Monday, November 28, 2016

Worst thing in the world...

The worst time in the world when you are trying to fix something has to be being lost and not know it. And this has been the case with my most recent, repairing my Enertech 1800 wind generator.
In my defense. Picture yourself standing at the top of a 6 foot ladder tied to the top of this 50 foot tower. Sure you have a safety harness on but it still is distracting.

You open up the nacell and remove a cover over the capacitors and this is what you find. The black starting cap is totally disconnected (3 wires) and only one wire (of the 3) is still connected to the metal run cap. No problem as I had some tape on my gloves that I could tear off and label some of the wires. I also had a scrap of paper with me and made a little drawing of the wires. I would get replacements and be back in business shortly. I was very careful and methodical as I re-turminated each lead (as instructed by my capacitor guy) one lead at a time and attached. Did not want to mix anything up. After the rewiring I went down and flipped the power on. Nothing! Dang.

Next move was to read and do some more testing. Wait, it was still dead maybe I had the cap wiring wrong on the run cap.  (I KNEW I had the start cap wired right. Lost and didn't know it). So I did and this time got a high current (45 amp) to flow. (I reasoned that this meant there was a starting problem.) This was miss guided thinking.

So testing it would be. Now to perform these tests all wire had to be disconnected. My first test showed an open main A winding. B winding was good. Temperature switch was good. Starting winding was good. Bleed resistor was good. Capacitors were new. So I decided to unbolt the brake and generator and bring them down from the tower. There I could study and bench test everything.

Two days of on again off again reading and testing. Trying to follow the schematic and physical wiring of this many wired monster ( six to the capacitors and eight in the junction box) was a struggle. So I decided to draw a physical diagram of the connections.
So this made sense and as I traced each wire in and out of the motor housing I labeled it and my drawing. During this process I discovered that I had mixed up a second wire in the first attempt to install the new caps. This was sad because had I gotten it right the first time it would have worked. All looked good and the logic of how current should flow was there. Wired it up by the numbers and WALLA! Spun like a top. All I can say is I learned a lot more about my wind generator in the process so not a total loss.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Lucky me ?

As the ol' saying goes, "If it was not for bad luck I would have no luck at all." This past week I came home and noticed the wind generator blades were running a bit choppy. There was plenty of wind and it looked as though the brake was on to a degree. I went in the shed and looked at the control box and the watt meter was at zero. Even after I shut it off the blades still were choppy. So fo sure I knew the brake was on. Now they say, "it is what you don't know that hurts you.

I got out the manual and started looking for clues. After spending a day trying this or that I went back to the manual. "If all else fails read the manual" right. I even tried to motor the generator by directly wiring power to it and by pass the control box. No luck. Then I went to the top of the tower and started investigating. Brake solenoid clicked so power was getting to it when but in test mode. Wiring in junction box was fine. Just as I was about to quit I saw the cover for the capacitors and thought maybe I should have a peek.

Yikes! Found "the" problem would later turn out to be "a" problem. Went to my local electrician and he had just the capacitors I needed. Now if you are following this blog you know that this past summer I spent several weeks going over this unit and making some major repairs. You would have thunk that I would have checked these while it was down and handy, but no.

Well after replacing the capacitors I thought all would be well again. Not to be. I could tell you all of the little tiny mistakes I made in the wiring but even after correcting no go. So back to the manual!

Now armed with a testing plan and trusty ohmmeter I mounted the tower. To make the tests required that ALL wire connections be dis-connected. So now with now fewer than 12 wires loose I began testing. Did not take long to determine one of the main windings was open.

I felt like jumping off the tower!

But instead I decided to unbolt the brake and generator and bring them down. So I tied up the blades and anchored them to the mast. Now I can trouble shoot this beast on the bench. What I won"t do for "free" electricity.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

No TV Tuesday Nov. 8

Well I voted for Gary Johnson in protest and have decided not to watch any of the election returns. So I'll blog a bit about some projects I am getting into as fall is in full swing.

First is another carving repair. This time for my Mother. A few years ago the tree trunk these Finches were carved on went to pieces so I took them home and grafted them into a new oak trunk that I cut out of my woods. For good measure I also fiber glassed the birds. Well after several more years I noticed the base of the new trunk was showing some rot and the carving was in real danger of falling over.

This time I made a new mounting plate out of 4 x 6 treated material. Then I wrapped the trunk in fiber glass. So now it is sealed up and should go the distance. New paint and they will be like new. Lets hope.

Then it was on to taking a few pictures of some of the "yard art" I have been building over the years for a class that I will be holding at Shake Rag Alley in Mineral Point next summer. Should be fun.

And lastly I have decided to crank up the bird feeder factory. These are the birds (3 for each feeder) a Finch, Cardinal and Bluebird that will be mounted on St Francis the monk holding a tray. These feeders are about 5 feet tall and require a lot of carving on the face, hands and feet. A few  years ago I ran into a junked out picnic table that was made out of 2" red cedar plank. Just what I needed for making the St. Francis feeders because it resists rotting. So now I am recycling it and putting it to use.

More pictures to come as I move along with the process.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Badger ready to roll

The Bucky Badger carved in 2008 was one hot mess. After sawing it in half I could see that the repair would be a formidable one to say the least! It had been attacked by birds, rain and rot but, I had hopes for the rodent.

Rot removed after the shell had been reinforced with fiberglass drywall tape.

With the two halves reunited I could begin the process of fiber glassing them back together. It took about 5 yards of cloth, 2000 staples and two gallons of resin to do the job. I then went to work installing some 2 by 2's to build a framework inside that would be used to secure the shell to a base of treated 1 by 6 deck boards. Also 1/4" hardware cloth was fitted to the base to keep out any varmints that might be tempted to take up residence inside once the carving was placed back on site.

I also put together a nice collection of local publications for a time capsule and placed it inside the carving. Should make for an interesting read if the carving is ever worked on again in 30 years.

Several layers of oil base paint and details later and Bucky is ready to go home. Carved in 2008 and rebuilt in 2016 should now last another 30 years!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Chainsaw wood carving repair

Some years ago I began carving animals and birds with my chainsaw. After about ten years I started to get call backs from customers saying their carvings were starting to decay. Since most of these carvings represented a considerable investment and were meaningful to the owners they wanted to save them. After some trial and error I came up with fiberglass and resin to do the trick and it works very well.

My latest repair project, a Wisconsin Bucky Badger carved in 2008.
This is a 4' carving on a 3' stump base that was carved on site. After cutting the carving off and transporting it home I could see this was a major rot out  and only the thin shell of the carving remained. The carving would have to be cut in half to remove as much interior wood as possible. To guide the saw two 2x4' were attached.

The sawing went well and I put each half on wheels. However the outside shell was in such bad shape that I decided to fiberglass the outside first and then remove the dead inside wood.

As I turned it over sections of the base began to fall off! This was a bit alarming but the wood was sound and could be reassembled, I thought. One of my buddies suggested that I give Bucky his last rights and put him out of his misery with some fuel oil and a match!

Fiberglass drywall tape was first applied and stapled to the pieces of the base as they were added. Then several other strips were added to form a web matrix. Then a layer of fiberglass cloth was stapled over the entire carving. The cloth is very flexible and can be made to conform to all the contours of the carving and stapled in place.

First coat of resin applied to the cloth and after it hardens up the shell of the carving will be stable. Then the halves can be turned over and the task of excavating the interior wood started. We'll see how it works out in a few weeks. Will try to get it back to the owners for the first home Badger game.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Let there be... trouble

And behind this little plug was big trouble!

Inside was the coupling that connects the gear box to the generator. What I saw was not pretty.

After some wrenching I got the parts separated and just knew this was going to be a learning experience. The parts on the left are the worn out Browning three pin coupler. One pin in each half had worked loose and started to wear the holes. I would learn about Browning, Dodge and Lovejoy couplings, solid and thru spiders, plus their load torque ratings. I selected a Lovejoy sized to handle a lot of torque load.

Good news on the torque. Bad news on the fit. Looking thru the inspection hole there was no way to tighten the 5/32 set screw. A thru spider would have lowered the torque so I went for the next size smaller coupling and made the fix.

Last but not least. Do you see that blue dot on the back end of the generator? Now you would think I was done and had learned my lesson. Not so. So I pulled the blue plug out to have a look and sure enough, this coupling was also bad. However this time it was the key and keyway that were worn. The set screw had worked loose and the key wallowed out the keyway. After some head scratching and web searches I decided to go with a new key and Loctite 660 and make the best of it. After I put it together I bench tested it with 10 one minute run cycles and it was still tight. 

I ended the day by making some nice bird proofing screen grills that will keep my feathered friends out of the nacell in the future. Wheeled the unit down to the base of the tower and mounted the blades. Tomorrow I'll call and schedule the crane.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Repairs and more fix'n

Disaster! Avoided. Had I not heard the clicking noise coming from my Enertech 1800 last winter and taken action for sure I would have had some horror pictures to blog of the unit folded over with its blades smashed against the tower. It was close to failure. I was able to break off this third of the support with a vise grips.

So first up was the repair to the main mounting plate. A 3/8" thick plate was bored and welded to the cracked original. The the cracked areas and hole for the power cord welded. Plus new stronger brace pieces welded in. Looks very, very strong.

Next was the repair aka "fix" to the blade mounting plate. The design of a single 1/4" thick plate with flanges bent to stiffen it was not a good one. All the stress from the blades was concentrated on the 3 bolts that attached it to the center hub. They used 1/8" thick 1" diameter washers to help but it was not enough. The original plate, 15 years ago, had the same cracking failure around these bolts and here it was again. What to do?  Belt and suspenders! I cut and drilled a new 1/4" plate that was welded and bolted to the original. Plug welds and edge welds were made. Six grade 5 bolts were threaded and nutted along the welded edges. Finally 1/4" thick 1.750" diameter washers were made and fitted for the 3 hub bolts. Belt and suspenders!

Then it was on to the blades. At first I thought the wear at the holes was a big problem. After some discussion it was determined that the holes were most likely drilled out to make them fit the plates that secure them. This was backed up by two of the blades having different ID numbers. However the splitting along the grain was a concern to me.

I decided to drill cross holes at the bottom and install 1/4" stainless steel rods to give them some support. Time will tell if this was a good idea.

It's the little things. Really. The nose cone is held on by three threaded bolts with their nuts held secure in the plates that hold the blades on. Imagine the problem with one of the nuts breaking free and spinning. How would you get to the blades and hub bolts if you could not remove the nose cone? The designers must have though of this as one of the plates had this small notch in it to mate with the nut, Then it was staked in place. One of the others had a weld and had almost broken free.

As I moved on to the slip ring assembly I thought I could avoid messing with that as the assembly has many parts and is a wiring nightmare. It was not to be as I inspected it I could tell that the ground wire was loose. Bummer. So I took is all apart and re-soldered in all new wires. Tricky but a good job done.

Then there was this groove cut around the main yaw shaft. This is right at the point where the three part flat thrust bearing sits. I could see no wear of marks on the thrust bearing parts and cannot figure out how this groove got hear. I greased her up and put it back together deciding to live with it for another 15 years.

This is getting to be quite a project. Hey I wounder what is under this little plug between the gear box and generator? Oh, Oh...
To be continued

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Generator repair continues

After removing the blades and adding a second set of wheels to the gen stand/log mover I was able to wheel it into the shop.

With the nacelle removed I used the engine hoist to lift and separate the parts for inspection and repair of the unit.

The surprises just keep coming. Upon removal of a junction box cover this looks bad.

Looks like the wire nut did not do the job in  this case and over time the connection got hot. Could have been a disaster for sure. The repair for this will be a split nut connector to give the connection a more solid connection.

Removed the base mount from the unit. This is where the mounting plate was cracked. I broke it off the rest of the way so I could grind a nice vee into the plates and increase the weld penetration. The small angle brace welds were a poor factory job with very little penetration and will be replaced with 1/4 inch thick material. A second 3/8 inch thick is being drilled and will be edge welded to the bottom of this plate for the repair.  Same thing will have to be done for the blade mounting plate as the three holes where it attached to the generator hub are also showing some cracking.

Then it will be on to refinishing of the blades. Stay tuned.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Wind generator repair

The crane is back. My grandson, Gus would love it! It has been 11 years since I put the Enertech 1800 up. Thanks Mick Sigrillo. Now because of a crack in the mounting plate I brought it down.

Working on the top of a 50 foot tower is... lets say exciting. When you have to let go and use both hands on something putting all your trust in a thin strap of nylon and a couple of clips!

The the wind was low (about 5 mph) and since there is no good way to lock the yaw of the head I was at the mercy of the wind to hook the crane to the generator lifting eye screw. Finally I made the hook and removed the nuts so the head could be lifted. Unfortunately as luck would have it the balance was off and the mounting plate jammed on the bolt threads. With nothing to lever with or against I decided to screw the nuts below the mounting plate up and raise the head to the top of the three bolts. Problem solved.

For years I have had a family of birds nesting in the nacel. Each year I would evict them and each year they would come back. Looks like this year they really did a number on some of the wiring. One of my repairs will be to bird proof the unit!

OK. Now now a new project. Let the learning begin.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Yeks! This is trouble...

Last January I hear this strange clicking noise outside and wondered if it could be my wind generator. Shutting off the generator stopped the clicking noise. Not wanting to test fate I shut it off until warmer weather. When I climbed up to have a look this is what I saw. Yeks! A crack in the mounting plate. Had this broken off I would not need a crane to take it down for repair. Gravity would have done the job for me.

My guess is that the designers got it wrong when they drilled that 1" hole in the plate for the power cord. This weakened this section and after many years of flexing caused a metal fatigue crack. My repair will be to make another plate and weld it to the existing one. I will make some other arrangement for securing the power cord in place. More pictures to follow when I get the crane in and take the unite down.

In my last post I had just repaired my SDHW system and replaced the anti-freeze in the hot loop. Then it was time to replace the pipe insulation on the roof lines. I had good weather and everything was going just fine. I should have known.

As I removed the insulation around one of the high point vents I noticed some corrosion. 

Upon removal and close examination I realized that when they say that the anti freeze should not be used with galvanized fittings they mean it. In this picture you can see the brass fitting below the other vent is just fine. So I had to drain off some of the loop, replace the fitting and then refill and vent the system. Oh well live and learn it guess.