Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tilting At Windmills

Today was pretty quiet around here.  Got a little bit more done on the stationary engine cart but figured out that in all my recent moves, I seem to have lost one of the oak pieces.  I'll take one more look around but I'm not too worried about it.  It was one of two identical pieces and I still have the other.

  On slow days like this, I thought I would start to document my plans for getting Fiddler's Green up on its feet and running.  I figure that if I get it all down in writing before I really get going, it will be interesting to go back to see which of my plans were workable and which were "pie in the sky".  I'll start today with the water system.  As it stands right now, the house has a working cistern connected to rain catchment through the roof and gutters.  I'd never seen a working cistern before and the whole thing is quite interesting and worth keeping.  I'll probably just connect it to a hand pump in the yard as something of a working novelty.  Who knows?  It might be useful for watering plants or animals.  The cistern has a dedicated 110V electric pump and is still connected to the house system.  The house also has a well on the souteast side that runs through a 220V pump in the basement.  I couldn't even imagine how to run this monster with off-grid power generation so I looked to the past for answers.  Prior to rural electrification, homes had a windmill with an elevated stand alone water tank to generate water pressure or they had a tank incorprated into the tower.

I don't really want to mess around with elevated tanks in 20 or 30 degree below zero North Dakota winters so I thought I would site a windmill over the actual well itself and top it with a Dempster handpump that we bought this summer.  We'll build a small shed over the whole setup and possibly pipe enough heat to it to keep everything moving.  There is a pipe fitting on the back of the pump that we can plumb to the existing buried pipe running into the basement.  In place of the 220V pump, we'll incorporate a 200-300 gallon water holding tank with a DC booster pump and a 30 gallon pressure tank to pressurize the house.  The system would take very little power since the windmill is doing most of the work in lifting the water and the holding tank would suffice for the rare times when it's not windy.  We bought a rebuilt 10' B-702 Aermotor windmill with a 60' tower just before Christmas.  It was a real nightmare transporting it from Punxatawney, PA to Cinci.  Our F-350 was happy as can be hauling what I estimated to be right around a ton of steel and cast iron.  The real problem was in my homebrewed wooden ladder rack.  It was BARELY up to the task.  I had to drive under 50 mph the whole way to keep from overstressing it.

I've looked at a lot of off-grid set ups on the Internet and in Home Power magazine but I have never seen anybody use this solution.  It seems like a natural to replace the water tank with a low amperage pressure pump.  Simple and elegant and not much of a leap from tried and true set ups from the turn of the century.  I think it's the fear of old tech!  The barn has its own dedicated well with a pumpjack but it will probably have our old stationary motor pumping up to a tank in the hay mow as needed.
  If anybody is using a water pumping windmill/in-house holding tank/pressure boost pump combo I'd sure like to hear from you.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. I figured that would be a tight fit, but damn. Glad you got it all in one trip.