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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, Equipment and just outdoor cookin' in general, hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures... but stay on topic. And watch for that hijacking.


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Old 04-04-2014, 08:11 AM   #1
dwfisk
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Default Wheelchair Friendly Grill/Smoker Mods - Initial Thoughts

Recently, Brother Chambers posted an inquiry about wheelchair friendly cookers. Got me to thinking and doing some research and I thought I would share my initial findings/thoughts and solicit input from y'all. I've talked with folks at an ADA design studio (UF Dept. Occupational Health); they put me in a wheelchair an we made a series of range-of-motion measurements.

I remain amazed there is very little already in the way of wheelchair friendly grills/cookers available (my lawyer friends suggest potential liability for mainline manufacturers is probably an issue) and I'm starting to feel custom fabrication may be the only real solution.

I find these drawings helpful when trying to visualize the issue.





In the original post, Brother Buccaneer raised a very critical issue, safety. I'll boil that down to 2 issues:
  1. the cooker must be stable from tipping; and,
  2. as many folks that are wheelchair bound have also lost feeling in their legs, there should be an active component of any design to prevent accidental burns from contacting a hot cooker.

From the drawings above, I've concluded the cook surface should be no higher than 27" and probably more like 24" above ground level. In addition, sitting in a wheelchair with the cooker 90* to one side or the other, side reach (i.e. to the center of the grill grate) should be no more than 15". Finally, at an approximate 15" reach, someone sitting in a wheelchair could reach down to about 14" above ground level, for example to reach a charcoal bed below the cooking grate level.

In looking at available cookers, I'm thinking the egg style cookers that already substantial hinges on the back are the most likely candidates. I don't mean to imply only BGE's although they could certainly work, I'm actually thinking the insulated steel cookers being lighter might work best. I'm thinking of 3 key design components"
  1. I feel this style cooker must have some kind of stand or nest for stability (instead of just sitting on the ground) but in many instances the stand or nest would need to be modified to lower the cooking grate to the 24"-27" range (some like the BGE small are already very close);
  2. a bumper from the cooking grate level down to the ground to prevent accidental contact with the cooker to avoid burns (even though some ceramics remain cool to the touch, some don't); and,
  3. an appliance added to the hinge that would essentially add a lever arm and either a counterweight, additional springs or a linear actuator to aid or actually do all the lid lifting.

These are just my thoughts and I would really appreciate any input or thoughts y'all might have. My plan is to then put some alternatives into a CAD sketch program and take those back to the ADA design studio at UF for a critique.
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Old 04-04-2014, 08:24 AM   #2
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I would think a small insulated cabinet smoker on a base or stand to put it in their range of motion /reach would be good ? Something they don't have to tend the fire, double wall insulated do outside is not Hot. Door that opens to side so they don't have to raise the lid . Would only have to load meat and maybe pull in wrap meat and put back in . Side table on cabinet.

You should sit in a wheelchair and see if you can open an Egg or similar and also a small cabinet style and see. Maybe get, borrow or rent a couple styles and have people in wheelchairs try each ( cold not hot of course) / a focus group and play act a cook ? This might could be a project for a class or group on UF Campus?
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Old 04-04-2014, 08:33 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmittyJonz View Post
I would think a small insulated cabinet smoker on a base or stand to put it in their range of motion /reach would be good ? Something they don't have to tend the fire, double wall insulated do outside is not Hot. Door that opens to side so they don't have to raise the lid . Would only have to load meat and maybe pull in wrap meat and put back in . Side table on cabinet.

Agreed, I think a small stand that gets the charcoal tray and the cooking grates in 9"-54" (max) reach range would conform to ADA design guidelines.

You should sit in a wheelchair and see if you can open an Egg or similar and also a small cabinet style and see. Maybe get, borrow or rent a couple styles and have people in wheelchairs try each ( cold not hot of course) / a focus group and play act a cook ?
Was there for 9 months myself after a tractor farkup, one reason this has my interest. I'm hoping the ADA design studio at UF can help with this.
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Old 04-04-2014, 08:41 AM   #4
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I would think a survey poll or study of how wheelchair bound people cook in the kitchen would help- maybe something that could be done thru University.
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Old 04-04-2014, 08:51 AM   #5
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there are wheelchairs that allow standing up also!
depends on the situation the person is in.



that's 1 example there are more like this I think, first thing i found in google image search

looking on this topic also, curious what will come up from this discussion!
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Old 04-04-2014, 08:53 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmittyJonz View Post
I would think a small insulated cabinet smoker on a base or stand to put it in their range of motion /reach would be good ? Something they don't have to tend the fire, double wall insulated do outside is not Hot. Door that opens to side so they don't have to raise the lid . Would only have to load meat and maybe pull in wrap meat and put back in . Side table on cabinet.
Smokinit posted this the other day. If someone wanted just a dedicated smoker a simple stand to get the reach/range-and-motion right would make it almost perfect.
http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/sh...d.php?t=185363
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Old 04-04-2014, 08:59 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by david_be View Post
there are wheelchairs that allow standing up also!
depends on the situation the person is in.



that's 1 example there are more like this I think, first thing i found in google image search

looking on this topic also, curious what will come up from this discussion!
I was thinking about track chairs before you posted this. People can golf with those things.
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Old 04-04-2014, 09:44 AM   #8
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Interesting topic. My mom's boyfriend is in a wheelchair and has shoulder issues. He is having a friend fabricate a handle extension for his grill both for easing the weight on his shoulder and to keep his face/arm out of the heat. He is a great guy and loves to cook outdoors. It would be nice to get some more ideas for him.
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Old 04-04-2014, 09:57 AM   #9
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I'm thinkin WSM or a Mini WSM. There is a fellar on YT that goes by WolfPit that is chair bound he cooks on kettles and a WSM.
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Old 04-04-2014, 09:59 AM   #10
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I would think that a lower-mounted stick burner would work fine also. You'd just need something on the face of it so you can't roll your legs into the side of the cooker, and you'd definitely want all racks to be slide-out. But as long as it was low enough, you could work it just fine from a sitting position. Something like a kamado would actually really suck, since you have to reach down into the bottom of it to get at the fuel rather than being able to load from the front or side like an offset firebox.

Cabinet cookers could be designed to work well too, you'd just need to be concerned about the height of things. A shorter, wider cooker would probably be better than a tall skinny one.
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Old 04-04-2014, 10:07 AM   #11
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A few thoughts.

1. any unit with a traditional lifting lid is not going to work. Without our legs, even very strong people lack the leverage or reach to move a lid up and away from the body. If you think of the mechanics, as the lid moves away from you, you tend to lean forward, without that ability, the lid ends up being at the end of a straight arm. The lid should open like on a cabinet smoker.

2. The ideal front facing door will be short in length, as it is important that the person be able to maintain some distance, while still be close enough to work into the smoker body. As complex as it seems, a split door, with two sides that open opposing, is the best solution.

3. The under side of the cabinet must be insulated. As we have seen with MBshop and his burns on his legs, the lack of feeling is just too dangerous. Thus, an insulated bottom or firebox would be ideal.

4. Personally, I feel a Bandera type design, integrating these features, with a modified fire box to allow for side reach would be the answer.

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Old 04-04-2014, 10:14 AM   #12
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Hmmm... Not getting all scientific, just some thoughts that popped into my head.

What about a vertical smoker with an offset firebox, maybe in the back. This would put the user away from the firebox when tending the meat. And, how about a base that allowed the smoker to be raised or lowered? This would allow the user to be able to safely access items on the lower and upper shelfs.
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Old 04-04-2014, 10:17 AM   #13
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Excellent work and ideas. I give this thread a 5 star rating.

Thank you again!!!!!
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Old 04-04-2014, 10:17 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grain Belt View Post
Interesting topic. My mom's boyfriend is in a wheelchair and has shoulder issues. He is having a friend fabricate a handle extension for his grill both for easing the weight on his shoulder and to keep his face/arm out of the heat. He is a great guy and loves to cook outdoors. It would be nice to get some more ideas for him.
Just curious, what kind of grill/cooker?
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Old 04-04-2014, 10:18 AM   #15
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I would think that the cabinet design would lend itself to wheelchair accessibility for a couple reasons -

Firstly, as Landarc points out, you wouldn't have to fight gravity to open the door. Getting the door open while in front of it could be an issue though. Probably some way to figure that out though

Secondly, You would not need to reach as far with a cabinet as you can slide out the shelves so they are more accessible. Put a cool touch type handle on the shelves maybe? Just brainstorming here..

Also, the exterior of an insulated cabinet smoker would be cool to the touch.
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