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I have a really knotty utility diy challenge for you

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I have a really knotty utility diy challenge for you

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Old 11-27-07, 03:23 PM
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Sammyboy
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I have a really knotty utility diy challenge for you

Imagine, if you will, that I have one of these trikes:



Imagine, now, that I want to turn it into a mobile tea shop. I can carry teabags, cups, milk and sugar easily enough, but how would I go about carrying hot water? I need to keep it just below boiling for perhaps 3-4 hours at a time, and I want to do it in the lowest cost, and lowest impact/energy consumption way possible. How would you all propose to achieve this?
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Old 11-27-07, 04:40 PM
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And when you get it done, be sure to post pics, I'd like to see it.

Sounds like a pretty neat idea.

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Old 11-27-07, 04:51 PM
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The roadside stands that sell boiled peanuts here in Georgia use a propane tank powered heater to keep their water boiling all day.
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Old 11-27-07, 04:56 PM
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for hot tea youd need to boil it for each time you make it.....you could try one of these

http://www.pcthiker.com/pages/gear/pepsistove.shtml

there are quite a few types
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Old 11-27-07, 05:02 PM
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JW, the OP is from the UK, one would think he has a good idea how to make tea, no?
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Old 11-27-07, 05:50 PM
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That propane sounds like a good idea. For smaller quantities, start with boiling water and use Sterno. And don't try this with the wood box there!
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Old 11-27-07, 06:04 PM
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In terms of size, weight, and boiling speed, it may be hard to beat the Jet Boil camp stove system: http://www.rei.com/product/708890

It boils a half liter of water in something like two and half minutes.

My only concern is the fuel canisters. I am not sure whether they can be recycled.
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Old 11-27-07, 06:20 PM
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ooops....didnt see that....lol

solar panel and a hot plate?
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Old 11-27-07, 06:59 PM
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Ok....two approaches

Start with a super insulated container for the water that can take heat, fill it in the morning with boiling water, then reheat a serving size, using a focused heat source (small propane burner and low flat tea pot perhaps), just before brewing.

Approach 2: Again a super insulated container, but in this case one that can be heated continously with a small heat source to keep the water ready to go. Like a Russian Samovar but with lots of insulation

A lot would depend on the business model...ie will the tea drinking customer wait a minute or two, or if the tea can't be brewed immediately will a sale be lost.
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Old 11-27-07, 07:27 PM
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Starbucks invaded the UK yet, at least the kiosk style Starbucks? If so check out what they are using to heat water. The kiosk ones I see in convention centers over here are self contained portable units and I don't remember seeing a drop cord hanging out of one.
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Old 11-27-07, 08:01 PM
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Some type of propane burner...Sterno doesn't get hot enough to boil water. Couple of other thoughts...check out the Hot Dog carts if you have them over there. They use some type of propane burner. You can get smaller refillable tanks and I have seen them made out of some type of resin that makes them much lighter. Two other options but not really workable is a really long extension cord...or solar Somebody, somewhere in the restaurant industry has to make a gas fired coffee urn that would keep the water hot.

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Old 11-28-07, 12:44 AM
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Originally Posted by squirtdad View Post

Approach 2: Again a super insulated container, but in this case one that can be heated continously with a small heat source to keep the water ready to go. Like a Russian Samovar but with lots of insulation

A lot would depend on the business model...ie will the tea drinking customer wait a minute or two, or if the tea can't be brewed immediately will a sale be lost.
This idea is what's been in my mind, the more I think about it. The bike can only take 45 kilos, so I'm thinking a 35 litre tank, as flat and low as it can be, canted just a little in two axis, so the water always drains towards one corner, where I'd have a drain plug and a riser pump - perhaps something modded from the tops of those pump coffee flasks that conference venues have. A mains powered element from a tea urn to boil it to begin with (although I'd certainly want to put very hot water in at the start), and then *something* to keep it just below boiling during the day (plus it'd be as insulated as humanly possible!). So what I'm wondering now is, what would the *something* be? Could it be electrical, could it be battery powered? Could I hook up a mini wind generator and a solar panel? How much power is needed to keep 35 litres of water at around 90 degrees when it's insulated?

We don't have kiosk Starbucks here, that I've seen, just the stores. And also, you want water just below boiling for tea.....


Thanks for helping me think about this!
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Old 11-28-07, 02:37 AM
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Does the water have to be boiling? I thought good tea was made with water that was at a temperature beneath that of boiling point.

Having just talked with someone au-fait with solar energy, you would need a deep-cycle battery and plenty of sunshine or wind... and systems with these batteries do not like heating elements at all, according to my friend. Experience at my work shows that someone who "borrowed" a set of deep-cycle batteries to run an electric blanket didn't have much of a brain -- ever since, the batteries have been ruined and the solar storage runs out very rapidly with just a computer and printer operating. Apart from that, good-quality deep-cycle batteries with a good amphour rating weigh a ton because they are made of lead.

To my mind, the only real way to keep the water hot appears to be the propane gas system. It's simple and cheap to set up, and probably has been the heat source of choice for myriad roadside food stall across the world for eons. It's clean, the by-products are relatively unharmful, and it's mighty efficient. You could also look at an alcohol burner to keep water at the temperature you need, but that has its inherent risks in refilling.

By the way, are you intending to use teabags (uggghh!) or real leaf tea as in a teapot or tea cage?

Also, many people in England, as I believe, like milk with their tea. Have you considered the cooling side of things as well.
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Old 11-28-07, 04:50 AM
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If you read my posts, I quite agree. The water needs to be just below boiling. I think we're going to have to use teabags, since the nature of the way street trading licenses work mean that staying still for long is not possible. The plan is, in the medium term, to open a tea shop, which would definitely be all about loose leaves and teapots, but the tea wagon is supposed to raise funds for that, and provide a quick and easy start. We're planning to offer a lot of different teas (you would be amazed what's available in teabag form, if you know where to look), so that it feels boutiquey and like a special treat (a la Starbucks), and most of these don't involve milk. We are, however, really aware that lots of people will want a straightforward builder's tea with milk and one sugar. At the moment, we're thinking of keeping it simple by supplying long life milk in miniature cartons, but that plan could change. Propane fridges are out there, but they'd add a LOT of weight to the thing.

Currently, the idea is that the bike contains the water, and a fancy tea-serving surface, with cups in holders, a pump for the water, little cubbies with all the different fancy teas, sugar etc, and that the materials to refill all these cubbies live in a backpack, or in a pannier or whatever on the rear rack. It sounds like propane will be the only way to go, but how easy is it to combine propane heating with good insulation?
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Old 11-28-07, 06:40 AM
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I don't think this would be all that difficult, just quite involved.

I would start by replacing that wooden box with a stainless steel custom made vending unit. I'd also want some overhead shelter against rain, something that would easily fold away. I'm thinking a square umbrella slightly larger than the cargo area, mounted straigt up out of the middle of the cargo area. It can be closed when on the go or easily opened when stopped.

Regarding your question about heating water I'd start with one of these mounted centrally at floor level on the cargo area so that nobody but me could access the tap (big safety issue there). I'd mount the propane bottle in an appropriate area on one side of the urn, and a well insulated ice box to cary milk bottles packed in ice on the opposite side to keep the weight distribution balanced.

Why just tea? why not coffee as well? I'm thinking 12 volt bean grinder and a plunger. The challenge there would be to rinse it out between brews.... or maybe just a good quality instant coffee? (I can't beleive I used 'good quality' and 'instant' together to describe coffee ) How about sconnes, muffins, anything else that goes with tea/coffee that doesn't require refrigeration? a perspex vending display wouldn't be too hard.

This sounds like the sort of challenge I can really sink my teeth into. I wish I were there to help you with the fitout.

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Old 11-28-07, 07:38 AM
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Well, the thing that puts us off coffee is that the brew time is so much higher. Technically, the only way to operate something like this is under a "peddlars license". That means you can only stop to serve one customer at a time, and then must keep moving. In reality, you'll usually get away with being somewhere for 15 mins or so, perhaps a little longer sometimes. Tea can be a "grab and go" thing - teabag in the cup, water in the cup, hand them a stirrer, and buh-bye. With coffee, you've got to deal with a press, and the time you wait for it to brew, and cleaning. Instant would be an option, but really, in this day and age, who is going to pay for a cup of instant coffee? I'm liking your other ideas a lot. I'm not sure that completely replacing the box with a custom fabrication is going to be feasible though, at least at first, purely from a cost/time point of view. I like the idea of scones and muffins, providing there's really room to make that work. Overcrowding could make it unnappealing. The umbrella is a definite requirement - i can find some way of mounting it folded I'm sure.
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Old 11-28-07, 08:21 AM
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This might be an option.

http://www.progolf.com/product/index...ductId=1733345
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Old 11-28-07, 08:24 AM
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Here is a lower price and reviews.

http://www.amazon.com/Coleman-Portab.../dp/B0000AE6XA
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Old 11-28-07, 08:31 AM
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Bummer.

• Due to the integrated mechanical and electrical over-temperature shut-off devices, Hot Water on Demand will not produce water that continuously exceeds 160F. The burner will simply cycle off while the water keeps flowing for your convenience The burner will cycle back on when internal water temperatures reach about 120F.

http://www.coleman.com/coleman/images/pdf/2300-700.pdf
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Old 11-28-07, 08:41 AM
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Hmmm. 160 might just about do it, but 120, I think, won't.
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Old 11-28-07, 09:11 AM
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Here is another option, but a little overkill.

http://enchantco.com/hwh3.html
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Old 11-28-07, 09:45 AM
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How about carrying a six-pack of these air-pump hot pots? Maybe someone makes a commercial size version?

A cheap version:

http://cgi.ebay.com/BONJOUR-Le-Metro...QQcmdZViewItem

Zojirushi's are expensive, but high quality:

http://www.cooking.com/products/shprodde.asp?SKU=197483

They are the similar to the ones used in cafes that store hot water to make your own tea. They're great at parties, too. The thermos keeps liquids super hot (right under boiling) for hours. Not cheap, but it's a one-time purchase and you don't have to worry about an open flame or buying/transporting fuel.
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Old 11-28-07, 10:05 AM
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I like this idea - these seem to keep water hot enough for 4 hours at a time when at conference venues. The fact that they're glass lined worries me, however. I recall when glass lined thermos flasks were the standard for hiking that it was all to easy to break them, and I worry about how these would stand up to rattling along on the trike on the way to wherever. Plus, we'd need ten of them to get close to the sort of capacity that I'd want. Still, worth consideration, for sure.
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Old 11-28-07, 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Sammyboy View Post
Well, the thing that puts us off coffee is that the brew time is so much higher. .
The solution for this is to just brew one cup at time with a one cup, Melitta style cone. About 2 minutes You could either use one of the gold permanent filters and just knock the grounds out....or use a filter and dispose of filter and grounds...easy clean up.

Years ago there was a funky coffee shop in Santa Cruz, CA that brewed all their coffee that way (note for those not familar with santa cruz...it is very funky, hippy, surfer place that has had the distinction of having the only socialist city council in the US.....get a copy of the old movie "The Lost Boys" for a feel)

I would go as simple as possible..gravity, no pumps, simple propane/butane/???ane heater.

good luck
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Old 11-28-07, 10:14 AM
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This is better - a 5 litre airpot, with no glass, for 37. Promising.
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