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Thread: Maple syrup!

  1. #81

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    Thanks, I might have found a source for 100 cinder blocks @ 50 bucks. I don't need 100, but....

    After reading thru several blogs and such about the cinder block arches I was under the impression they held up well, but am now finding out after talking to these folks that they may or may not hold up, may not being the most likely scenrio.

    I'm getting the idea from these same folks that red brick will pop and crack just the same? They all suggest lining the firebox with firebrick to keep them from cracking.

    It's kind of turning into too big a project for my budget. 50 for this and 25 for that is turining into 300-400 dollars which I don't have.

    If I knew someone who would fab/ weld cheap or trade for morels or the like I could just buy a piece of steel and have them make me an arch. I'm just not sure what type of steel to use.


  2. #82
    reclinite automaton canid's Avatar
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    if i where in your area i'd jump on a morel trade.
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  3. #83
    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    rwc - what do cinder blocks go for in your area? If you buy the lot of 100 could you sell what you don't need? If so, your cost for the blockd could be 0, or maybe you'd even make a couple of bucks.
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    Senior Member Winnie's Avatar
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    I'm probably way off beam, and I don't know how big the evaporation pan is, but could you use one of these? Very cheap and may do the job?

    http://www.ehow.co.uk/how_6361639_bu...beque-pit.html
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  5. #85
    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    Why not modify the arch a bit? I don't know your dimensions so I'm just giving you some numbers so you can visualize. Dig a trench about 3 feet deep, 4 feet long and 2 feet wide. Lay the steel plate across the top of trench leaving both ends open. Cinder block the back end and leave the front open so you can add fire wood. Sort of like a Dakota Fire Pit. The hole would contain the fire and the Marshall should be happy with it. You still control the fire with cinder blocks where it comes out the back. The only thing he might balk at would be the entrance but you might be able to use some cider blocks there. Just sit your serving pans on top of the steel plate and let it cook.

    That would get you by with the steel plate you've rounded up and a dozen or so blocks.

  6. #86

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    I'm going to look at the blocks tomorrow, he's letting them go at .50 cents each and they run from .98 to 1.38 at the brick yard, home depot etc. I'll probably get 50 and that will likely take a few trips. I believe the blocks are around 40 lbs. a piece, not sure. My little car will be pushing it with 10 or 15 I'm sure. At times I do miss the old Dodge 250. I could throw an entire pallet of pavers in it and it would just sink down a couple inches. if i tried that with my car it would crush it flat. But, I can afford to make 3 or 4 trips with the car and still break even on gas.

    Anyway, at .50 cents each as long as they last thru this season, which I'm now getting some asurance they should from people who have used this setup, Ill be good. Then I can work on getting one built out of steel once I'm back working and in a new place that is not in town.

    People do use barrels modded for the evaporator winnie, that's a good idea. Thanks!

    Rick, that would work, but, open flames licking the bottom of the pans are most efficient. Sitting them on the plate would work, but, according to most who sugar would require much more wood and would take a lot longer to start and maintain the boil.

    Besides, the fire dept wouldn't go for it. They are very adamant about the raised platform. She even mentioned digging a firepit as a no go as she would like to have one herself. And i'm a little leary about trying to present a new idea since this one is already approved. I don't want them to think I'm him hawwing or unsure.

    If the block deal works out tomorrow I'll stick to the cinder block plan for this season. Reselling them would be a great idea if I had better way to transport them here. But, this guy has been sitting on his for a while now. I feel lucky they are still there and he feels lucky to be getting rid of them. He has over 70 new on a palet and maybe as many more scattered about. He's willing to let me take the whole lot, but I just don't have an economical way to transport or store them all. The city also frowns on stored stuff that rodents or the like might make homes in, kids could get into, etc.

    Now I just need to find some folks willing to let me tap their trees, the streets here are lined with sugar maples and only one person I know of in this entire town taps. At least with sugaring there is some interest, most enjoy the idea and are excited to hear about it in detail. I did not get such a warm welcome with my Bark tan leather project, lol.

    Hopefully, I'm going to visit a sugarbush in the next few weeks and see how they do it as well as get a hands on look at some of the equipment used to gather and process it.

  7. #87

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    Again, that is a good idea Rick, I like it. Would be real good for someone who could dig in their yard and didn't have the above ground req.

    You could even bury a stack in the back to increase airflow and get the ashes and soot up and away from the pans. I think the ground would likely act as firebrick and radiate the heat upwards too, would likely be very efficient.

  8. #88

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    Well the block idea is out of the question now. Neighbors and family don't like the idea of having a huge cinder block arch in their backyard for 6 weeks.

    So, now it's back to the drawing board.

    I returned my books for this semester and with the money picked up some 5/16" tree saver spiles, tubing, filter, canning bottles, and the bakery had a couple more buckets with lids for me today.

    I got off the phone an hour or so ago with a guy who runs a decent sugarbush here in MI, he has 250-300+ taps and can boil off sap in a hurry. He's licensed and everything, has a "sugarshack" and the whole nine yards. This guy doesn't own one single maple and intends to increase from 300 to ver 1000 taps this season, which equates to roughly 250 to 333 gallons of syrup. He offered to let me come and check out the operation too.

    I learned quite a bit from him in our short conversation. I may even be able to sell the syrup I make, not sure if I want to, but it's nice to know I can. And, it's reassuring knowing that you don't have to own a huge tract of land to tap maples. He simply asks folks if they'd let him and does a roadside tapping route in his area.

    So, I guess I need to do some door knocking and work on getting another idea for a larger scale evaporator that doesn't cost an arm and leg. Even a small "hobby" evaporator is well over 1000.00 when you count in all the firebrick and extras needed.

    I have everything I need except trees to tap and something to boil it down on, lol. That's not much!

  9. #89

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    P.S. I'll probably have to resort to making an evap/ arch out of sheet metal and angle iron or possibly finding an oil drum or steel barrel to cut down and modify into an arch. We need to be able to move it in short notice, that's the big turn off of the cinder block arch for the family. They want it to be able to be moved and not take up a huge area, kill the lawn, etc. etc.

    I pleased the FD, now I gotta please the family and neighbors too.

  10. #90
    naturalist primitive your_comforting_company's Avatar
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    An old fable from Aesop said "When you try to please everyone, in the end you please none".
    I'm sure that after the family and neighbors try some of your syrup on some flatcakes, they'll be happy to have the evap outside next year.

    I sure hope you get all the kinks worked out. This is a great project and I want to learn the process.

  11. #91

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    FYI: this link identifies the range of native North American species of maples. It should give you a rough idea of what maples can be tapped in your area.

    http://maplesyrup.osu.edu/treeid.html

    They also have a link to the North American Maple Syrup Producer's Manual, which, from what I'm told is the syrup bible. Backyard Sugarin' is another smaller book that has lots of great ideas for the small hobbyist who doesn't want to spend an arm and leg to make syrup.

    I'd like to get the bible, but with all the other costs just can't afford it right now.
    Last edited by rwc1969; 12-23-2010 at 11:29 AM.

  12. #92
    reclinite automaton canid's Avatar
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    keep in mind that just as important as the species of maple is the climate it's growing in. even two trees cloned from one parent but grown in different areas will not only develop differently, but produce sap in different volume and sugar content.
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  13. #93

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    I located a 275 gallon fuel oil tank for 60 bucks deliverd, but am waiting on a friend and a relative to hopefully come through with a free one. These are fairly easily converted into arches, so it should be a much more stable, efficient and longer lasting way to boil down sap.

    I'm still looking for trees to tap, no takers yet.

  14. #94
    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    rwc - can you find a picture of something similar to what you are wanting to build? I'm having a little trouble visualizing it.
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  15. #95
    Senior Member randyt's Avatar
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    I've taken a 55 gallon drum and laid it on its side. Cut a square hole in one end for a door. cut the top off part way back. make sure you leave it narrow enough and level so the pans will sit on it. then on the back top part of the barrel I've cut a 6 inch hole for a couple pieces of stove pipe, to get the smoke away. take that piece you cut of the top and patch the 1/2 moon opening by the stove pipe. it's ready to go

  16. #96

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    Here is something similar Crash, but nicer built than what i'm intending and I will be simply setting my pans down in the opening as Randy described. But, I will build up the interior as pictured to get the flames to the pans better, hopefully.

    http://s951.photobucket.com/albums/a...%20Evaporator/

  17. #97

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    Well I have a couple leads on some Sugar and Red Maples. May check on one tomorrow.

    The arch is all desigend out and I may have a source for some nice grates for it too. We'll see!

    If I get this thing built it's gonna be a tank, and if I add forced air draft it will be bordering on a forge. I'll be making clouds, lol.

  18. #98
    naturalist primitive your_comforting_company's Avatar
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    sweet clouds. keep at it. I'm gonna tag a few more maples today I hope, while I try to get hold of taps. great thread rwc!

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