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Thread: First Time Sugar Shack Build

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2020
    Location
    Warren, Connecticut
    Posts
    12

    Default First Time Sugar Shack Build

    Hi All,

    I am looking for any suggestions and advice on building a first time sugar shack. I currently have a 2x4 evaporator using an extended leader 1/2 pint arch with a 2x4 leader supreme pan and blower. This past year was my first year with the evaporator and after boiling out in the open this past year and many years before on a gas stove, I believe it is time to bring production indoors.

    The first question I have is regarding the size of the sugar shack. We are currently thinking about building a 12x16ft sugar shack with a 8 or 12ft overhang on one or possibly both sides for outdoor wood storage. The idea of a 16x24ft was considered, but would require a permit and permitting process due to square footage. A 12x16 is just under the maximum size allowable without a permit in our town (200sqft). I have been reviewing the plans from UVM for a 16x24ft sugar shack and plan on scaling it down appropriately if a 12x16ft is built. I have seen others recommend these plans, though figured it would be worth asking if there are any other plans that would be worth viewing, especially ones already for a 12x16ft shack.

    The next question is related to the sugar house size in regard to potential for expansion. I do have thoughts of extending the 2x4 into a 2x6 to add a syrup pan, but do not believe that would be this year. What is the largest recommended evaporator for a 12x16ft sugar shack and for a 16x24ft sugar shack? I had about 60 taps in this past year on about 32 trees, and see potential for about 150-200 taps this year. I might be able to expand a bit beyond that in the future, but for now I believe that is a reasonable estimate.

    I have several other questions primarily related to the construction of the sugar shack.

    As far as the foundation is concerned, I had been planning on a gravel base followed by several inches of concrete for the floor, but I have seen some mention of need for pillars or thicker concrete underneath the evaporator. Is this common practice or just a recommendation?

    As far as the coupla ventalator is concerned, I have read that the size of the coupla is based on the size of the evaporator, and according to UVM designs should be half the length of the building and at least 3ft wide, with height varying around 24-36 inches tall based on the evaporator size. Does this seem accurate? Also, we have experience with post and beam construction, but have not had previously had to create an opening in the roof for a coupla. Are there any special methods or techniques to doing this, and should the rafters extend into the coupla or stop at the base of the coupla frame?

    Final question, should the evaporator exhaust exit through the side of the building or through the roof? I have seen both, but through the roof seems more common. If going through the roof, what is the fixture needed to bring the stack through the roof and are any internal supports and sealant necessary?

    If anyone has any additional advice or suggestions that would be greatly appreciated as well.

    Thank you in advance.

    Matt

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Hopkinton, MA
    Posts
    1,619

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    First, I would build the sugar house based on what you need/want and not on avoiding a permit. Permitting is a fraction of the total cost of the job. Five years after building, I have heard people say they wish their sugar house was bigger, but I've never heard anyone say five years in that are glad they saved $150-$200 on permitting. We pour so much of our money into this hobby, why short yourself on your ideal sugar house.

    Your estimate for the cupola sizing is good. The UVM plans are good. What you laid out is more than you'll need for your 2x4, but it gives you room to grow to that 2x6. Again, no one ever says they have too much ventilation and they wish they had more steam in the shack. A cupola half the length of the SH is aesthetically pleasing. Undersized vents don't look as nice.

    The smoke stack from the evaporator should go straight up if possible. I have seen some that bend to the wall, but you'll need to shield that pipe from the wall even on the outside. Besides, you'll get a better draw going straight up. The piece you are looking for on the roof is called a roof jack and storm collar. Roof jacks come in various angles and designs depending on if you go through the slope or the peak. A collar wraps around the pipe above the roof jack. It keeps the weather out and it holds the stack in place.

    There are tons of threads on sugar house design. Like you, I used the UVM plans and what people shared here to make mine. Good luck. You are going to love boiling inside. I am thankful for that every boil.
    Woodville Maples
    www.woodvillemaples.com
    www.facebook.com/woodvillemaples
    Around 300 taps on tubing, 25+ on buckets if I put them out
    Mix of natural and mechanical vac, S3 Controller from Mountain Maple
    2x6 W.F. Mason with Phaneuf pans
    Deer Run 250 RO
    Ford F350
    6+ hives of bees (if they make it through the winters)
    Keeping the day job until I can start living the dream.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    Rutland, Vermont
    Posts
    284

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    When we built our sugar house (16*20) in regards to the slab, we picked the spot, cleaned any overburden, filled with gravel, concrete wire mesh and 2*6 lumber for the forms. It has held up well so far.

    You will need a roof jack to vent the 2*4 pipe. They are made to the pitch of the roof. Either on the center line or the side of the roof. We put ours to the center but if i had to do it again it would be on the side to allow for better workspace flow. The evaporator looks great in the center but there are times when it's tight as you always will have visitors.
    Last edited by VTnewguy; 10-06-2020 at 03:40 AM.
    Leader 2x6 Raised flue with preheater and hood. Patriot pans
    Leader Clear 5 bank filter press
    Memprotec 350H RO
    450ish taps

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Oneida NY
    Posts
    11,119

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    I built my sugarhouse back as I was going from a 2x3 up to a 2x6. I thought it would be loads of room, guess what? In my 16x24 sugarhouse the room was plenty for a 2x6 and even for the 3x8 I got 4 years later. What it wasn't really big enough for is all of the extras like a filter press, a 2x6 fininsher, a water heater, a water jacketed bottler, 2 freezers and mostly an RO with a small RO room which is heated. I also use a rolling rack (like bakeries use) to stage bottles and jugs of syrup on while I'm bottling. OH, I also have counter space and a double SS sink. It is tight for sure. I should have made it 24x36. I have both drawn out an addition and a whole new sugarhouse in 24x36 but life kept getting in the way, neither ever happened.
    An old saying about building barns (and I think it should apply to sugar houses) is figure how much space you need, double it, & you will have half enough.
    Dave Klish about 400 taps, down from much more. Retired from collecting and boiling in 2021. Mostly because of a bad hip.
    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

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    Williston, VT
    Posts
    368

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    I agree with everyone that says bigger is better. And all the things mentioned by Dave still didn't include all the tools, fittings, jugs (about 4 different sizes), filters, filter media, and on and on. I need a tray cabinet just to organize fittings - i don't own one but it would be handy.

    Yup - go big or go home!
    Ken & Sherry
    Williston, VT

    2017 - 13 gallons on 65 taps (12 buckets, rest 3/16), 2x4 flat bottom, modified cargo box sugarhouse
    2018 - 90 gallons on 418 taps (gravity lines), Leader 30"x10' Vortex Arch & Max Raised Flue with Rev Syrup Pan, New Sugarhouse
    2019 - Burned through alot more money: heated kitchen, 2x2,000 and 375 gal ss sap tanks, CDL1200 RO, Bauch Vac Pump, More taps, etc., etc., etc.
    https://www.facebook.com/pumpkinhillmaple/

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Savoy, MA
    Posts
    376

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    I have a 2x4 evaporator in a 12x16 sugar house and we have plenty of room. I could do a 2x6 easily. However, as the others mentioned, bigger can be better. I also have a stack that goes out the back wall and then up about 21' or so. I've never had a problem with draft. Two sheds on each side...one for wood and one for a tractor.

    Not sure how thick of a pad you are going to pour, but a 4.25" pad is adequate for a 9,000 2 post car lift. I think anything thicker is just a waste of cement. You could certainly get away with a pad less thick for an evaporator. Depends on your code.
    16x24 Timber Frame Sugar House
    Mason 2x4 Evaporator
    90 trees on buckets

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    Williston, VT
    Posts
    368

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    Quote Originally Posted by bigschuss View Post
    Not sure how thick of a pad you are going to pour, but a 4.25" pad is adequate for a 9,000 2 post car lift. I think anything thicker is just a waste of cement. You could certainly get away with a pad less thick for an evaporator. Depends on your code.
    If it were my own slab I would pour at least 5 inches and maybe 6. In addition, I would provide a welded wire fabric reinforcing. And, just as importantly, I would make sure you're building upon a competent subgrade with at least 8 inches of gravel.

    When ordering the concrete from your ready-mix supplier, you should request a mix for exterior slabs. As for a finish, I recommend a trowel finish with a light broom to minimize slipping hazards. My trowel burnished finish looks great but is extremely slippery when I walk in with snow packed on my boots.

    As for code - In my opinion (for what it's worth): I assume that the building codes aren't applicable to the concrete thickness in a sugarhouse, particularly since a floor might be optional. In Vermont, we wouldn't be concerned about building codes except for the electrical code to make sure we don't have an electrical hazard or a fire hazard from the electrical work. Where you get into issues is if you intend to do sales on a regular basis out of the sugarhouse and/or have real employees, and at that point you will likely need to comply with a whole bunch of requirements that have nothing to do with sugaring.
    Last edited by TapTapTap; 10-06-2020 at 03:57 PM.
    Ken & Sherry
    Williston, VT

    2017 - 13 gallons on 65 taps (12 buckets, rest 3/16), 2x4 flat bottom, modified cargo box sugarhouse
    2018 - 90 gallons on 418 taps (gravity lines), Leader 30"x10' Vortex Arch & Max Raised Flue with Rev Syrup Pan, New Sugarhouse
    2019 - Burned through alot more money: heated kitchen, 2x2,000 and 375 gal ss sap tanks, CDL1200 RO, Bauch Vac Pump, More taps, etc., etc., etc.
    https://www.facebook.com/pumpkinhillmaple/

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Savoy, MA
    Posts
    376

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by TapTapTap View Post
    If it were my own slab I would pour at least 5 inches and maybe 6. In addition, I would provide a welded wire fabric reinforcing. And, just as importantly, I would make sure you're building upon a competent subgrade with at least 8 inches of gravel.
    A 6" slab reinforced with steel on 8" of 3/4" rock will certainly be more than adequate for a little 12x16 shack and a 2x4 evaporator.

    As you say...go big or go home.
    16x24 Timber Frame Sugar House
    Mason 2x4 Evaporator
    90 trees on buckets

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    Williston, VT
    Posts
    368

    Default

    Yes, need to be macho when we're building!

    Then we curse under our breath when we need to cut through the 6" reinforced slab to put in underslab plumbing or drains. I know this firsthand from a recent kitchen-side plumbing project.

    Therefore- think about putting in that stuff now before you pour. Ive always had a large grated sump pit at the front end of my rig. A trench drain on each side would be the ultimate. - maybe someday when i run out of other projects!
    Ken & Sherry
    Williston, VT

    2017 - 13 gallons on 65 taps (12 buckets, rest 3/16), 2x4 flat bottom, modified cargo box sugarhouse
    2018 - 90 gallons on 418 taps (gravity lines), Leader 30"x10' Vortex Arch & Max Raised Flue with Rev Syrup Pan, New Sugarhouse
    2019 - Burned through alot more money: heated kitchen, 2x2,000 and 375 gal ss sap tanks, CDL1200 RO, Bauch Vac Pump, More taps, etc., etc., etc.
    https://www.facebook.com/pumpkinhillmaple/

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Savoy, MA
    Posts
    376

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by TapTapTap View Post
    Yes, need to be macho when we're building!
    I hear you. My sugar shack is a timber frame with 8x8" pine post and beams. Ridiculously overbuilt! But cutting every mortise and tenon by hand and raising that thing with all my good buds and a cooler of cold ones and the BBQ going is as about as macho as it gets!

    To your point about cutting cement. I just finished a 3 year barn project...did everything myself but pour the cement. The pad is 6" and reinforced with mesh on a well packed bed of 10" of gravel. I have perforated pipe under the floor than drains to daylight. I installed a Rotary lift this summer and had a few cracks right where the posts were going to go. I had to cut out 2 4x4 squares, and repour with 5,000 PSI pinned to the existing slab. What a pain in the arse. But in the end...well worth it. And definitely a 10 on the macho scale.





    16x24 Timber Frame Sugar House
    Mason 2x4 Evaporator
    90 trees on buckets

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