After learning that we had inherited equipment to make maple syrup, we frantically studied how to do it. We met with a local welder who converted an old 55-gallon drum into a flat pan evaporator. We used that barrel stove to make 8 gallons of syrup from 23 trees. The boiling was inefficient, hours long and labor difficult, but somehow we fell in love.
The next year we expanded to 200 taps and returned to the local welder with our upgraded design of using a 260 gallon fuel oil tank as the stove for our evaporator. This satisfied us for two years before we decided we needed to expand again.
In the fall of 1995 we built the 16'x24' sugarshack that would hold our first real Leader Evaporator, a nice 30" x 8' model. For three years we made syrup with this evaporator before expanding to our current 4'x12' evaporator that easily handles our 600 to 800 taps.
Recent improvements include upgrading our pipeline system to have a wet/dry dual conductor mainline that will deliver high vacuum to a network of 3/4" and 5/16" pipeline. This will be our first year using artificial vacuum pressure to increase sap flow. We eagerly anticipate increased yields and more syrup.