Winnsboro’s Bob Ford is using his hands to make sure a wheelchair bound child can share in the common childhood experience of riding a tricycle.
The “trike”, as Ford calls it, would be pedaled and steered by hand.
He has been working over a year on a prototype version and says it is coming closer to completion.
The adaptive tricycle is being built at the request of one of Ford’s friends, though the man’s child does not know it yet. They want to surprise the young man with it.
In order to complete his project, Ford needs the support of the Winnsboro community.
He is donating his time and labor to the project and thus far has used parts from old, donated bicycles.
While he still needs used bicycle donations to perfect the prototype, Ford said another pressing need is for someone to donate two to three matching 10 speed 24-inch bikes, either male or female.
He wants to give away a tricycle that will last for the child who is receiving it, hence the need for the new parts.
He estimates those bikes would cost around $200 total.
A new adaptive tricycle similar to Ford’s design would cost anywhere from $1,500 to $4,000.
His goal is to give this tricycle to the family with the understanding that the child will pass it on to another wheelchair bound child when he or she outgrows it.
Ford has worked and reworked the design numerous times. Right now the challenge is making sure the chain and gears will clear the axle when the child steers the vehicle. He is on his third try to get the front portion “dialed in.”
He said he may use pulleys to achieve that effect.
If anyone has used bikes they would like to donate for him to refine the prototype he would be thankful for the support.
He also said he needs a plastic chair like those used in school desks, and old wheelchairs for their wheels and axles.
His long term goal is to build one to two of these trikes per year and donate them to area children.
Bob Ford does not consider himself an artist, though many see his creations and assume that he must be one.
A musician by trade, Ford has toured throughout the world playing at clubs near military bases in Japan, Singapore and Korea.
During the 1980s his band also did a free Saturday children’s show at military bases and he said his love of children and desire to be a positive influence upon them continues today, hence the tricycle project.
He no longer tours as much with the band Almost Nuts and prefers to spend his down time tinkering in the building he restored off of Golf Alley Road.
The three year resident of Winnsboro moved here from Blythewood because of the community atmosphere.
”I truly love the area and the people are super nice,” he said. He wants to have an impact on the future generation of young people in this area, as well.
“All we have are our kids and this next generation,” he said. “Any time the shop doors are open, folks are welcome to come on in,” he said.
He wants to use his skilled hands and sweat equity to give a child a bigger part of a normal childhood experience.
Ford said he is self taught when it comes to welding, woodwork, wiring and designing.
He credits the influence of his mechanically inclined father, but says really when it comes to dreaming up designs and seeing what will work or not it all comes down to common sense.
Ford estimates he has spent 50-60 hours on the prototype so far.
Some of his more renowned tinkering projects are motor vehicles like a 1947 Harley Davidson motorcycle that has been turned into a motorized tricycle.
He also turned a tractor trailer bed into an RV. All of his motorized creations carry tax and title and are street legal, according to Ford.
Ford says he does not do the building to draw attention to himself.
He just loves to tinker and enjoys sharing his finished products with others.
Ford has high hopes that people in Fairfield County will be able to step up and help him achieve this dream, possibly to surprise the child by Christmas.