Monday morning, the SSE connections team finish of the upgrade of Pole 113, to an H design, ready to be connected up to the Allt Dearg export feed in late August, early September.
Old cable coming down at the Stronachullin Farm section.
Not at bad job on a July afternoon, not so attractive at 2am in mid- January, with a lot of braying customers on your back!
Shiny new 100mm copper conductor pulled into place. This element of works is required for the proposed Srondoire Community Wind Farm.
Overhead line upgrade from pole 113 (the Allt Dearg connection) to Inverneil substation spur, is required to increase the export capacity on the line, beyond the 10MW required by Allt Dearg.
Pulling the cable into place.
T11 tower sections successfully delivered to site on Monday morning. McFadyens then headed off to Glasgow for another set of blades.
T11 towers standing by at T4, if the wind drops tonight these towers will be moved and lifted at T11, to bring us back on schedule.
Blades prepped with bolts at T8.
High winds last Friday, through to Monday morning, limited lift to bottom section of T12 on Monday morning. If Windfinder.Com is accurate, Vestas team plan to lift T12 and T11 through Monday night and Tuesday early morning, taking advantage of a lull in the high winds.
Monday 9.15pm, the wind speeds are dropping and the lift is on at T12.
Spot the reception crew standing at the rim of the lower tower section.
Tower vertical, all weight taken by the main crane.
Tail hook released and tower section ready to be placed in position.
Steady hand at the controls, lift is smooth and steady, the crane operator is talked in via the radio links with ground crew and "inside" team already in the erected tower section.
The crane boom is straight, the camera lens is curved.
The moon is up.
The lifting / erection crew of 11 men, including crane operators, is well drilled, moving to each task in sequence. Lars Jacobson the Site Lifting Supervisor from Vestas in Denmark has put up hundreds of turbines around the world, and has overall control of the operation.
The crane is good for 2mm increments, quite amazing. This very experienced Windhoist crew can line the tower sections up and put the bolts straight into place. The noise of bolts being mechanically tightened, fills the still night air.
Night time lifts are not uncommon in the wind industry, as often this is when the lower wind speeds can be found. Bigger projects can run both day and night shift crews. Our team are just expected to sleep on demand during the day, not easy.
The crane stays in position whilst all the bolts are tightened, the ground crew are busy with the nacelle and rotor preparation.
The rotor sitting on the "elephant's foot", the lifting tackle is attached using the main rotor bolt holes.
The rotor pitch adjustment shaft is positioned in the nacelle.
The blades get a final clean and polish as the tie downs are removed.
Final polish. Its not easy doing this when its up in the air!
The top tower is released.
Main crane lifting tackle is changed over.
To lift the nacelle.
Lochgilphead in the distance.
Nacelle lifts. Ring is ready to fit into the flange at the top of the tower.
Rear hatch open and emergency descent kit deployed.
Nacelle is lifted up, the ground crew to the right (with head torches) keep the nacelle pointing in the right direction with a line (clambering around rough hill ground, in the dark, whilst keeping your eyes in the air, is not straightforward).
Note the ground line used to orientate the nacelle.
The ground crew hold the line.
She's home, the team in the top tower quickly move in and secure the bolted joint.
Power to the tower and the internal lighting is quickly established, via a lead from the rear hatch of the nacelle to the ground and local generator. Post erection this cable is brought into the tower, and provides local service power within the nacelle.
Residents in Lochgilphead spotted a strange light in the sky.
That's the moon!
Nacelle secured, the team move onto the rotor.
Big crane lifts the hub, tail crane on the lower blade, lines attached to upper blades and controlled by ground crews.
Tail crane goes slack.
Ground crew pull off the lower blade tail crane strop.
Star lift, all three blades on the hub, ground lines attached to the upper blades with the blue bands.
Just past midnight and T12 is erected. 6 up, half way, with 6 to go. A very impressive operation, in about three and a half hours. This was a full night's work, T11 was left for another day. An experienced team knows that the turbines always go up in the end, and nothing is gained by pushing too hard, other than placing the team and the towers at risk.
Tuesday morning as forecast, the wind has got back up and lifting is not possible.
SSE continue work on the Stronachullin - Inverneil upgrade.
The men from Vestas visit the site, from the left - Mark Powell (Sales), Ken Fiddes (VP Sales) and Keith Wallace (Service - the man responsible for keeping our turbines going for the next 20 years). With the freshly installed T12 in the distance. Vestas have recently announced the closure of the Hohhot (China) factory, which made our nacelles and blades, and have stopped producing the V52. The rest of the world needs much larger turbines (1MW +), at 115m plus to tip. A size that doesn't work in a lot of UK landscapes. Our V52s are 81m to tip. There are already about 450 V52s in service in the UK and Ireland, she's a tried and tested "work horse".
John Muir at T10 - a ten year Vestas veteran, an Orcadian based in Kintyre, part of the local Vestas service team, on site to deal with the minor shipping damage of the China made turbine components.
What does the local Vestas man have in his van? Rubbing compound and gel coat to bring the nacelle and blades back to pristine condition.
Gleaming nose cone after some TLC from John. Smooth and shiny means better airflow and more efficient operation.
T12 Tuesday morning, ready for the internal cabling team.
T11, the erection team unloaded the towers from the road trailers and moved the cranes into position before leaving site at 4 o'clock on Tuesday morning. High wind speeds prevented further lifting operations on Tuesday, and the Windhoist team had a well deserved rest day.
A peek in the T8 nacelle. The lightweight flexible coupling (cover removed), between the high speed output shaft of the gearbox and the generator. 55m up, a lot of design work goes into keeping the weight down in this power station in the sky.
One of two yaw motors and gears. These are used to turn the nacelle into the wind, a process controlled by wind sensors and the turbine's "brain". The electrical connection between the nacelle, which rotates to point into the wind, and the tower, which is fixed, is a special flexible cable which is able to twist as the nacelle rotates. If the nacelle turns more than three rotations in the same direction (clockwise or anti-clockwise) the brain kicks the yaw motors into action and the nacelle is rotated in the opposite direction to untwist the main eletrical cable. This is a rare event as the rotations to adjust for wind direction tend to cancel each other out.
This nacelle is still on the ground, this hole is where the nacelle joins with the tower. The box on the right is where the power cables coming up the tower are connected to the nacelle.
The main bearing that supports the rotor hub.
The generator and bearing / gearbox oil cooling system.
The nacelle "brain" panels.
The blade pitch adjustment, running through the gearbox low speed shaft, ready for final assembly.
McFadyen's Transport's new pride and joy, central tyre inflation (CTI). The hoses into the hubs can raise and lower the air pressure in the tyres on the move. Coming up the steep and slippery wind farm track, the pressure is dropped and the tyre contact area with the ground increases, back on the black-top the tyre is reinflated. A system that could save a lot of wear and tear on Argyll's B roads, if fitted as standard to timber trucks.
Wednesday all lifting was cancelled due to the 33m/s (74mph) wind speeds on the summit, if they had been commissioned the tubines would have cut out at about 25 m/s. Thursday morning, T11 goes up.
Thursday - Steve Macken of Lomond Energy, Keith Renton - Head of Sales for Gamesa in the UK, and Keith Smith of Lomond, visit the site to discuss turbine options for the proposed Srondoire Community Wind Farm. Gamesa produce a lookalike for the Vestas V52, the G52. Gamesa, a Spanish company, orginally licensed the Vestas V52 design, before developing their own wind turbine products.
Blade trailer going nowhere - three blade sets still in Glagow docks, A83 Rest and Be Thankful closed by a land slip, alternative shipping options under discussion.
For some reason Jack (Vestas site manager) always prefers that Harry (NPC RE and RangeRover man) does the driving on the site rounds!
T11, the rotor secured, the team in the hub cast off the lifting gear.
Lifting bolts that use the main rotor attachment bolt holes, are removed and inserted into the lifting rig.
Lifting tackle, with the bolts in place for the next job, are lifted clear.
7 up, 5 to go.
Clear but still windy, T11 operation went very smoothly.
The view from T1, thanks to Lars Jacobsen (he has the climbing ticket). T2 to the left T3 base ahead.
Lochgilphead from T1.
Hub approaching T1, Mheal Mhor masts in the distance. There is a clear hatch in the nacelle roof.
View of Jura from T1.
T1. 55m to the ground.
T2 from T1.
Lars Jacobsen - Vestas turbine erection supervisor. Puts up Vestas turbines all over the world. Aside from landslides, Argyll has been pretty straightforward. At least nobody has shot at him (unlike northern Chile).
Friday afternoon - T10 base section up, and the Windhoist team assemble the rotor.
T10, hub mounted on the "elephant's foot", is cleaned and any rust removed to prior attaching the blades.
Space is tight, and care is taken to prevent the blade from coming into contact with any hard surfaces.
Ropes steady the blade as it is eased into position.
The Windhoist team have all worked together and built hundreds of turbines. They anticipate each other's next move, few words are required, and the team works as one.
Blade mounting bolts are inserted, ready to make the joint.
Small rust patches are buffed off.
Blade is offered up to the hub.
It is a tight clearance through the hub cover.
Once in place the bolts are tightened home with electric socket drivers, and finished off with a torque wrench.
The blade is twisted using chain blocks.
Oisin knows his hubs. Personal best, 2 hours for a V52 hub, 6 hours for a complete V52. This one took a little longer.
Blade is twisted to align pitch control linkage.
With the blade rotated, the pitch control linkage can be fitted.
First blade fitted. T10 due to be completed on Saturday morning.
McFadyens pick up slightly "oversize" spreader beam to unload the 3 remaining blade sets due to be shipped from the King George V dock on the Clyde to Campbeltown on Sunday morning, to avoid any risk of the A83 "Rest & Be Thankful" being shut (again). Bob Lowe - the Vestas Transport Manager, the McFadyens' team and Windhoist deserve a Gold Medal, being able to deliver Plan B at 24 hours notice, to keep the compenents coming and the project on schedule regardless of the condition of the Trunk Roads. The Kintyre mafia save the day!
Saturday lunchtime, T10 successfully lifted in fine weather. 8 up, 4 to go.
T4 pad, ready for blades.
T7 pad ready for blades.
T8 pad, ready for tower erection on Monday, weather permitting. McNally's 90T crane heading down to Campbeltown Sunday morning with Frank to unload three sets of blades, carried as deck cargo from King George V dock in Glasgow (behind Braehead and IKEA). The repeated failure of the Scottish Trunk Roads' Department to maintain the vital road link on the A83 "Rest and Be Thankful", leaves little option but to rely on sea passage for time critical oversize items. Having travelled around 7,500 miles from Inner Mongolia, China, it is scandalous that the shipment should be unable to rely upon the last 100 miles of Scottish Trunk Road. If the failure had occured at the start of the journey, I expect Red China would have dealt with the matter rather more effectively. All three sets of blades expected on site on Sunday.
T1 and T3 now wired up, ready to be commissioned once the SSE grid connection is in place. The blades are fully "feathered", and the nacelles free to turn into the wind, so the blades only turn very slowly.
The High Top Hilton, with T10 and T11 beyond. Shipping containers are being loaded with the empty transport frames.
T11, T12 and T9 pad, awaiting the replacement transformer (the original was dropped), due Monday. T9 is on a terminal spur and will be the last turbine up. T8, T4 and T7 go up next week if the weather holds. We are one turbine lift behind the original schedule.
Weather forecast looks OK for next week. Should be good to complete three lifts, leaving final lift at T9 for the following Monday (13th August).
The Ormsary cows have tried and failed to inspect the turbines as they head upwards to avoid the flies, the grass is high and the good weather has put the shine back into their coats. This girl is one of sixty odd Autumn calvers, and will be brought down to calve on the low ground in the next couple of weeks. We have about another six weeks of good growing conditions on site, so vegetation restoration will be modest this year.
Summit Cairn at 477m. Lithgow Jnr team have completed grass seeding of lower section road sides and borrow pits. Re-growth will be monitored next spring.
Meanwhile our new entrance sign takes shape, a masterpiece by Ian Renton at the Caledonian Sign Company. It is 10mm plate and rather heavy.