Fabricating the Windshaft
October 31st, 2010
  • Start with a Stack of Wood...
  • While the original windshaft would have been hewn from a single trunk of white oak, the drying rate of lumber (1 year per inch of thickness) proved to be too large a hurdle. Consequently, we decided to build up our windshaft from laminations of pressure treated soutern yellow pine. In addition to being resistant to decay and insects, the laminated approach provided a more dimensionally stable form and allowed the lumber to be shaped as individual planks.

    Needless to say, the first step was to get each board to be flat, square and true... This gave my thickness planer and jointer quite a workout.

  • Shape to Fit...
  • Each lamination was independently shaped based on its placement within the shaft. By removing all excess material prior to assembly, it was possible to significantly reduce the time required to produce the final shape.

  • Apply Adhesives...
  • In addition to a thick layer of moisture cured adhesive, each lamination is joined by 3" exterior grade deck screws to provide added strength. At the location where the stocks (or spars) pass through the windshaft, galvanized steel strapping is added between each layer to increase the shafts durability and resistance to torque.

    At the rear end of the shaft, a 1-1/2" galvanized steel rod is installed that serves as the rear axle for the windshaft. This rod plugs into a thrust bearing that is installed in the curb.

  • Perfecting the Shape
  • Although the bulk of the material was removed prior to assembly, it was still necessary to use the jack plane and the spokeshave to perfect the curves and bevels of the windshaft. It took several attempts, but eventually the windshaft was 'trued-up' and fit neatly into the neck bearing assembly.

  • The Final Product
  • Once assembled and faired, the windshaft was ready for some added weather protection. Any gaps or voids were filled with epoxy to reduce the likelihood that water would permeate and then freeze (This would significantly shorten the lifetime and strength of the unit).

    After the epoxy, a layer of rubber sealant was applied to the entire shaft to fill the wood's grain and protect unseen cracks. Finally, a coat of shellac, lacquer and white paint was applied to the shaft to provide greater protection and to complete the aesthetic effect.

  • Dry Fitting the Assemblies
  • Once all of the pieces were measured and cut, it was time to stack the assemblies together to see how they fit. With the help of Scott Hartman and his construction forklift we were able to lift the curb, shaft and finally the cap into place.

  • The Shape of Things to Come...
  • Although the first floor is not shown, in the light of the following day you can really see the windmill beginning to take shape. In the weeks that follow the trim will be installed around the curb and the stocks and sails will be manufactured and fitted.

    For additional information, please contact Walt Akers.