Saying Goodbye to the Old Evaporator

by Tig Tillinghast

It was my first evaporator, bought after I failed to find a used 2 x 6. That’s an arch with pans totaling two feet wide by six feet long. The salesperson down in Alstead told me he wasn’t surprised I couldn’t find a pre-owned one. He said there were a lot more beginner sugarers out there than oldtimers, and they all tended to start with the 2 x 6, if they could afford to. Too much demand for the used ones sent newcomers to him to pay exorbitant prices for new stainless steel hardware. “look on the bright side,” he said. “When you wind up either getting sick of it or upgrading to something bigger, you probably will get the same money selling it used.” Not believing him for a second, I shelled out the cash and started up a highly unprofitable sugar business.

[The 2 x 6 used to get cherry red when we fed it dry cherry]

But yesterday, the salesperson proved truthful, when after upgrading to a larger scale evaporator, I sold the old unit to a nice fellow down in southern New Hampshire. He paid the same amount I’d paid a few years back. Accounting for a little inflation, the time value of money, and all that good stuff, and I figure I got 80 or 90 percent of my money back. Even better still, the market for large evaporators isn’t as brisk, so I was able to put that money toward a full half of the price of the used monster arch I have sitting in my sugar shack.

The transaction reminded me of one of my favorite Ned Perrin’s essays, from when he and a student trekked out to Rutland to see the Grimm showroom and decide on which evaporator to buy. Ned gave himself a headache thinking of the ludicrous price of the new hardware as he paced around the outside of the store before finally succumbing to the purchase. If he’d known that he’d be able to sell that unit for five times its price a few decades later, even after some hard use, he might have saved the aspirin. Ned, who used to live down the road, passed away some years back, but his evaporator still works on, diligently appreciating.