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Thread: 5/16 on semi flat land. Vac or no vac?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
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    eau claire
    Posts
    71

    Default 5/16 on semi flat land. Vac or no vac?

    Ok so I'm buying some land and have about 600 taps I'm capable of tapping. It has a creek running thru it but this is Wi, so it's mostly flat. Is there a % slope needed for 5/16 tubing without vac? Can I just add vac later?

    This woods will definitely get muddy so I'm wondering if I should just skip the buckets. I have some home made tubing tools i built and have some experience installing 3/16 but 5/16 is pretty new and no experience with mechanical vacuum.

    In my lowest spot its semi close to where the sugar shack will be but a little up hill. There is power there so I'm thinking a 2nd pump to go up to the shack eventually.

    It's really out of fun thinking this out. I still need to figure out a backup plan for selling extra sap I dont need. I made 50 gallons on a 2 month season before and have added a 2nd cooker about double my original barrel stove and 2nd is 2x4 pan. Both are insulated, bricked and auf. Then while to sell syrup to. I hate the idea of selling in bulk.
    2016 7 taps= 1-2 gallons of syrup
    2017 135 taps on bags/buckets =17 gallons syrup on block arch
    2018 75 taps on bags/buckets in new locations =50 gallons syrup (2 month season) on insulated barrel stove with auf and hobby r.o.
    2019 less taps on different ground for 1 month season. 20 gallons. Added 4x40 RO membrane and never finished 2x4 cooker.

    Creator and Mod of Wisconsin Maple Syrup Producers on FB

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    Princeton, MA
    Posts
    342

    Default

    You might consider 3/16 tubing with a diaphragm pump or two. The 3/16 should work well on flat terrain as long as the pump is running. Max 30-40 taps per line. Last year I tapped a nearly flat section of 40 red maples on 3/16 tubing near a swamp, with a slight uphill to the pump, and it ran great on my Shurflo setup. I have a video posted. You could use multiple battery powered diaphragm pumps, or a Guzzler if you have access to AC power and the lines all come to the same location.

    Dave
    Mountain Maple farm
    2019: 180 taps, 60 on gravity, 100+ on vacuum using my programmable S3 controllers
    New website:
    https://www.mountainmaplefarm.com
    https://www.facebook.com/MountainMapleFarm/

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    eau claire
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    Hey Dave, I've seen your setup and I think it's a great product. Why 3/16 over 5/16 tho? No issue with suckback and no problem with plugged fittings using 5/16.
    2016 7 taps= 1-2 gallons of syrup
    2017 135 taps on bags/buckets =17 gallons syrup on block arch
    2018 75 taps on bags/buckets in new locations =50 gallons syrup (2 month season) on insulated barrel stove with auf and hobby r.o.
    2019 less taps on different ground for 1 month season. 20 gallons. Added 4x40 RO membrane and never finished 2x4 cooker.

    Creator and Mod of Wisconsin Maple Syrup Producers on FB

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Fond du Lac, Wisconsin
    Posts
    892

    Default

    3/16 will transfer vac better than the 5/16 on level ground. There is a reason they say "strive for 5" on 5/16 lats in a traditional system. The big thing to remember is you have to have mechanical vac or the 3/16 will have too much back pressure. Without slope the 5/16 will not do a lot better without mechanical vac either. You do have to watch for plugs and wash or replace your lines but I think overall you are better off with the 3/16 for production in this situation.
    Smoky Lake 2x6 dropflu pans and hoods on homemade arch
    Smoky Lake 6 gallon water jacked bottler
    Concentric Exhaust
    250 Deer Run RO
    325 taps

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    DeKalb, NY
    Posts
    1,678

    Default

    I'd like to see a comment from Dr Tim regarding vacuum transfer in 3/16 vs 5/16 with limited slope

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Chatham NH
    Posts
    1,151

    Default

    I would advise against putting 3/16 up on anything less than 10% slope . It was never intended for shallow slopes like this, it will work great the first year with clean brand new everything. Most people I know including myself saw a significant drop off in year 2 and consecutive years. Due to plugged ts and friction loss from dirty/ not new anymore tubing. Sure you can put vacuum on it and it helps ,but if your going to run vac anyway why not run 5/16 and get proven results of a half gallon per tap or better.

    3/16 is cheaper to setup initially because of more taps per lateral = less saddles and potentially less tubing used per tap, and you can get some natural vacuum if you have good slope. Tubing runs cheaper Those are the pros.

    The cons are ,less forgiving of leaks,needs to be cleaned , more maintenance damages easier, plugs easier, and needs to be replaced sooner. Doesn't work well on flat ground at all if vacuum pump is broken.
    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.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Maine
    Posts
    509

    Default

    It's been proven that 3/16" is not the best option for flat areas but there are a fair amount of people on here that insist it has worked well for them. But over the long term, there is no way 3/16" with vac outperforms 5/16" with vac on flat ground assuming that the install is correct for both situations, 20-30 taps per lateral for 3/16" and 5-8 for 5/16". It just doesn't make sense. Take a piece of each tubing and look at the difference in cross sectional area then think about it for a second. Which one will pull more sap in year 5 when the tubing has some crud in it, especially on flat ground?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Peoria, IL
    Posts
    526

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by needmoremaples View Post
    Ok so I'm buying some land and have about 600 taps I'm capable of tapping. It has a creek running thru it but this is Wi, so it's mostly flat. Is there a % slope needed for 5/16 tubing without vac? Can I just add vac later?

    This woods will definitely get muddy so I'm wondering if I should just skip the buckets. I have some home made tubing tools i built and have some experience installing 3/16 but 5/16 is pretty new and no experience with mechanical vacuum.

    In my lowest spot its semi close to where the sugar shack will be but a little up hill. There is power there so I'm thinking a 2nd pump to go up to the shack eventually.

    It's really out of fun thinking this out. I still need to figure out a backup plan for selling extra sap I dont need. I made 50 gallons on a 2 month season before and have added a 2nd cooker about double my original barrel stove and 2nd is 2x4 pan. Both are insulated, bricked and auf. Then while to sell syrup to. I hate the idea of selling in bulk.
    Based on the initial post, without vacuum 5/16 is the way to go. With or without vac you will need the lines to be perfectly pitched down to the collection point. I would start with what you hope is the eventual goal and work backward from there. Set up a mainline that is capable of capturing your final tap count and start with what you can manage and build up from there. Even if you don't go with vacuum upfront I would set up the tubing and mainline to easily incorporate it in the future.
    2019 - 150 taps 3/16 shurflo, Deer Run 125 dolly RO - 73 gallons
    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

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    eau claire
    Posts
    71

    Default

    Yes that is what I'm thinking. Go with a diaphram pump and go bigger in the future. I'm not horribly far from power but still do 12v pump. In future do a better vac pump
    2016 7 taps= 1-2 gallons of syrup
    2017 135 taps on bags/buckets =17 gallons syrup on block arch
    2018 75 taps on bags/buckets in new locations =50 gallons syrup (2 month season) on insulated barrel stove with auf and hobby r.o.
    2019 less taps on different ground for 1 month season. 20 gallons. Added 4x40 RO membrane and never finished 2x4 cooker.

    Creator and Mod of Wisconsin Maple Syrup Producers on FB

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Loudon NH
    Posts
    5,416

    Default

    When I did my initial tubing set up I was told by a seasoned sugar maker to set up my 5/16" on gravity like I would for vacuum. His recommendation was to "Strive for 5" taps per lateral into a 3/4" or larger mainline with 2% slope or more. I followed his advice and had good results for a lot of years before I moved out of those woods.

    When I did mine there was no such thing as 3/16" so I can't say which is better but have heard a lot of horror stories from guys that have tried it. I wouldn't try it even if I had good slope based on what others have said about it.

    As far a selling sap goes you would have to check with the local producers in your area. If there's a buyer that is close enough for you to deliver it to, go for it. If not only set up and tap as many trees as you can handle and add more as you upgrade equipment.

    You didn't say whether your trees are sugars or not but if you're tapping reds you are going to need to put vacuum on it right away. They run good on vacuum but are finicky on gravity.
    Russ

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

    Algier 2x6 evaporator, W F Mason arch
    Lapierre 250 Turbo RO machine
    SP-22 vacuum pump
    1930 Ford Model AA Doodlebug tractor
    1971 IH 454 52hp diesel tractor
    A couple of Honda 4 wheelers
    About a dozen chainsaws and no chickens

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