portsmouth wind turbine is it the gea...

portsmouth wind turbine is it the gearbox

Posted in the East Providence Forum

Bill Carson

Mattapoisett, MA

#1 Jun 21, 2012

The Town of Portsmouth bought an AAER 1.5 Megawatt turbine that was with partnered with Fuhrländer to manufacture the Fuhrländer 1.5 MW wind turbine on a license in Canada.

The AAER Canadian made turbine went of line on March 18 was turned over to the Town on March 24.2009. AAER went bankrupt days later and left the town with NO warranty or service contract. AAER only made two of these turbines the other went to a Marine base in California.

The Portsmouth High School wind turbines has been breaking down on a weekly schedule if not by the day. Town officials have been pushing an override switch at least once a week maybe more to keep the turbine going. This type of turbine has an oil sensor switch that counts microns of metallic particles and if too great-shuts the turbine down. It may not have been a good idea to keep pushing the override switch for the past two years. Too much metal in the gearbox oil is the warning of excessive gear wear.

During the May 2012 breakdowns a company approached the Town of Portsmouth to sell them a gearbox at half price. It is a little suspicious that out of the blue someone would offer to sell the town a wind turbine gearbox. The gearbox is often seen as the heart of a wind turbine, but it is also a great concern to municipal operators how to keep it running and making money.

Princeton Municipal Light Department, Massachusetts spent about $7,300,000 for two 1.5-MW Fuhrlander wind turbines the same type as Portsmouth. The light department is in debt for $600,000 for repairs to the gear box in one of the town's wind turbine transmission. This the same type as the Portsmouth High School wind turbine.

You be the judge and if it is the gearbox do you buy a new one for a three year old turbine or what do you do? Gearbox including special crane and down time $500,000.00.

Bill Carson

Mattapoisett, MA

#2 Jun 21, 2012

Portsmouth turbine stops turning
Credit: By Bruce Burdett, www.eastbayri.com 28 October 2010 ~~

PORTSMOUTH — It blew a steady 20 m.p.h. from the west Friday but the blades on Portsmouth’s wind turbine didn’t budge.

“Yes,” replied Gary Crosby, Portsmouth’s town planner, when asked whether the turbine is broken.“We’re going through a bit of a rough patch but hope to have it resolved soon.”

The problem seems to be a relay switch which has been repeatedly switching off for reasons unknown, said Mr. Crosby who has overseen the town’s wind turbine project.

“For awhile I was able to go over there myself and physically switch it back on,” he said, but as of the middle of last week, even that didn’t work.“Now I can’t reset it at all,” he said Friday.

The situation is complicated by the bankruptcy earlier this year of AAER, the Canadian firm that supplied the wind turbine to Portsmouth and provided the warranty protection.

When AAER was still afloat, technicians there could monitor the turbine remotely and make any needed adjustments, usually without even visiting the site.

But Mr. Crosby said those duties have temporarily fallen to him while the new service provider, Lumus Construction of Woburn, Mass., gets up to speed. The Town Council voted September 15 to hire Lumus at an annual rate of $33,000 with additional fees for extra work

But before it can work on the turbine, Lumus must first be licensed by Wind Tech International, the company that built the turbine. Mr. Crosby said that that process is under way but he’s not sure when it will be done.

That left Mr. Crosby to run over to the turbine every time it shut down, which had been happening as frequently as every six to eight hours.

“I can see it from my house, between a couple of trees and I was going over constantly days, weekends, holidays.” He could hit the reset buttons from within the control room at the base of the tower — but as of Friday that process no longer worked.

“It’s wearing on me to lose days with good breezes. I would love to see it turning … But overall this has been a very good machine, very reliable,” Mr. Crosby said. In fact, as recently as the 18th of October, the turbine’s output was “22 percent ahead of monthly projections so we have a cushion.”
Bill Carson

Mattapoisett, MA

#3 Jun 21, 2012

Wind Turbine Gearbox Reliability
by Robert J. Simon

80%* of bearing failures are as a result of lubrication issues.


The gearbox's reputation for a high failure rate is linked to the extreme engineering challenge that gearbox technology faces in wind applications, and the difficulty in properly assessing the loads – and in particular the non-torsional loads that pass through the gearbox – and how these affect bearings and gears.


There are many factors in a design that can influence gear life, but a potentially major contributor to poor gear life is high misalignment between meshing gears. The four gearbox models were analyzed under a simulated load of 100-percent torque, and simulated rotor weight acting on the mainshaft and the misalignment of each gear mesh was calculated.
Bill Carson

Mattapoisett, MA

#4 Jun 24, 2012

Gearbox Failure Characteristics

Damage to gears and bearings are generally a result of surface fatigue, which produces increasing quantities of metallic particles as the damage progresses. Even at the initiation of the damage large particles (>200 microns in size) are produced. On one wind turbine gearbox damage event,
MetalSCAN detected 150,000 particles over a period of 8 months before the damage was sufficient to
warrant gearbox removal. In the later stages of the damage progression, about 1500 particles were
detected each day!

New Wind Turbines:
Many new generation wind turbines are equipped from the factory with vibration-based condition
monitoring systems. These systems have not proven to be effective at reliable detection of early
gearbox damage, particularly without false alarms and universally require expensive expert
interpretation of data. The superior reliability and earliest indication of gearbox damage detection
provided by MetalSCAN, simplicity of data interpretation (no experts required), and its low cost makes MetalSCAN a natural addition to all existing condition monitoring systems.

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