Friday, July 11, 2014

When the wind blows

The wind blows a lot in west central Minnesota. It is good country for wind generators. We installed ours in 1996 and it has given us many years of  electricity since then. When the wind blows more thn about 5 miles per hour, we are generating power. When it blows 25 miles per hour, our generator is at peak production.

When the wind blows, we use as much electricity from our generator as we can and sell the rest to our electrical company, helping them meet their renewable energy requirements. It's a good deal for everyone.

One day each year, when the wind doesn't blow, Dave and I go out to service the generator. It is not a light task. Dave wears a climbing harness and his heavy hiking boots. I belay him from the bottom as he climbs the 120 foot tower, anchoring himself with carabiners every fifty feet.

When he reaches the top, Dave attaches himself  to the tower so that he can work without me belaying him. Then I can use a pulley system to send a five gallon bucket and a length of hose up to Dave. He attaches the hose to the drain valve on the generator and then opens the fill valve on the very top.. When the bucket is full, he unscrews the hose and tosses it to the ground. As it tumbles to the ground, 2" diameter balls of rose colored oil fall through the air, glinting in the sunlight.
Then I lower the bucket of old oil and send up a bucket of new oil.

Dave stands spread legged on one inch wide supports as he works.  After changing the oil, he uses a grease gun on the zirc fittings on the spine hub of the windmill and at the base of each of the three blades.Next he climbs down a little ways and greases three bearings under the shroud cover and checks the bolts to make sure they are tight. When he moves from one job to the next, he goes back on belay and releases himself from the tower. When he is in place and tied to the tower again, I am free to run back to the house to get supplies that we've forgotten or that we've decided we need for the job.

Standing at the top of the tower waiting for me to return with a wrench seems like it would be exhausting and boring, but Dave spends the time admiring the view of our farm spread out below him, and the fields and sloughs and hills beyond the borders of our farm.

"I wonder at the view," he says. "It is a good reason to have a wind generator. Be-
cause of the generator, I love it when the wind blows" (except on days when we service the machine.)

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