I recently got an 18 foot aluminum windmill to have on display at my booth at the Lexington KY Home and Garden Show. Here are some things I learned about the large aluminum windmills together.
First just like the smaller aluminum windmills layout especially the bolts. There are two sizes of bolts that look about the same length they are not so follow the directions included with the windmill. The really short bolts are used to bolt the four pieces of the platform together.
The first thing to know is how the legs go together. There are two pieces that make up each leg. The bottom has a solid aluminum insert already attached. The anchors will slide over these inserts as one of the last steps. These four leg pieces have the insert at the bottom and have a bolt loosely fitted at the top of this part of the leg. There will be a magic maker “C”. The top leg section also has an insert bolted in place and also has the letter “C” in magic marker. “C” means center. Lay the leg pieces together on the ground on driveway or sidewalk – something fairly solid and fairly level. Remove the loose bolt from the top of the lower leg piece and slide the upper piece in place. Put the bolt back in and tighten. Do not over-tighten the bolts that hold the legs together and make certain the nuts go on right. Self locking stainless nuts are fairly easy to “cross thread” and if you try to tighten them when “cross threaded” you will break the bolt. Luckily there are spare bolts included. “Don’t ask how I know this.” Do this for the other three legs. Also the nuts and bolts are the same size so you will need two of the same sized wrench.
The mast head has a thrust bearing. The legs go inside the mast head. The top of the legs have a magic marker “T” written on them. Insert the bolts through the mast head – put the legs inside and put the bolts through the legs. Put the nut on so it is loose.
Set the mast head with the four loosely attached legs on a chair, low table or something that is 2-3 feet high. The bottom cross pieces are tubular aluminum – make certain you use the correct sized bolt and put the bolt through the cross piece, then through the X brace piece and then through the leg. I found that with the top of the frame resting on something 2-3 feet high was a bit help. You will have two legs on the ground and the other two on top. I found the easiest place to start with the cross braces is the two bottom legs. Do not tighten these yet. Just loosely put the nuts on. All of the nuts on this windmill go on the inside of the frame.
Next add the cross brace and X braces to the top two legs – bolt goes through the tubular brace first, then through the X brace and then through the hole in the leg.
At this point you can lift up the two top legs with the braces attached and add the two side tubular cross braces and the X braces.
Here is a hint – when you add the X braces line them up with the legs. I found that some “painters” tape was useful to hold the side cross braces temporally to the legs.
The next level cross pieces are angle aluminum . Again I found that doing the top two legs, followed by the bottom two legs was the easiest. Bring the tops of two X braces across diagonally – Choose which side goes over the top to form the X – while it does not matter structurally which X brace goes over (on top) of the other X brace, they do look better if each X is done the same way. I started with the one on the left and put it across diagonally to the right. Then put the one on the right over top and diagonally to the left. Again it does not matter which way these go, the completed windmill will look better if each X brace is the same on each side all the way up. (it is a pain to chance these later) so the all are the same – all levels – all sides – put the same X brace over the same way.
Locate the angle aluminum piece – put a bolt through it (flat side toward the top), then through the brace coming from the bottom and through the brace going up to the next level – through the leg and add the nut. Like before keep these nuts loose for now. Again I found that a some painters tape was helpful. I taped the X braces to the legs going up to the next level. Do the same with the two cross pieces that are on the bottom. Move them across diagonally put a bolt through the angle aluminum, the X brace coming from the bottom and through the X brace that will go to the next level and through the leg and add a nut.
With the X braces taped to the legs they do not get in the way as you add the X braces and cross brace to the sides.
Go up (toward the top) with the next level in the same way. Finally when you get to the top – platform level – put place and loosely bolt the top and the bottom. Add the two platform pieces to the sides – the bolt goes through the platform piece first then through the X brace then the leg.
Add the lower plate that holds with the pillow bearing and cinch up all the bolt some. They still will need to be somewhat loose. Stand the tower up on a level surface. Get it so the legs all are in contact with the level surface and tighten up the lowest level of tubular braces and X braces. Tighten up the next level up and tip it back down so again the top is resting on the chair or table.
Tighten all of the bolts – remember this is aluminum – the bolts should be tight but not so tight that you are crushing the aluminum tubing.
Stand it back up to see it is level – you will need at least 3 people to stand this up – four is a lot better. Two on the lower part so it does not slide or “kick back” and two “walking” the tower up. Once you make certain it is still level, bring it back down and check all of the bolts to make certain they are tight.
Assemble the wheel and tail – lift the tower high enough to insert the wheel and tail into the mast head and lower pillow block. You can have the top resting directly on the mast head or you can move it up a few inches. There are set screws in the pillow bearings – tighten these. You want it so the top turns the bearings not loose where the vertical shaft turns inside the bearings.
At this point add two of the ground anchors and bolt them to the solid bottom leg shaft. Tip the windmill up – again 3 or 4 people are needed. Put the two anchor plates on the ground and tip it enough more to add the remaining two anchors.
At this point your will have the 18 foot windmill together, the wheel and tail will be in place and it will be standing on the anchor pads.
Here on this blog is a post where a customer talks about his experience with the 18 foot windmill and discusses mounting it. I had mine at a show so I have not personally mounted one of these large windmills yet.
I will continue this post when I mount mine and try to include some photos as I reassemble and mount this 18 foot windmill. In the mean time here are a couple of photos. One of the 18 foot windmill at my booth at the show and one from the manufacturer. The photos will enlarge by clicking on the photo which will open a new window and then by clicking on the photo in the new window.