Thursday, 6 August 2009

Before the Mast


Having recently purchased a Rutland 913 wind generator, we had to find a way of mounting it on the boat.

It needs to be mounted up high, to get a nice clean airflow over it, and to avoid turbulence from the floodbank, other moored boats, etc. So we had to organise a mast of some sort.

Getting the actual mast itself was easy. Traditionally, people often use a piece of scaffolding pole cut to length. It's cheap to get hold of, but it can be heavy and unwieldy, especially with a very heavy wind generator on the end.

So I racked my brains- could I think of an alternative? Then, in the middle of the night, it came to me.

An old rowing oar! Perfect. A nice, 12' long carbon fibre tube, slightly tapering for that elegant effect, that's massively strong and resistant to bending forces. And is also light weight and easy to work- and, in Cambridge, easy to get hold of.

I contacted the boatman at my old college, and he had just the thing, so I took it back home on the train. That was great fun, I can say- it just fitted in, diagonally, across the vestible of the carriage.

The original plan had been to use some mounting brackets for scaffolding pole, and drill and tap the rear bulkhead of the boat to fit. This would have made a nice strong fitting, with no guy wires. Unfortunately, the blade turned out to be too big to fit in scaffolding clamps, so Plan B was formulated. This involved buying a lot of wire, thimbles, wire grips, turnbuckles, and other gear from Mackay's so the pole could be mounted on the roof.

A quick trim of the end ensured that the Rutland would fit on top, and so we secured all the wires, adapted the pole with some brackets, screws and Jubilee clips to take guy wires, and erected it on the roof. There's a few more wire grips to put in place, and we've got to get the wire for the generator and attach it on top; but, for now, it's attached and it's nice and solid, and should happily hold the very heavy generator in a nice clean stream of air. The guy wires are attached to existing fittings- the fairleads in the centre of the boat, and the rear steps, so we've not had to modify the hull in any way.

And then there's soundproofing- as the mast is directly above our bedroom, we've got to get hold of some thick rubber and ensure there's no direct metal-to-metal contact, to transmit vibration.

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