Friday, 7 August 2009

Whistle Down The Wind

Today was momentuous, because I noticed last night an email from Midsummer Energy- our new batteries had arrived, and were ready for collection, hooray!

So we dragged ourselves reluctantly out of bed, out into the cold, misty fenny morning. Autumn seemed to be just around the corner- but at least it wasn't raining, as last night we had been utterly soaked to the skin, walking home from the station in a biblical downpour.

Once in town, Amy and I split up. She headed over to Mackay's for a couple of small items, including a thick sheet of rubber to soundproof the turbine mast, and I went off, sack trolley in tow, to the industrial estate home of Midsummer Energy and Outspoken cycle couriers; the two businesses, run by fellow narrowboating friends, share office space.

After loading up with three Elecsol 100 AH leisure batteries, I attempted to get back to the station. The first bus driver rather grumpily stopped me from boarding- "can't take them, no batteries". I pointed out (because it was a long walk, and because I'm a bit of a git) that they were the sealed type, and as they were strapped securely to the trolley, they were safe. Certainly no more dangerous than the starter battery in the bus' engine bay!

No go, though, so I started to walk- and tried my luck on the following bus, where the driver let me on without a comment- he even offered me a hand to get them on board, because they looked heavy! Seeing as people in the past have been banned from Cambridge's buses for carrying a sealed tin of paint (I wish I was making it up, but I'm not...) it seems likely that batteries are against the rules.

Still, although we missed the train we wanted, we managed after a wait at the station to return home. I attacked the top of the old rowing blade, that formed the mast for the turbine, drilling holes for the turbine to mount into. We had lunch, and then I labelled and disconnected all the electrical connections and removed the old batteries. Then, I tried the new ones for size in the secure plastic crate.

Success! All three fit in perfectly, with space for a fourth to fill all the remaining gap. At the moment they're in an L-shape in the large rectangular crate, so maybe we'll get a fourth to fill the gap exactly.

I then set about connecting up the batteries. It was a bit of a race against time, because I knew that we needed to get some length of wire from Ely Chandlery to connect to the wind generator. I connected them all up, and we raced for the train. Once in Ely, we jogged down the waterfront and made the Chandlery with five minutes to spare. Here, we got 9 metres of 6mm squared cross section wire. It's quite a big cross section, because there's a long distance to cover and we don't want any volt drop down the wire.

And then, finally, we made it home and things started coming together! The battery wiring was finished, the holes for the wires to exit the mast drilled, the wires installed in the mast, the regulator neatly put onto the bulkhead- until, in a final burst of activity, we raised the mast to have the turbine proudly at the top. Phew!

But there's no wind whatsoever to turn it. Not a breath.



  1. If you heard any stories this week about a 63ft nb that got stuck at the tidal lock outside Ely, that ran aground near Stanground, or that had total engine failure and moored to a bank near Peterborough, at Ferry Meadows - that was the boat I've been in this week!

  2. A good day's work I would say. From what I remember of your area you shouldn't have to wait very long for a puff of wind. We'll be interested to see how much power you generate.

  3. Looks great! love the fact that you were "Green" and recycled a rowing oar as the mast. I, too, am interested in how much power it produces for you. Best of Luck