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Old 19-03-2004, 19:48   #1
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Windbugger

We heave a windbugger wind generator and it does not work. I have done several repairs to it but I have had no luck making this thing work. Has anyone here on the board used the windbugger brand and is it worth fixing? Or should I buy a new unit,if so what brand?
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Old 20-03-2004, 02:59   #2
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Windbugger

By way of caution - I have NOT owned & operated a wind-generator.

"Windbugger" does not have the best reputation for quality, nor service.
A quick look at theire Parts pricing, would seem to indicate that a problematic unit may not be worth fixing.
http://www.windbugger.com/Parts_List.htm

I have heard good things about
Air-X Marine Wind Generators.
http://www.windenergy.com/PRODUCTS/airxmar.html

Nigel Caulder wrote a very complimentary article on Air-X (sorry cannot remember the reference). Should be noted that he acquired a unit for his own boat (free - in return for article?)

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Old 22-03-2004, 07:05   #3
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Windbugger

I owned one for awhile and then sold it. It was too large for my boat at the time and the output was not very good either. The support is subpar. I now have a Rutland which I like very much, though it is not a high output model. I have talked to the distributor of KISS air gens and found them very helpful. Friends who have the KISS like it and say its output is good. If it were me, that's what I'd go for. Your windbugger may end up being a lot of trouble, especially away from the US. I don't know your travel plans, but KISS is made in the Carib. - maybe an advantage if you need support.

AirX is a good performing unit, but I have NEVER heard a quiet one. You may get used to it, but will the others in the anchorage?
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Old 22-03-2004, 07:32   #4
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Re AirX

Supposedly, the newer models are much quieter, according to other web postings. I guess that means one should be very cautious about buying one second-hand (unless you are deaf).
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Old 22-03-2004, 08:02   #5
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IS, We have been using a Four Winds for eight years now. The unit has worked flawlessly and we only shut it down once and that was during a direct hit from a hurricane. It has run in winds of 55 knots and more. We do have the wind brake. The ONLY repairs I have done is to change the brushes after five years. And the output is very good in almost all conditions. For quite a while we only had the wind generator and the alternator for charging. The folks at Four Winds are wonderful to work with. Good luck. BTW you can't hear the unit even when you are standing under it.
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Old 22-03-2004, 08:18   #6
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IS, Here is a cut and paste from a long time experienced cruiser that jus had an experience with the KISS generator in the last couple of weeks.

I just experienced a failure of my KISS wind generator of a nature that I've been worried about for quite some time. The KISS generator has a thermal breaker on each of the 3 outputs of the generator. These open when the generator is getting too hot by generating too much power. This sounds OK in principle, but the problem is that when the breakers open, the blades freewheel at a very high rate of speed. The power curves that KISS supplies shows the generator producing 18 A at 20 Kts and 25 A at 25 Kts. However, there's nothing in their literature which shows the maximum sustainable power output.
A switch, located between the generator wiring and the connections to the battery provides a method of feathering the generator by shorting the outputs to ground or each other. In winds of less than 25 kts this typically causes the blades to spin at a very slow rate of speed. However, once the thermal breakers have tripped, this switch does nothing. To me this is a serious design flaw. The system should feather itself instead of letting the blades freewheel.

I first noticed this on the trip from FL to Guatemala last summer. I had just installed it and was quite surprised when it wouldn't feather in a squall that blew through. I contacted the US KISS distributor about this, and their response was that I should take a boat hook and use it to pull the generator sideways into the wind via a string that goes from the tail of the generator to the support pole. Yeah, that's a great concept until you're at sea with the boat pitching all over the place and probably a lot of other things going wrong at the same time.

Today we've been at anchor at Lighthouse Reef in Belize with a cold front blowing through. The winds have been in the 15 to 25 kt range all day. This morning the breakers tripped twice when the winds gusted over 30 for brief periods of time. Each time I was able to grab the string and swing it around to feather it. This afternoon the winds have been in the 15-20 kt range and the breakers have tripped twice. We were only generating about 17 amps sustained when this happened. The second time I was pulling the generator around when the string got caught in a blade and yanked the boat hook into the tail, snapping it off. I suppose that this is a lot better than having the boat hook strike a spinning blade and potentially impale me, but I'm not happy at all.

While in general I am happy with the KISS generator's simplicity, I think that this is a serious design problem which poses a substantial safety risk. If you're thinking about getting one, consider this fact before buying.

-- Geoff Schultz
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Old 22-03-2004, 09:48   #7
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It may be time for a new unit. As I work on things it does seem to make more and more sense to just replace a complete system. It would apear that the time and money I spent on this unit was a waste.
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Old 22-03-2004, 23:24   #8
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I have and old Windbugger that has been trouble free for me and the previous owner. My unit is not permanently mounted so it is not in use day in and day out. I would hang it on the forestay when needed. I have heard both good and bad but it does seem that parts and repairs are expensive. But it is paid for and still kicking so I will keep using it. If you are going to chuck yours let me know I may be interested in it for parts.
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Old 23-03-2004, 13:48   #9
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Steve, I'm not ready to give up yet. We are going to Florida in a few days and we plan to find some ships stores if I see something I like I may replace the wind bugger. It works on the bench but not on the boat. It may be something stupid. But it does make a lot of noise with the wind and a quieter unit may be better. We will see.
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Old 23-03-2004, 20:36   #10
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New AirX Marine units on Ebay for around $700. Marine store price seems to be a few hundred more. Probably be my first choice as a replacement. The new models are supposed to be much quieter than previous versions.
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Old 27-04-2004, 06:44   #11
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While we were in Florida I saw that there are many more windbuggers on boats than other models. It must be a popular generator at least in south Florida.
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Old 27-04-2004, 12:54   #12
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Irwinsailor,
I've had a Windbugger since 1990 and it has given me fairly good service, seven trips south from Toronto. I have serviced mine a few times and had to replace the housing ($90) with the permanent magnets once when a magnet (epoxied on) came loose and disintegrated. The parts if you get them from Windbugger in Ft. Lauderdale are expensive. It is simply made and fairly easy to diagnose the problems. If the prop won't turn it's either bearings ($20 each from Windbugger, $8 from a bearing shop) or one of the magnets has come loose and is jamming the armature. Another area for problems is the thrust bearing, take it apart and clean. A look at it will show how it works. Check all contacts. The final problem is the brushes, once you take the thing apart you'll be able to see how good or bad they are. This is a weak point with Windbuggers. The brush holders seem very Mickey Mouse and though they might appear ok you have to give them a pull to see if they're loose or broken. Take care when you take it apart and mark all the cases so that it goes together the same way. You will need a puller to get the bearings off. No other special tools. Having said all this I am retiring mine because the armature was damaged by the brush holder coming loose and have ordered a Kiss for my new boat. Ken (he bought the business from Bugger Bob) can be very helpful if you call him. He drove to Miami , picked up my Windbugger and returned it two years ago. I was anchored off Key Biscayne. There was no charge because he was supposed to have fixed it in Ft. Lauderdale (brush and thrust bearing problems) when I took it to his shop. This was the only time it went to the shop. If you need any more info e-mail me.
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Old 27-04-2004, 13:05   #13
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Irwinsailor,

Read the post about it working on the bench.

Does the prop turn fairly fast (can't see the individual blades) at ten knots? If it does then it's not the bearings. If yours is a pole mount there are two possibilities.
1. Thrust bearing
2. Wiring or diode problem
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Old 27-04-2004, 13:18   #14
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I think it is the doide. Everything seams to work correctly. I replaced the bearings, the brushes look good and it works on the bench.
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Old 04-06-2004, 14:22   #15
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Wind Generator/towed generator

Having looked through the discussions, I realised that you may not have heard of the Duogen system. This has a quick conversion from wind power to towed, and is a simple replacement of wind blades for a small device that holds the unit underwater, and has a propellor that provides the power. The unit swivels at the generator,into the air for the wind mode, or into the water for watermode. It is more expensive that a lot of standard wind generators, but also provides quite a lot more power. I will be using one (and a large solar panel) when I start my trip.
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