Taking a Whack at the Wind Generator

By , November 7, 2019

We’ve seen a dip in our solar power intake lately. I have to assume it’s because of our rapid loss of daylight here in the upper latitudes of the U.S., but it’s been so precipitous that yesterday I checked our power lines for any disconnects that might account for the decrease. I found nothing; everything seems fine, we’re just not getting as much sun as we have in the past.

Looking at previous records on this, I see that in the waxing daylight, at the other side of the winter solstice, we see a jump in solar intake, so a corresponding drop makes sense.

On an overcast day, it’s hard to gauge the depth of the cloud cover, but I assume it’s thicker recently, limiting our daylight even more. The rapidly advancing hours of dark, and the change back to “standard” time on the 4th haven’t helped (see Stop Messing Around With Time!). We’ve noticed that we need headlamps in the forest, and headlights on the road much earlier all of a sudden, which encourages us to assume that the cloud cover is that much heavier lately.

Zeiger Family Homestead Power Point

The Power Point on a cloudy, not-so-solar-active day (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

This has led me to turning on the wind generator, which reveals problems of its own, which I’ve done my best to overcome.

Since switching from relying on wind power to solar power, I’ve learned that we need to keep an eye on the wind generator to make sure it doesn’t freeze up from disuse. If all is well, the prop “free wheels” in braked mode, turning somewhat in the wind. I’ve learned to recognize the stiff wobbling that indicates that the prop has stuck, which I find it does unexpectedly.

The latest “stick” was so bad I eventually climbed the tower a couple of times to hand-spin the prop, working it past the rough spot. This worked well on the first day, which was, naturally, drier than the next day. When the rain returned, so did the stoppage.

After a couple of tries I got to the point where whatever stopped the prop is light enough that, if it stops, I can get it started with a device I cobbled together for the purpose.

I took a long 1″x1″ cedar batten from our collection under the house, and lashed an old deck broom to the end of it. The deck broom gives me a wider surface with which to push the blades from the ground and get the generator’s prop past the sticking point. It’s not elegant, but it works; it keeps my feet on the ground where they belong, and eliminates the need to assemble and attach the climbing ladder to the tower. I’m a lot happier these days.

loooong handled brush

Mark’s improvised wind generator-loosening tool (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

Now, the tool sits on the Power Point, waiting to take a whack at the wind generator prop should it stall again. So far, so good . . . .

2 Responses to “Taking a Whack at the Wind Generator”

  1. Ekij says:

    Do you know what’s causing it to stick?
    Is the oil in the bearings getting sludgy or is something getting into the unit and jamming it up?
    I’d be concerned that if something is getting in there it’s going to cause damage even if the unit keeps on turning.

  2. Mark Zeiger says:

    Ekij, in a word, no.

    The generator, as promoted by the company that bought out the original manufacturer, then blithely marketed the generators for marine environments from their location in Arizona, USA, is supposedly able to run indefinitely with no lubrication. I’ve proven that false in the past–just search “wind generator” on the blog. I’ll stop here; it’s a long story, and I am extremely bitter. I could go on at length, as you well know….

    So, no bearings that are “user-accessible,” which complicates things. I’ve had it freeze up from ice and other causes repeatedly, more often since it’s taken a supporting role for the solar array.

    I went to a lot of trouble to install a lower-able tower. I need to bring it down, spend a while trouble shooting the problem, and solve it. But, it’s charging as I write this, it freewheels when not charging, despite the recent heavy rains, so it’ll keep till another day, hopefully, while I address the other neglected-but-more-urgent chores of the homestead.

    Homesteading’s a balancing act. That’s my excuse!

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