Archive for December 23rd, 2008

All Juiced Up But Nowhere We Want To Go

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

The boat pretty much has a full battery bank now. The wind is almost – howling. W/ would say it IS howling. Most likely 10 gusting to 25 kts. We’re a little ways behind a hill so the wind builds up like a football team lining up for a scrimmage and as the ball is hiked they charge forward. The wind tumbles down the hill.

Last night it started blowing. I checked the amps from the wind generator. The amp meter was bouncing around. There should have been a nice and steady movement of the analog needle. The amp hour meter would jump then settle at 0 again. It should be 5-10 amps and resting at about 2 with the wind we were getting. DAMN! So we tried a couple of things then furled the generator for the evening. Furling isn’t that hard physically but I kept thinking of all the power we weren’t collecting. To furl the generator we turn it sideways. I use a boat hook and grab a control line (I don’t want any body parts getting near the blade – it’s a propeller from a plane and it moves!) and turn it sideways till the energy is out of the blades. Once is slows way, way down to almost nil I grab it with my hand and put a line about it so it will not turn.

This am I awoke to our most important job. GET POWER! After breakfast I pulled off the blade and checked to see if the motor would turn with power applied to it. It turned. I concluded that I had a bad power cord connection. I pulled it apart and cleaned it. Hauled it back up (no it’s not a lot of work but everything is a pain when the winds blowing and it’s 18 degrees C out. I started the generator and still have the jumpy amp reading. Double Damn.

It has to be the connection, there was some corrosion in prongs so I conclude I need a new female adapter for 115 vac. That’s the adapter that it had initially been setup with. Into the dinghy I go into town to get a Bahamas priced adapter. While in town W/ runs the generator to replace the power in the batteries we should have gotten last night and to pull down the temp in the refrigerator and freezer. In town, I buy two; one to replace what’s on the power cord and a spare.

Down the generator comes again and I take it apart. I bring the power cord inside and cut the end off an put the new one on making sure I have the polarity correct for the wind generator. The hot wire runs through a diode to make sure power doesn’t flow back into the generator, only to the battery.

By this time an hour has passed and we’ve added some serious amp hours to the battery and pulled the refrigeration and freezer holding plates down about 7-10 degrees C.

Wired in now I put the generator back into service. Unfurl it and viola, she starts turning like a champ. I jump down below and check the amp meter. It’s still jumping at an amp or so and settles back at 0! A small variety of words enter my conscious thoughts but I’m too focused to let them escape into the physical world. Back, I go to furl the generator.

Now it has to be in the generator. I take it down, take the blade off, pull the motor out and bring it below. First I’ll check the brushes before I take the back of the generator off. I pull the first brush and out it comes in THREE pieces. Not good. I check the other one. It is in one piece. That’s good. If you’ve read some of the earlier blogs you’ll remember that I ordered a new motor in Marathon with brushes. They had sent that to my billing address. Thankfully they rectified most of the situation and had sent another motor to me in Marathon, without the extra brushes. Luckily,the brushes in the new motor fit the old motor. So I removed one from the new motor – put it in the old motor and put it all back together.

Then up she went. I unfurled it, she spun like mad in the wind. Jumping below I gave it a 99% shot at working and; whew, it did indeed put out the power it was too. Job done. Time to take a break, rest, read, and then run into town with W/ for her errands.

BTW: I will get a pic up of the brush but I don’t always have pictures when I write an entry into the blog, so if you want to see any of the details you’ll need to eventually look back in the logs. I’ve discovered that if I wait for the pics then the log will get way out of date.

Fair and Warm Winds. Cold winds inhale.