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Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Owner of Rascal - Mike Flowers

To many, if not most, of you Rascal owners I'd like to introduce the President and CEO, as well as one of the family owners of Rascal. Mike is the one who invented the convertible fronts that allowed changing the 4 wheel, to a 3 wheel, to a convertible PC and back in any combination. He also invented the self folding  lightweight Autogo scooters like the 555, the B fronts that made the full size 3 wheel untippable, the WeGo, and I'm sure many other products.
Mike Flowers
PS Those who need one and live locally in So. Calif. should know I still have my Demo three wheel scooter which is used but near new, used for one demo only is still for sale. If interested email me at the address in the heading of the blog.

Lee Murray

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Another Rascal Owner Contacts Me, About A Seat Problem

Suddenly I've become the go to guy for Rascal. Probably because their customer service is shut down, I don't know for sure, I haven't called, but I imagine that's the reason. By the way, my demo scooter, a new used 306B three wheeler is still for sale, check a couple posts down, end of commercial.
Yesterday a vet got in touch, he was trying to check his batteries, but couldn't get the seat off, and it was hard to turn. First the way it comes off is on the right pull the handle at the bottom, that releases the seat to turn, back, (or on the right if there is one push forward, it's pinned in the middle), and then with the seat centered pull straight up and it should pop right off. Look right under the seat in the picture, you'll see the handle in this case on both sides.  Once off look at the seat post, you'll see what we called the flower. There are two versions, on one there are four slots and on the other there are eight slots. The slots are for the end of the release handle to go into to keep the seat from turning as you drive the scooter, unless you release it by pulling back, or forward, on the handle to turn the seat.
One thing that prevents you from pulling the seat off is that it's not straight when you pull up, at a slight angle left or right, when you pull up the release bar is just off from the slot and catches the edge of the flower. The other reason, much less common is that left unlubricated the seat post on the seat, it's about 6 inches long in the plate on the bottom of the seat, starts to bind inside the seat post on the scooter. This makes it hard to turn, and can make it from difficult to impossible to pull off. This is what happened to the vet that contacted me.
What you, or your son, daughter, friend, neighbor, or last resort service center, do is hold the handle back and wiggle the seat, not easy they're heavy and awkward, up and down one side and the other. Usually sooner or later you can work them up until they finally pop free.
Occasionally though you have to use long screwdrivers or prybars between the seat base and flower and once I had one so bad I had to fiddle around between the scooter and seat taking out the bolts in the seat base to get the seat off and out of the way, then took the post apart, a real hassle, put it in a vice and finally got it apart. For this, unless you or your helper are mechanically inclined, have a service center do it, which will unfortunately be expensive and they'll probably want to sell you a new seat post, which you may need anyway depending on if you damage it too much, which I did on one. In my case I had extras, but you won't, so be careful if you can.
 Something I'm embarrassed  to admit never occurred to me then, would have been put the scooter on its rear bumper then remove the four 7/16ths bolts holding the seat post to the scooter, much easier, wish I'd thought of it. Make sure if you try this someone or something is holding the seat while you take out the bolts so it doesn't just drop away, maybe damaging something.  Also use blue locktite or double nut the bolts, or both, when you've gotten the seat post apart and you bolt it back on the scooter, I'd do both but that's just me. Actually I just realized, this won't work, because the seat will keep you from getting the plastic off and removing the batteries. Oh well another good idea that wasn't, but I'll leave it in maybe you'll think of something I haven't.
As a matter of course, pull your seat off once a year or so, or have your service center do it, and take a finger full of white grease to lubricate the inside of the seat post and the top of the flower, I always did this before delivering to a vet. If you've had binding, on the part of the post attached to the seat base, take course sandpaper wrap it around and twist it until you have bare metal, this should relieve future binding and the grease in the post should protect it, but you can also grease this part if you want to make sure. Hope this helps.

Lee Murray

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Surprisingly, I keep hearing from Rascal people...

The smart ones that bought Rascals.  I don't know if I ever said it, and now I don't have to be PC anymore, I don't sell them and Rascal is gone, but in my opinion the Rascal was flat out the best, and most well thought out scooter on the market, plain and simple. If it was treated well and maintained it would last pracically forever.
If not, well there was a veteran in Syracuse years back, he's gone south to the Carolinas if he's still here at all, that had a heavy duty scooter with a 24" seat, yeah a big guy. He used to drive his Rascal to the bar, every night. Yes the VA told him not to, for all the good it did, but his wife was high up in, well you get the idea. He charged it when he thought about it, drove it off curbs, through potholes, to say the least he really abused the hell out of it, did I mention that he's a big guy? About 350-360 pounds. They used to issue him a new scooter every 12-18 months, because he was beating them to death.
But here's the point, I'd take him his new scooter, and every time his poor, abused, beaten Rascal with soft tires, cracked and broken plastic, cracked frame, once a cracked front end, would start right up and drive to my van where I'd back it up the ramp and inside. Yes, Rascals do have problems just like anything mechanical, yes there's the occasional lemon, but if you treat them right they'll usually last a long time.
Another example, when I was at the start, 98 or 99, before working full time VA.  I sold a Littlest Rascal to an elderly lady I think in her 80's who traded in a Littlest Rascal her husband had bought her before he died several years before. It was 13 years old, and looked near new. She said she used it nearly every day, charged it when she was through every day overnight, and, get this, she was sure it still had the original batteries.  I don't know, but that's what she said.

Lee Murray

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Answer To A Service Issue - Batteries - Check, or Replace

I hadn't intended to do anymore with this blog, after Rascal closed it's doors, I was just going to let it sit here for information to those who needed it. But, I've had a number of people contact me to ask about bad batteries. One guy has gone through several sets on a near new scooter which indicates some other problem. For that you need a competent service center, which if I understand, he hasn't found yet. They were few and far between, competent I mean, to begin with. Not like when I started in 1998-99, or even 5-6 yrs ago. As far as service is concerned, to a large degree a scooter is a scooter, and it doesn't have to be a Rascal service center, unless you're dealing with a proprietary part like the rear end, but even then if you're lucky enough to find a really good service center, they can probably fix, adapt, or make it work, especially the electronics.
But anyway to batteries. For this YOU DO NOT NEED A SERVICE CENTER.  I used to tell people who asked to stay away from Rascal replacement batteries, and some of the service centers I worked with did also, buying their batteries locally. First thing, if you're having problems and you have a 600 series, if it has the aero design plastic handlebar it's a 600 series, take off the seat, pull back on the handle you release to turn the seat, on the right side, and pull straight up. The seat should come right off, set it aside. Then remove the plastic cover over the batteries and set it aside. Buy or borrow a battery tester, you can get them at almost any auto parts store. Test your batteries (both) and write down the voltage. Then plug in and charge overnight if they need it. Use the tester and check them again. Use the load switch to put a momentary load on them and see if the voltage returns where it was or goes low. Do this a couple times. If it stays up, leave the plastic off, and replace the seat, and drive it. If it turns out to be bad batteries, or one, if one hold no charge and one is good, you can just replace the bad one. Although it's better to do both at the same time as a rule. You need the same size, deep cycle, 12v 33 Ah sealed batteries. If you find with higher amperage, that's better as the charge will last longer.
To remove take the seat back off, remove the plastic if not already off, undo the Velcro strap, pull out the red and black connectors, lift the batteries out. When putting them in and out make sure they're on their sides with the poles facing out to avoid shorting on the seat post. Push the rubber boots out of the way and undo the screws holding the wires to the posts, red to red and black to black when replacing, move the wires to the new batteries and replace the screws. Just put the batteries back as they were, connectors are red to red black to black also. You can do it yourself and save the labor as well as paying less for the batteries, or have your son, daughter, friend do it if you can't, it's simple. When buying check Sears, Battery Warehouse, Walmart or any place else that sells lawn tractor size, deep cycle batteries that are at least 12v 33ah, as I said higher amps is ok your batteries charge will last longer is all.
Hope this helps.

Lee Murray

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Demo Scooter for Sale...Maybe???

When Rascal closed their doors, I'd just gotten my demos. I only used one, the 3 wheel model 306B, (new name for 600B),  to do the demo for the lead I'd gotten in January the second day I was here. I asked if I could buy this demo, thinking at one point I'd need it myself. I've been keeping it in my apt which is small, and I'm feeling better, so now I'm thinking it might be better to give someone who really needs it a good deal. I will be selling it as used, with no warranty. It's also important for the buyer to know that Rascal is out of business, so they will be responsible for repairs, but it's only been used for one demo, and I drive my laundry down the hallway to the other end of the building rather than carry it. Why carry if you can ride, right? Plus it's a comfortable seat.
For info, check my posts, leave a comment or email me, the address is in the heading of this blog. The color by the way is blue, not the more common red, it's a prettier color, I think.  I will not ship it, it must be picked up here, by the person needing it, so I can make sure it fits and train the person needing it in the correct use, maint., charging, etc., just as I did for almost 14 years with veterans getting one from the VA.

Lee Murray

Monday, May 16, 2011

Rascal Closes It's Doors

I got some unfortunate news last month. We had a conference call in which we were told by the owner of the company, Mike Flowers, that the company, due to some errors on his part, was closing it's doors, and would not be accepting new orders effective April 1. This took all of us by surprise to say the least because we all knew how good the Rascal is, and especially the fact that the new 600B is the safest scooter out there bar none. But for some reason he was apparently unable to convince the banks or lenders that we could continue providing the best and safest scooters to those that needed them. It's taken this long for me to post this bad news really because it's taken me this long to accept that it had happened. That it wasn't a mistake of some kind that would go away. It hasn't, so Goodbye Rascal, it was great knowing you and together we helped a LOT of people.
Lee Murray

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Got Scooter Leads When In Calif. Not Even A Day

I've bored everyone enough talking about getting robbed in FULLERTON, CA and am sick of talking about it.
So let's talk about how I found my first two leads for scooters only having been in the state 18 hours or so. There was nothing special about it really, just keeping my ears open and hearing what I was told.
I called to rent a car and a guy came to my motel to pick me up so we could go back to their office and do the paperwoork.  As far as I knew he was nobody special, just a guy. We were chatting casually as we drove, and he asked what I did, just as he probably asks everybody. I said that I sell Rascal scooters to the VA hospitals. He started tellng me that his company is located near Disneyland and that a company down the street rents scooters to tourists, and that he sees them tip over going across the street frequently. I asked what they rent and he says Pride, and that he's been thinking about getting some Pride's also and renting them himself. At this point I find out that he's the owner of the rental company and that he might want as many as ten scooters to get started. So I spend the rest of the ride telling him about our brand new untippable 3 wheel front. That it's been tested and proven to be as stable as a 4 wheel, and that when it was rolled out to the VA's I took it to each of my VA's and as I showed it I told everybody that I had $20. that said they couldn't tip it over. I also told him that there are some big guys and gals there and some of them really tried but that NOBODY tipped over. One guy spun it in a circle as fast as it would go in the hallway, to the point that the tires slid on the waxed floor and he slammed a wall damaging the brand new drywall, but to his amazement he couldn't tip it, and he weighed upwards of 300 lbs or more. I gave him more examples and when we got tho the rental office, he gave me his card and private number and asked me to bring a demo in to show him as soon as possible. He also gave me the name and card of the company down the street that rents Pride. They're friends and he said they may also be interested as safety is a concern.
My point is that it wasn't difficult to get these leads, all I did was recognize a need and offer a solution. Which I'm sure all of us do every day. It just happened that we now have the best solution out there, and that's what I offered. Safety...

Lee Murray

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Rented an office in your town that resulted in the theft of my truck with nearly everything I own 2 blocks from the Fullerton Police Dept.

I wanted to see the Fullerton Council person responsible for the area where the office was where my truck was stolen. Unable to do that, I sent the following email. I seriously doubt that it'll do any good, but at least whoever does read it will find out something about their Fullerton....

LeRoy Murray to Council

Here is what happened to me, and what I'm posting about your town of Fullerton in my blogs and all over the internet. I may have lost and probably will never get back my truck and everything, nearly, that I own, but I will be letting EVERYBODY know that Fullerton is NOT the place to move to.

Moved from upstate New York to Calif. on 1/7, to take over a sales territory for Electric Mobility Corp. selling Rascal scooters and powerchairs to the VA hospitals, which I've been doing since 1998 in upstate NY. Decided to rent an office in Fullerton at 435 W. Commonwealth Ave., partly because it was so close to the police department.

I arrived in Calif. on 1/14 after driving my truck with a 12' box and pulling a 12' Uhaul trailer 3000 miles over 7 days. I finally got here and put what was in the trailer in storage and turning in the trailer. I parked the truck, unopened since loading it in NY, at the motel I'm staying at, at Crescent and Beach, in Buena Park. I drove a rental car and the truck sat in the motel for 8 days, in Buena Park, and nobody looked at it twice. As I said I rented an office at 435 W. Commonwealth on 1/21, and picked up the key on Sat 1/22. I drove the truck, which had been sitting undisturbed in Buena Park for over a week, to the office I'd just rented, pending unloading it and moving into the office the next day Sunday 1/23. Fortunately, as it turned out I had the good sense to take my GPS and other property out of the cab prior to leaving it. I parked it in the parking lot behind the office building on Richmond Ave about 6:30p. As I said pending moving into the office Sunday.

I got some help to unload what was going into the office, and we got there about 10:30a Sunday to find that MY TRUCK WAS GONE, STOLEN from the parking lot 2 blocks from the Fullerton Police Dept. in what, 15-16 HOURS? It sat undisturbed, unnoticed, over a week in Buena Park, and probably would still be, if I hadn't been so stupid as to take it to your Fullerton where it was stolen.

I called the police, and a very nice officer came, Officer Diaz, I believe. He took the information, checked to see if it had been towed. This was unlikely as it was fully loaded, and weighed a lot, but he checked. Then he filled out a stolen vehicle report.

The next day I went to the police dept to give them the license number, which I couldn't remember on Sunday, together with a list of some of the items in the truck off the top of my head, $10,000. or so of tools, 3 guitars worth $5-6,000., all my books, all my clothes, filing cabinets, records and files from my 13 years working for EMC selling to the VA's in NYS, and more. What I could think of came to nearly 35K and it wasn't everything. It was a disaster. Some of my office equip. was in the trailer and therefore in storage, but most was in the truck. Anyway as I was saying I went to the police dept to give them further info, thinking I'd see a detective, but no... I was turned over to a CADET!!! Clearly the theft of all my property together with my truck 2 blocks away from the Fullerton Police Dept was not taken seriously. The cadet grudgingly took my information, and blew me off telling me without saying it don't bother us we'll call you if we find it.

The next day, still amazed that the cadet hadn't wanted the serial numbers for the guitars, they can be traced unlike the tools, clothes, etc., I called and was connected with some girl, maybe an officer, maybe a clerk, she never said, again grudgingly she took the serial numbers. I had to ask if she knew who she was talking to before she actually looked up the case and named one of the guitars so I knew she had my case. She actually said basically don't bother us we'll call you if we find it.

A friend told me I should tell the police that the truck would be easy to recognize because the taillights and turn signals aren't working, and it has 8" round convex mirrors on both doors, one flap that hangs down behind the rear wheels is torn short, but truthfully I don't think they care, I'd just be bothering them.

Needless to say, I'm afraid of Fullerton, clearly you have a crime ridden town, if a locked commercial truck can be stolen so easily from a parking lot behind an office on your main street, 2 BLOCKS from your police department. I don't know where I'll get my office and apartment or house, I have been offered an office in the 524 Commonwealth building which I'd looked at the week before too, but frankly Fullerton scares me.

I feel that I'm doing everybody a big favor to let them know on the internet exactly what happened to me and what they may experience if they move there. If your criminals are so brazen they'll steal from next to the police, they'll steal anything anywhere.

I just thought it was fair to let you know what I'm saying and why.

LeRoy Murray

315 727-2304

Monday, January 24, 2011

Truck Stolen? Or Towed... Update

Well, my first week in California was a doozy, first time I've ever been robbed and not only lost the truck, but everything in it. A large part of everything I own, make that owned, tools, clothes, guitars, books, on and on. It's a tramatic experience. Today I talked to the police, little hope or encouragement there. Then I spoke to my new landlord, she was very nice, I explained that I don't feel safe there, not even moved in yet and the truck and everything in it stolen. She ok'd cancelling the lease and refunding my money. So I start over. I still have some good leads for scooters, and asked Rascal to send the demo so I can get started.
It seems that it should be a goldmine out here. Great weather most of the year, lots of people, lots of people that need scooters or mobility equipment. I think the best way to look at my experience is as a test to see if I'm up to the challenge. All my friends say probably the cops will find the truck. I say yeah, empty and trashed. So I focus on moving forward, everything is gone, lost, whatever, and I'm moving forward, not back. I'll sell so many scooters, etc., that I'll need two trucks next time.

Lee Murray

Truck Stolen? Or Towed...

Went Sunday am to start moving into new office, and my truck was gone. The cops think towed for some reason, even though I had every right to park it there as a new tenant. I'm afraid it was stolen, containing virtually everything I own that wasn't in the trailer and now in storage.  Have to track down the license number for the police.

Lee Murray

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Made It To California

What a trip!!  I never want to do that trip again. Although you never know, after I've rested, and gotten back to, or close to, normal, you never know. I've got a friend that does it on the spur of the moment. Both my parents and my brother did it several times. Maybe it'd be different not driving a truck, hauling a trailer, in mid winter.
I thought it'd get warmer and the weather would be nice as I went south. But those who watch the weather channel, or those who live between New York State and say Dallas, know what a bear the weather was between Jan 7 and 14. I swear the winter was following me, showing me what to expect if I ever came back. It was cold, it was snowing, the roads were icy. Of course living in NYS for so long had equiped me for dealing with it, and truthfully by NYS standards it was almost laughable, an inch or two of snow, and some slick roads. BUT it wasn't funny to the people that lived there, they didn't have a clue how to drive in it, they weren't equipped to deal with it. I heard on the news that one county down there had one, yes one, snowplow, for the whole county.  Not to mention I was driving a truck, hauling a trailer. So I took my time, drove slower than neccesary sometimes, and stopped overnight until I was almost out of Texas. Of course it wasn't all due to the weather, I lost my taillights the first day out, which made it neccesary to stop at night too.
I left NY on 1/7 and finally got to Ranger Texas on the 12th, I left Ranger about 7am on the 13th, and had a bright idea. The trailer was due back at Uhaul on the 14th, I had about 1300 miles to go, and it was Thursday. I stopped at a Walmart, and a Tractor Supply, and bought two 6 volt flashlights, some red paint and the stuff to attach them to the rear of the trailer, voila' taillights....  I should say, the weather had turned around and was fantastic too, sunny, blue sky and dry roads. I was driving 65-70mph most of the way.  Thursday night, I also lost all turn signals and emergency flashers. So now I drove the rest of the way, no taillights, no turn signals, no emergency flashers, just two flashlights with lenses painted red for taillights. To make a long story short I drove 31 hours, arriving safely in Fullerton CA about 1:30pm Friday the 14th.
After doing a couple errands, I drove to the storage center I'd reserved long distance, and unloaded the trailer, it had so much crammed in that it nearly filled a 10x15 space. Then I got the trailer to Uhaul, and turned it in, on time...
Then I took the truck and drove around looking for a motel, I was exausted and in desperate need of a shower. It was dark, I had no taillights or turn signals, and although there'd been a motel or several at almost every exit from NY to Calif, suddenly I found none. Finally going south on Beach Blvd in Buena Park I spotted something called the Covered Wagon on a side street, so I went around the block. I passed a house with 3 or 4 police cars and was very aware of my lack of lights, but figured they were busy enough they wouldn't notice me. Finally I turned right and was driving down a street, seeing the Covered Wagon sign ahead, when who pulls up next to me? A Buena Park cop, I saw him look at the back of the truck in the mirror, then he pulled up and looked at me, I slowed down and turned in to what I thought was the Covered Wagon place, and the cop pulled off. I was actually in a Super 8 motel, but didn't realize it until the next day. I registered, took a shower, badly needed, and got much needed sleep.
The next day I rented a Camry from a car rental place across from Disneyland on Harbor Blvd. When the guy came to pick me up to go back and do the paperwork, he asked why I was here.  I explained that I sold Rascal scooters to VA hospitals, and had come out to take over a territory. He mentioned that he had seen several scooters that a company down the street rented to tourists tip over in the crosswalk. I immediately started telling him about our new three wheeler and that so far it was impossible to tip. To make a long story short, he was the owner of the rental co. and told me he'd be interested in buying some scooters, to rent out. In addition he referred me to the owner of the other company, a medical supply company, currently buying and renting Prides.
I spent the rest of the week, looking for and buying a vehicle and an office. I looked at several vans and dozens of warehouse office combos, buying or renting none, either not right or too expensive. But finally on Friday, I bought an Escort to get me around until I need a van, the price and 25 mpg made it very attractive, and it was in excellent condition too. The same day I rented an office in Fullerton, no warehouse, just an office. But again it was priced right and will work until sales volume says I need a bigger space.  
So here I am now, on my 8th day in Calif. getting ready to empty the truck, and set up the office. Then I start making sales and moving Rascals, also I found out on Friday that Disneyland has and rents scooters, and I'm sure safety is important to them too.

Lee Murray

Saturday, January 8, 2011

On My Way to California

Left the house yesterday for the last time, heading down 81 to the Southern Route. The truck is loaded to the ceiling and back door, couldn't get anything else in on a bet, had to rent a 6x12 UHaul trailer to get the rest and same thing full. So full that to bring both bikes, I had to strap the Jamis touring bike onto the lift on the truck, between the truck and trailer. I'm sitting in the Days Inn where I stopped last night in Wilkes Barre PA last night hoping it's still there this am.

Tail lights went out for some reason last night so I'll be driving daylight only until I figure it out, so may take a couple days longer, the good news is it forces me to get some sleep at night, instead of driving to all hours. Bad news is it costs money and slows me down, and the truck is slow already pulling the load it's pulling. I kind of feel like the Joads hauling everything I own to start over in Calif.

Lee Murray