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Old February 11th, 2014, 01:10 PM
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Default Block Arch

I'm new to this site as of yesterday and I am looking for designs, pictures, etc. of homemade block arch's. I tap around 20 trees and have been using two turkey fryer's for boiling and it's time to move up, so I would like to get some idea's on building an arch out of concrete blocks and using restaurant steam table pans for boiling. Would appreciate any and all ideas.

Thanks
Tom
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Old February 11th, 2014, 02:29 PM
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Block (concrete) tends to crack when directly exposed to flames, so plan on some kind of liner - generally firebrick (hard, hard with soft behind, or hard with archboard/wool behind) in the firebox area and wool or archboard beyond the firebox area where no direct wood contact is expected. You also want some sort of door so you don't pull too much cool air in the top front and cool down your pans.

Of course, if you do the insulation, there's less need for block at all, as a metal frame probably costs less than block unless you have a pile of blocks sitting around, and you may need a frame on top of the block to support the pans well anyway.

Other than that, go long. Hotel pans have the great advantage of being easily available and not too expensive, but they are relatively poor at heat transfer, so the more of them you can stick between the fire and the stack, the better your rig will perform. I can't find the picture right now, but I think someone on the trader had done 5 or 6 or 7 pans - which would have to be 2-3 times better than 2 pans, even if the firebox is the same size - I think most 2-3 pan rigs throw away a lot of fuel up the chimney that could be boiling sap instead, if there were more pans to use it....

Also beware of the blocks shifting - put them on a solid, well-drained base or the whole business may move around and mess with the level of your pans once you start firing.

Here is a moderately bad illustration and article - not utterly useless, but the concept of having a firebox followed by a ramp secton (floor comes up towards the pans) where the hot gases from the fire boil the pans rather than a firebox all the way under the pans is clearly missing. You don't really want more than about 2 feet of firebox.

Another concept to look at (rocket stove...)

Last edited by Ecnerwal; February 11th, 2014 at 02:52 PM.
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Old March 22nd, 2014, 10:13 PM
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Have you settled on a design?
Just ran across your thread today. I build my own using cinderblocks for the base, 3x8x12 blocks for the burn and pan area area.
The steam table pans work fine. I put handles on the end of my to make it easier to pick them up. I finish inside on the stove.
The first year I used cinder blocks for the chimney and they cracked. Next year I ran 3 or 4 inch pipe up the center of the blocks in a twin stack. I have a damper, a piece of metal I slide across the entry to my chimney so I can keep some of the heat in the box.
I used sand in the fire area and along the bottom for some insulation.
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Old March 23rd, 2014, 10:07 AM
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Originally Posted by jimmol View Post
Have you settled on a design?
Just ran across your thread today. I build my own using cinderblocks for the base, 3x8x12 blocks for the burn and pan area area.
The steam table pans work fine. I put handles on the end of my to make it easier to pick them up. I finish inside on the stove.
The first year I used cinder blocks for the chimney and they cracked. Next year I ran 3 or 4 inch pipe up the center of the blocks in a twin stack. I have a damper, a piece of metal I slide across the entry to my chimney so I can keep some of the heat in the box.
I used sand in the fire area and along the bottom for some insulation.

jimmol, do you have any pics of what you have, I pretty much have an idea of what I want, will do it over the summer. Now I'm doing it on two turkey fryers, but it is to time consuming, plus propane has gone up recently here.
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Old March 24th, 2014, 09:14 PM
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Default Arch example

Here it is Tom,

The property had over a dozen 16x4x8 solid blocks around here and there so I figured I would try to use as many as them as I could. I purchased 12 cinderblocks and 2 half blocks from Menard's as well as 2 2ftx 2ft x 1.5 inch slabs. I put sand down and leveled the slabs then added a couple of boards since they were not quite wide enough.
I used sand on the bottom in the front to ramp up to the back half, which is 8 inches. The back half is solid block spanning the cinder blocks covered by sand. The solid concrete blocks have held up well, save the front one which has a crack. I split the solid blocks my self using a wide chisel working back and forth across the block. Not perfect but does the job.
The area of the dual stacks is about equal to the clearance between the upper level of the arch and the bottom of the steam table pan. I use 2 pans.
The one thing I did not get a good picture of is the area in front of the pans. The fire box goes forward 8 inches from the pans. This allows an area were I can put wood more in front of the pan, though I tend to put wood under a well soaped hotel pan as it will boil faster and harder. I use the part of the block and the brick to regulate air intake. The metal you see in front of the chimney is a damper of sorts.
While there is a little smoke that seeps out when you are beginning to fire it up, once the burn is going, the stacks suck the smoke back down.
Attached Thumbnails
Block Arch-arch-back-img_1224.jpg   Block Arch-side-img_1214.jpg   Block Arch-top-downimg_1223.jpg   Block Arch-other-sideimg_1218.jpg   Block Arch-side-back-img_1219.jpg  

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Old March 25th, 2014, 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by jimmol View Post
Here it is Tom,

The property had over a dozen 16x4x8 solid blocks around here and there so I figured I would try to use as many as them as I could. I purchased 12 cinderblocks and 2 half blocks from Menard's as well as 2 2ftx 2ft x 1.5 inch slabs. I put sand down and leveled the slabs then added a couple of boards since they were not quite wide enough.
I used sand on the bottom in the front to ramp up to the back half, which is 8 inches. The back half is solid block spanning the cinder blocks covered by sand. The solid concrete blocks have held up well, save the front one which has a crack. I split the solid blocks my self using a wide chisel working back and forth across the block. Not perfect but does the job.
The area of the dual stacks is about equal to the clearance between the upper level of the arch and the bottom of the steam table pan. I use 2 pans.
The one thing I did not get a good picture of is the area in front of the pans. The fire box goes forward 8 inches from the pans. This allows an area were I can put wood more in front of the pan, though I tend to put wood under a well soaped hotel pan as it will boil faster and harder. I use the part of the block and the brick to regulate air intake. The metal you see in front of the chimney is a damper of sorts.
While there is a little smoke that seeps out when you are beginning to fire it up, once the burn is going, the stacks suck the smoke back down.
Thanks for the pics, I never heard about putting soap on the bottom of the pans, what do you do, just get a bar of soap and rub it on the pan, I would think it would be burned off in a matter of minute's, but it's worth a try.
thanks
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Old March 25th, 2014, 04:12 PM
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Originally Posted by nepatom View Post
Thanks for the pics, I never heard about putting soap on the bottom of the pans, what do you do, just get a bar of soap and rub it on the pan, I would think it would be burned off in a matter of minute's, but it's worth a try.
thanks
I get a bar of unscented soap, like Dove, and rub it on. I may touch them up if needed. I learn this trick camping years ago. Last year I put it on and at the end of the season I set the pans in the garage. The soap was sooty but it came off easily. There were some areas of more scrubbing. I am careful not to get the soap inside the pan.
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