It’s fall and time to check your wood pile, some suggest this year will be an extra cold winter, if you get too much wood in, you burn it next year, it’s like money in the bank. You think burning wood is less than responsible? Read John Laswell’s articles on wood burning here in the Utterpower pages, get the facts before you condem wood burners. It’s a renewable resource, and we need not order it from the middle east. The other day I was surfing ‘You Tube’ and came across a useful idea, Jerry Bartlett using his solar panels to split wood!
I reflected back on my days prior to having my own off grid site to experiment with. I imagined which loads were appropriate for solar and which were not, (experience changed my thinking in a hurry).
I smiled as I watched Jerry load a round of wood and pull the actuator on his solar powered wood splitter, My mind spawned memories of the sweet smells of wood pitch, fragrant cedars, and all the joys of filling a wood shed on a fall day. Being ready for winter is a good feeling.
If you are a die-hard DIYer, if you enjoy Alternative Energy you might already know Jerry, if you don’t, it’s time you paid him a visit.
Following is a reply I received from Jerry this A.M., after I asked him if he had any stories he wanted to share here:
The new website format is excellent and you have some great reading on Utterpower. This has inspired me to write briefly about a recent project that may also fit in.
Many moons ago an utterpower Lister style genset made it’s way cross country to Colton, NY. After the initial install, I was able to really grasp the idea and value of those heavy rotating flywheels when it came to smoothing out power strokes and starting brief heavy loads (just like you said). Experiencing the simplicity of these units in action leaves an indelible print in one’s memory and in my case challenged me to look for ways to possibly use such simple energy storage – in this case from flywheels.
Fast forward to the latest endeavor which I’ve coined: Electro-Split.
The Electro-Split is a flywheel based electric wood splitter, and is not really anything new, but sometimes a classic idea needs to be revived to remind us of where we “aren’t” yet.
This project was KISS at it’s finest: simply replace the 28 year old gas 3HP Honda engine (points and oil bath air cleaner model!) with an electric motor. In their lifetime, most people will only see the Geological Column in books but in my case it exists in Jurassic Park (the pole barn). Out there, somewhere down near the Cambrian layer was an old 1/2 horsepower westinghouse electric motor. I attached the motor to the splitter and gave it a test run. It didn’t work half bad but didn’t have quite enough pepper to do repeated flywheel speed recoveries when encountering strings of knots in a log. The motor’s thermal overload protection would shut it down. The speed at which the splitter had run during this time was impressive – every bit as fast as the 3hp gas engine.
Revisiting Jurassic Park, I was able to skillfully hook a 3/4 horse Marathon electric motor! The results this time were perfect for the application and the final result is an electric powered, super quiet, very fast and controllable wood splitter. It uses less power than my Dirt Devil upright vacuum and it’s easy on either inverter. Over the past couple of weeks we have had decent weather and I’ve found myself looking forward into using this machine while listening to the radio (that is not blaring). The woodshed is filling fast with huge rows of kindling and I’m still not running a power deficit at the end of the day. Like the Utterpower 6/1 genset from years ago, this is a great example of appropriate technology.
A webpage of this project (with video link near bottom) can be accessed at:
Closing mesage from George:
If you have not read about Jerry’s Changzuki project, consider doing so. Jerry has a most creative mind, you might enjoy learning about the annual competition Jerry enters regarding alternative energy and it’s application by the home owner. No surprise, Jerry’s home is a very popular stop during the annual competition. His mention of an Utterpower generator set? There may be 10 sets total, most of them were constructed to gain the hands on experience I think is so important. Most all sets were put in the hands of people known to have excellent DIYer skills, and those who would make reports back to utterpower as to what was working well, and what needed improvement.
All the best,