Re: Ideas needed for car mods for right leg above knee amputee to drive a manual tran
The super long pedal extenders were pretty awkward- and I had to take the leg off to use them.
I ended up converting my Honda Civic over to an auto transmission. It is the car I use to drive to work (city driving) and I simply drive with my left foot.
I did modify the Honda Accord with a left hand clutch system. It is the car I drive on long highway (interstate) trips to visit family (only 6 stop signs/ traffic lights on the whole 200 mile trip). The Accord's hand clutch is based on this system:
Except that the lever sticks out under the left hand side of the steering wheel. Pulling the lever toward me pushes down the clutch pedal and so when I shift with my right hand, my left hand is wrapped around the clutch lever and steering wheel (so I still have control over the steering wheel). I initially installed a left hand push lever, but then I had to hold the steering wheel with my knee while my right hand was shifting and my left hand had the clutch lever pushed forward= NOT SAFE!
I work the brake and gas pedals with my left foot.
This left hand pull type clutch is still a little awkward/tiring when driving in the city.
I thought about the idea that you brought up (the bar across the brake and clutch pedals)- but a person would also need to have a hand throttle (or do some fancy heel/toe work)- since they would need a way to increase engine speed as they let off the clutch pedal.
I have since come up with another idea- a hand clutch lever (a motorcycle clutch lever) mounted on the gearshift. The main issue is that an assist is needed- the human hand isn't strong enough to apply that much pressure and hold it. So- I have been experimenting with using engine vacuum and a brake booster to reduce the required effort. The clutch lever works a cable which operates a rod connected to the input side of an 11" brake booster. The brake booster uses engine vacuum to multiply force at least 10X and its output is connected to the clutch cable. I first installed this system in the Accord (hydraulic clutch) and hooked the master cylinder of the booster up to the clutch fluid line. It was easy enough to pull the clutch in, but it was way too sensitive when letting it out (engine would stall of spin the tires). I think it would work better on a cable operated clutch (like my CRX when I eventually get it running) where I could fine tune the way the clutch cable was pulled to enhance precision.
Here's another system that they sell in the UK- it seems like it would be pretty slow and would really keep your hands busy when shifting. The "ratchet clutch".
I am able to drive a 2 ton grain truck OK (hauling some corn for my dad) by working the gas pedal with my fake leg and the brake and clutch pedals with my left leg, but I was only driving around on the farm and on a rarely traveled country road- and where I had plenty of distance to stop. It wouldn't be safe to drive like that when there were other cars around and I don't think I will ever trust the fake leg with operating the brake pedal.
A lot of below knee amputees can drive just fine with their fake leg- but they have a much more control of it than above knee amputees have.