Windmills : LUSENET : Country Families : One Thread

Melissa, Can you share how you built a windmill? I think we can figure how to make the base but the top part would be the hard part. We have a metal base and someone helped themselves to the top part. Thanks for any help. Cindy

-- Cindy Herbek (, October 13, 2001


I would love to read the answer to this too. I'm sure there are lots of us that would like the alternative power, but it's too expensive to buy complete systems.

-- notnow (, October 13, 2001.

OK I will try to explain how we did it, but I don't know all of the technical terms exactly!! I was only 16 when I helped my Dad build his. He welded the tower together with long sections of pipe. It was 30 feet high with 3 legs. He welded together a ladder to climb up for greasing. The actual fins were made from a galvanized sheet metal left over from building his garage. We found an old windmill and traced a pattern and used it. The important part is the cup of the fins. You don't want them to be flat, but have a small cup to catch the wind. This was welded together and made to swivel. I believe there were 12 fins. The entire wheel was about 7-8 foot across with these fins spaced evenly around it. Now the important technical part is the gear ratio to run the generating device. My dad is a packrat so somewhere he had a generator (can be found on old tracors and motors etc..) We used a large and a small gear to reduce the ratio so that this would turn properly. After many days of experimenting with various types of chains and gears, we used the type of chain you find on an old manure spreader. It has links you can change the length with. The gears had about 25 points on one and I think 6-7 on the small one. This after much experimentation as well. Boy I am really reaching back in my memory for this!!! Now you have created power, you need to store it. My dad was able to get a large bank of batteries from the telephone company. Seems they change these out every so often. You must vent these. There were about 20 of these large batteries in a rack. Everything we used was run off of this stored power. It didn't run the normal outlets but these things were specially wired to this power source. We had lights in every room, TV's and Radio's. We never did run anything big like hot water etc... But when the power went off we could barely tell. I could envision this being used in conjunction with gas hot water heaters and frig, and cooking stove with wood heat, and you probably wouldn't have to have electric. This windmill turned almost constantly with the slightest hint of a breeze. I know this isn't the most technical of descriptions, but I hope it gives you the idea. Most men I've found have an extra knack at this sort of thing (some women too!!!) and if you can weld and do wiring this really isn't so hard. My husband would like to build one but we really haven't had the chance to try yet. This was just for experimentaion and I don't think we spent more than $200 due to the fact that my dad has these things stored away all over the place!! Hope this helps, check the library for some books, they can help give you some ideas. The worst thing is that they try to make you think you have to spend $20,000, but why not start small and just supplement the electric? If every person could just use a wind power source to run their lights, TV's, radios and other small appliances think of what a savings this would be!!

-- Melissa (, October 14, 2001.

Ok, my husband says to make sure for the swivel part you use needle bearings, rather than ball-bearings because they will last longer. Also when the wind is really blowing you should come up with some way to stop the wheel. We had a hook we would climb up and hook to stop it. Or if it was rally bad we would lower the windmill with a truck and pulley system we set up.

-- Melissa (, October 14, 2001.

Melissa, can you explain what the blades were welded to. Was it something already made or something ya'll made? I'm full of questions. Does the tail attach to the blade area or to the pivot point? Cindy

-- Cindy (, March 02, 2002.

It was a ring that we made out of strap steel, not exactly round but it had as many sides as blades. If you go to any Amish settlements you can see much the same style being used there.

-- Melissa in SE Ohio (, March 02, 2002.

The tail and the ring are made all in one piece. I think if you can look at some pictures it is easier to understand! I will look for some for you.

-- Melissa in SE Ohio (, March 02, 2002.

Try this site, these are just areating mills but are pretty close to what ours looked like. iDeptId=28&iProductId=joe20&sDepts=+10% 2C&mscssid=G473RQMXCGNA8HF8K18WRVDPBBAN9SX5

-- Melissa in SE Ohio (, March 02, 2002.

I used to see one on a house on a hill in CA that seemed to be made from metal barrels (like you buy for oil and used for burn barrels later) cut in half vertically. Always thought it was kind of cute....

-- GT (, March 03, 2002.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ