Posted 12-09-2004 at 15:41:17
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In the 1920's, my grandfather had a windcharger (spelling?) on the farm in NE Montana. He had a bunch of batteries in his shop, as well as a gas engined generator if the batteries were down and the wind didn't blow. They used the electricity to run some lighting in the house and shop, and had a couple of radios. At that time they also had a large windmill to pump water and had the windcharger power head mounted on another tower. The wind blows quite a bit of the time in that area, and from what I have been told, the systems worked quite well.
But REA brought in power lines, I believe in the late 1940's, which is befor I was born. I have been to that farm, which my cousins still operate, but all of the wind equipment is gone, replaced long ago with the more efficient and easier AC equipment.
Travelling around the country, I have seen a bunch of water well windmills that appeared to still be operating. There also are others that appear to be nearly complete and others that are bare towers.
If I was serious about actually producing some power from the wind, rather than just fooling around with it, I would start by obtaining an existing tower and if possible whatever else I could find of an old system. It is possible that there are windcharger systems that were taken down years ago and have been stored ever since. Maybe you could find one. Another thought would be to use a water pumping windmill wheel, tail and gearbox and set things up to run a generator from a system at the bottom of the tower that would change the up and down motion of the pump rod into rotary motion again.
I think that somewhere in the early Mother Earth News Magazine they had a series about setting up wind generation. Although I have not looked for it, I bet the information could be obtained on the internet.
Of course there are always new ways to do things. But I know of water pumping windmills that are still providing reliable water supplies after nearly 100 years with relatively little maintanance. So I would research how they accomplished this reliability and efficiency.
Or maybe you COULD reinvent the wheel. Good luck!