Friday, July 14, 2017

Quilt Block Wind Farm in Darlington, WI

Taking a little break from the log cabin project to post some details on the Quilt Block Wind Farm being built here in Darlington, WI. Pretty big deal for a small town of just 2500 people. This project has been in the works on and off again for the past 10 - 15 years. EDP (Energies de Portugal) North America is the company backing the project. Forty nine 2 MW Vestas wind generators! Being interested in renewable energy and having a wind generator myself for over 15 years I have a keen interest in learning as much as I can about the process from the ground up. And I mean UP. Here are some facts about the project:

49 two MW Vestas wind generators
$3 to $4 million each installed
Total weight a whopping 380 tons each

Normal rotor speed 19 RPM
Cut-in speed 9 mph
Cut-out speed 56 mph
Nacelle 18' x 34' x 12'  weighs 68 tons

3 Carbon fiber blades 160' long wt. 40 tons

300 foot tower 275 tons

Gravity Spread Base  40 - 60 feet diameter
40 tons of steel reinforcing bars
450 cu yd concrete

Step One The BASE

Here the concrete is being poured into the base. The form shape looks like the bottom of a wine glass. One down 48 to go...

Here you can see the mounting rings that hold and align the 140 - 1.5" diameter bolts that will secure the tower to the base. The bolts run thru the concrete to the bottom of the base.

When it is back filled this is all you see. The conduit for running power cables and communications wiring are in the center. There must be a spacer ring that is grouted and leveled placed on these bolts first as I have seen the base ring on one of the tower sections and it is only about 3" thick. Will have to check on this.

Step Two The TOWER

A small er 150' crane is used to set the first two sections of tower. The sections are bolted together by rings on the inside. They look be be 3/4" bolts and they appear to be placed every 6" on center around the ring inside. There is a built-in  platform at each level for workers to stand when they install the bolts. I suspect that each year as a form of PM the bolts are checked for tightness.

With the first two sections in place it is time to bring in and carefully stage the rest of the components that will make up the generator. The Nacelle, the Nose Cone, the Blades and the final two tower sections.

At the base of the tower a level pad made of 8 x 10 timbers for the BIG crane has been laid. To the left are the final two tower sections. In the middle are the Nacelle and Nose Cone. To the right are the three blades. This arrangement is critical as the crane base will not move once the assembly process begins.

To get some appreciation for just how BIG these things are you need something to compare them to. Above you can see my wife standing next to one of the 160 foot long blades. Below I have parked my  Mitsubishi MiEV electric car. Inside this Nacelle are the guts of the drive shaft, generator, gearbox, electronics and cooling units to keep the hydraulics cool. This weighs in at about 68 tons. My car weighs a little over 1.5 tons.

Above you can see the third of four sections being lifted. Notice the top of this crane has been rigged to handle the weight with a braced tip extension. Also the crane cable has been ran through a four pulley block and from that four cables go to the top of the tower section. It takes about 15 minutes to raise the piece to the top.

Step Three Generator Assembly

The Nose Cone is bolted to the Nacelle and the assemble is mounted as a unit. The Nose Cone holds the three massive ring bearings where that the blades will be attached. The back of the Nose Cone is bolted to a massive plate that is connected to the main drive shaft supported in a pillow block type bearing. The shaft must be 10" to 12" in diameter I am guessing. This is connected to a complex gear box to increase the RPM and then the generator is connected.

This assembly is then lifted to the top and secured with massive blocks and bolts. There is ring gear at the top and four hydraulic motors that can yaw the nacelle so as to point the blades into the wind for full power or out of the wind for maintenance and/or shut down. Again this unit is about the size of a school bus and weighs 68 tons!

Blades are the last piece of the puzzle. A specialized carrier (the size of a semi trailer) is used to hold and position each 160 foot long blade. Considerable thought goes into the placement of the blade in this carrier to insure balance and control during the process. It is hard to see in the picture but sticking out of the mounting end of each blade are what has to be 50 to 60 bolts that will be nutted up to secure the blade to its bearing race. Another item to note is the white rope below the blade. There are two of these and they are control ropes that are stretched out to the right and held by two skid steer loaders.

The Nose Cone has been rotated to horizontal and the ground ropes can be used to control the blade and with the crane operator this blade can be aligned just right (like threading the needle 300 feet in the air). It is a wonder to watch such precision and control of such massive weights. There is a crew of assemblers waiting in the Nose Cone. You can see the hatch opening. Also you can see a rope that is attached to the end of the blade and the carrier (sort of a loop). The assembler will use this rope to pull the blade the final inch or so into the mating ring of holes. If you have ever changed a tire and tried to line up 5 lug bolts with a 75 pound tire in your hands you can appreciate what is really going on here.

It took about an hour to get the blade on and unclamp the carrier.

If you look closely at these two photos you can see that the blade has been rotated 90 degrees. At this point you could hear the sound of more impact drivers tightening more bolts. My guess is that the best tightening takes place on the bottom half due to the weight of the blade and also would put the bolts at a more reachable height. Will have to ask more about this procedure. Each of the blades has a hydraulic ram attached to it that is used to control the pitch of it for efficient use of different wind speeds.

With the first blade attached the Nose Cone is rotated and the process repeated two more times. Lift, attach, rotate, repeat! Pretty well oiled operation. You could tell this was not their first time doing this.

And then it was complete and the giant crane moved off over the access road to another pre-stagged 
 location to do another one. One down 48 to go! The crane moved at a snails pace but it was rock solid. The more that six foot diameter block at cables end never even swung.

I welcome any and all questions and will do my best to seek out the answers. The more we know and understand this technology the sooner more will get on board. The renewable energy train has left the station in Darlington, Wisconsin. 53530


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Log Cabin rebuild project

This 24' by 18' story and a half log cabin found in Northwest Wisconsin was rebuilt from salvaged hand hewn oak logs in 1991 for use as a hunting shack. Over the years it looks to have been abandoned and neglected to the point of "no return" for repair.

Enter Lynn, a local to the Darlington area and her life long dream of having her own cozy little log cabin to enjoy a nice fire, book and coffee in.

So for the next few months keep watching the story unfold as I go through the process of designing, reforming and recutting these 100 year old solid oak, hand hewn logs, into the cabin of Lynn's 

Sunday July 2, 2017 - The journey begins...


Delivery. Oh, oh. Got off to a rough start. 

So needed a bit of help from the skid loader to get the log load up to my work site. Problem solved and am hoping with this hick-up out of way things will proceed more smoothly. Time will tell.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Timber frame bridge project

Well the weather did not cooperate at all but the 90 foot Latrobe-Bateman Bridge

was assembled by a hardy crew of Timber Framer Guild members at the 2017 TFG Conference in Madison, Wisconsin this past weekend May 20-22.

The back story. Richard Latrobe-Bateman is a bridge designer from England that uses the least number of pieces, forming triangles and thinks three dimensionally. At the 2016 TFG conference he suggested that one of his bridges could be built at the 2017 conference in Madison, Wisconsin and auctioned off as a fund raiser for the guild. Jonathan Orpin, president of the guild at that time and owner of New Energy Works and Pioneer Mill Works said, good idea and got it done!

The site at the Edgewater Hotel was a challenge to say the least for a 90 foot long bridge.

Not only were we going to build this 90 foot long bridge in one day, we were going to do it in 84 ft!

Richard Latrobe-Bateman and his son Will look over the bundles of timber and pallets of connectors shipped to Mike Yaker's shop in DeForest, Wi. because there was no place at the construction site.

Not to sweat the small stuff the project went forward. About two months ago George Brinkman of Boards by George a guild member in Meddow, BC cut and donated the timber for the project. Over 2700 board feet of old growth Spruce was shipped to Fraserwood Industries in Creek, BC where Peter Dickson's team did all the cutting and drilling on their Hundiger to produce finished pieces. And I mean finished pieces they even stained the wood! While Mike Stewart was making the pieces at Fraserwood another fabricator was cutting, bending and welding the over 90 very complicated steel connectors that would be needed to put this erector set together. Mike assembled all the hardware and even made a test assembly run of the first pyramid to insure the projects success!

With more donated labor and equipment Mike Yaker of Wood Joiners, in DeForest, WI packed up his trailer ready for the 25 mile trip into downtown Madison and the Edgewater Hotel where it would be unloaded and...
hand carried down to the building site.

With each 6x6 timber weighing between 100 and 175 pounds this was a job going down but will be a killer on Monday for take down and removal.

We got the space laid out and some scaffolding set up and then the rain started. Here the Lead person  on the job,  Darrin Watson from New Energy Works sets the first timber in place at around 10am Sat.

Got a little brake in the rain and a good crew of helpers came out between conference sessions and toted the timbers down for us. (They really saved us as the rain kept up all day) They even came back on Monday and did the job to carry everything back up and be loaded for shipment to the new owners.

With all the timbers hauled down and scaffold set we were ready to start assembly.

It was getting close to supper time and our small wet crew was starting to show some wear and we thought the better of it would be to stop and go at it fresh Sunday morning. The weather would be with us and some more guys would want to get in on this. No sense keeping all the fun to ourselves. Right?

Sunday, a new day, a change in the weather and many hands made light work to finish the bridge by noon. One of those hands was Ben Brungraber and Joe Miller, from Fire Tower Engineering at the top of the scaffold putting in the last piece. They did all the engineering calculations on the bridge structural design for loading. Now to take away the scaffolding and enjoy looking at and walking across the 90 foot Latrobe-Bateman Bridge.

With the scaffold removed and the walkways in place. Pretty as a picture!

Inside barrel view looking back toward the city of Madison, Wisconsin. In the top of the picture you can see the state capitol. 

And a proud day for the designer, Richard Latrobe-Bateman standing on a bridge of his design. Great guy. This was a project that required the help and input of many people in and out of the Timber Framers Guild and a true testament of what can be accomplished by teamwork and innovation. Like they say, Leap and the net will appear! 

The bridge took around 12 hours to assemble and 4 hours to take down. It was purchased by the Arete' Engineering group from Boone, NC. It will be shipped to them for arrival by June 1st. No site for placement has been selected yet. I will follow up with them and post that information when I get it. Until then remember, "Crossing a bridge in your future will be a bit easier after you have built one or two." RCA

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Wind generator rebuild project complete

Decided to go with the "Big" blades now that the generator has been rebuilt!

I just hope the brake on my Enertech 1800 can handle the bigger blades! Just kidding. The "Big" blades are for a 1 Meg watt generator in Monfort, WI that was built about 10 years ago. Anyway getting the generator and brake back up on the tower and bolted on was just about all I could handle.

It took almost six months to get the unit back up and running. If you want to see all the details you can go back in the blog posts and see the whole story of the Enertcch 1800 rebuild. Now I will have some time to watch the construction of the 49 two megawatt wind generators that they are putting up this summer right here in Darlington, WI. 

Friday, April 28, 2017

More on the Madison Bridge Project

This year on May 20-21 the Timber Framers Guild will be holding its annual conference at the Edgewater Hotel in downtown Madison, WI. On May 20th a small group of timber framers from all over the country will assembling for display a one of a kind 90 foot timber framed walking bridge designed by Richard Latrobe-Bateman of the U.K. The bridge will consist of over fifty pre-cut 6x6's  13 to 16 foot long timbers held together with custom designed steel connectors. The 2700 board feet of Larch pine wood will weigh over 18,000 pounds and be hand raised by the builders and then taken down at the end of the conference!

Darren Watson, from New Energy Works in Oregon is heading up and assembling the team that will be in Madison to work on the bridge. When I heard the convention was going to be in Madison only 60 miles from where I live I jumped at the chance to work on the bridge. I have been building a small scale model of the bridge. Since this particular bridge has never been built before the model will be helpful to test out assembly and disassembly procedures on before swinging around the 150 - 200 pound timbers. I have just finished a possible solution to providing some guide railings for the bridge. As plans are to allow people attending the conference actually try out the bridge.

Considering that the bridge design is functional art the railings should add to the design and not distract from it. We will see if this idea meets the test.  If the bridge is not sold at the convention it will be dismantled and stored until a buyer can be found.

And at last I have finished the St. Francis bird feeders that I started last fall. You can see the bridge models in the background and the side straw model on the truck hood. Hopefully getting the wind generator back together and running will be my filler project between now and building the bridge in Madison.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Busy spring projects

One down and 4 to go on the St Francis bird feeders. Have all the parts painted and ready to go. Also have to get the ropes and tie the monks knot. Then these are done.

Now moving on the the Madison bridge project. Have been in touch with the people that are doing this project for the May 19 - 21 Timber Frame Guild conference this year. Have built a scale model to test out some of the assembly sequences.

This model is a little over 9' long and made out of 2x2's The real walking bridge will be 90' long and made out of 6x6 Larch Pine. 2700 board feet of timber and weighing over 10,000 lbs. Darren Watson, from is organizing the build. The wood has been cut and machined and brackets fabricated. Everything will be brought to Madison and we will start assembling the bridge on Friday the 19th and have it up Saturday. Then on Sunday we will disassemble it! If you are going to be in the area stop in to the Edgewater Hotel in downtown Madison, WI and have a look. This is really going to be something.