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Thread: Drop lines or buckets

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
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    Berks County PA
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    Default Drop lines or buckets

    I just purchased a property with about 15 sugar maple trees on it that are over a foot in diameter. I would like to tap them and make my own syrup.

    I am a bit confused about which way to go, buckets or drop lines to 5 gallon buckets. Any recommendations would be appreciated! Also any suggestions on where to get supplies and buckets, good spouts to use, etc.

    I think I need. Spouts, lines, buckets, hammer, removal tool, candy thermometer, hydrometer, hydrometer flask, and filter of some sort.

    Sorry for all the questions but I would truly appreciate any help

    Steve

  2. #2
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    Mar 2017
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    Granville, PA
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    Steve, I have only found maple supplies in Southwest, Not and Northern PA. Brenneman's (south of Summerset) is probably the closest to you. Or you could order supplies online. Check the Dealer Directory at the top of the Maple Trader page that you are looking at when you read this. Good luck, this maple stuff is pretty fun.
    Matt,
    Minehart Gap Maple

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    Oneida NY
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Skeller001 View Post
    I just purchased a property with about 15 sugar maple trees on it that are over a foot in diameter. I would like to tap them and make my own syrup.

    I am a bit confused about which way to go, buckets or drop lines to 5 gallon buckets. Any recommendations would be appreciated! Also any suggestions on where to get supplies and buckets, good spouts to use, etc.

    I think I need. Spouts, lines, buckets, hammer, removal tool, candy thermometer, hydrometer, hydrometer flask, and filter of some sort.

    Sorry for all the questions but I would truly appreciate any help

    Steve
    Steve, depending on your budget, you could buy all of those things or you could make some to save money.
    The hydrometer cup comes to mind. With a length of 1.5 or 2" PVC pipe and a flat cap you can make the cup. If you do, cut the PVC at 10-12" long, glue the cap on one end and while not fancy you have a hydrometer cup. If you decide to use buckets, make sure thay are food grade. One source of free buckets is your local bakery, they buy frosting in buckets. Get the lids too. Then I think drops are easier and keep the sap cleaner but either method works. If you go the bucket method, drill a hole just below the top rings on the bucket for a snug fit into the bucket. Then make the drops, a plastic tap (spile) on one end and make it long enough to reach from a good comfortable height, to the ground. When you tap, set the bucket on the ground and push the free end of the drop into the hole you drilled. I used that method my first year, but buckets got blown over. I then put a small clamp on the drop line just inside the bucket, that held the bucket upright until it got sap weight in it. Just set the lids on, and a stone can help hold lids there, if you snap them on you then need to fight getting them off. If the buckets you get are 3 or 3.5 gal, just 1 tap/bucket, if they are 5 gal, you can use a T to combine 2 and that can then service two drops if the tree is large enough or the trees are close to each other.
    Most of all, have fun.
    Last edited by maple flats; 01-16-2019 at 08:11 AM.
    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
    http://s1041.photobucket.com/albums/...anssugarhouse/
    website: www.cnymaple.com

  4. #4
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    Jan 2019
    Location
    Berks County PA
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    Matt, I will check out the Maple Trader. If nothing there I will order online ASAP. It sounds like fun, I cant wait. It doesn't hurt that we love maple syrup.

    Dave, I was leaning towards the drops. That is a great idea on where I might be able to get some buckets. I have a wine/beer making hydrometer and cup. I need to see if it is for the same range.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Western NY
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    283

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    You will need a hydrometer made for syrup. The beer one won’t work.

  6. #6
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    Quaker Hill, CT
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    If you are looking to save a couple bucks on the hydrometer you can get a refractometer on Amazon for around 20 bucks. A "honey refractometer" has a brix scale high enough for syrup. It might not be perfectly accurate but for home made syrup it worked well enough for me last season. I checked the boiling temp with a thermometer and used the refractometer. When they both said I had syrup I called it good.

    I would also say drops into 5 gallon buckets or clean 1 gallon water/milk jugs is a great way to start as a beginner. My first year that's how I did it.

    You can get premade drops in bundles on Amazon as well. They aren't that economical if you have a lot of taps but for around 10 trees it's an easy way to get proper taps all set up with tubing drops. It will say you shipping costs
    2017 25 taps on buckets got me hooked 1 gallon of sweet
    2018 51 taps on 3/16 tubing/ DIY oil tank evaporator 8.5gallons finished
    2019 tapped 1/26 aiming to beat last year

  7. #7
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    Mar 2017
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    Granville, PA
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    Steve, you might want to call Brenneman's, I was there a few months ago and he had used stainless steel spouts for a good price and just about everything else that you might need. He told me that if I called an order, he would ship.

    You may also want to check with some other guys on here about how many taps to put in if you are boiling on turkey fryers.
    Matt,
    Minehart Gap Maple

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Location
    Berks County PA
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    Thank you everyone for your replies. I ordered my supplies yesterday and will go for buckets today at a restaurant supply store. I tried a local bakery but they reuse theirs. I can’t wait to try my hand at this.

  9. #9
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    Oneida NY
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    For the buckets several have commented in years past that they got some from their local Walmart bakery dept, free. Another place to try would be any local grocery store that has their own bakery.
    Back in my first year I stopped at a local Chinese restaurant. I got about 50 jugs (5 gal), that originally had frying oil in them. They were a bear to clean, but they finally came clean. I used Dawn, hot water and a clean dish cloth to clean them. I'd fill it with about 1/2-3/4 gal hot water, add some Dawn, drop the dish cloth (brand new) in, screw the cap on and shake as hard as I could. Then I repeated 4-5X on each, with just hot water after the second wash.
    Then I tried to drill the caps to insert the tubing, but the caps were too brittle. 2 broke, then I got a steel rod the same O.D. as the 5/16 tubing, ground one end to a blunt point, heated it to red glow and pushed it thru the caps. I could do 3 or 4, then reheat the rod.
    Last edited by maple flats; 01-12-2019 at 08:09 AM.
    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
    http://s1041.photobucket.com/albums/...anssugarhouse/
    website: www.cnymaple.com

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Location
    Berks County PA
    Posts
    58

    Default

    thanks for the suggestions. I ended up picking up a few food grade buckets with lids at Lowes for $7.50 each. If I need more I will keep this in mind.
    Last edited by Skeller001; 01-13-2019 at 12:38 PM.

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