Finding and restoring a 1930s Wincharger...By Michael Hackle by SUSB


									     By Michael Hackleman and Craig Worthley

   E NERGY W ORKS                                        November/December 2000 Backwoods Home Magazine

       he windmachine hung precariously at the top of a                        By MIchael Hackleman
       tower. It was skewed on its mount, its tail tilted
                                                                           But something had gone wrong.
       downward at a 30° angle. Minus its two blades and                 The windplant should have toppled
governor, it was an odd sight. The elderly woman in the                  cleanly away. Instead, it twisted and
far mhouse said the people fr om the REA (Rural                          jammed. Her husband was afraid to
                                                                         climb the tower again. The woman
Electrification Administration) would not hook up utility                from the REA reassured the couple
power unless the windplant was taken down.                               that their actions met the intent of
Too poor to hire someone to remove it, her husband had                   the REA policy. Subsequently, their
                                                                         farm was hooked up to the new
attempted what many of their neighbors in 1940 had                       utility service.
already succeeded in doing—unbolting their windplants
and letting them fall—to qualify for grid connection. For                A rescued Wincharger
                                                                           In 1974 and 1975, I conducted a
us, this solved the mystery of the fully assembled wind-                 series of expeditions to recover wind-
plants we’d found in previous weeks, half buried in the                  electric machines of the pre-REA
ground or crumpled against the concrete base of a tower.                 period from the midwest USA.
                                                                                Respectively the Rolls Royce
                                                                                and the Chevy of wind-electric
                                                                                machines, we found a few
                                                                                Jacobs and a multitude of
                                                                                Winchargers. Fortunately, most
                                                                                of these had been taken down
                                                                                and were stored in barns, cel-
                                                                                lars, and garages where it was
                                                                                easy to assess their good con-
                                                                                dition. Other equipment was
                                                                                not so fortunate. Machines lay
                                                                                out in fields or in pieces,
(Above) Two expeditions rendered                                                buried in piles of junk. A few
parts to restore seven windplants.
                                                                                windplants were still on their
(Right) Windy Dankoff checks out
                                                                                towers. Some earned their
a restored Wincharger before it is                                              keep, bladeless, acting as a
bolted to a tower and raised.                                                   windvane for the owner. Others
                                                                         were simply too expensive or danger-
(Left) A damaged Wincharger sits atop a tower in Wyoming. In a stiff     ous to lower.
wind, Michael Hackleman hoists it clear (inset) and lowers it. This is     Forty years after it went into serv-
the machine Craig Worthley would restore.                                ice, I sweated the damaged

November/December 2000 Backwoods Home Magazine                    E NERGY W ORKS

                                     Steps and hardware of the Wincharger restoration



                                 4                      1. A larger (1500-watt) Wincharger awaits its
                                                            turn at restoration.
                                                        2. Adaptor plate and shaft extension for the
                                                        3. The gear is mounted to the alternator.
                                                        4. The alternator is bolted to the gearcase
                                                            frame assembly.
                                                        5. The gearcase is testfitted to a tower stub.
                                                        6. A fabricated propeller hub
                                                        7. Sliprings and brush assembly are mounted
                                                            in a weathertight box.
                                                        8. Glenn Hackleman test-fits the blades. (A
                         5                                  broom becomes a temporary tail.)
                                                        9. Craig Worthley and rebuilt Wincharger




                                                                  November/December 2000 Backwoods Home Magazine

Wincharger off the tower. Don’t let        produced electricity. Today their          tower stub, a prop hub, a slip ring
the size fool you. It’s heavy! The         names are forgotten, so the                assembly, and several extra vital parts
windplant is mostly cast iron, with        Wincharger was the best bang for the       to Craig to assist him in duplicating
some steel and copper. I came pre-         buck if you didn’t have a lot of bucks.    these components.
pared on the expedition with a gin           However, in 1975, after I’d pulled
pole. (A gin pole is bolted to the         the Wincharger from the tower, its         Homecoming
tower stub and acts like a small crane     small size and poor condition put it at      After that, I just waited. The school
to lift a windplant on or off the          the end of the list of machines we         year ended, and Craig called, wanting
tower.) I had experience with raising      would restore. Actually, it was more       to bring the remanufactured pieces
machines to the tops of the towers,        likely to be cannibalized for its parts    by. We met at my nearby storage unit
but never the reverse. I took lots of      or sold off “as is” to help defray expe-   to look over and actually assemble
time rigging it. Fortunately, it came      dition costs. My records show that its     the Wincharger, photo-documenting
off smoothly even in high winds.           gearcase was rebuilt along with all the    the pieces and stages of this proce-
                                           others we had restored. This means         dure as we went along.
What’s a Wincharger?                       that its prop shaft had been checked         I don’t know what grade Craig’s pro-
  Let me describe the Wincharger           for true. (We found many                   fessor gave him for his work, but I’d
design. First, it’s a brand name, hence    Winchargers concentrically out-of-         give him an A+. There were some
the missing “d” so that it is not con-     round between bearing and propeller        severe challenges in this restoration—
fused with the generic term, wind-         hub surfaces—a manufacturing               the parts had remained parts for a rea-
chargers, which describe a class of        error—and had new ones made.) New          son—and Craig met them with tenacity
windplants that generate electricity.      bearings were also installed. The          and skill. More specifically:
Second, Winchargers are rated 32           gear’s teeth checked good. The outer         1. Substituting an alternator for
Volts dc (the standard of the day,         surface was beadblasted to the metal       the original 32V generator. By par-
even in the cities) and 800-1500 watts     and given a coat of primer. After that,    alleling some of the field coils, a 32V
of output capacity. (There are excep-      the windplant was put in storage           windplant will power a 12V system
tions such as the popular 12V, 200W        when I left the farm in 1985.              “as is” but its maximum current rating
Wincharger sold also as Zenith or                                                     (about 35 amps) must not be exceed-
Silvertone brands.)                        The resurrection                           ed. Connected to a 12V system, then,
  Winchargers were built for the             In November of 1995, Meline “Mo”         the generator is limited to 420 watts
working person. While the Jacobs           McHolland at Humboldt State                (12V x 35A).
windplant had a generator which was        University (HSU) in Arcata,                  Automotive alternators have 12V
best handled by an engine hoist, the       California, introduced me to Craig         field coils and need only a limiting
Wincharger could be disassembled           Worthley, also a student at HSU.           resistor (or some similar voltage regu-
into recognizable parts: generator, a      Craig was looking for a senior project     lator circuit) if interfaced with 24V,
gearbox to translate a few hundred         and believed that restoring this wind-     32V, 36V, or 48V systems. A 100A
propeller rpm into the thousand-plus       plant might qualify with his teacher.      alternator affixed to the Wincharger
rpm needed by the generator, tail          It did and the project commenced. I        in a 12V system can safely produce
boom and tail, sliprings, a turntable, a   gave Craig a copy of my book, The          1,200 watts (12V x 100A).
furling mechanism to shut down the         Home-Built Wind Generated                    2. Adapting the alternator to
windplant, and a cast iron frame           Electricity Handbook. It had chapters      interface with the gearbox. The
assembly to which all the compo-           on finding and restoring Winchargers       design and fabrication of the adaptor
nents were attached.                       from my work 20 years before.              plate met every specification. The
  Rated alongside the Jacobs, the            The next task involved getting           shaft extension for the alternator was
Wincharger doesn’t score as high on        Craig, myself, and a truck to storage      cleverly executed. We had dismissed
material use, engineering, and work-       up in the Sierras to get windplant         the idea of substituting alternators for
manship. It cost less to make and it       parts and related hardware. Craig had      missing or burned-out generators on
sold for a lot less than a Jacobs wind-    a tough time recognizing the wind-         Winchargers previously because their
plant. Still, it is decisively more        plant for all the pieces it was in.        shafts were too short. Having the
rugged than some designs and brands        However, Windy Dankoff and I had           alternator rewound was also a smart
of windplants manufactured in the          restored half a dozen of these             move. This means higher power at
world, even today. As well, there          machines in 1975, so I was able to         lower voltages or windspeeds.
were many other brands of wind-            identify and pull out all the necessary      3. The design and fabrication of
plants in the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s that    parts—if they still existed. I loaned a    the slipring assembly, lollyshaft,

November/December 2000 Backwoods Home Magazine

and related hardware. There is a lot       the whole assembly, in this case, must    from the wind was a natural thing to
happening at the junction of any wind-     be built for any type of tower. Craig     do. It makes just as much sense today
plant and tower. The tower must sup-       fabricated basically a universal adap-    as it did more than a half century ago.
port the windplant and allow it to         tor.
rotate. The generated electricity must       I am happy to see this machine            (Photos for this article were taken, in part,
                                                                                     from The Homebuilt, Wind-Generated
pass from rotating machinery to sta-       progress slowly toward the day it will    Electricity Handbook by Michael Hackleman,
tionary wires on the tower. The cable      again fly. This Wincharger stands as      For a current publications list, send an SASE to
from the furling mechanism must pass       testament to a time when people           P.O. Box 327, Willits, CA 95490. E-mail: mhack-
through to the base of the tower. And      wanted power and found that taking it∆  ∆

                           THE RESTORATION
         By Craig Worthley                 parts that were available toward          up the rest of the assembly was most-
                                           restoring a Wincharger and headed         ly a matter of patience.

    n November of 1995, I was              back. By Monday morning, it was             The paddle shafts were found to be
    approached by Meline McHolland         one big pile on a table in the            true and in good condition. I merely
    and Michael Hackleman. The             University’s Jenkins Hall.                had to re-thread the ends that accept
three of us discussed a project—                                                     the castle nuts.
restoring a vintage 1930’s Wincharger.     The strategy                                The steel linkage bars that connect
As a senior in the Industrial                I began the restoration of the          the weights to the torsion gears and
Technology program at Humboldt             machine by dividing it into its major     from the gears to the springs have 3/8-
State University (HSU), I welcomed         sub-assembly groups. These assem-         inch holes at both ends for bolts. All
this opportunity to fulfill the require-   blies are: governor, generator,           of these holes were ovaled out after
ments of a senior project. I felt it       gearcase, furling assembly, lolly shaft   long years of use. To correct this con-
would allow for me to utilize my           and slipring assembly, and the tail       dition, I machined some steel bar
skills in management, manufactur-          assembly.                                 stock into bushings. These were
ing, design, Autocad, and CNC pro-                                                   drilled out and pressed into the holes
gramming.                                  Governor                                  I had enlarged in the linkages.
  After communication with the fac-          The purpose of the governor is to         The governor assembly was
ulty at HSU, the project was accept-       limit the maximum rpm of the              designed to accommodate four timp-
ed as a viable undertaking and met         machine. To have a 10-foot diameter       ken roller bearings, two on each of
requirements for completing the pro-       propeller spinning uncontrollably         two shafts where they enter and exit
gram.                                      high above the ground is not a safe       the casting. Removal of the old races
                                           condition. Through the use of             from the casting was the most chal-
Picking up the pieces                      weights, springs and gears, the gover-    lenging part of the replacement
  On a Saturday morning in April of        nor changes the pitch of the blades,      process. All the necessary nuts and
1996, the project got underway.            decreasing the area for the wind to act   bolts were purchased—as were roll
Michael and I were able to coordinate      upon while resisting the free spinning    pins and grease fittings—to complete
our schedules to actually make the         of the propeller. Maximum speed of        the governor assembly.
350-mile trip to the Sierra foothill       the blades is determined by
town of Mariposa, California where         the selection of different cen-
the machine was stored.                    trifugal weights and springs.
  We opened the door to the storage          To put the governor back in
unit. The image of a complete              working order, I first had to
machine in need of a little paint and      sand blast the years of grimy
new windings was shattered. Yes,           build-up off the aluminum
there was a Wincharger in there but it     casting. This unveiled the
was scattered and distributed among        body of the unit that accom-
many boxes containing smaller cups         modates the weights, springs,
which held the nuts and bolts of this      blade paddles, torsion gears
assembly or that. We loaded all the        and thrust bearings. Cleaning

   E NERGY W ORKS                                                November/December 2000 Backwoods Home Magazine

Generator/alternator                      was tested on the bench and produced        (Below) Parts for the alternator
  The windplant’s original generator      105 amps.                                   shaft extension
was built to produce 32V, while most        To fit the alternator to the cast
wind systems are designed around          iron body of the machine, I
12V. The choices were to rewind the       designed a triangular flange
original generator or replace it with a   (Figs. 2, 3, 4, 5, pg. 42) that
12V generator or alternator.              would adapt the bolt pattern of
                                          the original generator to this alterna-     mate with the alternator shaft. On the
  I felt that the most economical
                                          tor. This was fabricated out of ½-inch      other end, I machined an outside
alternative was to replace the 32V
                                          plate steel using CNC programming           thread to accommodate the bolt that
generator with an alternator that I
                                          and a Bridgeport Vertical mill. I was       holds the gear in place. This part was
found at a local shop. With the help
                                          able to accurately machine the bolt         3½ inches long. I broached the keyway
of the shop owner, we determined
                                          patterns for both the alternator and        into the machined shaft and slowly
that an alternator from a Detroit
                                          the cast iron gearcase.                     removed material from the female end
diesel was designed to produce elec-
                                            The flange was designed to provide        until the overall length made for per-
tricity at 2000 rpm. This was close to
                                          for good airflow into the alternator.       fect alignment of the gears.
what I was anticipating the machine
would produce with a 6:1 gear ratio       The cast-iron frame assembly was
                                          spot-faced to accommodate the round         Gearcase
and a propeller spinning at 300 rpm.
                                          mating surface of the original genera-        The gear case is comprised of a cast
In addition, the power curve of an
                                          tor. I refaced the casting on a surface     iron case, propeller shaft and bear-
alternator is inversely exponential,
                                          grinder to accept the square bottom         ings, drive gear and pinion gear. The
while in a generator, it’s linear. This
                                          edge of the flange.                         case is split vertically from the frame
should result in better voltage output
                                            The alternator’s shaft was consider-      assembly and sealed with a thin gas-
from the windplant at low rpm.
                                          ably shorter than the original generator    ket to prevent leakage of the oil bath.
  I dissassembled the old alternator to
                                          shaft. I came up with an extension to         The overhaul of the gearcase prima-
be upsized to 100A. The same shop
                                          ensure proper alignment of the pinion       rily involved bearing replacement in
that gave me the old alternator fit it
                                          and drive gears. To accomplish this, I      the nosecone section. The original
with new field windings and a voltage
                                          machined a piece of steel bar stock on      ball bearings were an open style,
regulator as well as new bearings. It
                                          a lathe to an inside thread on one end to   lubricated by oil splashed about
                                                                                      inside the casing. Bearing technology
                                                                                      has come a long way in the last 50
                                                                                      years. It is my opinion that a sealed
                                                                                      precision bearing would remain free
                                                                                      from contaminants contained in the
                                                                                      oil and, therefore, last longer. A very
                                                                                      light oil is still needed in the gearcase
                                                                                      to lubricate the gears.
                                                                                        I found it odd that the manufactur-
                                                                                      ers had opted to use a straight roller
                                                                                      bearing for this application. After all,
                                                                                      the propeller shaft is subjected to
                                                                                      considerable thrust. I explored the
                                                                                      options for replacement bearings. I
                                                                                      actually found a high-end roller bear-
                                                                                      ing that was rated to accept well over
                                                                                      twice the anticipated 1000-pound
                                                                                      thrust of the blade and governor.
                                                                                        After pressing the new bearings
                                                                                      onto the shaft and, in turn, the shaft
 (Above) At rated speed, the governor’s weights arc outward, pulling                  into the casting, the woodruff keys
 the gears and prop shafts into rotation, preventing rotor overspeed.                 were replaced and the drive gear
                                                                                      mounted. The gear case was now
 (Left) Refurbished and new parts for the governor await re-assembly.                 functional.

November/December 2000 Backwoods Home Magazine                                         E NERGY W ORKS

Propeller hub                                the brass rings and fit firmly onto the   Furling assembly
  The next big component to manu-            lolly shaft. The mounts were                The furling assembly allows an
facture was the propeller hub. The           machined of phenolic resin on a lathe     operator to mechanically rotate the
hub was manufactured in two pieces,          which turned the shoulders and bore       tail from its position perpendicular to
and these were joined to make one            the hole to accept the lolly shaft. The   the propeller (operating mode) to a
component (Fig. 6)                           pieces were then mounted in an            position parallel to it (shutdown
  The first piece was a 1½-inch cylin-       indexing head which was set up on a       mode) from the base of the tower.
der that was bored out and broached          knee-and-column mill. This allowed        When the machine is in the furled
to accept the key to mate with the           me to rotate the work while engaged       position, the blades come to a stop
outboard end of the propeller shaft          with the tool.                            because they are then in a plane par-
(front of gearcase). This part served          I carved arched slots between the       allel to the movement of air. This
the dual purpose of spacing the rest         interior bore and the outside of the      allows for safe servicing of the
of the hub from the gear case and dis-       mount. These slots allow for the con-     machine or temporary shut-down in
tributing the load along a greater area      ductors to be soldered to the inside of   the event of malfunction.
of the shaft.                                the rings and pass through other            [Note: The furling system consists
  The second piece was a ½-inch              mounts on their way down the tower.       of two subassemblies. At the base of
plate that was CNC-machined to cre-          The conductors were sized by refer-       the tower is typically a crank and
ate an 8-inch disk. When the machin-         encing the Uniform Building Code.         drum of cable equipped to ratchet in
ing process was finished, it was pene-       Based on a 100-amp service, the rec-      either direction, to furl or unfurl the
trated in the center to accept the first     ommended wire was size #6, 600-           windplant. At the top of the tower and
part and it had a 4-hole bolt pattern to     volt, multi-strand, copper conductor.     attached to windplant is the furling
match the governor toward the out-             The lolly shaft, which is secured to    assembly. The tail (fin and boom) is
side of the disk. The center piece was       the tower, does not rotate and neither    attached to the top of a casting with
introduced into the hub and welded in        do the sliprings. Inside of the lolly     two galvanized U-bolts. This casting
place. Trueness of the joined parts          shaft is another shaft that rotates.      is hinged to the windplant’s frame-
was ensured by mounting it on a              This shaft extends past the top of the    work and is held by a heavy duty
mandrel and facing the surfaces on a         outer shaft and is bolted to the wind     spring in the operating mode. On one
lathe. When exact perpendicularity of        windplant itself. To secure the           side of the furling body is an arm with
the disk and shaft penetration was           machine to this shaft, I milled a 4-      a pulley. It is bolted to the framework
achieved, four 5/8-inch stainless bolts      inch long flat area on the shaft. When    and aligns with the hole in the top of
were introduced to the bolt pattern          inserted into the machine, the flat       the lollyshaft. A wire attached to the
and welded into place with stainless         area is aligned with two holes in the     tail boom passes over the pulley in the
welding rod.                                 casting along the vertical axis of the    arm, over another pulley bolted
                                             shaft. Through these holes I slipped      directly above the lollyshaft, and
Slipring assembly                            in two ½-inch stainless bolts which I     down to a swivel joint. —mh]
  The most time-consuming and chal-          also machined flat on one side.             Restoration of the furling system
lenging sub-assembly proved to be the          The weight of the machine rests on      consisted primarily of disassembly,
lolly shaft & slipring assembly. The         a Timpken bearing housed in a bell-       sand blasting, painting and replacing
lolly shaft serves to support the            shaped casting which is supported on      rusted hardware.
machine and allow for 360° rotation of       the underside by the lolly shaft. The
the windplant to face any wind. The          whole assembly was slipped into a         Tail assembly
difficult part is to transfer the generat-   rain-tight sheet metal box which pro-
                                                                                         The tail assembly is also a simple
ed power from the rotating unit to the       tects the sliprings from the elements
                                                                                       one. It consists of the tail casting, a
stationary tower where it is connected       (Figs. 5, 7). On the inside of the box,
                                                                                       spring that encircles the tail casting
to the batteries through wires. The          which rotates with the machine, I
                                                                                       pivot in the frame assembly, a boom
sliprings do this job through rotating       mounted the brushes. This design
                                                                                       (pipe) and the tail (fin). The tail cast-
brushes and stationary rings.                results in a water-tight environment
                                                                                       ing and spring were cleaned, sand-
  I was able to salvage a set of rings       for the electrical transfer device.
                                                                                       blasted, and painted. The new boom
from the collection of spare parts. I        When the door to the box is opened,
                                                                                       will be a 6-foot piece of 1¾-inch
found a complete set of brand new            the brushes are disconnected from the
                                                                                       steel pipe that bolts to the tail casting.
brushes, too. In order to support and        rings for safe servicing.
                                                                                       The tail will be sheet plastic bolted to
insulate the sliprings, I manufactured                                                 the boom. ∆
four circular mounts that sandwich


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