At any point in time, Husband has a number of projects in various stages of consideration and/or completion. For the last few months, he’s spent many hours in the garage constructing a wind turbine.
When we lived in Waitakere, he considered building a hydro-electric power station at the bottom of the drive – as you do – to harness the energy of the river that cascaded thunderously into the lake by the driveway.
Unfortunately, that previous sentence could be sued for fraudulent misapplication of artistic license. The river was more a creek – and that’s being generous – and when I say ‘cascaded thunderously’, it crawled miserably down a slimy rock to stagnantly huddle in a muddy puddle before draining out under the drive.
“Yeah, but I only need a litre per second to power the whole house!” said Husband.
I didn’t have the heart to tell him he’d be lucky to get a litre a MINUTE even during one of Waitakere’s signature downpours. Perhaps he came to this realisation himself, because the power station never materialized.
Then we moved to an exposed promontory on the east coast of South Island. Not much water, but plenty of wind. Difficult to say how much, but definitely Lots.
I had little input into the design and construction process, apart from conditionally stating that the turbine be erected not less than 50 paces from the house. I had visions of it taking off in a gust and somersaulting through a window. In fairness, the ‘wings’ that Andrew spent weeks constructing weren’t what you’d call streamlined masterpieces of aerodynamic ingenuity. They were sheets of aluminium bolted onto wooden frames. Kind of like Frankenwings.
Yet when he finished his turbine yesterday, I was impressed. It’s nothing like the giant single-pivot whirligig that I’d visualized. The three 1.5m long wings are secured at either end so they stand vertically and spin around a central axis, much like a merry-go-round.
Andrew explained how he chose a design sturdy enough to withstand the swirling winds typical to these parts. He was so plausible that, for its maiden run, I agreed he could erect it right next to the house beside the dog kennel.
Husband is disappointed that it only generates about 55w of power instead of the 300-400w he’d anticipated – but that’s another story. Mine picks up in the middle of last night, when there was a muffled ‘CRUMP!’ followed by a shudder.
“<Expletive deleted>,” I moaned. “Th’ turbine. Sounds like a wing . . . lodging in . . . a deck.”
Andrew got up to investigate. He was gone a while, so I presumed he was outside picking up shrapnel.
“Well?” I mumbled when he returned.
“The turbine’s fine,” he said. “Had a look around but . . . yeah. No.”
“REALLY?” said I, genuinely surprised. “Oh. Ok.”
Ten minutes later, I was 95% asleep when Andrew said, “Hey. I wonder . . . maybe it was an earthquake?”
And at what I’ve only now determined was 04:37hrs, Husband looked up geonet on his mobile, and discovered we’d just experienced a 4.4 magnitude quake that originated a few kilometres north of us.
The turbine has been disabled for routine maintenance.