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Thread: The right pan for my cinder block evaporator

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2021
    Location
    Parry Sound Area, Ontario
    Posts
    719

    Default The right pan for my cinder block evaporator

    My biggest investment for 2023 will be a new pan for my cinder block evaporator.

    Changes for 2023, I will be dropping down from 109 taps to 80 and if the new recommendations come out against double taps, it will be more like 68 taps.

    I will have a pan that will be sitting on top, instead of the five steam pans sitting inside. I will redesign my evaporator slightly because of that, which should help to keep the heat and smoke better inside the evaporator.

    My evaporator this year had a lot of heat on the front two thirds of the evaporator and a fair drop off in heat on the last third, which makes me afraid of any two pan system. Flue pans are outside my price range.

    That sort of leaves a 2x5 flat pan or 2x5 divided pan.

    I really like the idea of a float box. I know I can use a float box with a divided pan, not sure if it typical to use one with a flat pan. I like the idea of maintaining the sap level in the pan with the float box.

    I like the idea of a divided pan, but I worry if I have enough sap volume for it, especially if my RO is working and it halves the volumes.

    If I have a float box, I will design my sugar shelter to have a head tank and I would pump concentrate from my garage to the head tank.

    Thanks for any suggestions.
    2022 - 5 pan block arch - 109 taps, 73 on 3/16 lines, 36 on drops into 5 gallon pails.
    930 gallons boiled, 109 L of delicious syrup made
    DYI RO and DYI Vacuum Filter

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Wakefield,New Hampshire
    Posts
    470

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    In 2015 i purchased a 2x6(2x4 sap pan,2x2 syrup pan) flat pan with dividers and preheater for about $800 and used it on my cinder block arch for 3 years. I have since built a steel mostly airtight arch but am still running the same pan set up. I have increased my tap count every year since and this set up still gets the job done even with 300 taps. I would suggest getting yourself a good set of pans now so you can upgrade to an arch instead of cinder blocks down the road without having to buy new pans. Just make sure your pans are a somewhat standard size and not some oddball dimensions.
    Having dividers in your pan is ideal, even better to have a 2 pan system(Front/back) a 2x6 may be easier to get your hands on with that set up than a 2x5.
    6th season solo sugar maker in a young sugar bush of mostly red maples
    320 taps
    2x6 self built arch, Flat pans w/ dividers
    New 12x16 sugar house
    CDL hobby 250 RO

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Rock Creek, NC
    Posts
    5,807

    Default

    I agree with NhShaun, 2x5 is kind of an odd size. If you could make your arch 2x4 or 2x6 you could look for and probably find a used divided cross flow pan from a larger evaporator. The float box may be a little harder to find but you may be able to have a local welding shop fabricate one for you. If you could go to NH, Bascom's has a lot of used equipment and may have the pan that you're looking for.

    As for the heat distribution you could make a ramp just behind the firebox out of fire brick and fill behind it with sand. Build it up so that there's about a 1/2 inch gap between the bottom of the pan and top of the ramp. Taper it back just before the smoke stack so that it can breathe. This will keep the heat under the pan better for a better boil and evaporation rate.
    Russ

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

    1930 Ford Model AA Doodlebug tractor
    A couple of Honda 4 wheelers
    Four chainsaws and no chickens!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2021
    Location
    Parry Sound Area, Ontario
    Posts
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    Default

    Thank you for the tips.

    As I was waking up this morning, I was thinking a 2x4 divided pan would be best for me, for all of the reasons you had mentioned and I think it would better match my volumes of sap I would be getting. I could shorten up my evaporator a little and design it so the ramp leading to the stack would be fairly close to the bottom of the pan. The person I would get the 2x4 pan from, makes the float boxes. As mentioned in the tips, if I ever decide to upscale, I can still use the pan on a real evaporator.

    Taking advice for an earlier post on another thread, I could add a base stack, so the exhaust would exit the width of the pan, but a twist to it, I would still have it exiting out the rear of the evaporator and would embed the base stack in concrete like it did for my previous pipe. Or I could find a way to have it upright at the end. I would increase my stove pipe size to 8” from 6”.

    I will speaking to the pan maker tomorrow.

    I could then have a preheat coil sort of around the stove pipe, but would have it more U shaped so I could control the distance away from the stove pipe.

    Although I am downsizing the number of taps I will have next season, I may find with the RO working and the new pan, that I can add more taps without a much greater demand on my time.
    2022 - 5 pan block arch - 109 taps, 73 on 3/16 lines, 36 on drops into 5 gallon pails.
    930 gallons boiled, 109 L of delicious syrup made
    DYI RO and DYI Vacuum Filter

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2020
    Location
    Corbeil, ON
    Posts
    98

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    Do you have a local pan maker near you that builds custom size pans?
    2021 - Year one. 15 taps using 5/16" and drop tube into buckets. Homemade barrel evaporator with 2 steam trays. 4.7L syrup.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2021
    Location
    Parry Sound Area, Ontario
    Posts
    719

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by aamyotte View Post
    Do you have a local pan maker near you that builds custom size pans?
    He is out of Owen Sound. A little hike, but not too bad.

    I pm’d his contact information to you.
    Last edited by Swingpure; 04-18-2022 at 08:05 PM.
    2022 - 5 pan block arch - 109 taps, 73 on 3/16 lines, 36 on drops into 5 gallon pails.
    930 gallons boiled, 109 L of delicious syrup made
    DYI RO and DYI Vacuum Filter

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    chester, ma
    Posts
    705

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Swingpure View Post

    I like the idea of a divided pan, but I worry if I have enough sap volume for it, especially if my RO is working and it halves the volumes.
    Could you explain what you mean by this? For a given size pan, I would think that if you have less sap, a divided pan would be better than a big flat pan, as you could just boil for a bit and do a draw or three, rather than having to take everything to syrup in a big batch in a pan that might be big for you.

    I definitely agree that 2x4 is better than 2x5.

    GO
    2016: Homemade arch from old wood stove; 2 steam tray pans; 6 taps; 1.1 gal
    2017: Same setup. 15 taps; 4.5 gal
    2018: Same setup. Limited time. 12 taps and short season; 2.2 gal
    2019: Very limited time. 7 taps and a short season; 1.8 gal
    2020: New Mason 2x3 XL halfway through season; 9 taps 2 gal
    2021: Same 2x3, 18 taps, 4.5 gal
    2022: 23 taps, 5.9 gal
    2023: 25 taps?
    All taps on buckets

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2021
    Location
    Parry Sound Area, Ontario
    Posts
    719

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by berkshires View Post
    Could you explain what you mean by this? For a given size pan, I would think that if you have less sap, a divided pan would be better than a big flat pan, as you could just boil for a bit and do a draw or three, rather than having to take everything to syrup in a big batch in a pan that might be big for you.

    I definitely agree that 2x4 is better than 2x5.

    GO
    I guess I am a little ignorant on how the pan works. I guess once you fill the pan to the level you want (2”), whatever you have to add, is what you boil. I guess the trick with a wood burning evaporator, is to stop adding wood in advance of running out of sap.

    When you rotate the pan to change the direction of the flow, usually is the pan ported such that the float box stays in the same place? (ie rear left)
    2022 - 5 pan block arch - 109 taps, 73 on 3/16 lines, 36 on drops into 5 gallon pails.
    930 gallons boiled, 109 L of delicious syrup made
    DYI RO and DYI Vacuum Filter

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2021
    Location
    Parry Sound Area, Ontario
    Posts
    719

    Default

    Spoke with the guy who I will be buying the divided pan and float box from and also discussed my evaporator. We talked about him making a stainless steel base stack coming from the top of the evaporator. He said you do not want any 90° in the pipe. He would build it so it could be attached to my cinder block evaporator.

    He also said I should have an 8” stack pipe. He asked if my stack ever got red hot. I said no. He sent me a picture of how hot his stainless steel stack gets. He said, half jokingly, if it does not get red hot, you are just having a camp fire.

    https://share.icloud.com/photos/0b8z...3LMZJkgxrzYppg

    Just have to find a way to afford the base stack and attaching plate. It is not that expensive, but that is on top of the cost of the pan and float box. I will find a way.
    2022 - 5 pan block arch - 109 taps, 73 on 3/16 lines, 36 on drops into 5 gallon pails.
    930 gallons boiled, 109 L of delicious syrup made
    DYI RO and DYI Vacuum Filter

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    chester, ma
    Posts
    705

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Swingpure View Post
    I guess I am a little ignorant on how the pan works.
    No dividers: You have to fill the whole pan, then you have to boil and keep adding sap until everything has turned to syrup or near syrup, then you have to get it all off and finish it.

    Dividers: After sweetening the pan at the start of the season, each time you boil you just add as much sap as you have to one end, and the equivalent amount of syrup comes out the syrup end (more or less). You then leave the remaining sweet on the pan and repeat each time you have a run.

    In short, no dividers equals one big batch each time you boil. Dividers equals sap in one end and equivalent syrup out the other.

    Gabe
    2016: Homemade arch from old wood stove; 2 steam tray pans; 6 taps; 1.1 gal
    2017: Same setup. 15 taps; 4.5 gal
    2018: Same setup. Limited time. 12 taps and short season; 2.2 gal
    2019: Very limited time. 7 taps and a short season; 1.8 gal
    2020: New Mason 2x3 XL halfway through season; 9 taps 2 gal
    2021: Same 2x3, 18 taps, 4.5 gal
    2022: 23 taps, 5.9 gal
    2023: 25 taps?
    All taps on buckets

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