Simple tower

Thanks to Jan Wolstenholme (on an Irish coastal site) for this ultra simple tower design for those with very open, high wind sites and plenty of scaffold pipe.

“The main tetrahedron is made of  six poles which are two scaffold poles together. The base triangle is bolted properly in each corner, it has disappeared into the grass which only anchors it more, along with some rocks in the corners.
The other corners/joints are bolted or if the angles don’t work out, just lashed.
I have a small cross bar at the top to lean a ladder against for checking the pulley system.  The base of the tower rests on a flat rock and is tethered to the base to keep it in position when lowering and raising.
I tie on another rope to guide the tower when lowering. I can raise it and lower it single-handed in any weather and land the turbine neatly on the trestle really softly.
With more elegant steel tubes and a bit of engineering the whole thing could look better. And it could take a bigger load with just a stiffer pole and more gearing on the block-and-tackle. All parts re-usable and it barely cost me €100 on top of the old scaffolding, for pulleys and good marine rope.

The Ampair 300 can’t do much when the solar is whacking 900w into the batteries at 28v etc. But it excels in storms which is when we need its output.  I really take my hat off to David Sharmann and Co., excellent support (for the blades which they now have sorted) and the unit itself has run flawlessly for years. It has outlived all other small turbines in the area and even the big Vertical Wind Energy egg-beater up the road I think. ”


About hugh

I live off-grid in NW Scotland and have spent my life playing with wind turbines. I also love small hydros. Hands on renewable energy is my thing and I like to learn and to share my experiences.
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9 Responses to Simple tower

  1. Steve Masser says:

    Hi again, once again, sorry for the late response. My tower is stayed at 4m from the base of the pole in 4 directions, so I have 4 ground spikes NSEW each with 2 stays attached, one from near the top of the pole and one from halfway down, my turbine totals 40kg so is quite heavy and it seems to be fine, had some terrific winds here the last few days and it’s still standing! (shouldn’t speak too soon) I’m no expert at all, a serious novice but if I can help you are welcome to contact me at the email address I gave you



  2. Pete Pinnington says:

    I’m in the process of adapting a Future Energy Turbine and using HP’s furling system on a 3 piece scaffolding pole tower. I was planning to strap the poles at a number of places down from the top to provide rigidity and also at the base which I’m intending to sit the poles in hole and filled with concrete blocks and rocks cemented together and infilled with soil.
    I wasn’t planning to have the base more than a couple of meters wide – any comments or suggestions on that would be appreciated. For the turbine mount I was going to use a plate/pole setup that will allow me to remove the turbine in the future for any maintenance that may be necessary.

  3. Jan Wolstenholme says:

    I’ve replaced this system some time ago but it served its purpose. The tower pole actually had an adjustable scaffold footplate at the base which happened to have a hole in the bottom, I had a 1″x1″ hardwood strip on under each edge of the foot to keep it off the rock and leave a channel for the cable. You could also drill or cut a decent hole in the pipe say 18″ up off the ground and it wouldn’t weaken anything too much.

    If you’ve got a heavy turbine you’ll need as many pulleys as you can fit. I’d have to try and dig out some photos of the pulley layout but you can probably work it out or find someone who is familiar with pulleys to help.

    I found putting up the tetrahedron to be highly dangerous and I’ve replaced the system with the classic layout as Hugh recommends but with a hollow wooden mast with a gin pole and the pulleys for lifting rather than an expensive winch. The mast is a box section made from treated 4×2’s and tapered a bit towards the top. Again I’ve used scaffold poles to lay out a square on the ground for the corners of the guy ropes, the guys are heavy wire-rope stays from an old gaff-rig boat and they are tensioned with ratchet straps. The corners are weighted down with lots of rocks. No concrete and mostly recycled and recyclable. If you want rigid, this is rigid, we’ve had sustained storm force 10 winds recently and nothing wobbles. I will be documenting this tower soon on my blog or a website as it was very cheap and effective so it may be some use to people. I should have pictures up end of May or early June. Thanks for enquiring.

    • Steve Masser says:

      Hi Jan

      Thanks for the info. Some things to think about. My tower is basically a 6m galvanised scaffold pole with two sets of four lugs, it is anchored to the ground via a hinge type pole concreted in to the ground. my 8 steel wire rope stays are anchored on 4 3ft pieces of angle iron and have what I term turnbuckles for tensioning the 8 cables. I tension them fairly tightly but have been told this is wrong and that there should not be much tension at all. Even with a decent tension the pole bends slightly in really high winds, the turbine itself weighs 40kg so its a heavy sod. Am looking at making a gin pole for the system or I can’t get the thing up or down without help and a forklift. I saw a good design for a timber gin pole on a sailing website – If you are interested to see it I’ll forward the link. Cheers, I will most certainly be back in touch! Best wishes, Steve

  4. Steve Masser says:

    If you rest the load bearing centre pole on a flat rock, where does your cable from the turbine exit?

    Also, do you have a schematic for the pulley system? I have a miniwind 2.2kw turbine, at present it is on the top of a 6m scaffold pole with 2 sets of 4 stays anchored via steel wire rope with tensioners. Looking at your system, it’s more rigid and as I live in the North East of Scotland, I believe I would be better adopting your system.

    Believe it or not, when I put up my turbine I got a visit from the Planning Enforcement boys, who told me to take it down or apply for planning permission, I have done the latter although I object to the cost. Any suggestions for Solar chargers? I have just bought a fork lift truck battery (24 x 2v cells giving 903 ah) Having used leisure batteries and lost! Any comment on this type of battery?

    Sorry questions, questions but I am new to this and am groping about in the dark somewhat as I have little engineering/electrical knowledge but am a keen learner.

    • Pete Pinnington says:

      I can’t comment first hand about your fork lift truck batteries but friend of mine has recently installed the same 24v x 2v cell battery pack mainly to give her larger larger capacity. I haven’t had any negative feedback from her so I can only presume that she is satisfied with the bank.

      I’m interested in lead acid batteries and the use of desulphators and would be interested to hear about your experiences with leisure batteries. I have a small electric car that runs on 8 x 6v Trojan T125’s and I’ve had positive feedback from someone who fitted a 48v desulphator to them to give longer battery bank life.

      • Steve Masser says:

        Hi Pete, sorry for being so long responding, I don’t usually have much spare time to browse! My experience with leisure batteries was disastrous, they just would not last. The last set I bought though, one of the batteries was damaged but not actually showing the signs in the end it just died, I went on to spend nearly £1500 on fork lift batteries then and have no real issues with these. You can contact me at [email protected] if you like

  5. Roger Brown says:

    What formula do you use for determining the spacing of the tripod legs?

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