COUNTRY WIND BLOWS
The preferred starting component for generators and motors was
either a Model T Ford generator or a Dodge generator. The reason for
this choice was simple. These two generators had ball bearings in front
and rear ends. They were also readily available in wrecking yards or
junk yards for a very nominal price.
One of the first projects that
Rewinding the armature was a relatively simple process and the
field coils also presented no problem. The proper size wire was readily
available and we salvaged a nice piece of redwood from an old cooling
tower at an abandoned gasoline plant. It took several hours to shape it
and sand it smooth. When we finished we gave it two coats of shellac and
laid it aside to install on the completed machine.
It didnít take long to finish the charger. We used two pieces
of angle iron for a frame and attached the generator on one end and a
triangular shaped piece of thin metal to the other. This piece of metal
was to keep the propeller facing into the wind. A front wheel spindle
from an old Model T and a hub attached to the frame made a nice bearing
for the unit to turn into the wind. A two inch collar attached to the
bottom screwed nicely on the twenty-one foot joint of pipe that we
fastened to the end of the house. Two wires from the generator ran down
the side of the house and connected to a car battery in the corner of
one of the side rooms. We were ready for the test.
A nice breeze was blowing from the south when we raised the pipe.
The generated started turning immediately and we realized that we needed
some sort of brake to turn it off when we it wasnít needed or when the
wind might be strong enough to damage it. We took it back to the shop
for an upgrade. This wasnít a serious problem and we soon had a
crosspiece and two wires that we could pull from the ground to turn the
charger away from the wind.
We proceeded with the installation and when the mast was tied
into position to a strong tree limb the propeller began turning at a
relatively high rate of speed. We connected the battery and stood by to
see how much it was charging. The old amp meter that we had connected
showed zero. This was puzzling and disappointing because we had turned
the generator with a starter motor earlier and it worked. At the speed
it was turning it should have done some charging.
When we did this there was another disappointment. We found out
the hard way that it didnít make any difference which side of the
propeller was facing the wind. The rotation was in the same direction in
either position. Did that mean we would have to make another propeller
with a reverse slope on the board?
Luckily I remembered some of the electrical theory I had learned.
All we had to do was reverse the connection to the field coils and that
caused the generator work when turned in the opposite direction. Success
at last! The battery was being charged at 5 to 8 amps.
We used a six volt battery radio and a low wattage bulb in the
house. If the wind were blowing we could burn the light. If there was no
wind the battery supplied power for the radio and we used the light bulb
as a flashlight when needed.
Commercial wind chargers were soon on the market and were
reasonably priced. Most of the country folks had one and enjoyed a
little of the convenience of electricity. But that enjoyment couldnít
equal the fun we had building one of the first ones.
Maybe you ought to build a wind charger just for fun!