Wind Energy Generation: The Answer Is Blowin' in the Wind

In 1973, homesteaders thinking about practical wind energy generation had three options: buy an expensive new system, find and buy a still working used system, or build one from scratch.

| November/December 1973

  • 024-067-01i1
    The wind generator, which generates electricity from moving air, is the device on the left. The wind pump, which pulls water from underground, is on the right.
    PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
  • 024-067-01i2
    Instruction manual for a 200w wind generator formerly made by Wincharger.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
  • 024 wind energy generation - photo 3 - disassembly
    The only way to get an old generator down is to climb its tower, strap yourself down, and remove each piece separately — prop, wind vane, and finally generator.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
  • 024 wind energy generation - photo 2 - gravity
    A misguided attempt to lower a generator to the ground while still mounted on its tower. Gravity asserted itself moments after this photo was taken, destroying the unit on impact.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
  • wind energy generation Drawing 1
    The complete wiring diagram for a Wincharger model 1187, reproduced from an old Wincharger manual.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
  • wind energy generation Drawing 2
    Design for a wind generator tower made from an old telephone pole.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
  • wind energy generation Drawing 3
    Design for a homemade brace from which to hang a block and tackle when removing a propeller, vane, and generator and lowering them to the ground.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
  • 024 wind energy generation - photo 4 - prop test
    The author testing a crude propeller hacked in a few minutes from an old 2 X 4.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
  • wind energy generation Fig 2
    Gould Inc offered a 32v battery consisting of sixteen 2v cells connected in series. Exide, Delco and others offered similar units.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
  • 024 wind energy generation - wiring schematic
    Schematic diagram for a control box, which really amounts to an anti-motor device and protection from lightning.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
  • 024 wind energy generation Photo 5 - control box
    Control box for an old wind generator.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
  • 024 wind energy generation Drawing 5,6
    Drawings of a design by New Paltz College instructor Eugene Eccli that use an automobile differential to translate the propeller's horizontal rotation into vertical rotation.  
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
  • 024 wind energy generation Photo 8 - experimental generator
    An experimental wind pump made from 55-gallon drum halves.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
  • 024 wind energy generation Photo 6 - prop and tower
    Hans Meyer's design for a homemade wind generator.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
  • 024 wind energy generation Photo 7 - pulley
    The wheel, drive belt, and alternator of the Eccli generator, located at ground level.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

  • 024-067-01i1
  • 024-067-01i2
  • 024 wind energy generation - photo 3 - disassembly
  • 024 wind energy generation - photo 2 - gravity
  • wind energy generation Drawing 1
  • wind energy generation Drawing 2
  • wind energy generation Drawing 3
  • 024 wind energy generation - photo 4 - prop test
  • wind energy generation Fig 2
  • 024 wind energy generation - wiring schematic
  • 024 wind energy generation Photo 5 - control box
  • 024 wind energy generation Drawing 5,6
  • 024 wind energy generation Photo 8 - experimental generator
  • 024 wind energy generation Photo 6 - prop and tower
  • 024 wind energy generation Photo 7 - pulley

A little over a year ago, I wrote a short article for Organic Gardening and Farming magazine. In that piece, I described our life on a small New Mexico homestead ... and how we planned to utilize non-polluting sources of energy such as methane gas, solar heating, and wind generators.

The response to the article was nothing short of amazing. I received correspondence from all over the United States, Canada, France, and the Philippines ... and most letters requested further information about the alternate energy sources I had named.

It didn't take long for me to realize that my optimistic enthusiasm for my subject was a bit naive and premature ... I didn't really know any more about alternative sources of energy than the folks who were requesting further information yet I was being regarded as an expert in the field!

I answered the letters as best I could, then set out to learn as much as possible about the subject ... which has now become almost an obsession with me.Through the generosity of the Verde Valley School of Sedona, Arizona, I was able to make an 8,000-mile trip this spring with six students ... a trip during which we traveled across America seeking out information from the people who were experts in alternate sources of energy. The story of that journey, and the information we gathered, will—we hope—soon be published as a book. Until then, I'd like to share with MOTHER EARTH NEWS' readers some of the information we gathered about wind generators.



Nansen Was First

The first wind generator. as far as I'm able to discover, was built by the Arctic explorer Fridtjof Nansen in 1894. Icebound in the polar sea, Nansen rigged up a Holland-type windmill to drive a dynamo which charged batteries. He was enjoying electric lights in the vicinity of the North Pole when the houses of New York and London were still illuminated with kerosene and gas.

Sometime around 1935 or '36, the Wincharger Corporation of Sioux City, Iowa began production of wind-electric plants for use by farms and homesteads far from power lines. Wind generators were then used extensively in some rural areas up until the early fifties, when the Rural Electrification Administration at last brought power to most of the country. The Wincharger Corporation finally ceased production on all models except a small 200-watt unit in 1953 and the Jacobs Company of Minneapolis, Minnesota—another manufacturer of such equipment—stopped building its wind generator sometime around 1957.






Mother Earth News Fair Schedule 2019

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Next: February, 16-17 2019
Belton, TX

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!

LEARN MORE








Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).


Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters