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Thread: Benefits to gravity? Help me understand

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    MA
    Posts
    28

    Default Benefits to gravity? Help me understand

    Happy new year!
    I have about 30 maple trees on my property and I live on the top of a hill so all of the trees are on some type of a downward slope. There is a 10-15 food drop in grade. Is there any benefit to trying to do a gravity set up for 2-4 trees in a run? Would there be a benefit to tapping a tree and having a 5-6 foot grade drop over 20 feet of 5/16 tubing before feeding into a storage container? Right now I just put leader check valve taps with 5/16 drops into 5 gallon buckets at the base of the tree. Just trying to determine if I could be “pulling” more sap out of my small property. Bought a new arch and nervous about feeding it.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Albion PA
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    4,992

    Default

    Welcome,
    Much, Much written about gravity and vacuum systems on 3/16 tubing systems. Your wont find much value on 5/16 for increased volume.
    How big is your new arch? How many gallons is expected to boil per hour? How many taps do you have now?

    Each tap in a good tree should produce approx 10 gallons of sap per season or about a quart of syrup. That is on just gravity buckets or 5/16 tubing/ The right 3/16 system in the right place might almost double that in theory.
    Good luck with your season.
    Regards,
    Chris
    Casbohm Maple and Honey
    600 roadside taps
    3x10 King, WRU, AOF and AUF
    12" SIRO Filter Press.
    2015 Ford F250 PSD sap hauler
    One Golden named Maggie Cat named Lucy
    Too many Cub Cadets
    Ford Jubilee and several Allis WD's, and IH tractors

    www.mapleandhoney.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    MA
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    Default

    Thanks for the reply. I have been reading but most of the information I am finding is about 20+ taps running in long 100 foot runs. I was wondering if there is a way to experiment with smaller runs using the tubing I already own. I have been using drops into buckets for 4 years. I have silver/swamp maples. I get about 3-5 gallons per week per tap when it’s running well. My sugar content is pretty low compared to a sugar maple.
    I had a 16x30 flat pan on an insulated barrel stove. Going to a 20x48 Smokey lakes pan/arch. The pan is a flat pan divided into 3 channels so I can draw off as I go vs batch boiling. I think I’ll go from 5 gal per hour to 8-10.
    In a good week I have over 100 gallons (so 10 hours of boiling minimum)... but on a down week I may only have 30 or 40 gallons... really looking to keep that low end number a lot higher or it is almost not worth the effort.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
    Location
    Connecticut
    Posts
    91

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    You said you live on the top of a hill - move your sugar making to the bottom of the hill, so you can have tubing go right into your storage tank. No more lugging buckets!!!! I didn't realize what a pain it was until I put up some tubing going directly to the sugar house!
    2017 - 20ish taps on buckets, boiling outside in two baking pans
    2018 - 70+ taps, 14-buckets, 50+ on tubing, homemade arch from oil tank in my barn, 17 gal syrup
    2019 - same set up, 20 gal syrup
    2020 - less taps, short season, but RO kit was fantastic! 6 gal syrup and a maple cat!
    2021 - planning on expanding to 50 taps on buckets and 40 taps on tubing - goal = 10 gal of syrup

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2020
    Location
    Randolph, VT
    Posts
    2

    Default

    I'm very new to this, but I have done a ton of reading on doing natural vacuum tubing setup. 5/16 tubing isn't recommended for generating vacuum, 3/16 tubing is what people use. For every foot of drop from the tap to the tank, you can generate a theoretical 0.8 inches of vacuum, but you need to put a minimum of 4-5 taps on a single 3/16 line to get this to work. So with your 10-15 feet of drop, you could possibly generate 8-12 inches of vacuum, which would definitely help with sap production. If your trees are partway down the hill, some of this effect will be lost on them- and the trees at the bottom near the tank won't see any vacuum at all.
    So if conditions are right at your place (majority of trees near the top and collection point near the bottom) and want to squeeze a little more production out of a limited number of trees, you might be able to get some benefit if you switch to 3/16.
    March 2020- got a Half Pint when the world ended.
    12 taps and 3 gallons of syrup later, caught the bug.
    July 2020- got a used Leader 3x12 raised flue- go big or go home! Putting in 500 taps on 3/16 tubing now.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    MA
    Posts
    28

    Default

    Thank you. That is really helpful. I can get lower in grade if I move the collection point a few hundred feet away from the trees is there a downside to having a really long run after the last tree? Also would a switchback pattern or 180 degree turn as you zig zag the line create resistance in the flow defeating part of the gravity benifit? Does the run need to be in a general direction?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Southern Ohio
    Posts
    1,105

    Default

    That long run and fall from your last tree will actually help you create vacuum. Don't worry about turns and weaves. weaving in and out among threes helps keep tension on your lines. Just don't pinch it and your fine.
    125-150 taps
    Smokey Lakes Full pint Hybrid pan
    Modified half pint arch
    Air over fire
    All 3/16 tubing
    Southern Ohio

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Peru, Maine
    Posts
    721

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    If you can collect at the bottom, run one 3/16" line from top to bottom with 5/16" drops and put all 30 taps on that one line. We have one bush that is 34 taps along a rock wall and we are trying 3/16" on it this year for the first time. Very similar to what you are describing. We have about 20' of drop in 500' so not max. vacuum but we should get some. Never know until you try. These trees are some of our best trees. If it doesn't work good, we'll replace the line for $50 next year with 5/16" tubing and some new tees (big deal!). Not going to bother with cleaning the line if it does work, will just replace the line after 3 seasons.
    270 taps on 2 Shurflo's, 31 taps on 3/16" and 120 taps on gravity. 421 total for 2021 season.
    Mountain Maple S3 controller for 145 of the vacuum taps
    2x6 Darveau Mystique Oil Fired Evaporator w/ Smoky Lake Simplicity Auto Draw
    Wesfab 7” filter press
    IBC totes in the woods, 800 Gallon CDL bulk tank at the shack

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Oneida NY
    Posts
    10,948

    Default

    With that drop you will do very well, having 25-30 taps on any 3/16 line in year 1. How you do in subsequent years depends on how well you clean the system, both soon after the season and then again mid-late fall. After year 1 there will be a "skin" layer left in the tubing which must be cleaned. If not removed that will have chunks scale off next year and will plug the fittings.
    I have done well using 3/16 but I learned several tricks or steps to take. Soon after the last sap flow, wash the tubing using calcium chloride. It needs about 30 minute contact time to do a good job, then drain it out and flush well with potable water. (from the top) Then in mid to late fall, repeat. I also swap out every 3/16 fitting. I use 5/16 taps and drops, then all 3/16 laterals. Thus I use a new tap, tee and any connector in the line is changed for new. Mine are all also on good vacuum (26-27") and the connector before entering the mainline (a 3/16 x 5/16 connector) is changed. I've had good results doing this for 5 years now, but 2020 was down a little. 2016-2019 were all real good. This year I'll repeat the same.
    Dave Klish about 400 taps, down from much more. Will hold about the same for 2021
    2012 Mahindra 36 HP 4x4/ loader/cab/heat/AC:-)
    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

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    MA
    Posts
    28

    Default

    Thanks since the run is so small and the tubing isn’t too expensive I think I could get away with just using it for one season. I was on bascom last night trying to figure out what I would need to buy in addition to the tubing. Got a little overwhelmed and backed off. Will go back today and see if I can figure it out. Might be too late for this season as I will be tapping in the next 3 weeks. We will see. Thanks for your help

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