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Thread: Adding steel to a cinder block evaporator

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2021
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    Parry Sound Area, Ontario
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    299

    Default Adding steel to a cinder block evaporator

    This is my first post. I am new to the maple syrup hobby/business and I am looking forward to this Spring when I can tap my first trees. I will start off tapping 16 trees on my property.

    I plan to build a cinder block evaporator.. I will be poring a 6” concrete pad for it to sit on and will add sand on top of the pad. The pad is to help prevent any root fires as it will be built partially in a forest.

    My side walls will be three and a half cinder blocks long and three cinder blocks high, plus a four inch solid block on top to ensure I have enough clearance from the bottom of my pans and the stove pipe..

    I plan to have a 1/4” steel end wall that the stove pipe will come out of (the pipe hole centered about 15” off the ground). I will have cinder blocks behind it to help support it.

    I also plan on having a removable 1/4 steel front wall, that has adjustable air intake holes near the bottom of the plate.

    The goal is to also have steel to help protect the side walls. I forget the official name, but there are steel strapping that can attach to the side walls, that you can then attach your steel to, that will create an airspace between the steel and the blocks, hopefully helping to protect the cinder blocks. The steel would be 3” off the bottom and from the top to help create convection currents between the steel and the wall.

    I will have 1 1/4” heavy duty steel grate sitting on some 3” bricks on the ground, to help with the air flow from the bottom.

    Up top I will have four stainless steel 20x13x6” pans, which should encompass the entire length of the evaporator.

    Am I looking for trouble using all of this steel, or is it a good thing? Any advice on any of this would be appreciated. I am still in the planning stages, but will be pouring my concrete pad likely next week. I have my pans, pails, lids, spigots already. The trees are already marked, as I have many other species of trees in my forest.

    Thank you.
    Last edited by Swingpure; 07-20-2021 at 08:49 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Location
    Nashville, MI
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    Welcome to the trader. You say you are tapping 16 trees. how many taps? Make sure your chimney is as high as possible and try to create a slope behind your fire box area. Kind of like a regular evaporator. this will concentrate the fire on the bottom of the pans more. I wish I could draw on this but if you look on the site you will see other evaporators and builds that will give you ideas. Make sure to keep it fun and have plenty of wood. You will burn a lot it not like heating your house. Do not use a damper in the pipe run it straight. Make sure you have plenty of storage for all that sap and really enjoy the end product, it's the best when you make it yourself.
    2004 - 2012 2x3 flat pan 25 to 60 taps
    2012 2x3 new divided pan w/draw off 55 taps
    2018 - didn't boil surgery - bought new evaporator
    2019 new SML 2x4 raised flue high output evap. 65 taps
    made 17 gal syrup
    2020 - only put out 53 taps - made 16.25 gal syrup
    2021 - going for 50 bags and 50 on tubing

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2021
    Location
    Parry Sound Area, Ontario
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    Thanks for the reply.

    16 taps for the 16 trees. One tree is greater than 20” in diameter, so technically I could add a second tsp.

    I guess I have a lot to learn about the slope. I was going to have wood burning for all 51 inches of pans and then was going to be my stove pipe sticking into the firebox, surrounded with some additional cinder blocks. Should I instead make a slope with sand, a foot or so away from the back wall leading up to the bottom of the stove pipe entrance?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2021
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    Parry Sound Area, Ontario
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    One other question. I have watched many You Tube videos on cinder block evaporators. Some simply stack the blocks and others mortar or cement the blocks together. Is there a real advantage in mortaring/cementing them?

    I saw some very expensive high temperatures resistant mortar. Can you use just concrete?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Fond du Lac, Wisconsin
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    A 24 inch deep firebox should be enough for that size. You can then slope up to within 1 or 2 inches of the pans or just do a straight wall up. The reason for reducing the area under the pans behind the firebox is to keep the heat against the pans otherwise it will short-circuit under the pans. As far as mortar, I would hold off for the first year as it will be easier to make adjustments and most likely you will have to replace cracked blocks.
    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

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2021
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    Parry Sound Area, Ontario
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    I guess where I get confused with the talk of a slope and directing the heat, my plan was to have burning wood virtually totally under all of the pans, with the flames licking the bottom of each pan. My exhaust port for the stove pipe, will come out the end wall and out and up. It sticks into the firebox about five inches. All the rest of the fire box should have burning wood.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2020
    Location
    Corbeil, ON
    Posts
    61

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    What the others have mentioned about the slope is that the rear section under the pans would slope up. The firebox itself is the width of the evaporator x 16" to 20" deep. Then you have a back to end the fire box, this back stops below the pans to force the heat to the bottom of the pans as it makes it's way to the chimney. Hopefully the attached photo works (first time posting a photo). I have a home made evaporator with buffet pans on a barrel. I added brick inside the barrel to create the 'back' of the fire box.

    Wood_Fired_Arch_and_Evaporator_06e1dc36-f1ff-4a1c-89a6-3daa3155b2f8.jpg
    2021 - Year one. 15 taps using 5/16" and drop tube into buckets. Homemade barrel evaporator with 2 steam trays. 4.7L syrup.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Location
    Nashville, MI
    Posts
    491

    Default

    good photo
    2004 - 2012 2x3 flat pan 25 to 60 taps
    2012 2x3 new divided pan w/draw off 55 taps
    2018 - didn't boil surgery - bought new evaporator
    2019 new SML 2x4 raised flue high output evap. 65 taps
    made 17 gal syrup
    2020 - only put out 53 taps - made 16.25 gal syrup
    2021 - going for 50 bags and 50 on tubing

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Location
    Nashville, MI
    Posts
    491

    Default

    I would go with some sand maybe. You will get some that crack because of the heat. Have you given any thoughts about any kind of shelter while you boil? You don't want to be out in the rain/snow and try to boil down sap. Just some more food for thought.
    2004 - 2012 2x3 flat pan 25 to 60 taps
    2012 2x3 new divided pan w/draw off 55 taps
    2018 - didn't boil surgery - bought new evaporator
    2019 new SML 2x4 raised flue high output evap. 65 taps
    made 17 gal syrup
    2020 - only put out 53 taps - made 16.25 gal syrup
    2021 - going for 50 bags and 50 on tubing

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2021
    Location
    Parry Sound Area, Ontario
    Posts
    299

    Default

    I am going to make a temporary, removable shelter, made out of wood frames and a wood half wall and a tarp for a roof. The cold is not an issue because if I was not making syrup, I would be on the ice, ice fishing. It would be good to be able to keep precipitation off of the work area.

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