Durians to the rescue

We were in Putrajaya to submit an application to the Jabatan Pengangkutan Jalan early this morning and spent an hour circling around looking for the Ministry of Transport building. We had changed cars and required approval for the hand control attachment. Unbeknownst to us, the ministry had moved from Parcel D to Presint 4. As we were unfamiliar with the area, we took several wrong turns before we finally found the building.

Tek ka durian
Tak ka @ RM18/kg

All our forms were in order except for the medical report which was supposed to be filled up in an official form. The officer accepted the application anyway but requested that I get the medical report after which he would issue the letter of approval. I’ll be going to the University Malaya Medical Centre to get the report tomorrow.

Durian D24
D24 @ RM15/kg

To perk up the frustrating day, we decided to have a durian feast at Soon Huat Durian Market at Jalan Cempaka, Ampang. I’m very partial to the the king of fruits from Penang but they are not in season. I am a durian snob like that but beggars can’t be choosers. It is going to be another 6 months before the season in Penang begins so any durian is better than none.

Soon Huat Durian Market
Soon Huat Durian Market at Jalan Cempaka, Ampang

Our first fruit was Tek Ka, one of Wuan’s favourites. It had a bitter taste and not overly sweet. Still not satiated after we finished it, we got the seller to open another fruit. The D24 had a similar bitter taste but slightly sweeter flesh. The Tek Ka was RM18/kg and D24 RM15/kg. We’ll probably go back for more since the price is quite reasonable. At the very least our day ended on a better note.

* Soon Huat Durian Market is at Jalan Cempaka 3, Taman Cempaka, 68000 Ampang, Selangor.

FreeWheel Wheelchair Attachment In Malaysia

The wheelchair rolls well on smooth surfaces. Roads, pavements, grass and pebbled paths is another story. The small front caster can easily get caught between bumps and cracks. Apart from making it difficult to push, they make rides bumpy which in turn causes spasms of the legs. Traversing these surfaces could quickly damage the wheelchair as well. I avoid such terrains as much as possible. For someone who likes the great outdoors, it is indeed a difficult choice for me to make.

This is the same dilemma wheelchair users all over face when we want to go off the beaten path, until the FreeWheel Wheelchair Attachment was invented, that is. When I ordered the Tilite ZRA Series 2, I got the FreeWheel shipped together with the wheelchair to save on freight charges. With the FreeWheel hooked to the footrest, going across grassy fields or sandy beaches became a breeze. This practical mechanism is the brainchild of Pat Dougherty, a wheelchair user himself, who saw the need for an easier way to get the wheelchair across challenging terrains.

FreeWheel Wheelchair Attachment in Gurney Drive, Penang, Malaysia
Peter Tan with Tilite ZRA Series 2 and the FreeWheel Wheelchair Attachment in Gurney Drive, Penang, Malaysia.
Photo by Wuan.

The FreeWheel’s design is simple and ingenious. It consists of a 12.5 inch wheel attached to a fork. Attaching the Freewheel to the wheelchair is easy once the clamp is properly adjusted to fit the footrest. Swing the wheel out and place the clamp over the footrest. Pull the lever back and the FreeWheel is securely clamped to the footrest. Push the wheelchair forward to turn the wheel back. This lifts the front casters one inch off the ground. And all is good to go!

FreeWheel Wheelchair Attachment in Gurney Drive, Penang, Malaysia
Closer view of Peter Tan with Tilite ZRA Series 2 and the FreeWheel Wheelchair Attachment.
Photo by Wuan.

On my recent trip to Penang, I used the Freewheel at Gurney Drive, the Botanical Gardens and several other places. The ride was certainly smoother even over rough roads and paved walkways. Moving around was a joy. In tight spaces like at the food courts, I simply unclamped the FreeWheel, stored it by attaching it to the perch fastened to the back rigidizer bar. With the FreeWheel out of the way, I manuevered around crowds with ease. With the FreeWheel, I do not have to think twice about where I can go now. Using the wheelchair when I am out and about has become less inconvenient. Truly, the FreeWheel Wheelchair Attachment is the best thing since sliced bread for wheelchair users. Thanks, Pat, for a wonderful invention.

Tilite ZRA Series 2 Backrest Mount Replacement Parts

The Tilite ZRA Series 2 ultralight weight rigid titanium wheelchair has performed better than I had anticipated except for the backrest mount that began to creak a few days I started using it. Wuan tightened all the screws that could be tightened but it continued to creak every time I shifted my weight or leaned back.

Tilite ZR and ZRA Series 2 backrest mount replacement parts
Tilite ZR and ZRA Series 2 backrest mount replacement parts.

The locking stud on the left kept coming loose and had to be tightened several times. The threadless pin for the folding mechanism also slid out a few times and had to be hammered back into place. There is significant play to the entire backrest. The back locking mechanism is difficult to engage and disengage.

Many, if not all, of Tilite ZRA Series 2 users are facing this issue. The hardware that came with the wheelchair is an updated version but the problem persisted. Tilite has since redesigned the entire mechanism and been sending them out to users requesting for a replacement.

I requested for a replacement on end-February through Scott Pellett, the owner of Bike-On, the retailer in the USA where I got the Tilite ZRA from. It was a simple no-question-asked process. All I needed to provide was the serial number of the wheelchair. It was delivered via UPS this afternoon.

Now, I need to wait for Wuan, my personal wheelchair mechanic, to swap the parts. One quirk about the wrenches for the bolts and nuts that Tilite uses. They are all in inches while the commonly available wrenches in Malaysia are in metric. A 7/16″ open end wrench is needed for this task.

There is a hardware shop near the Pudu wet market that carries wrenches in inches. This was where Wuan got the 3/8″ open end wrench needed to reposition the levers of the Uni-Lock wheel locks. I hope they have the 7/16″ as well.