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Thread: Tubing/Tapping Recommendations: 3/16 vs 5/16, rigid vs semi rigid

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2020
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    Warren, Connecticut
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    Default Tubing/Tapping Recommendations: 3/16 vs 5/16, rigid vs semi rigid

    Hi All,


    This will be my second year using tubing for maple syrup production. Last year I put up about 60 taps on Leader 5/16 semi rigid UNI-50 dark blue tubing straight into a 275 gallon tote. This year I am looking to expand to about 200 taps and add some 3/4" mainline.

    I am currently stuck between expanding my use of 5/16 tubing, or trying out 3/16 tubing while I do not have much 5/16 up yet. I have heard some pretty solid reviews of 3/16 tubing on this site, but I have a few concerns.

    My primarily concern is the need for a significant drop to create vacuum. I have read that a drop of approximately 20-30 feet is desirable to create sufficient vacuum. The area I am looking to tap does have a slight slope, but is mostly gradual with no major drops and could easily be traversed by an ATV/tractor if not for the trees/brush/rocks. Just judging by the eye, maybe a 10 ft drop over 200ft. That might still be a bit more than it actually is. Not sure how to accurately measure it better aside from running some lines and finding level.

    I believe it is sufficient for a normal 5/16 gravity system, but am not sure that it would be enough to be worth a 3/16 system. The low point is next to a stream bed next to the road and is not near any current power source. A power post could be put in in the future for a vacuum system if I expand to the point it is desired, but is not readily available at this time.

    Additional concerns include needing tools for 3/16 tubing where currently I have managed to put up 5/16 tubing by hand, as well as a discussion with a supplier regarding issues with 3/16 if not on a major slope or if vacuum is installed in the future.


    My other main question has to do with tubing types. I started last year with Leader 5/16 semi rigid UNI-50 dark blue tubing, primarily due to it being the cheapest option and just wanting to get started with it. I used this in conjunction with CDL 7/16 spouts and CDL Max Flow Tees w/plug. What is the difference between the different tubing types? Rigid, semi rigid, max flow? I haven't found much describing each and their uses, especially company specific types. Should one type be used for laterals and the other for drops? Could also use some advice regarding differences between taps as well. 7/16, health spouts, antibacterial, check valves, etc. I am still fairly new at this and mostly self taught from reading this forum and watching videos of it being done.

    Any other input regarding recommended lines, taps/differences between them, how to connect to the mainline, and mainline size/pitch would be greatly appreciated as well.


    Thank you in advance!

    Matt

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    Weston, CT
    Posts
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    Quote Originally Posted by FarmallCT View Post
    Hi All,

    I am currently stuck between expanding my use of 5/16 tubing, or trying out 3/16 tubing while I do not have much 5/16 up yet. I have heard some pretty solid reviews of 3/16 tubing on this site, but I have a few concerns.

    Matt
    I have no experience with 3/16 but have pondered using it for the vacuum benefits. But regarding your few concerns, one of the things that I have heard from some on this site as well as from Bruce Bascom in person, is that some 3/16 tapers have quite a bit of trouble with 3/16 clogging after the first year or two. Especially at the T connections. That has turned me away from it, but I am small scale so I may do a experiment with it anyway. I should probably do that this year along with my list of 4739 other things to try.

    If I were in your situation I would do a side by side comparison with the 3/16 leaving most of my taps as the 5/16 and see how the 3/16 performs in comparison over a period of at least 2 years preferably 3 or 4 years. As Dr. Tim would say you could probably overcome this problem with super sanitation and extra avoidance of wood chips from your tap holes into your 3/16 lines.
    If you think it's easy to make good money in maple syrup .... then your obviously good at stealing somebody's Maple Syrup.

    Favorite Tree: Sugar Maple
    Most Hated Animal: Sap Sucker
    Most Loved Animal: Devon Rex Cat
    Favorite Kingpin: Bruce Bascom
    40 Sugar Maple Taps ... 23 in CT and 17 in NY .... 29 on gravity tubing and 11 on 5G buckets ... 2019 Totals 508 gallons of sap, 7 boils, 11.4 gallons of syrup.
    1 Girlfriend that gives away all my syrup to her friends.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2020
    Location
    Warren, Connecticut
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    It definitely sounds good if you have the drop. I talked with Bruce the other day and that was exactly what he was mentioning with the clogging. I believe he said he put up around 5,000 taps just to take them down a few years later due to clogging. Also I believe he mentioned not much additional benefit already being on a vacuum system. Definitely something I'd like to try, though currently just looking to get my order placed for material so I can get it in time to set up.

    Will probably end up sticking with 5/16 since I already have some tubing and taps on hand, but it would be interesting to do as you suggested with a side by side comparison. Would be interesting to get a few taps and a little tubing to compare. Might be easier on a smaller scale with buckets or a small container to avoid two separate larger systems.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    Princeton, MA
    Posts
    403

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    If you are on gravity, 3/16 is the way to go IMO. I have several short runs of 10-30 taps on 3/16" gravity, with elevation drop in the 10-20 ft range, and they all run well. On some lines I only see 10" of vacuum at the top. Two of the runs are on red maples and they produce nearly as much sap as the sugar maples. You need 30 ft or more drop to get maximum vacuum, but even a few ft of drop on 3/16 will increase sap production, provided the line isn't too long. I see very few clogging issues on my lines. You may not have clogging issues with 5/16" lines but won't get much natural vacuum if any.

    Dave
    Mountain Maple farm
    2020: 207 taps, 60% red maples. Mountain Maple S3 diaphragm pump controller with automated sap transfer
    New website:
    https://www.mountainmaplefarm.com
    https://www.facebook.com/MountainMapleFarm/

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    NY
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    11

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    My suggestion would be go with the 3/4 mainline and 5/16 tubing. with as little drop as your explaining 3/16 would not gain much vacuum and has been shown to have major clogging issues in future years. I installed a 1500 tap woods on 3/16 and removed all of it after the second season and the yield drop i saw.

    As for tubing it self i prefer leader max grip for lateral lines and leader max flex for droplines. grip is a little more than uni50 however much easier to work with and holds in the woods better imo.

    Taps i would switch to 5/16 vs 7/16 for tree health, the yield difference is minimal and the tree healing is much better!

    Connecting 5/16 laterals to the mainline i prefer H20 saddles.

    Mainline should have 2% or greater pitch, it can be run with less however it has to be absolutely perfect. if 2% is tough to get in your woods i would recommend going to a 1" mainline vs a 3/4


    Quote Originally Posted by FarmallCT View Post
    Hi All,


    This will be my second year using tubing for maple syrup production. Last year I put up about 60 taps on Leader 5/16 semi rigid UNI-50 dark blue tubing straight into a 275 gallon tote. This year I am looking to expand to about 200 taps and add some 3/4" mainline.

    I am currently stuck between expanding my use of 5/16 tubing, or trying out 3/16 tubing while I do not have much 5/16 up yet. I have heard some pretty solid reviews of 3/16 tubing on this site, but I have a few concerns.

    My primarily concern is the need for a significant drop to create vacuum. I have read that a drop of approximately 20-30 feet is desirable to create sufficient vacuum. The area I am looking to tap does have a slight slope, but is mostly gradual with no major drops and could easily be traversed by an ATV/tractor if not for the trees/brush/rocks. Just judging by the eye, maybe a 10 ft drop over 200ft. That might still be a bit more than it actually is. Not sure how to accurately measure it better aside from running some lines and finding level.

    I believe it is sufficient for a normal 5/16 gravity system, but am not sure that it would be enough to be worth a 3/16 system. The low point is next to a stream bed next to the road and is not near any current power source. A power post could be put in in the future for a vacuum system if I expand to the point it is desired, but is not readily available at this time.

    Additional concerns include needing tools for 3/16 tubing where currently I have managed to put up 5/16 tubing by hand, as well as a discussion with a supplier regarding issues with 3/16 if not on a major slope or if vacuum is installed in the future.


    My other main question has to do with tubing types. I started last year with Leader 5/16 semi rigid UNI-50 dark blue tubing, primarily due to it being the cheapest option and just wanting to get started with it. I used this in conjunction with CDL 7/16 spouts and CDL Max Flow Tees w/plug. What is the difference between the different tubing types? Rigid, semi rigid, max flow? I haven't found much describing each and their uses, especially company specific types. Should one type be used for laterals and the other for drops? Could also use some advice regarding differences between taps as well. 7/16, health spouts, antibacterial, check valves, etc. I am still fairly new at this and mostly self taught from reading this forum and watching videos of it being done.

    Any other input regarding recommended lines, taps/differences between them, how to connect to the mainline, and mainline size/pitch would be greatly appreciated as well.


    Thank you in advance!

    Matt

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2020
    Location
    Warren, Connecticut
    Posts
    11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Biz View Post
    If you are on gravity, 3/16 is the way to go IMO. I have several short runs of 10-30 taps on 3/16" gravity, with elevation drop in the 10-20 ft range, and they all run well. On some lines I only see 10" of vacuum at the top. Two of the runs are on red maples and they produce nearly as much sap as the sugar maples. You need 30 ft or more drop to get maximum vacuum, but even a few ft of drop on 3/16 will increase sap production, provided the line isn't too long. I see very few clogging issues on my lines. You may not have clogging issues with 5/16" lines but won't get much natural vacuum if any.

    Dave
    At best I'd be lucky to get a 5, maybe 10 foot drop in a few places. Much of that would be reliant on tapping higher up on the tree than normal to achieve the necessary drop, and there would be minimal drop from the laterals to the mainline. Not sure if that would still be worth it. The 5/16 I had up last year flowed fairly steadily on its own with the current setup. Do you have any suggestions for creating a setup to compare production? I wouldn't mind getting some 3/16 to setup and compare, just not sure how to make a fair comparison and measure the difference.

    Matt

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2020
    Location
    Warren, Connecticut
    Posts
    11

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    Quote Originally Posted by bmead View Post
    My suggestion would be go with the 3/4 mainline and 5/16 tubing. with as little drop as your explaining 3/16 would not gain much vacuum and has been shown to have major clogging issues in future years. I installed a 1500 tap woods on 3/16 and removed all of it after the second season and the yield drop i saw.

    As for tubing it self i prefer leader max grip for lateral lines and leader max flex for droplines. grip is a little more than uni50 however much easier to work with and holds in the woods better imo.

    Taps i would switch to 5/16 vs 7/16 for tree health, the yield difference is minimal and the tree healing is much better!

    Connecting 5/16 laterals to the mainline i prefer H20 saddles.

    Mainline should have 2% or greater pitch, it can be run with less however it has to be absolutely perfect. if 2% is tough to get in your woods i would recommend going to a 1" mainline vs a 3/4
    Thank you, I am leaning towards sticking with that idea for the setup. I believe I should be able to get a 2-4% pitch on the mainline, at least in the section I plan to put up this year. Will have 200 taps max heading in the direction I am heading since it is uphill to the base of our small field and up the sides, with little to no expansion potential beyond the field other than the edges along the road. Wasn't sure if there was any major benefit between going up to 1" or if 3/4" would be sufficient in this spot due to the low number of potential taps. If I were to go further into the woods where there is more potential I would definitely go bigger.

    Where do you get your lines/materials from? I used Bascoms last year and have not had any issues. I see the the Max Grip and Max Flex listed on the site so might try them out. Will definitely check out the 5/16 taps. Any suggestions between the green antibacterial, CDL white health, Leader tree saver, stuby with adapter, etc? Are any spouts for use with vacuum only so I can avoid them? I know seasonal spouts are an option as well, though not sure of the advantages/disadvantages on these either.

    The one thing I have not been able to find on Bascom's site are the H2O mainline saddles you mentioned. Do you have a different supplier for these? I have seen several others on the Bascom site, not sure what the differences are with the different styles, or how some go together such as the full plastic wrap around vs stainless steel clamp, but was looking at the CDL stationary saddle or the saddle with the stainless clamp. Only thing I am unsure of is if they are complete or additional parts such as gaskets are sold separately.

    Thank you again for all the help and advice!

    Matt

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    Weston, CT
    Posts
    243

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    Quote Originally Posted by FarmallCT View Post
    It definitely sounds good if you have the drop. I talked with Bruce the other day and that was exactly what he was mentioning with the clogging. I believe he said he put up around 5,000 taps just to take them down a few years later due to clogging. Also I believe he mentioned not much additional benefit already being on a vacuum system. Definitely something I'd like to try, though currently just looking to get my order placed for material so I can get it in time to set up.

    Will probably end up sticking with 5/16 since I already have some tubing and taps on hand, but it would be interesting to do as you suggested with a side by side comparison. Would be interesting to get a few taps and a little tubing to compare. Might be easier on a smaller scale with buckets or a small container to avoid two separate larger systems.
    Comparing two different line size vacuum gravity systems is difficult. I think each size runs at capacity on different slopes and different numbers of taps. Figuring that out requires a level of science well beyond my pay grade.
    If you think it's easy to make good money in maple syrup .... then your obviously good at stealing somebody's Maple Syrup.

    Favorite Tree: Sugar Maple
    Most Hated Animal: Sap Sucker
    Most Loved Animal: Devon Rex Cat
    Favorite Kingpin: Bruce Bascom
    40 Sugar Maple Taps ... 23 in CT and 17 in NY .... 29 on gravity tubing and 11 on 5G buckets ... 2019 Totals 508 gallons of sap, 7 boils, 11.4 gallons of syrup.
    1 Girlfriend that gives away all my syrup to her friends.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    Princeton, MA
    Posts
    403

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    It would be great to compare the two setups and prove which one works for your situation. Let us know results. For the 3/16 line I would do a line or two of no more than 25 or 30 taps, 200-300 ft max so you don’t get too much friction loss, and see how it does on a per tap basis. I use a 5/16 drop and checkvalve spout, and 3/16 lines elsewhere. You could put a gauge on the end of the line to check vacuum. Make sure the lines are cleaned well at the end of the season.

    Quote Originally Posted by FarmallCT View Post
    At best I'd be lucky to get a 5, maybe 10 foot drop in a few places. Much of that would be reliant on tapping higher up on the tree than normal to achieve the necessary drop, and there would be minimal drop from the laterals to the mainline. Not sure if that would still be worth it. The 5/16 I had up last year flowed fairly steadily on its own with the current setup. Do you have any suggestions for creating a setup to compare production? I wouldn't mind getting some 3/16 to setup and compare, just not sure how to make a fair comparison and measure the difference.

    Matt
    Mountain Maple farm
    2020: 207 taps, 60% red maples. Mountain Maple S3 diaphragm pump controller with automated sap transfer
    New website:
    https://www.mountainmaplefarm.com
    https://www.facebook.com/MountainMapleFarm/

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    UVM Proctor Maple Research Center, Underhill Ctr, VT
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    5,404

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sugar Bear View Post
    Comparing two different line size vacuum gravity systems is difficult. I think each size runs at capacity on different slopes and different numbers of taps.
    I'd second that. Getting good information isn't easy. Not saying that producer data isn't important, but doing one or two lines of one thing and a couple more of the other won't tell you much unless you control for tree size, position on slope, etc. In this case, you could actually see pretty decent vacuum on the upper trees, but still get low production due to the friction caused by the low slope section, so measuring vacuum alone isn't enough to tell the whole story.
    Dr. Tim Perkins
    UVM Proctor Maple Research Ctr
    http://www.uvm.edu/~pmrc
    https://mapleresearch.org
    Timothy.Perkins@uvm.edu

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