Tilting Windmills

By , February 26, 2015

After a sweet, trouble free year and a half, the wind generator began making a familiar, troubling sound Monday evening.

We’d last heard it two years ago, January, in our newer W100 generator. After exhausting all other possible causes, we lowered the generator tower, and discovered burned and melted stator wires.

This time around, like our old friend, Don Quixote, we tilted the windmill first.

The generator opened to access stator wires (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

The generator opened to access stator wires (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).00

We decided to take the most radical step first because we had a period of calm in which to work, and Michelle could rearrange her work schedule to come home early.

I spent the morning making preparations, taking advantage of the time to be deliberate and leisurely. I assembled and installed the ladder we use to climb the tower, removed the wooden braces, and replaced them with temporary line ties. I assembled the tools we needed, built two new braces to replace worn ones, and arranged equipment on the Power Point for the job.

When Michelle came home, we lowered the tower and looked inside the generator. We needed to inspect the stator wires, a bit trickier process with the older H40 generator. The W100 has an inspection plate in the side of the housing that allows direct access to the bundles of wires; the H40 requires opening the housing into furl position, then manipulating the wires in a very tight space.

We found no signs of damage. Since we had the machine on the ground, we carefully inspected it. We replaced one prop blade that had cracked on one edge, replaced the nose cone, which had cracked at the bolts, and tightened nuts all over.

We hoisted the tower back in place, reinstalled the wooden braces, and stripped off the ladder. Job done!

Sure, I make it sound easy. I started a course of ibuprofen several hours before I started work, and will continue it for another day at least to ease the muscle aches of climbing the tower. And, after a long hiatus from tower climbing, the feelings I described in the essay Courage have only intensified. Still, as mentioned there, we knew what we had to do, and we did it.

I managed to take a twist out of the alignment of the tower and its brace, something I’d tried often in the past with no luck. That improvement alone made the day’s work worthwhile.

When the wind returned, so did the sound. It may be a bad diode in the controller, which is very bad news. The company abandoned the U.S. for India. Last I knew, they’d severed all contact with those of us who had bought their product. Our W100 went out while still under warranty, but I couldn’t send it in for repair (see My Wind Generator’s Company Goes Missing).

We’re going to have to get creative. I have information on how to identify which diode is bad, but the repair solution from the company is to send it in for service!

It’s all very exciting, but it’s the sort of excitement we could do without.

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