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Thread: Block vs Barrel

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2018

    Default Block vs Barrel

    I'm a newb to the sugaring world. Spring 2017 my cousin and I dipped our toes in, and made a couple of pints of syrup using a turkey fryer and propane. This past spring we kicked up production and made a couple of gallons of syrup. We used loosely stacked blocks, chafing pans and a wood fire. By the end our blocks had all tilted, cracked, etc. requiring reconstruction. For next spring we hope to increase production again. Are we better off refining and mortaring our block arch or getting a barrel and fashioning it into a DIY barrel evaporator? Thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Peoria, IL


    I think this mostly depends if you like working with mortar or metal better. Both types can work good if built well. In either design I would incorporate a blower. A barrel evap can be more portable if that is important. As we all seem to add taps every year I would encourage to build on the larger side of what you think you will need so you can accommodate more taps in the future without having to rebuild.
    2019 - 150 taps 3/16 shurflo, Deer Run 125 hobby RO
    2018 - 120 taps 3/16 hybrid (shurflo), 2x6 raised flue w/hood, homemade arch w/ AUF & AOF - 34.5 gallons
    2017 - 60 taps 3/16 gravity, oil tank arck w/ steam pans - 12.5 gallons

  3. #3
    Haynes Forest Products Guest


    Cement blocks are not high heat resistant. they do not do well with direct heat. I strongly recommend that you insulate the walls and any cement that is in direct contact with flames. Mortar will help keep it straight and stabilize it it but will crumble after a season of cooking. Arch board with fire blanket is your best method of making the cement blocks last longer. Plus fill the spaces with sand.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Loudon NH


    I recommend building an oil tank arch and having a pan made for that or use steam table pans. A properly designed firebox lined with firebrick and a flat pan will evaporate about 5gph and will do more with a blower. There are alot of guys here that have made oil tank arches so that you can get design ideas.

    "Red Roof Maples" Where the term "boiling soda" was first introduced to the maple producing world!

    Algier 2x6 evaporator, W F Mason arch
    Lapierre 125gph RO machine
    SP 22 vacuum pump
    1930 Ford Model AA Doodlebug tractor Sap Hauler


  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Chatham NH


    I Agree with Russ, An Oil Tank Arch is a superior option to a block arch, you can get up off the ground with one, its easier to level if things move in the spring. An oil tank arch will have some Value when you are ready to upgrade to another evaporator. You cant go wrong.
    Nate Hutchins
    Nate & Kate's Maple
    2018 1000 taps?
    20x36 sugarhouse
    CDL 600gph RO
    Franken evaporator, lapierre arch, smokylake pans and a leader hood with pre-heater.
    A wife and 2 kids.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    North Central WI


    +1 on the oil tank arch; I started with a turkey fryer, then built an arch from a very old water tank, then went to an oil tank arch, added a copper coil preheater around the chimney and added a blower (air under fire) which was the absolute best addition so far. Been very happy with the oil tank arch setup, I run a 2x4 pan and a 16"x2'pan simultaneously. Whatever you build, pay attention to insulating the rig - keep as much heat inside and directed to the bottom of the pan(s) as possible; I did that when I went from the water tank to the oil tank arch and what a big difference; I have one inch thick insulating board and old thick fire brick in front of that lining the entire interior; made a huge difference.
    2010 - 12 taps, turkey fryer, 4 quarts
    2011 - 24 taps, homemade arch from old water tank, 16"x24" flat pan, 16+ quarts
    2012 - 9 taps, 3 pints, what a season
    2013 - 60 taps, homemade oil tank arch with 2'x4' flat pan, 16"x24" finishing pan on electric range, 55 quarts
    2014 - 80 taps, homemade oil tank arch with 2'x4' flat pan, 16"x24" finishing pan on electric range, 40 quarts
    2015 - 100 taps, 15 gallons
    2016 - 115 taps, 13.5 gallons
    2017 - 120 taps, 13 gallons
    2018 - 130 taps, 11 gallons

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Elliottsburg, PA


    If you are good with working with brick and have a nice permanent location then go the brick route just remember to firebrick to line the inside to prolong the base of the evap.
    If you are good with working with metal than make an arch out of steel. I would just have to add one thing, do not use a barrel. I started out in this crazy maple hobby by building a barrel evap. there are no straight lines in a barrel! what a Pain in the A$$. I would of been further ahead if I just went and bought a little more angle iron and some steel sheet.

    Which ever route that you choose, I would find my pan 1st. that way you know the exact size that you will need to build the arch.
    1st Generation Hobby Maple Producer, you got to start somewhere.
    222 Taps, all on Vacuum! No more buckets.
    Lapierre 2'x5' raised flue w/Hood and Preheater
    Surge SP11, Lapierre Hobby Releaser
    Modified 5" Filter Press made by Daryl with a Gear Pump
    Homemade 2 membrane RO
    Kabota RTV Sap Hauler

    Hardy's Maple Syrup on Facebook

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Oneida NY


    If you build an arch, as stated, get the pan first. Then build the arch with 3/8-1/2" overlap of the pan onto the arch. Lets say the pan measures 24" wide, the opening for that width should be 23-23.25" wide, the outer width can be anything over that within reason. Especially if you plan room for firebrick. Having more overlap creates a strip on the pan with very little heat transfer, the wider that strip the poorer the boil in the pan. A pan needs the heat applied directly to the bottom.
    Dave Klish about 1320 taps in '15, down to about 700 in '16, up to 1000 for 2019?
    2012 Mahindra 36 HP 4x4/ loader/cab/heat/AC:-)
    added a gooseneck equipment trailer and F350 to tow it to haul more sap
    3x8 raised flue evaporator
    250 GPH converted to electric, RO by Ray Gingerich
    6.32 KW solar system, 1.48KW is battery backed up, all net metered
    website: www.cnymaple.com

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