Windmill Survival

Rule #1   A windmill must be able to move to survive!

I always joke that having a windmill that doesn’t spin is like building a swimming pool and not putting any water in it. I say that with a grin, but the truth of the matter is that a windmill must be able to move to lighten the wind pressure, or it will fail.

All water pumping windmills are “self-regulating” or have the ability to control the wheel speed and move out of the wind. The Aermotor style windmill uses a simple design to always keep the large tail vane into the wind and lets the wind wheel pivot or “yaw” around the center of the tower to slow the wheel down. This is done automatically, but we also supply a ground lever to turn the windmill out of the wind and set the brake.

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Remember that anything you do to prevent the windmill wheel from discharging wind pressure will cause the windmill to fail. Here are just a few samples of photos I have taken of failed windmill projects:

First is the classic, “I don’t need anything but an old windmill wheel. I will weld it to an old tower I found.” When the wind hit the back side of that fixed wheel it just peeled it apart. Can you image how far those sails must have traveled when they flew off that 30-foot tower in a big wind storm?

Next, the tree limbs and vines fixed the wheel and tail in place. A wind gust during a thunderstorm folded the tower over.

This poor guy bought the old Aermotor 602 online and took it to a local machine shop who told him that it would cheaper to make it a “static display.” Not too long after he paid to have it “fixed upped” and a tower made, I had to untangle it from the tower and replace everything.

The fourth photo shows what happen when they replaced the windmill but didn’t install the furl lever correctly and the wheel hit the broken parts, and you can see what happen to the blades.

This windmill was a new replacement that didn’t fit the old tower correctly. Notice the step stool built on the original platform? They didn’t want it to spin while they came up with a better plan so they tied the tail to the wheel. When the wind came up, it didn’t take long to bend the tailbone and crack the cast iron. Do you notice how the tail vane is twisted and the oil is running down the platform?

The last photo is a new 6 foot Aermotor windmill that wasn’t installed correctly. It didn’t take long to rip the wheel arms right out of the hub. The damaged wheel ripped a hole in the motor cover allowing the gear box to fill with rain.

Remember, it is always easier to fix a windmill on the ground than work on it 30 feet in the air!

Broken Windmill
Cutting a windmill apart 30 foot up the tower

While a windmill can easily have 50-year life span, provided they are properly installed and maintained, sometimes things just get old and break. Other times, well-meaning people do more harm than good when they work on a windmill.

Please visit my webpage on windmill maintenance for help on how to service your windmill.

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