The RO machine is a great time saver but quite an expense so you need to make a lot of syrup. I bought mine used and it was almost $6000. Remember the one I have is the smallest available. Bigger machines run into 10's of thousands of dollars
Syrup should be done at 7 deg over boiling but you need to use a calibrateable thermometer. The sugaring ones have a sliding scale that must be calibrated every morning in boiling water. I only use temperature as a rough scale then finish with a hydrometer made for testing hot syrup this is a lot more accurate. The old timers could dip a spoon into the hot syrup and tell it was done by how the syrup sheeted off of the spoon. I can't do that yet but then at 60 I am not an old timer yet.
For filtering syrup I have a 12 plate pressure filter but I used to use dairy filters when I first started and still use them for a prefilter. You should be able to find them at any dairy supply outlet. If you are lucky you might find one of the special funnels that fit the filters, check with the local farms as most farmers no longer have a use for them.
Maple spread is actually finely granulated sugar crystals that take over the entire contents of the container. I have never made it but have read much and it is tricky. Once the syrup is concentrated enough you must wait as it cools until crystalation begins then mix. Mixing is a slow process and not as violent as a hand mixer. Maple candy is made the same way.
Your cloudy syrup sounds like it is cyrstalizing in the refrigerator. Warm the syrup slowly and see if it doesn't clear. if it does thin it slightly with raw sap. I have syrup that has been stored for two years that is still fine.
Syrup lasts in the plastic bottles because it is packed hot. I pack at 200+ deg to kill and bacteria in the jugs. Maple syrup is also a natural antibiotic and there is research on it as well as honey for treating burns and other injury.
I set roughly 5000 taps and produce 30 to 50 gallons of finished syrup a day when the sap is flowing
Here is where most of my equipment comes from.http://www.bascommaple.com/