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Custom wheelchairs let High River man go off-road

Edwin Bronsch said he thinks there are people who would appreciate having a rugged all-terrain wheelchair like the two he's built in High River

Farmer ingenuity and engineering know-how means a High River man can once again be out on the trails. 

Following a back injury that made it difficult to get around, Edwin Bronsch built a pair of off-road electric wheelchairs so he can get back out into the country. He's even used one to go hunting in northern Alberta, Bronsch said. 

“It's easy to haul around and it's quiet,” he said. “I could sneak up on the moose.” 

Bronsch’s invention has higher ground clearance than the quad he once owned, and can keep up with gas-powered machines, he said. 

“I can go through places where it's kind of swampy, high grass, hilly and stuff like that, no problem,” he said. 

Now in his mid-80s, Bronsch comes from an engineering background and he farmed until 2009. Later, he started a seed cleaning business where he worked until he suffered his back injury.

The injury caused him to retire for the last time, but he found that his mind wasn't ready to slow down. 

“I had that farmer disease called tinkering,” he said. “Because I couldn’t walk too good, I started thinking, ‘Well, why don't I make something like this?'"

That started a period of investigation as he looked for the right electric motors, controls and other pieces to bring his idea to life. 

Each wheelchair is powered by two 1,000-watt motors, mounted on bicycle frames, that are independently controlled by a twist throttle. 

“I can run the wheels individually, something like a skid steer,” he said. “I can make a U-turn on a dime.” 

Stopping power comes from disc brakes after Bronsch found out rim brakes didn’t work well. 

Although he’s interested in building more of the machines to sell, he said he’ll need some help. 

The wheelchairs have made it possible for him to tag along with his wife's grandson on the disc golf course, he said.

“I think there's other people that would appreciate having something like this,” he said. “Not just a wheelchair that could run on sidewalks, something that can be out in the country and in the fields and that sort of thing.

“I'm getting to the point where I need a young fella to go alongside me to take it over." 

His wife, Joyce Pallister-Bronsch, said neither of them are too savvy on social media, making it hard to get the word out about her husband's invention, but he’s shown them off at in the High River Santa Claus Parade and a few others in southern Alberta. 

Robert Korotyszyn

About the Author: Robert Korotyszyn

Robert Korotyszyn covers Okotoks and Foothills County news for and the Western Wheel newspaper. For story tips contact [email protected]
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