Part 1- The project for July was to remove a stubborn Douglas Fir tree stump. The tree was diseased at the top and had to be cut down last February. The stump had to be removed for a series of steps leading down to the lake. Started digging on the side of the tree stump that was downhill. I thought it would be a lot easier to attack the roots from that angle. At first, the digging was a little strenuous, but once I got through the layer of small roots, it was fairly easy. My kids all came out and leant a hand digging a removing dirt from the hole. They came up with a clever paint-can-on-a-rope-hoist- system. It was good to work together. After the 2nd weekend, we were 3/4 of the way around the stump and had to pack it in for 2 weeks.
Part 2- After the 2 weeks, we came back up to the cabin and managed to get all the roots cut. I didn’t bring the truck up and the 2-ton Come-a-long hand winch but didn’t have enough pull the stump out of the hole. Asked my next door neighbour if he could lend a hand. After an hour or so and the use of his ATV winch, my Come-a-long winch and the bigger Warn winch on his Jeep, we managed to pull the Douglas Fir tree stump to the road. It was hard work, but it was worth it.
The video and blog post was Part 3 of the Experimental Wind Turbine Tower Project.
As seen in a previous video, the support tower was raised up into place. The 23-foot support tower would make the process of erecting the towers easier and safer. The plan was to come back, lower the tower for maintenance and remove some of the blades. But, as life goes, we had some commitments on the home front, lack of funds for gas, we didn’t get away for weeks.
But the delay did have a perk, the snow and ice finally melted on the logging road short cut that runs over the mountain. (shaves 45 minutes off the 4-1/2 hour drive.)
We finally arrive for the weekend and I notice right away that the wind turbine was missing a blade and the end of the support pole is really hacked up. Odd, the blades should have not have spun. The auto brake was applied to the controller before we left. I was really miffed, was the controller broken? The electrical cable looked OK. Read on to see what happened.
1. Search for the Missing Blade
I was curious to see what it looked like. Did a walk around and couldn’t find it. Decided I needed help, so I put a $10.00 bounty on the missing blade and my children suddenly got interested. A few minutes later, my son found it about 50 yards from the wind turbine. It had wedged itself into the ground by a bush. It hadn’t hit anything (or anyone) and my worse fears melted away.
2. Lower the Tower
The next step was to lower the old metal tower and figure out what went wrong. Used the existing tall, wooden, black pole already attached to the building. Attached a pulley at the top and a few feet below. Did a nice slow lower of the tower with the aid of the car.
During the time we were away from the cabin, we were told there was a big wind storm. A neighbour claimed he saw the wind turbines just spinning like crazy. The result was all the ends of the blades were all chipped and broken. The longest blade was 22-inches and the shortest was 17-inches. Thought it would be best to have all the blades the same length. It would prevent excessive vibration and wobble. Grabbed my hacksaw with a fine tooth blade and cut each blade the saw length.
4. Tree for a tower
As seen in previous videos, the thought was to use an existing dead/diseased tree for the tower. It didn’t cost anything and it was easy to find. If it didn’t work out, I could just cut it up and use for firewood. Most of the trees in my area are called Lodgepole Pine and stand about 50-feet in height.
During the winter, I found a fairly straight tree with hardly any branches. It was dragged out of the bush and laid up to dry. I measured the tree tower and figured it was about 53-feet long. I cut it down to 42′ feet and should work great.
5. Base for the tower
Didn’t have much time to rig up a proper base for the tower. Decided to use what was handy and utilise the existing 6 inch by 6-inch cedar base of the support tower.
Used a chainsaw to cut two notches for the 3/4″ threaded support bar. Drill a hole through the end of the tree tower and inserted the rod through. The rod would then sit in the groove.
6. The Black Knight
In honor of my younger days of watching Monty Python movies, I named the injured wind turbine, the Black Knight. The Black Knight would endure many fatal injuries, but would declare them “flesh wounds” and continue on. Thought it was a good fit for this project. Here’s a link to a clip about the Black Knight: https://youtu.be/zn82OJKrzzs
I also felt the wind turbine needed a spruce up and gave it a coat of black, rust proof paint.
7. The No Power Puzzlement
The tree tower would be 20 feet taller than the previous water pipe tower. The 10/3 SOW wire cable had to be removed and reconfigured to work with another cable. As I was unwrapping a piece of duct table from a joint, I saw that the male and female connect had come lose. Not sure how it happened, maybe when the ice pulled the tower over a bit and the vibrations just worked everything loose. It also explained why the blades were “free spinning”, there was no load from the battery bank and the turbine could do whatever. The best way to fix the problem, purchase a new 60-feet of heavy-duty cable. But, reality kicks in and I don’t have spare cash to spend on cable. (The cost is around $2.39 per lineal foot.) The piece I have now is 25-feet long and I’ll search Craigslist and garage sales for more. I would have to figure a new way to connect the cables and add a strain relief.
8. Raise the tree tower
The next step was to raise the new, taller tree tower. Attached ropes to all the pulley points. The other end of the ropes were then attached to tow hooks on the cars. Took the necessary safety steps and planned my route and add support in case the tower fell. I then proceed to test the tower out for sag. Tried twice and the tree tower bent like an archer bow. Hmm, a lot of weight there. I got this feeling that it wasn’t a good idea. I needed to add more support, change the place of the ropes on the tree tower. An extra pulley wouldn’t hurt either. As I was standing there working out the extras, it started blow a cold rain and I decided it’s going to have to wait for another weekend. I’d rather do it right the first time and prevent a disaster. I dismantled the tower, bunched up the wires and put the tools away. There will always be another weekend for projects.
Thanks for your patience and following our adventures.
This video covers the typical “To Do List” for someone who owns or maintains a cabin/cottage off grid. You can make plans, but when you finally set foot on the property, you soon discover there’s a lot more that needs to be done. The hardest thing is to stay focused and finish the job you started.
Things don’t always go as planned.One of the trees close to the lake was rotten on the inside. The best time to trim trees is in the early spring before the ice thaws on the lake. The plan was to drop the tree on the lake and then buck it up in smaller pieces. Parts of the tree would be reused as timber for the dock and smaller logs for the wood stove.
Lodgepole Pine trees are difficult to cut. All the branches, needles and weight is at the very top, which can dictates the direction it was going to fall. For the first cut, did a generous open notch to about the middle of the tree. The second cut came down on a 60 degree angle on the opposite side. It should have fell on to the lake… The good thing was I managed to turn off the saw and not pitch the bar (chain/blade) when it fell.
Filming credit: My 9-year-old son (from a safe distance)