Turbine Construction

The Turbine Gang

We have a dedicated bunch who get together almost every week at our house to work on their axial flux turbines designed by Hugh Piggott. The atmosphere is fun and very enthusiastic! Everyone helps everyone else. Some are farther along than others, so they help to guide the newcomers. At this point, there are several turbines on the go in various stages of completion. Some are very close to being finished. It’s pretty exciting!

Turbine Adventures

We have this section to showcase some of the adventures that people have been having with their turbine building. Some of these people have built their turbines here with us and others have built them on their own or with friends on their own. Either way, we felt that it was important to show some of the amazing things that people have been doing.

Francis contacted us almost as soon as we had our web site up and running and has been in contact with us ever since! He was building an axial flux turbine for his senior project towards his degree in electrical engineering technology at the University of Northern Iowa.

Although we have never met Francis in person, we feel that we have gotten to know him via the many e-mails that we have had back and forth. He has a great sense of humour, which seems to be a required quality if you are going to build one of these units!

Francis now has his turbine complete and it’s up and running. The fun is just beginning!

These are some pictures of the giant turbines that are going in along the Lake Erie shoreline not far from where we live. It’s pretty exciting to have these baby’s almost right in your back yard! We have been driving down every couple of weeks to check on the progress.

A few month’s ago, we had some people tell us about a turbine that we should check out in Kintore, Ontario. A few weeks went by, and we finally had time to take a drive there on a Sunday afternoon. We were amazed when we drove up to Charlie’s house! There was a very large turbine turbine on an 80 foot tower in his backyard, which is right on the edge of the small village of Kintore!

We stopped at the side of the road to take a few pictures, and Charlie came out of his house to talk to us. We asked him if he minded if we took a few pictures, and he said to go ahead and take as many as we wanted. He was on his way out, but he told us to go ahead and go into his back yard and have a closer look if we wanted, so we took him up on his offer!

We made arrangements to go back to visit Charlie the next week when he had more time to spend with us.

Charlie is an exceptional man! He has many talents! We learned on our next visit that Charlie designed and built the entire 30 kilowatt turbine himself! That’s right, a 30 kilowatt turbine! He also designed and built the entire tower by himself as well!

Charlie sourced many of the various parts for the turbine from a variety of places, and those parts that he couldn’t locate, he fabricated himself. The 16 foot blades for the turbine came from a company in Denmark. Once he had all of the parts together, he assembled the entire turbine, affectionately known as the “Wind Mouse” at this house. He had a little help in the form of a crane and a crew of people from South Dakota to help install this monster!

The 80 foot tower for the turbine was built by Charlie from high pressure tanks that he got at a local scrap yard. It’s a really neat design with an elevator, which Charlie designed and built himself, running part way up the inside of the tower to the first crow’s nest and then up to the second crow’s nest on the outside of the tower. From there you have to climb the rest of the way by ladder. Charlie says that he designed it with three crow’s nests so that you could stop and rest at each one and have a beer! He says that by the time you get to the top and have had three beers, the height of the tower doesn’t bother you any more!

Here’s a little something Charlie wrote down and gave to us when he came here to visit a few days after we visited him. Wise words from a very wise man!

“A wind turbine creates electricity from nature to heat our homes with out harming nature and life on earth. To watch it spinning and the hydro meter reversing is the most beautiful site on the planet. Let’s make more wind power and not weapons of mass destruction!”

Sounds perfect to us Charlie!

Aaron contacted us back in the fall of 2006 from British Columbia. He sent us some pictures and some information about his turbine adventure. He told us that he had taken one of Hugh Piggott’s courses and that it was a fabulous experience! We asked if he could send us more information so that we could include his story on our “Turbine Adventures” page and here it is!

Connie and Craig, you asked for some additional info, so here it is.

My only paid magazine subscription is for Homepower (see www.homepower.com). I read it for years even before I lived off grid. It turns out I grew up on the east coast with one of the editors. He had both moved to the Seattle Area years before. Turns out we both live on islands, and we both live off the grid. My friend is really into windmills, he has 3 of them up right now, one 1 of them on top of a pole at the top of a tree.

Anyway my friend Ian (I guess I can use his first name) is also part of Solar Energy International (www.Solarenergy.org) and they run a number of workshops all over the world. Ian is a great organizer of these SEI courses in Washington, and one of the courses was building windmills with Hugh Piggott (www.scoraigwind.com) who I had heard of several times. I was originally intrigued by Hugh’s brake drum windmill book, and knew it was going to be a good course. I took the course, loved it, meet some incredible people and had a great time. If there was any doubt before the course, there was none after it. Windmills are for me. BTW, Hugh will be in Washington state for a couple of courses this Apr/May (http://www.scoraigwind.com/#calendar ) and I can highly recommend any course taught by Hugh.

There is one other group of people who I have to give credit to, and that the Dan’s at OtherPower (www.OtherPower.com). The Dan’s are a real inspiration. They made me realize that Wind power generation does not require the precision most people think it does.

The Dan’s sell magnets as a business (http://www.forcefieldmagnets.com/catalog/) and host an INCREDIBLE discussion board (http://www.forcefieldmagnets.com/catalog/)

Personally I thought that the blade carving would take the longest time, so I started these first. The First blade took me one whole day. I was a little slow carving my first blad. On my second day, I managed to carve 2 more blades and on my 3rd day I completed my 4th blade (I used best 3 out of 4).

It took me a couple of months to get the bearing and frame welded up. What took the longest however was the Windmill Tower. My tower is a scavenged radio tower, it was not my first choice but it was a very good deal. It took me over a year to get the footing with anchors in and then to raise the tower was another big deal. But luckily a done deal.

I’ve attached some additional pictures, let me know if there are any problems.


Late in the summer of 2006, we were contacted by one of the professors from the University of Western Ontario. He had heard of our little operation here and was quite interested in what we were doing here, helping people build wind turbines. He thought that it might make a really good project for the class of future shop teachers that he was teaching at the university. He said that he had been looking for a project that could involve many departments at the university. We discussed the project with him at length and we agreed to help.

A few weeks later, about twenty five future shop students arrived here to have a look at what we were doing. Craig walked them through the basics of turbine building giving them a brief idea of what they would be doing. For the next few weeks, the students came here on Saturdays, along with our regular gang of turbine fanatics, and Craig helped them to get going on their project. Since the media department at the university was also involved in this project, there was a lot of filming going on while they were here so that they could have a record of the project during every step.

After a few weeks, they were far enough along and had a good enough understanding of how to complete the turbine, that they finished the rest in their shops at the university. We figured that it was just getting too cold for them in our shop, so they decided to go somewhere where there was heat! It was getting close to December, so that’s understandable!

In February, 2007, Craig and Mike #1 went to visit the future teachers at their workshop where they were almost finished with the turbine. Everyone was glad to see them and were very excited about the project being close to completion. They said that when it was finished, they were going to place it in the hallway outside of the Dean’s office so everyone would see it.

All in all, everything went very well and everyone learned a lot. The professor said that it turned out to be the perfect project since it involved almost all of the shop classes, from welding to electrical, woodworking and metal works and even the media department!

It was great to be a part of this project and hopefully, everyone who was involved, will be spreading the word about renewable energy!

Chris contacted us just before Christmas, 2006. He told us a wonderful story about having been at Hugh Piggott’s place working on a wind turbine and asked if it would be okay to come by our place for a visit, now that he was home from Scotland.

This past January, Chris and his mom came for a visit and we had a great time talking about renewable energy, Scotland and Hugh Piggott! We hope that they can come back some time so we can visit again.

Here is Chris’ story:

Hi guys

It was a pleasure to speak with you on the phone tonight, I look forward to sharing experiences on saturday the 13th. Before then I’ll try to get out and see Charlie in Kintore. Here’s some more pics of the turbine I built, it would be an honour to see them up on your web page. I’ve also included some more pics of Scoraig; the orange house with the turbine on the lattice tower is Hugh’s; the stone house is Lawrence’s; the brown house with the solar panels is Morag’s. The big turbines shown are Hugh and Alan Bush’s
new 6 kw machines, thats Hugh climbing up the pole to fix one! Here’s a little story of how I got out to Scoraig.

My trip to Scoraig began on a construction site in the village of Findhorn (which is powered by several big turbines) where we were building an “eco-home.” A fellow named Lawrence appeared one day who was friends with my lead hands. He was recruiting builders to come out to the west coast to help finish his house. My friends had been out there a few times putting the roof on a new-build old-school stone house which was 15 years in the
making. There was no mention of wind turbines at this point, just the boat ride in, wild weather and outhouses. My kind of place!

About halfway across Little Loch Broom on a blustery December day I just started making out spinning wheels shining in the distance. Before I knew it there was at least a dozen wind turbines in view scattered along the shore line, with what looked like more off in the distance. I turned to Lawrence and stammered “what is this place?” I’d been fascinated by wind machines for a long time and I thought I’d died and gone to heaven!

Lawrence’s house was quite cozy inside with the fire and candles going and I hardly missed electricity. He was one of the few people on Scoraig without a turbine as there is no mains. I stayed for a while and did some joinery work and really loved the place and the people, I knew I’d be back!

Over the next while Lawrence and I became good mates as he spent a fair bit of time hanging round Findhorn way. I also took the windpower course down at CAT (Centre of Alternative Technology) in Wales, a course Hugh Piggott usually teaches but not the time I was there. Lawrence saw my interest in wind turbines and saw himself an opportunity; give the kid a chance to go wild in Hugh’s shop (he and Hugh have known each other for ages) and he’d get electricity out of the deal! A win-win situation.

So in July we headed out to Scoraig for a week and I met Hugh. He is a very kind and intelligent man who said he was happy to have me work in his shop and provide advice when he could. We designed the electrical system, chose the site for the turbine, and I even started the job of plumbing in a solar hot water system for a lovely woman named Morag who lived just down the hill. I had my work cut out for me. We also had a huge party with live bands and a BBQ feast where I got to meet alot of the Scoraig locals.

My final trip was in October, which I though would be for a couple of weeks but went right to December. I built the turbine and tower, wired in the house, and plumbed in the solar hot water system. For such a relaxed environment I was sure running the last week to finish everything up! In the end I didn’t raise the turbine due to very poor weather and a lack of time. This has made me want to build one here in Canada more than anything, to get the satisfaction of standing it up and seeing it fly! Oh well, it is up and running now and I’ll send pics of it as soon as I get them.

The experience has given me so much passion for renewable energy. Seeing something make energy from the wind or sun gives me such a great feeling. I especially have to thank Hugh for his patience and his enthusiasm, both are contagious!

Hope this isn’t too much info! I’d say I’ve got the wind bug! See ya soon


We met Tim last summer, 2006, Tim and his wife Pam, were building a castle just a stone’s throw from our farm. Yes, I said a castle, literally! There will be more pictures of the castle later. Very interesting!

When we met them, Tim and Pam were in the midst of finishing the castle and were looking for a better way to power their home than using a generator all of the time. Very expensive and bad for the environment as well! Unfortunately, they had already purchased a turbine from someone. I will not mention the brand name, but it is not one of the good one’s! We told Tim that when that turbine breaks, that he can come and build a good one at our place!

Dennis is one of the original turbine building gang! He has been hanging out here with everyone else for over two years now. Dennis works every other Saturday, so he doesn’t get here as often as he would like, be he stops in every chance he gets for a visit.

Dennis has been the only one of our group of builders to build the smallest of the axial flux turbines, the two footer! After building the little machine, Dennis went on to build a larger machine which he now has running at his home. He uses the power it makes, along with a handful of small solar panels to power various items around his home. Dennis has brought a lot of really useful information and ideas to everyone here and we all appreciate his input!

Alan came to see us about a year ago about building a turbine. Alan, along with a few other people, own a farm Near Cameron Ontario, called Russet House Farm. Their hope is that the farm will become a place of learning for people who are interested in helping the environment and who would like to learn how to live a little simpler lifestyle. Already, they have hosted many workshops and seminars on sustainable living. For more information on this exciting farm, go to our links page and check it out!

One of the couples who are a part of Russet House Farm reside there year round, off grid. They had a very modest system of a few solar panels and a very tiny wind turbine that ultimately flew apart during a wind storm! They were glad to see it go, since it had never performed up to their expectations anyway. But they then were faced with either buying another turbine or looking for an alternative solution to fit their energy needs. That’s when Alan came across our web site and decided to contact us.

Well, a year later and a lot of gas spent coming here as often as he could, and Russet House Farm finally has a new, home built turbine that should last them for a very long time and provide them with lot’s of power! They have decided to wait till spring to put their new turbine up, so hopefully, we will have some great pictures to add to this story at a later date!

Several months ago, Larry Weibe, a shop teacher at Valley Heights Secondary School, contacted us about building a wind turbine. He told us that he was going to be building a straw bale house over the next couple of years and that he wanted to be off the grid in his new home. He decided that he wanted to build two turbines and that one of them would be a perfect project for his grade twelve shop class.

Last September, the class began working on the project and on January 10, 2008, they took the turbine on a road test! We were very lucky to be able to visit the school and to be involved in this turbine testing venture!

This past May, Wind Chasers lost a good friend and fellow turbine builder, Ray Patterson. Ray first came for a visit to ask us a few questions about our wind turbine about three years ago. Since that time, he had become a good friend. After taking time off to have heart surgery, Ray came back last year and began building his turbine.

Ray fit in immediately in our little group. He loved to tell stories to everyone and anyone who came by, and the stories got better every time you heard them! He never hesitated to drop what he was doing to lend a hand to someone else who needed help. A lot of Saturdays, Ray was so busy helping other people with their turbines, that he didn’t get a chance to work on his own project.

Although Ray didn’t get to complete his “turbine adventure” he certainly added a lot to everyone else’s adventure while he was here!

Ray, we miss your sense of humour and your stories. You will not be forgotten!

The following pictures are a collection of Ray at our shop. We wish there were more!

Marty has been a part of our wind turbine building group for a couple of years now and had just recently put up his turbine. Marty did a lot of the work on his own at home since he couldn’t get here as often as he would have liked to. He came and did a lot of observing and soaked up a ton of information from others building turbines here.

Last weekend we took a drive to Marty’s house to have a look at his turbine. It looks great! Good job Marty! It’s great to see another Hugh Piggott turbine up in the area!