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Old March 26th, 2014, 12:40 PM
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Default Homemade Evaporator

Well, i found there's a bit of a blackhole out there for viable examples, descriptions and plans for building one's own evaporator. It was really frustrating as we set about building our own late in 2013 with no experience or idea of where to begin.

Figured i'd post some pics of our finished project here to add a little bit of content for someone else who may be facing the same frustrations. Unfortunately, i live/work 2 hrs away from our sugar bush and where the boiler was constructed, so i don't have a ton of pics of it being manufactured, sorry, but i'm trying to get some from my bro.





Essentially, we found 2 old wood furnaces in good condition and of similar size. We chopped off the tops and the heat exchangers. We used the best one for the firebox and the worst one to extend said firebox an extra 1'. Furnaces were free.

We had to buy one 4x8 sheet of 1/4" metal for general reinforcement and manufacturing the back 1/3rd of the build.

We lined the interior with 9"x4.5"x1.5" refractory (fire) bricks (54) and two 16"x16"x2" cement pads and one 24"x24"x2 cement pad. We use the cement pads to line the bottom and rear slope as they are cheap and stand up to getting hit with logs better than the fire bricks. They also insulate fairly well. They have to be replaced after 2 seasons though.

There is a significant 3" baffle between the firebox and the ramp up to the rear chamber. It helps keep quite a bit of the flame under the primary pan, but honestly, when you get a good fire roaring and maintain it, there is more than enough heat to have the secondary pan boiling hard too.

We had designed the boiler for a taller primary pan we were supposed to get for free, but it was too damaged and repairs would cost nearly as much as we paid to have a new one made. So that's why you see the warming/secondary pan sitting oddly high.

We did a test boil and cured our new pan last weekend. It was -20C (-4F) and the stove was stone cold. It took 1 hr 18 minutes and we had 5 gallons of water boiling in the secondary pan and 10 gallons boiling in the primary pan. Not bad.

If you know how to cut and weld steel... you can build this thing for pretty much $400. Unfortunately my high school shop class welding skills were a little sub-par so we needed to pay my buddy to do it. For metal, oxygen, welding rod....i think it's costing us about $550 CDN for everything.
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2012
- 48 taps & buckets
- 18"x30" pan
- A hand-me-down poorly built oiltank boiler

2013
- 50 taps & buckets
- 25 5/16 taps & gravity lines
- 18" x 30" pan
- A rapidly deteriorating, poorly built, hand-me-down oiltank boiler

2014
- 100 taps & buckets
- 50 5/16 taps & gravity lines
- Two handmade 2' x 3' SS pans
- Handmade 2' x 6' evaporator
- A new 20' x 22' sugar shack (roofed & floored, but otherwise unfinished)
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Old March 26th, 2014, 07:48 PM
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Oddmott I like the back end transition its interesting I bet a blower would make that thing swirl. Nice job
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Old March 27th, 2014, 01:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Haynes Forest Products View Post
Oddmott I like the back end transition its interesting I bet a blower would make that thing swirl. Nice job
Yeah, we don't have any electricity to our shack at this point. So, no blowers. We do have a foot pumped bellows on hand, if we need it.

We did our test fire and it was drawing quite well and boiling pretty hard, even with the flue damp'd completely down. The draft damper is quite huge and draws in quite a bit of air.

For next year we'll probably build up the fire box a bit more. We could use another 4"-6" to get a better wood load in there. At that time we may look at getting blower installed too. The guy who taught me sugaring simply set an old bathroom fan at the draft door and that seemed to get his fire roaring the entire length of his 5' arch.
__________________
2012
- 48 taps & buckets
- 18"x30" pan
- A hand-me-down poorly built oiltank boiler

2013
- 50 taps & buckets
- 25 5/16 taps & gravity lines
- 18" x 30" pan
- A rapidly deteriorating, poorly built, hand-me-down oiltank boiler

2014
- 100 taps & buckets
- 50 5/16 taps & gravity lines
- Two handmade 2' x 3' SS pans
- Handmade 2' x 6' evaporator
- A new 20' x 22' sugar shack (roofed & floored, but otherwise unfinished)
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Old March 27th, 2014, 07:34 PM
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Nice job Matt. I understand the frustration when trying to come up with an idea to build Your own rig with what You have and not bust the budget. Especially if it is just a Hobby. I have been very fortunate as I have some talented Children and Grandchildren that donate their skill and time for some maple syrup. When My oldest Son decided we needed something more efficient for me to boil on - it became interesting. I barely knew what a Continuous Flow Evaporator was - let alone how they worked. But - after checking the Sites and asking around and brain storming - we came up with a design. We made a few mistakes in the design - but I like boiling on my 2x5 fuel oil tank arch and the home made continuous flow flat pan. Special - because My Son fabricated it and did the bends and His Son did all the welding and there was a lot of it with the dividers - and never a leak. We also had some input from other Sugar Makers that helped. My first boil was an experience as I was an old batch boiler - But - learn I did. I just recently read a post by one of the Members on the Sites - how a drop flue sap pan works. I never could figure that one out. It is hard when You can't hook up with other Sugar Makers and see their rigs and they explain how they work. Yep - I understand what You mean. I am thankful for these Sites - In time You learn to sift through the Folks that really know their stuff and are willing to help with their wisdom, patience and humor and the blah - blah - blah. Hey! You do good work. Hope You make lots of Syrup on Your new rig and have a lot of fun in the process.
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Old April 7th, 2014, 09:57 AM
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Thought I'd throw up a quick report on the performance of this evaporator.

We've done just 3 boils on it - due to a terrible sap run so far - and it gets between 15-20 gallons per hour evaporation during the main boil.

Once the sap reaches 160-180 degrees it seems to drop down to about 7-10 gallons per hour, but once the sap goes over 180 degrees and starts creeping up on 200 degrees, the GPH skyrockets to 25-30gph and we have to be really careful we don't accidentally take the batch past syrup.

I'm most pleased by the adjustability of this simple arch. Open the draft and the pipe flue fully and you will get both the boiling pan and the warming pan boiling at about 120 degrees C. Close the pipe flue down a bit and you will have the warming pan at 110 degrees C and the boiling pan boiling at 100%.

Small tweaks like a flue pan, blower, increased insulation are all possible and will improve its performance even more. But, for now, this easily handles the sap from the 200 taps we'll likely max out at.
__________________
2012
- 48 taps & buckets
- 18"x30" pan
- A hand-me-down poorly built oiltank boiler

2013
- 50 taps & buckets
- 25 5/16 taps & gravity lines
- 18" x 30" pan
- A rapidly deteriorating, poorly built, hand-me-down oiltank boiler

2014
- 100 taps & buckets
- 50 5/16 taps & gravity lines
- Two handmade 2' x 3' SS pans
- Handmade 2' x 6' evaporator
- A new 20' x 22' sugar shack (roofed & floored, but otherwise unfinished)
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