One day, the automobile department head at the Government Polytechnic College, Attingal, Premjith Prabhakaran, had a request from Kollam native Pramod. “Sir, you are an engineer. Can't you get your students to make a scooter with reverse gear? It will be of great help to people like me,” said Pramod, who is differently abled.
Once, in an accident in Kollam, Pramod's scooter got stuck in a puddle. If the scooter had reverse gear, he could have got out easily. So, Pramod wanted a scooter with enough changes for the use of differently abled along with a reverse gear.
Every year, students need to do a project as part of their studies. So, why not a scooter with reverse gear? Premjith assigned the project to the 2018 batch, and that is how the trike with reverse gear took birth.
In top gear
Usually, two extra wheels are fixed to the rear wheel of the scooter to make it user friendly for the differently abled. The students used an old Honda Activa for their project. They sourced the differential from an Ape auto. The rear wheel was removed and chain and spoke assembly was added to convert it to a chain-drive system.
A differential with reverse gear was fixed to the system. The reverse gear can be operated with hands too. The trike can be called a fully-automatic three-wheeler. This kit can be added to a normal scooter within 45 minutes. About Rs 50,000 was spent on the project.
The tech, which is a boon for the elderly, women and differently abled, was developed by the 2017-18 evening batch students Shersha, Ashwinth, Jishnu, Vishnu Kurup and former student Rahul. Premjith was with them providing all the help, advice and encouragement.
Once the trike was ready, Premjith tweeted Mahindra chairman Anand Mahindra, seeking assistance to fine-tune the innovation. He replied congratulating the team and send two experts from Mahindra to the college. Representatives from Kerala Automobiles Ltd too came to see the trike. And thus, the trike made by the students became a hit.
Students passing out of Polytechnic College, Attingal, know how to make vehicles. An example is the Ideator, a two-seater kit car built by the students from earlier batches (2014-17). The engine and gear box have been borrowed from Maruti Omni. The Ideator is a rear-wheel drive. Alloy wheels and tyres were bought from outside but the body was done inside the college workshop itself.
The suspension from Honda was used to make the independent suspension of the Ideator. All for wheels have disc brakes. The metal body of the car is built on a space-frame chassis. It is also equipped with rack and pinion steering system and gearbox. The air intake and exhaust have been designed in such a way that they extend from bonnet to the rear.
It took students more than one year to complete the project. Around Rs 2.5 lakh was spent to buy parts and accessories. The Ideator is a result of the hard work of evening batch students Rahul, Syam Kumar, Akhil, Jayakrishnan and Vishu. The title Ideator was given to the car to convey the message that every student has a world of opportunity before him.
The automobile department is now looking for a buyer for the Ideator. They aim to raise funds to buy a Bolero that will be used to teach driving to students. The students have the able support of assistant teachers Saba George, Anoop, Sajikumar and Jijish Mohan and workshop employees.