In the current Vintage Ford, the obituaries note the passing of Don Crader. I feel remiss for not writing an article for the magazine about Don and his hand operated Model T. You see Don was confined to a wheelchair. He designed and built his depot hack style body so he could slide off his wheel chair onto a sliding seat and stow his wheelchair in the back of the Model T. Then Don would slide around on a track to the drivers seat. He would slide onto the drivers seat and fold up the sliding seat. Next he would start his car and proceed down the road accelerating, shifting and stopping using the hand controls he crafted. The casual observer seeing him drive down the road would be oblivious to Don's achievement.
Many of his had been to Don's home in East Texas and had driven our T's with his. Many thanks to Nolan Renfro and the late Wally Shipley for introducing us to Don Crader and his neat machine.
I'm sorry to hear of Don's passing. But you know -- that article might still do some good for someone who was wondering if they could physically drive the T if they needed a wheel chair when they were not in the car. I had a friend who was a paraplegic and he had hand controls in his modern car and did great. That was back in the early 1970s and he had a automatic muscle car. He was taking his first trip in it after he had a cruise control installed in addition to the hand controls he had been using. He slowed down from 70 and entered the toll gate and tossed the quarters in the bin. Then he hit “resume speed.” That big V-8s back then made for a rather fast and loud exit from the toll both.
It would also be good to get some photos/measurements or whatever of Don's conversion on his T. Someone could figure it out from scratch, but often times it is easier to take an idea and use it or even to improve upon it. Who knows – one of us may need that set up in the future so we can keep driving our T. Let me know if I can help you with the article – proof read it or whatever.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Don’s extended family. Loosing a close loved one was tougher than I ever imagined it would be.
Hap l9l5 cut off