Spin

Turbine is up!

‘Course, not a breath of wind all day.  Which, in the beginning was a good thing as Sal was up there next to knife-sharp blades and a sudden gust would have cut off her nose!

Well, that is not really true, but that is what I told her.  Helped keep her amused at the top of a 40 foot tower working with allen wrenches and yelled-from-the ground instructions.  Moved the pace along, too.  I’m a good supervisor.

The blades are sharp, tho.  Approach them too close when they are spinning in a good breeze and you will, if the limb is small, become a practicing amputee in no time at all.  They can be quite dangerous at speed.

The job isn’t done completely but she had had enough yesterday.  Putting the actual turbine on the top required Sal to stand on a small platform 8″ by 10″ (bit larger than a shoebox) and, with a personal tether to the tower, stand up above the tower so as to be able to affix the turbine on top.  The cables securing the tower are below her.  The tower is below her too and the only thing protruding up is a 2″ pipe on which the turbine sits and it is at belly-button level.  That means that she is standing in the sky with nothing in front of her but space and looking forward to heaving a turbine up onto the pole.  She did it with aplomb.

But aplomb is not necessarily long lasting so once it was secured, it was time to get her down.  And we did.  But there is still some wire ‘tidying up’ to do and a few bolts to work on.  We are 97% of the way there and I, for one, am glad to see the end of this chore!  Standing on the ground with one’s thumb in a dark and awkward place is frustrating and tiresome.  I think I have a crook in my neck.  I’ll ask Sal for a massage.

The tower chore has been all-consuming these past few days.  Crazy, really.  The brochure said that, with their special kit (which we didn’t have), the whole thing could be up in as little as two hours.  Not counting the year we ‘took off’ due to the trauma of dropping the first turbine, I would estimate that this effort has consumed about 50-60 hours of time over 10-15 days.

Part of it, of course, is that we declined to use the inadequate pipe they originally spec’d and that had failed us the first time.  We went with a proper tower (ex HAM radio tower thanks to John Robilliard) this time.  Then, we had to get custom length cables attached.  And wire the thing into the electrical panel.  Some custom fabricating (another thanks to John Robilliard) was also required to be able to affix the turbine to the top and the tower to the ground.  Add in ‘stripping bolts’, dropping or losing tools, electrical connections, painting, rigging and platform-making just to name some of the bigger efforts and I categorically deny the possibility of erecting that tower in two hours.  In fact, I’d say an experienced crew would take more than two days and they would have to be really good to be able to do that!  I may be a little over-sensitive about this but ours is not the first turbine to be erected out here and no one has done it easily.  In fact, ours was not the first one to come crashing down either.  One neighbour had a really big one come down. 

This little turbine is a South West Winpower Air-X model making 400 watts at 48 volts.  It is the size of a football with a big fishtail added at the back and 3 sharp 20″ blades mounted on a hub at the front.  In a light breeze, it makes nothing.  Ten miles an hour is req’d to make it turn but then that is all it does.  By the time you are  getting any kind of significant juice out of it, the wind is making the trees bend.  At least 20 mph.  And yet, when the wind is blowing up here, one can expect hours, even days of it.  I am optimistic.  We’ll see.

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