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BYU student cruises in cushy, couch-y comfort

PROVO — Forget heated seats, cruise control and GPS navigation devices. Nick Homer has his own definition of luxury with a built-in stereo, joy-stick control and a maximum speed of 8 miles an hour. The BYU senior's motorized couch earns him plenty of stares and just as many requests as he slowly cruises around Provo with his friends.

The couch-mobile even makes appearances at birthday parties — like Wednesday night's party for Homer's sister, where it will undoubtedly be the highlight of the evening.

Homer's dream of creating a motorized couch began in high school, but he couldn't find a way to make it without spending thousands of dollars on an engine.

Six years later, and thanks to a girl in Homer's BYU LDS ward who donated her old, broken, motorized wheelchair, the traveling sofa was born.

Homer and his friend Stewart Clyde fixed the wheelchair's engine, welded a metal frame onto the wheelchair base, then attached a wooden frame that allows the couch to go on and off quickly for transportation purposes.

"It's just on our patio most of the time," Homer said, adding that they take the base inside to charge it after their journeys. "Most people walk by and don't realize it's a (motorized couch)."

And don't worry moms, it's also incredibly stable, Homer assured, adding that one person can sit on the far edge of the couch and it won't tip.

The voyager can even handle "off-roading," which consists of occasional gravel travel and less-than-asphalt-smooth paths.

Homer used to cruise around BYU, including the Botany Pond where they would chase ducks. Yet he's since learned that motorized vehicles — other than actual motorized wheelchairs — are not allowed on campus property.

"It's simply out of a safety concern," said BYU Police Lt. Arnold Lemmon. "We'll get the occasional gas-powered little scooter, maybe get a Segway once in a while … but this is the first couch I'm ever aware of."

The few times Homer and company have been pulled over by Provo police, Homer said they've been congratulated and told their moving couch was "awesome."

But a motorized couch is small potatoes compared to Homer's next idea.

"Our next plan is to take the couch off, get a gondola, like the kind you float around in Venice, and have a driving gondola around Provo," he said. "We'd take people on Venice date nights.One person will stand in the back and drive and "row" in the air as they take a couple (around town)."

To make your own voyaging couch, visit www.motorizedcouchboys.com.

e-mail: sisraelsen@desnews.com