Demonstrating Flexibility

By , January 25, 2013

Things rarely go according to plan.

The last few days have been busy. Major projects that we thought were finished developed new twists; others we planned to start got deferred.

Just about the time I was ready to pop the sparker on the blow torch and begin grappling with the plumbing, Michelle confessed that she preferred to patch the old water tank and continue using it for a while, rather than replace it. For all the reasons I mentioned previously, this worked for me; we spent about half an hour patching the old tank, “R2D2,” and returning the big new one, “Darth Vader,” to the boat shed. I’ll get over there in the coming days with the blowtorch. All the fittings we thought we needed from town are already on the new tank in different configurations. A little reassembly, and that’ll be good to go whenever we decide. In the meantime, we have our old reliable, growing ever uglier, but serving us faithfully and well.

After a day or so of mirror-calm seas, a brisk 25-knot wind (28.76 mph) started up Tuesday morning. As the sun came up, I glanced out the window to check the wind generator, to see the tower bending way out of true!

When we raised the tower after repairing the generator, I’d replaced the clamps that hold the two pipes together with rope lashings, which wasn’t a good idea. The clamps, made of two drilled sections of board secured by two long carriage bolts, hold the towers rigid, but get in the way of the climbing ladder, and add a little windage to the tower. The lashings seemed like a good alternative, but apparently not.

Wind generators operate under incredible pressure. I’ve read that the wind force on a working turbine is the same as if the sweep of the prop were a solid piece of plywood in the same shape and size! A tower must withstand this constant pressure at all times. The lashings allowed too much play in the tower, and I subsequently learned that the top lashing had worked loose.

We braked the generator, which helped. But, if we were to have power that day, I had little choice but to climb the tower.

I scrambled up and placed a clamp as high as I could. I didn’t go all the way up to the top lashing, because of the danger to me and the tower, with my body creating additional weight and windage. The one I put in place did the trick for the moment, and we were able to charge our battery bank. The process left me with adrenaline coursing through me like electricity. I burned it off by hiking out with Michelle to where a tree had fallen across the trail. I cut it up and removed it.

But, our winds are capricious. A wind forecast identifies the highest possible wind expected that day. By midday, our forecast began to admit that the highest winds would be near Skagway. In practical terms, that meant that while the top of Lynn Canal might have continued to get 25 knots through Wednesday, we were dead calm by time I got back home.

Fine. I climbed back up the tower, clamped the top of the two poles, and removed the failed lashing (we don’t want it flapping into the spinning prop!).

I’ve spoken before of our need for flexibility on the homestead. This may be one of the keys to our success here, our ability to change our plans for something better when necessary, and absorb the unexpected.

I’m glad we have this ability, but I have to admit, I don’t always appreciate having so many opportunities to demonstrate it.

One Response to “Demonstrating Flexibility”

  1. Linn Hartman says:

    Being able to change gears as opportunity requires is key to enjoying this old world – Have a great day!

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