Wednesday, October 17, 2012

7-11 vs. Starbucks

7-11 vs. Starbucks
by Bevin Chu
Taipei, China
October 18, 2012

Starbucks Taiwan "Phinney" Stainless Steel Tumbler - 900 NT
(Sold for $19.95 in the US)
Available in white

7-11 Taiwan "City Cafe" Stainless Steel Tumbler - 399 NT
(354 NT if you deduct the 45 NT Medium Latte included free with each purchase)
Available in Trendy Silver or Simple White

Notice how the tumblers are nearly identical? They were almost certainly supplied by the same OEM manufacturer on mainland China. 

If you deduct the price of the medium latte that comes free with the tumbler, the cost is only 354 NT. That means a savings of 546 NT over a nearly identical tumbler from Starbucks.

I bought one each of the 7-11 City Cafe tumblers. One in "Trendy Silver," or brushed stainless steel, and the other in "Simple White," or white enamel. They're very well made. The tolerances are close. The detailing is precise. The slight taper keeps the tumbler from slipping in case one's hand is wet or oily. Most importantly, the lip has a large radius curve where one's mouth touches the tumbler.

Note the rounded lip on this Starbucks tumbler? Click on the photo. The 7-11 tumbler has the same rounded lip. That is how it should be.

Many tumblers/vacuum bottles on the Taiwan market have an almost raw sheet metal edge at the lip. Click on the photo. This is not how it should be. Frankly I don't understand how anyone could have signed off on such a design and allowed it to go into production.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

DIY Steel Car Rim Barbecue Grill

DIY Steel Car Rim Barbecue Grill
by Bevin Chu
October 1, 2012
Taipei, China

Back in the late 80s I had the idea of turning an ordinary salvaged steel car rim into a portable barbecue grill.

My idea was to take a steel car rim:

Bolt it onto a standard four pronged restaurant table base:

Then add a wire cooking grate:

This would result in a convenient waist height barbeque grill that did not require stooping.

The parts shown in the photos are new. I would of course use recycled parts wherever possible and appropriate.

Because I was constantly moving from one city to another, I never got around to actually doing it. Lo and behold however, the same idea occurred to others, who did follow through, who confirmed that it was indeed an excellent idea.

Here are two outstanding examples. The first is supported by four short chrome plated steel Ikea cabinet legs from below. The second is supported by two long galvanized steel chains from above. 

Rolling BBQ! How to make a BBQ out of an old Wheel

hanging barbecue grill

Incidentally, I see no reason why one couldn't make one out of an old mag wheel either.

Alternative: A DIY Galvanized Steel Water Bucket Barbecue Grill 

An even cheaper, more expedient, more portable alternative, might be this barbecue grill made from a galvanized steel water bucket. Buckets such as these are available brand new for only 10 USD. This one looks like it was designed to burn wadded up sheets of newspaper, like the old "Qwik Cook Grill" Dick Butkus endorsed in TV informercials 20 years ago. But it could easily be redesigned to burn charcoal. Just add a charcoal grate below the cooking grate.  

BBQ grill from a bucket

San Diego Chargers Tailgating’s Favorite Grill, the Qwik-Cook.