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  • Wind powered washing machine

    Discussion in 'The main mechanical design forum' started by Outofmydepth, Oct 17, 2010.

    1. Outofmydepth

      Outofmydepth Active Member

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      Hi,

      First time on here.

      As my user name suggests mechanical engineering is not my area of expertees!

      I looked for a "Scrapheap Challenge" type forum to discuss my project to no avail. If anyone knows of a more suitable forum I will be pleased to be advised.

      Now to my project.

      I am a golfer and hit about 150 practice balls every day returning home with 150 dirty balls.

      I have a broken front loading washing machine with all the electrical bits stripped out but otherwise in first class mechanical condition.

      Currently I wash the 150 balls in the sink with a scrubbing brush but hope one day to empty them into the washing machine (obviously outdoors) with a bucket full of warm soapy water and let the wind take over.

      No its not April 1st!

      I am sure it is a very simple project for an experienced mechanical engineer with a workshop but more tricky for a beginner.

      I obviously have my own ideas how the project might progress but do not wish to cloud anyones thoughts.

      Any ideas? Thanks.

      Outofmydepth
       
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    3. spiceage

      spiceage Member

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      A beautiful idea and I am sure you could have a lot of fun with it. Are you going for a direct drive from a wind mill or maybe you want to use it without waiting for a strong enough wind. Perhaps a battery-electric drive, pumped water storage with a water wheel, wind-up weights (grandfather clock style) or if you have a suitable spruce tree handy, a wind up spring (Roman engine style) could be attractive? How big is your garden and is it childproof!
       
    4. Outofmydepth

      Outofmydepth Active Member

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      Thank you spiceage,

      Some interesting ideas I have not considered.

      I will most likely stick to the KISS principle and drive it directly (or via a pulley & belt system) from a windmill.

      I live in a windy location so expect the machine to work on most days.

      I live on a farm so have plenty of room to site the windmill. It is unlikely children will be a problem but intend to mount the turning blades well above the washing machine above head height.

      My general thoughts on the design are as follows:

      I will need to turn the windmill to face the wind so will need to mount on a trolley or turntable.

      I will mount the blades above the machine on an "A" frame.

      The blades will be fastened to a shaft from which I intend to take the drive (somehow?).

      The drive will then have to be transferred to the drum (somehow?).

      The most obvious way in which to transfer the drive would be using V pulleys & belts but I imagine the tension in the belt may add a lot of pressure to the shaft therefore substantially reducing the efficiency.

      I suppose if money was no object (which it is) the windmill could drive a hydraulic pump which in turn could drive a hydraulic rotor in order to turn the drum. This way the machine would not need to be moved to face the wind, just the windmill.

      I would be pleased to receive further comments & advice.

      Thanks

      Outofmydepth
       
    5. spiceage

      spiceage Member

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      I fully approve of KISS. So how about a very long bicycle chain contained in a steel tube (which becomes the mast for supporting the blades) driving onto a small sprocket on the old motor shaft thus keeping the machine's original polyvee drum belt arrangement? You will need to tie down the drum (disable the suspension) and bolt/weld the steel tube mast securely to the washing machine casing - preferrably directly to the drum casing. At the top of the tube mast for mounting the blades, the pedal crank, sprocket and bearing from an old bike might get you off to a good start but you will probably need a jockey wheel (altruistic bike again) to pinch the chain into the confines of the tube. A weather cover over the top gear and plenty of oil (run bottom sprocket in an oil bath) might be a good idea. With this rather primitive arrangement, you will of course need to turn the whole assembly into wind so your turntable idea is good for wind of variable direction. Be careful to ensure that the whole thing cannot cause harm if blown over or more generally wrecked by strong wind.
       
    6. Outofmydepth

      Outofmydepth Active Member

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      Thanks again spiceage,

      You are absolutely on the case with this design.

      The sad truth is I was at our local tip about a week ago with my recycling and watched a chap throw 3 perfectly reasonable looking bicycles into the scrap skip!.

      I am thinking I could make a turntable (scrapheap challenge style) using a wagon half shaft & wheel with the half shaft concreted into the ground. The washing machine would sit on and be securely attached to the wheel/tyre.

      Outofmydepth
       
    7. spiceage

      spiceage Member

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      Shame about the bikes but no doubt there will be others - Boris may even rent you one! Good idea for the turntable - it certainly will be "fit and forget" so you may need to include the diff housing and weld covers over the redundant shaft holes to allow you to fill everything with oil. Don't forget a generous weather vane on the top gear because if you position the washing machine where you get a nice balance on your turntable, the windmill offset from the turntable centre may not be enough for weather cocking.
       
    8. spiceage

      spiceage Member

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      Spiceage again. I should have said that although half shafts are pretty strong, the load from your windmill will under high winds impose a large overturning moment on your turntable that could exceed the bending strength of your half shaft. Half shafts are designed more for high shear loading than bending because the wheel support bearing in a vehicle is more or less directly over the contact area of the tyre. It will be worth running the calculator over your dimensions - contact me again for help if you wish.
       
    9. Dana

      Dana Well-Known Member

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      Rather than turning it to face the wind, you might want to consider a vertical shaft windmill. I can't search for a link now but picture a 55 gallon drum sliced in half, and the halves offset either side of a vertical shaft. It turns in wind from any direction... google "vertical drum windmill". You might be able to use a right angle gearbox from an old self propelled lawn motor, or you can use a twisted v-belt drive if the pulleys are far enough apart.

      Are you retaining the valves and pump to get water in and out?

      Or you could ditch the washing machine (the mechanism would be a lot of drag for a windmill) and use the vertical shaft to turn paddles in a large bucket, just above the balls sitting on the bottom of the bucket.
       
    10. Outofmydepth

      Outofmydepth Active Member

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      Thanks again spiceage and thanks Dana,

      You will realise I am hoping to achieve my goal with a very small budget. Some may say I am careful with my cash but in a way it is half the fun.

      To fill/empty the machine it will be a bucket full of warm soapy water through the main door then I will then utilise one of the inlets or outlets (depending which way up I decide to stand it) to empty it using gravity.

      I understand there were hundreds of wind powered washing machines in use during the war in remote locations. These used a windmill & an excentric motion to activate the water & clothes via a paddle. I dismissed this idea as the golf balls would just sink and I doubt would end up any cleaner than when they went in. I experimented with the balls in the drum and the drum still turns very willingly. I think the main drag/loss of efficiency will be if I fail to design & make the drive system correctly.

      I am hoping to visit a friend in the next few days who has several sheds full of all sorts of junk. Never know what I might find if I have a good root around.

      Outofmydepth
       
    11. Outofmydepth

      Outofmydepth Active Member

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      Me again,

      Have now managed to secure a large quantity of bike parts. Bearings, sprockets & enough chains to reach half way to the moon & back from a skip outside the back of a bike shop!.

      I can now contemplate this build more seriously.

      Currently I have 2 things requiring more consideration.

      1. Leaving the existing motor in place and utilising its shaft & polyvee belt drive is clearly worth considering but having the bike chain running in an oil bath alongside it could cause complications as there is a good chance the polyvee belt will become contaminated with oil & slip.

      2. Whereas I will initially be happy to get this machine running along the lines suggested by spiceage I will also need to consider how to stop the drum rotating in order to remove my balls once they are clean. It will be a tad inconvenient to have to wait for the wind to drop.

      I will be making my windmill blades from some ex chemical plastic barrels (about 25 gallon). 4 blades bolted onto a central hub with the hub connected to the bike bearings.

      Look forward to more comments.

      Outofmydepth
       

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