Not your ordinary couch potato, Jerry Zwack has taken his couch on the road.
A Sun City resident, Zwack is riding around on a homemade motorized tricycle. The difference is ... it’s a couch he’s sitting on.
It all started with his wife, Susan. Tired of him sitting around the house, she said to him, “Why don’t you go outside and do something. You’re nothing but a couch potato.”
He said: “That was my inspiration.
“Started out as a gag ... TV, and the couch, and the trunk and the whole thing; make it look like I’m watching TV. When I got it built, turns out it’s really therapeutic for me. Just driving around, I’ve got beautiful sunshine here and the beautiful temperatures.”
His couch transportation, which he built about 15 months ago, has an odometer on it with 1,700 logged miles. “I didn’t put it on there until it had 1,000 miles on it.” he said.
He is best at working with his hands, building and fabricating. Before retiring, Zwack worked in jobs involving plumbing, electrical, lumber, wood and cement. “Most of my career I’ve worked in the trades, so putting something together like this, was just kind of like a hobby.”
His part golf cart, go cart, scooter bike, is made with all household things such as a refrigerator handle, a flagpole mast, electric outlet, plumbing pipe, walking cane, leftover flooring and a trunk his wife didn’t want which holds his drink cups and loose items.
He didn’t spend much money on building it. “I bought the engine used and it’s a 49cc horizontal shaft engine. The TV I had sitting around because it’s passe. Pretty much everything is just scrounged.” Zwack has a shop in the back yard which he calls the “boneyard” where he keeps all his pieces he may use for something. “So I found most of the stuff in there to weld the frame together. I didn’t spend much on it at all.”
The couch, he got off of Craig’s List. “I was looking for a particular shape. I wanted something that could take the outside weather, something easy to mount on a frame.”
It took him just a couple of days to make the basic frame. “It took it quite awhile to tweak it, to get all the bugs out of it. The brake had to be modified, the weight proportion had to be modified. I started with the couch and reversed engineered from there. I wanted a nice soft plush seat, something I could put a TV up, so I could do the gag. But I also wanted it functional. Getting the right weight proportions,” Zwack said.
It is fully equipped with a rear view mirror, headlight, rear lights, speedometer to “make it street legal.” He said the motorized tricycle has all the rights of way of a bicycle. “I probably got stopped by the cops about 20 times. Most of them just want to take pictures; and, their biggest concern is that TV, they think I’m watching TV. It’s not legal to watch TV, so I clipped the cord off of there and I make a joke with them, I call it my large screen GPS.”
Susan calls it the “love trike” because it’s a loveseat and a trike. “I call it the ‘couch car’ because if I stop and talk to people like you, and I call it the ‘love trike,’ they think I’m hittin’ on them,” he said.
She used to go out with him quite a bit, but “she doesn’t like all the attention. Draws way more attention than I thought it ever would. When I want to go for a quiet ride, I have a route that I go around Sun City, all the way up through Phase One and I have a circle. It’s eight miles. I take that a couple times a day, almost every day, just to go for a cruise, it’s very therapeutic,” he said.
It is set so it can’t go over 20 miles per hour. “I go about 15 to 18 miles per hour, just cruise, I wave to everybody. Some people come out, they hear me coming, they wave. They like the nostalgic horn. On the weekends, I might put up to 60 miles on it, on a Sunday, if it’s really nice,” Zwack said. The “couch car” gets 70 miles to the gallon.
“I’ll be going down the double lanes at 107th and a guy with a $50,000 rig will pull up next to me, roll his window down and give me the thumbs up and I’m just driving a piece of yard junk. What’s amazing to me, is the whole spectrum of people who are really attracted to it. Little kids start jumping up and down, and a lady walking on a sidewalk with a cane, 85, will raise her cane up and wave. Everybody kind of likes it, it’s kind of amazing.
“A couple of grouches will say ‘what are you doing with that junk on the street?’ Otherwise, everybody loves it. I didn’t expect the reaction I got,” Zwack said. “Turns out it’s a good social thing, making friends. There’s a few people on my route, I stop and have coffee with them.”
It has never left him stranded and he’s never had any close calls with it. “The only close calls I’ve seen, is when they’re rubbernecking me and they’re not watching what they’re doing and they almost get into trouble,” he said.
Zwack who is currently building one with a recliner, picked up the couch seat to show me something and ... there it was, change underneath the seat.