Tuesday, November 24, 2015

1975 Oscar & Elizabeth Johnson's Windmill

1975 Wilmington News-Journal - Feb. 19 p.8
Elizabeth and Oscar Johnson dwarfed by their towering windcharger

Electricity as 'free as the wind'
Staff Writer

Last month, the Oscar Johnsons of 10251 SR 73, New Vienna, paid more for their electricity than they paid during the entire 10 year period from 1937-1947.

After an initial investment of $69.95 for a Wincharger in 1937, their electricity was as "free as the wind."  Last month they paid $82.

Mrs. Elizabeth Johnson explained recently, "Our farm is one-half mile back a lane from SR 73 near Snow Hill Country Club.  I went there as a bride almost 42 years ago.  At that time our electric came from a 32 volt generator powered by a gasoline motor and 19 storage batteries.

"In 1936 we built a new house and in 1937 replaced the gasoline generator with a 32 volt windcharger (brand name Wincharger).

"It consisted of the generator and a 10 foot air plane-type propeller, a governor to maintain the proper speed (375 RPM) even in the strongest wind.  It weighed 170 pounds and cost $69.95 at the factory in Sioux City, Ia.  It generated 650 watts of electric which was stored in the 16 glass storage batteries."

"It was something new in this part of the country, and although many told us it wouldn't work we were determined to try it anyway.  

"We had a 45 foot windmill tower in our yard and we mounted it on top of the tower.  It would generate in any breeze of seven miles or more.  I always picked a windy day to wash and iron, as those motors required a lot of power."

Oscar said the advertisement and booklet which came with the windcharger said it could be assembled with a screw driver, wrench and pliers. "And, that's all it took."  He assembled it by himself atop the windmill tower.

"We kept the old gasoline powered outfit just in case, but I don't remember every having to use it, Elizabeth added.

"In those days, all light bulbs, small motors and household appliance could be bought in either 32 or 100 volts.  It furnished power aplenty to operate my washer, iron, sweeper, radio, lights and various small electric motors in Oscar's farm shop.

"In 1947 the war was over and the power company could get the wire to build us a line back our long lane, so we changed over.  So for 10 years, our windcharger solved our energy problem.

"By this time, they no longer manufactured 32 volt things.  The windcharger still stands atop its tower in our backyard to remind us of the good old days when our electric was as free as the wind.

"The only upkeep we had was a few drops of oil when we thought of it.  The water for the storage batteries we got by melting snow in winter and storing it in glass containers."

"We still melt snow for our car and equipment batteries," Oscar said.  If we run our of snow, we catch rain."

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