|Who would have thought that a simple conversation on our front porch
over a cup of coffee would have lead to all of this.
That's how it all began. A simple observation about how there always
seemed to be a strong breeze blowing by our house and a suggestion that we
should put up a wind turbine. That was in 1997.
That simple conversation lead to more conversations and that lead to
the start of our turbine building adventure.
It started slow. We began to notice anything related to wind turbines
and energy saving in general. Internet information was gathered and
absorbed. Hugh Piggott's website was found and became a favorite source of
After about a year of talking about turbines, energy savings and the
environment, we began to take this more seriously. This was something that
we could really do! We had already looked into the cost of putting up a
manufactured turbine and we knew that we could never afford to go that
way, so we returned, once again, to Hugh Piggott's website and started
looking seriously at his homebuilt turbine design.
|In Hugh Piggott's website, there was a link to a website in Ontario for
Bob Budd and Andrew Masse, the Canadian distributors for the North
American version of the brakedrum design turbine. We contacted Andrew
Masse, and he directed us to Bob Budd. We contacted Bob and made
arrangements to visit him at his home and after meeting Bob and seeing his
turbine actually up and running, supplying all of his power, along with a
few solar panels, we were very excited!
Bob explained to us all of the details of how the turbine was built and
about what electronic components were needed to run the system. He also
explained that this turbine was not easy to build and that there were
challenges involved in finding the right parts at a decent price. He was
very helpful with that part of it, offering us advice on where to go to
get the parts that we would need. He was also very frank about the fact
that most of the people who came to see him never managed to actually
build a turbine and get it up and running properly. This did not deter us
at all! He had no idea how determined we were to do this! By the time we
left, we had a set of plans in one hand and some of the metal parts for
the tail boom in the other!
And so began the task of hunting for the parts we would need to build
the turbine. This took months of making phone calls, visiting scrap yards,
digging through piles of electric motors to find the right size stator
that would fit inside the brakedrum. It was a real challenge, but we were
In the meantime, we were working hard at reducing our energy
consumption in our home. This was something that Bob had stressed that we
needed to do first if we were to have any hope of ever getting off the
grid. We never were large consumers of electricity anyway, about 600
kilowatts per month, but we needed to get our consumption down to a level
that the turbine, along with some solar panels, could produce.
Saving energy became a sort of game to us to see how low we could go
and still do everything that we had always done before. The arrival of the
monthly electric bill became exciting instead of something that we would
have normally dreaded! By the time we were ready to put the turbine up, we
had our monthly consumption down to around 100 kilowatts!
We made several trips to Bob Budd's house during this time to pick his
brain about the turbine to make sure that we were doing everything
properly along the way. He had great advice and was extremely helpful! We
were also, while building the turbine, gathering all of the electronic
components that we would need to run the system once the turbine was ready
to go. We did a lot of research to find out what components were the best
and then we tried to find them at prices that we could afford.
In 2002, we began to work on our tower design. this took over a year!
We went slowly with the design. We read articles about tower failure and
tower design an we designed and re-designed the tower until we felt that
it was perfect for our needs.
|In the summer of 2003, we began digging holes for the tower.
Thankfully, we had two strong nephews that didn't mind coming to our house
to help dig. They were a huge help to us and they worked for food! Bonus!
|In the fall of 2003, the turbine was almost ready to go up. We really
wanted to get it up before the nasty winter weather set in or we would
have to wait till spring, but there were a few problems with the turbine
and we didn't want to put it up till it was running perfectly.
|January 4th, 2004. It had been above average temperatures for and damp
for weeks and the weather was about to change, so it was now or never, or
at least till April!
We were up bright and early and had everything ready to go by the time
the turbine raising crew arrived. It was foggy and damp with no wind, a
perfect day! Everyone was anxious to get it up before the weather changed,
which could have been any minute!
However, we had made some miscalculations with our tower's gin pole
which was making it a lot more difficult to raise the tower than we had
hoped. Our tower is seventy feet high, and we only had a twenty one foot
gin pole on it. That was not nearly long enough! Each section of our tower
weighed two hundred pounds and there were three sections. The turbine
weighed about one hundred pounds. When you do the math, that two hundred
pound gin pole was no where near enough of a lever for something that long
Anyway, we were very determined to get it up and running that day come
hell or high water! We would take it down in the spring and fix the gin
pole problem then. So, with a lot of people, a lot time and a huge amount
of effort, we finally got it up. It was a thing of beauty! And, as if on
que, just as we got it up and secured into place, the wind started to pick
up and the blades started to turn! We ran into the house and checked the
meters and sure enough, it was making power! There were a lot of ya hoo's
and jumping up and down and also some sighs of relief! We spent the rest
of the night, till it got dark, looking out of the kitchen window watching
the turbine go! The next day, winter arrived with a vengeance as if to
make up for lost time. We had gotten it up just in
|Things went along quite well with the turbine. It produced lots of
power. There were a few minor problems that we had to deal with, but for
the most part, everything went well.
There is a huge learning curve with building a turbine and making your
own power. Turbines produce huge amounts of power sometimes and other
times they produce nothing at all. We have since added a few solar panels
to our system which produce a more consistent amount of power.
The next thing we had to learn to live with was having people stopping
in at our house continually to ask us about the turbine. Almost every day,
someone would stop in to ask us where we got the turbine, how much it cost
to build it and could we build one for them.
One of the people who stopped in to ask us about the turbine, was a
reporter from the local newspaper. He said that he had been watching our
progress since we began to put the tower up in the summer of 2003. He was
very interested in what we were doing and asked us if it would be alright
if he took some pictures and asked us some questions for an article about
what we were doing. We thought that might be kind of neat to have a little
write up in the paper, so we agreed. We had no idea how much interest that
"little write up" would generate!
article" turned out to a three page major story on the front page of
a special edition of the paper! The special edition was all about power
and how to save energy. There was everything from wind generation to solar
to making your home more energy efficient. We later learned that the paper
won an award for that special edition of which we were a major part!
a week after the newspaper article came out, we got a phone call from a
television reporter who wanted to come and do a spot about us for
the news that night. He had saw the newspaper article and thought
that it would be a really good story to put on the television news.
those two stories appeared, we were inundated with phone calls from all
over Ontario about our turbine. There was a huge amount of interest in
what we had done!
This interest sparked an idea about developing a sort
of wind turbine co-op where interested people could get together to build
turbines and exchange ideas and skills. Everyone we talked to about this
thought that this was an excellent idea! We had no interest in building
turbines for people, but we were very interested in helping people to
build their own.
In the meantime, while all of this was going on, we
were getting seriously interested in the new Hugh Piggott Axial Flux
turbine design. We ordered a set of plans and studied them. This new
design was great! It looked so much easier to build than the brakedrum
We set about the task of finding the parts for the new design
and found that they were much easier to come by than the old design.
Within a couple of months, we had all of the parts together and were ready
The Madness Continues!
brings us to where we are at this point. We have several turbines here in
various stages from barely started, to almost finished. We get together
almost every Saturday afternoon and everyone helps everyone else. Everyone
who comes has something to offer whether it's a mechanical skill or parts
for the turbine that they have found at a better price or just an extra
hand to hold something. We have lots of people who stop by just to see
what we are doing and how everything is going. There are lots of laughs
and everyone is very enthusiastic! It's a great atmosphere!