The two Air-X Marine Wind Generators arrived via UPS shortly after I had ordered them from Defender Marine. Both units came packed in one box, each then packed in a separate box. When I opened the first box and checked the contents, I found that the plastic nose cone that fits over the propeller hub was cracked. When I saw how the unit was packaged, it occurred to me that the other unit would have a cracked nose cone too, and it was. I contacted Defender, they contacted Air-X, and Air-X quickly shipped us two new nose cones and made plans to change the packaging. One side note: These nose cones are white plastic, but the generator bodies are powder coated aluminum. I have had enough experience with plastic materials on boats to decide to spray paint the nose cones while they were new to protect them from future U.V. rays.
I met J.D. Schmid, the service co-ordinator at Bloch Marine, along with Dave Ludwig, one of their top electrician/mechanics, and brought along one of the Air-X units. The most important item that I brought along was one of the technical manuals that came with the wind generators. I had already reviewed one of the manuals and I knew enough about what I didn't know about electronics to realize the importance of having someone knowledgable about 12 volt power distribution involved from the start. Dave's job for the next few days was going to be studying the technical manual to decide exactly how the units were to be wired up and what he would need to do the job. My job was to determine what I needed in the way of a mounting system, keeping in mind height and clearance requirements, and then get with "Little John", our stainless steel fabricator, and make it all work. J.D. made sure that Dave's schedule was free to work on the project as needed, and to bill the hours. Gulp.
Once I took the measurement tape in hand, I figured out that we could mount the "towers" on either side of the radar arch with enough clearance to avoid the radar dome, the stern light, the T.V. antenna, and both GPS and Loran antennas. Keep in mind that the "wingspan" of the propellers are nearly 48", and the generators rotate with wind direction, so that a minimum amount of clearance had to be allowed all around the towers, plus I allowed for some flex. Contact with anything as those blades were spinning would result in destroying the carbon fiber blades. Height was determined so that we would not exceed the radar dome height when the propeller blades were placed with the "V" at the top, keeping air height in mind. Maximum blade height is equal to the anchor light.
Visualizing an idea, and putting it into reality usually involves an engineer or two, or sometimes just common sense. I knew where the towers had to go, and how high we could make them without getting ridiculous. Little John knows what he is capable of building, and without putting anything on paper, we determined that we were of the same mind in regard to construction and we set out to purchase the materials for each of the two towers.
The picture above should give you an idea of the final result. This is pretty dry reading for most, so I'll save some of the details, but an important item was the bases for the towers, as they needed to be strong. Little John used some Lexan material and heated it on site to mold to the shape of the arch at the mounting points. In the shop he bent the stainless steel plates that comprised the bases to match the Lexan patterns. Again, back on site, he tacked the tower poles to the bases as I held them level. Level on a boat is all relative, but note how the perpendicular lines of the towers are parallel with the uprights on the dock bracing. Braces from the tower bases to the tower uprights were cut and welded at the shop. 3" holes were previously cut into the top of the hollow radar arch to allow wires and some stainless mounting strips were installed inside the arch with nuts welded to them. The collars of the generators are rubber mounted, as was the bases of the towers. Once the wiring for the units was complete, sealant was used on the base of the towers to keep out water and each tower was thru-bolted into the arch with four bolts. Vibration free operation was achieved with no flex in the towers. You can strap King Kong to those towers and they aren't coming off. More exciting details on how the electrical power is distributed from each Air-X unit is coming up later.