy discreet access at the push of a button. Some are so small you need less than 1m access space at the side of the vehicle making it easy to use in variable parking situations. They also don't take up any space being mounted below the vehicle. I quizzed the Uk dealers but was told they were unable to sell there lifts outside mainland Britain because of the service liability. When I pretended to be a UK customer I was quoted over £10,000 to supply and fit with a 6 month waiting list. This is for a device I could pick-up second hand on eBay for £400

Planned cassette style lift mounted underneath the van

Thursday 18 October 2018


Hi - so my last post was in February 2018 at the end of 3 weeks in Antigua. So what has happened since?

We had some snow in early March that came out of the blue
Genny in the snow

Genny is completely dependant on full traction to keep vertical. I pay attention to wet leaves, seaweed on slipways and damp slopes with algae, so I had to play in the snow. I was delighted to discover my wheels were surprisingly stable. To be honest the snow was thin on the ground and where I was playing was rough terrain under the snow but apart from cold hands everything was fine

Due to Genny Mobility going into administration I thought it prudent to get what spares I could find. Apart from an issue with the Segway core unit that I got fixed at Segway UK (see previous post) - I haven't really had any serious issues. I had a flat tyre and I bent a wheel when my Genny fell from ramps whilst loading it into the car. I am good at making repairs and quite handy with electronics so I feel relatively confident to repair most issues

I have however put a lot of ware on the covers so I decided to order a new set in red and a pair of new wheels. Genny now resplendent in Ferrari red

Jersey is massively tidal with with a high to low water change of over 11m in 6 hours. There is also a number of offshore forts and towers worth a visit when the tide goes out. One day I took a trip to Elizabeth Castle across the beach and causeway

Genny on the beach with Elizabeth Castle in the picture
The end of another summer and there is now 3000 miles on the clock. The day I hit 3K I also got reversed into by white Porsh. The owner had just got the car and had all his attention on why his zillion pound machine had just cut out. Deciding to pull into a small car park to check it out he had no regard for me on his nearside. I managed to get well into the hedge and to limit the impact, I shouted and whacked the back till he stopped. I was so cross I must have made him feel terrible. He was very sorry and I threatened him with the cost of a respray. I think most of the damage was to his paintwork but I later discovered a small stuff on my wheel arch most of which polished out

Friday 23 February 2018

Tuesday 20 February 2018

Today I got a flat tyre

I have always been aware that a weakness on my go-anywhere chair would be a flat tyre

I have been trying to get to a little cove called Indian Creek. It sits between Shirley Heights and Mamora Bay and is hard to access down miles of rough dirt tracks. On the eastern headland is a complex of buildings that apparently belongs to Eric Clapton

Yesterday I got within 100m of the beach at Indian Creek. The last bit was a steep rough slope with water cut channels making it just too tricky to descend. I probably would have made it down but the assent would have been unlikely. What was running through my head throughout the miles of rough dirt track was ‘what do I do if get a flat tyre’?

I have insurance that covers breakdown in Europe but not for flat tyres. I don't even know how I would have directed breakdown rescue services to come and retrieve me out in the back of Indian Creek as there is nothing there except a flood plane and some fly tipping. 100m before the final descent into Indian Creek I chickened out

I made it back to civilisation in one piece with my wings firmly clipped but without having ended up as that mummy like corpse found days later in the back of nowhere. I survived with nothing worse than sunburnt knees

Today however I get the flat tyre. It came after a bit of local shopping and was caused by a bit of branch I picked up with a thorn piercing the tyre. I picked up the twig and I heard it as it went round and around with the tyre. Like a nail in your tyre I couldn't resist pulling it out when I shouldn't - still I made it home

With my tiny toolkit bought just for the occasion I removed the wheel. Quizzing my landlady I found I had 2 options for repair, one locally, the other 15 miles up the road, so scrounging a lift with my daughter we went in search of repair. What we found was a fantastic garage that just wouldn't exist other than in a third world country. They repaired my tubeless tyre with a bicycle repair patch glued to the inside of the tyre. They did the repair in half an hour and charged me £3 and what had been a major concern was sorted with relative ease

Life is good

Thursday 15 February 2018

Galleon beach from Shirley Heights. There are 2 beach resort complexes on Galleon with condominium style accommodation. The middle bit is open to us riff-raff. This is my daily hangout

Saturday 10 February 2018

Antigua 2018

I can never sleep when I have an early flight. Up at 5am I had a lift to the airport, check-in at 6 to watch the sunrise from 18,000 feet

I am tremendously reassured to see my wheels go up the conveyer and into the hold. I have only ever once had a lost bag and even then it showed up but should my chair not make it, with the issues of lithium batteries etc. it would seriously floor my plans

Gatwick is great and with my 1 bag checked right through I get time for porridge and coffee

Anyone traveling assisted knows there is only so much choice about the plan. I got held up waiting for my wheels to be signed off as safe and was one of the last to board but would have plenty of time sitting to follow so that was OK

I eat and drink everything I'm given whilst flying to pass the time watching the aeroplane slowly creep across the moving map

Antigua at last and my daughter has rented a van to collect me. It a 45 minute drive across the island to Falmouth where I have the ground floor of a seaside house. Time to get a quick swim in before spicy fresh fish and rum and ting

Monday 1 January 2018

Maltese Busses

There is an amount of information on the web about getting your wheels on the Maltese Busses HERE & HERE

All the public transport busses are able to accommodate wheelchairs with dipping suspension and manual ramps at the front door. There are a number of hop-on hop-off open topped private tours but they seemed to be without ramp access, I could be wrong

The official websites are slightly contradictory in that they give two definitions for allowed widths. There is also a form that you are directed to fill in that should be followed by a vehicle inspection at the Dept. For Transport in Malta. This should lead to the issue of a permit. I was unable to find the downloadable form and gave up with getting it sorted prior to travel

There are lots of bus routes in Malta and the services are well priced with a flat rate of €1.50 a journey. They are busy and weekly passes are available. I didn't bother looking for the illusive wheelchair permit
Download pdf map

In practice things did not go so smoothly. The aisle width was enough for my wheels at 63cm but would be tight for bigger chairs but the main issue was a lack of clear understandable practice by some drivers. I was lied to, refused admittance due to a child's buggy using the space and I was released onto a pavement island with no ramp exits. There were very cross drivers who refused to talk or even look at me, then again there were drivers very happy to help who didn't even charge for the ride

Information stickers were clearly displayed stating that spaces should be prioritised for chair users and that prams and buggies should move to make way. I am slightly uncomfortable getting buggies moved but always try to facilitate sharing space for the safety of all. On one bus they just didn't want me at all

We coped with the busses but it was generally stressful and I wouldn't rely on them getting you to the airport or somewhere requiring punctuality. If I lived in Malta and needed to travel with wheels on the Busses I would be running a campaign to get this sorted.

As just a visitor I would suggest being prepared. Go to the bus stop prior to a busy tourist stop so you will have more room to manoeuvre. Maybe queue on the road as that doesn't make the bus have to be tight to the pavement - you will be better seen but be warned people drive fast in Malta

Saturday 30 December 2017


An easy bus drive took us to Mdina

Mdina is a mysterious golden-stone Arabic walled city that crowns the hilltop next to Rabat and is a world apart from modern Malta. Its hidden lanes offer exquisite architectural detail

We found an amazing cafe to lunch leaving my wheels at the door

The bigger more formal buildings were also magnificent

Friday 29 December 2017


Yesterday we arrived in Malta. My flight was via Gatwick and all went well till I recovered my wheels in Malta. On occasion Genny goes into a "just not having it" mode after a rough ride. The start button on the infokey control shows an exclamation mark sign and 2 flashing feet accompanied by bleeping. The warning inhibited an active startup so we were stuck at airport arrivals with a wheelchair that wouldn't start. We dragged it through immigration and into the baggage reclaim area where I tried to repair whatever was wrong. 

Where this has occurred before it has always righted itself within a few minutes but this was different. I tried the Segway reset by removing both batteries to no effect. The next option I tried was to swap infokeys - hourrah! Genny started. 
We missed our booked taxi that gave up on us as we were so late but we had finally arrived

Valletta Harbour 

Malta has considerable history with just about everyone having a go at it at one time or another including the PhoeniciansRomansMoorsNormansSiciliansSpanish, the Order of St. John, the French and the British. Malta finally became an independent state in 1964, and a republic in 1974. Since 2004 the country has been a member state of the European Union.
You may notice some signls that Britain had a hand in Malta 

A cave of Maltese treasures