Re: Egyptian "Quality"... WTF?
Welcome to the real world is all I can say as South Africa is considered as the Junk Yard for the rest of the world (Ohhh we made a product and it is cr@p what should we do with it hmmm send it to South Africa and sell it at a massive profit that would work) Yes America and the rest of the world is guilty of the same trespass.
Here Syrian Brass, Egyptian Hookahs, or Mya's are all non existant we only get the cheap Chinese knockoff's due to trade agreements ect. A lot of the Tobaccos you are raving about does not get imported here and the same goes for Natural coals.
The killer for the above is the Rand/$ exchange rate. (about R8.00 to the dollor and nearly R20.00 to the pound)
As to the quality of the knockoffs the bases are sturdy and strong have yet to have one break have dropped one about 5 feet onto a Tiled floor it just bounced no bubbles thick glass all round and no lopsidedness (machine made not hand made in China) The paint may peel but the base will survive. The one generic I have is made off brass pressings with a 10mm brass tubing core no problems with it smokes well and purges very easily traditional chamber. The other is a different story the heart is made of steel pressings and has a common chamber which loves to rust like nobody's bussiness the rest of the hookah is aluminim and works well all machine made.
Yes I agree with you matt that as soon as production on any Item is stepped up a notch due to higher demand the first thing that falls by the wayside is quality and the easiest way to fix that is to introduce a machine to ease some of the workload then the Handmade lable does not fit anymore. Which brings up the question as to the laser etching on the syrians which is done with a lasercutter which is controlled by PLC's and a computer does the handmade lable still apply??
Why not have machine made hookah's assembled by hand which would give better quality and a larger quantity.
Mat if you want to go into the hookah manufacturing bussiness make a patern of the stem sans purgevalve and hoseport and have blanks cast in brass then just machine and add the last pasts do some laser etching and wow a syrian is born. Or you can get a decent CNC machine and machine the stems from brass billets but that would waste a lot of brass.
Just my few cents worth
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