Mainlines may be suspended in 9-gauge steel wire or stretched and hung by wire cable grips at each end. Mainlines suspended by wire offers much more support than cable grips and offers a more permanent installation. Mainlines are installed in locations that were flagged earlier. The support wire should be installed as straight and tight as possible, at a minimum of three percent slope. The wire may be attached to the support trees or posts using a lighter grade wire at intervals of no more than 50 feet. The lighter wire will break in the event of wind damage and is easier to repair than the 9-gauge support wire. Side pull the support wire to support tree with the lighter wire. Where wire is attached to a living tree for support, a section of hose, tubing or wood block should be used to protect the tree and allow it room to grow.
The mainline support wire may be tightened using a come-along or hand winch. Electric fence tighteners can be sued for this purpose and left in place.
After the wire is installed and attached to the support trees or posts unroll the mainline underneath the tightened support wire. Mainline should be tied to the support wire with wire twist ties, plastic ties, or short lengths of stainless steel wire approximately one foot apart.
Mainline is best installed with the temperature between 30 and 50 degrees F. If installed in cold weather, the mainline will sag during warmer sap season temperatures. if installed in warm weather, the mainline will contract in cold temperatures and may separate at the fittings.
After the mainline is installed, the lateral lines may be hung.
You may wish to carry a bundle of pre-made droplines to ease installation of the lateral lines. A dropline consists of a long piece of tubing, at least 24 inches to reach the tappable circumference of the tree, a spout, and a 5/16 inch tee.
Start at the mainline with a roll of 5/16 inch tubing and weave it around tappable trees. It is important to roll out the tubing in a manner to avoid twisting and kinking. Avoid sharp bends around trees with rough bark. This might distort the tubing and reduce sap flow. The number of taps per lateral lines suggested by experienced tubing distributors and most maple producers is 10 to 15 taps. This number depends on the type of vacuum system used as discussed previously. When using natural vacuum, plan ahead for the possibility of expanding into an artificial vacuum system in the future. Therefore, keep the number of taps per line at a minimum.
Make the lateral lines as straight and tight as possible. Avoid branching lines off each other with the use of additional tee and y fittings. Branching lines are more difficult to sanitize during and after the sap season, and may lead to less efficient flow of sap. Use a hand level to establish minimum lateral line slope requirements. A special tee fitting may be used to create a harness around the last tree on a lateral line. This eliminates the need for a nail in the tree as support. Lay out other lateral lines in the same manner. Try to bring several lateral lines to common points in the mainline to reduce the number of fittings and breaks in the mainline. Cap unused inlets on mainline fittings.
Lateral lines may stay up for one or two days until the droplines are added.
To install the droplines in the laterals a tubing installation tool may be used, which cuts and spreads the lateral line and inserts the tee from the dropline. As an alternative, a pair of vice grips, tubing spreaders, and shears may be used. A thermos of hot water may replace the use of tubing spreaders. Do not use your mouth for warming the tubing. This introduces bacteria into the system. Note that semi-rigid walled tubing should not be spread to insert the dropline tee or other fittings. The number of droplines at each tree is determined by the tree diameter. Nails, preferably aluminum, in the tee of the dropline may be used as support, but this should be kept to a minimum by letting the trees support the tubing.
The following is a list of tools and fittings used to install the mainline
Installation tools and fittings include:
If your tubing installation is not permanent and will be taken down at the end of each sap season, a coding system needs to be devised to identify trees with their corresponding tubing lines. This may be done a number of ways and should include a mark on the tree as well as a tag on the tubing line.