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Windmill 3

Bike-wheel windmill

(Click to enlarge photo)

Because this machine was installed on an old television tower on top of a very high hill, there were rarely times when it was not turning. In fact, as its job was only to charge a battery for an electric fence, there was very little slowing of the propeller by the alternator (car alternator), and the risk of self-destruction due to the stresses of over-speed were very real. Unsurprising then, that during a particularly violent storm, the propeller made contact with the tower and that was that!

Price is a tough master where wind machines are concerned, you have to build them cheap! It would be easy if we could use top quality components and high-tech design but that makes the true price of the energy uncompetitive, hence part of the case against larger windmills. The trick seems to be to find cheap, mass-produced components intended for some other purpose and adapt them. The bike wheel seemed like an ideal candidate but just wasn't strong enough at any realistic size of propeller. The principle was simple, the tyre of the bike wheel was in contact with the rotor on the alternator making a cheap but effective step-up gearbox (8:1). The propeller blades were deliberately made to be inefficient because of the strong winds. There may still be some merit in this design but I doubt I shall use it again.


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