Wind Turbine on the Move

Pulled into an I-90 rest stop west of Albany NY and saw what appeared to be a large water tank on a flatbed, parked next to … an airplane wing?

Wind turbine blade and tower section

Wind turbine blade and tower section

Nah, this can’t be.

Turns out that the “tank” (in the distance of the picture) was part of the mast for a wind turbine, with three airfoil blades on separate trailers scattered around the edges of the truck parking area.

This being a Marching Band trip (returning from the NYSFBC Dome contest in Syracuse: 4th place), I deployed two bandies as measuring instruments. They put on their drill face, stepped 8-to-5 along the blade, and reported it as 120 feet, which agreed well with my uncalibrated 125-foot pace.

Wind turbine blade - side view

Wind turbine blade - side view

Wind turbine blade - end view

Wind turbine blade - end view

Seen end-on, a blade doesn’t present much to see. The plastic-foam endcap is a nice touch, though.

The hub and generator nacelle (and, most likely, many more tower sections) were missing from the collection, which leads me to think they’re marshalling all the pieces before delivery to a wind farm site. It’s also possible these came from a decommissioned installation, as they seemed somewhat weathered.

A semitruck driver said they’d been parked in the lot since late last week.

The placard on the back of the trailer reads, in both English and French (due to a Quebec license plate):


A bit of Google-fu (try searching for offsetting steering semitrailer -carbon) indicates that the trailer has self-steering wheels, which makes sense given that it’s a single unit rather than a double-bottom semitrailer rig.

The tower section had a bogie wheel assembly strapped to one end (labeled “TOP” on the canvas cover) and a semitrailer tongue strapped to the other: no need for a trailer between the two, as a cylindrical turbine tower is certainly stronger than anything you’d find on the road.

  1. #1 by CircuitGizmo on 2010-11-04 - 07:25

    I see these all the time. Quite a pain to wait for them to cross a road – like waiting for a slow train. I joke that it would be more aerodynamic to haul the blade vertically.

    • #2 by Ed on 2010-11-04 - 08:26

      Slicing through all those bridges would nick the leading edge something awful!

      As happened, for example, in that classic incident. The trailer was traveling right-to-left, which means the elbow hit the side of the overpass and punched through the decking as it yanked the arm out of its forward-stowed posision. The arm levered the excavator body upward to smash the shovel into the underside to leave that crater.

      Pretty well ruined the trailer, too.

      Dang, it must be hard to explain how that got on your driving record…

      [Update: An article on the repair project.]

      • #3 by CircuitGizmo on 2010-11-05 - 09:03

        Bondo. Loads of Bondo.

        The reason that I wait for them to cross the road is because they avoid the underpass and take the access ramps. They travel in groups. Not just the multiple large trucks, but a swarm of little service vehicles with lights. Worker bees helping move a big queen bee.

        My Tundra is big enough that small parking lots raise my blood pressure. I wouldn’t want to drive one of these enormous trucks straight down the road, much less make a slow-mo maneuver with them. But at least the driver is supported by the “look outs” in the other vehicles.

        It was interesting to park (no choice) and watch the orchestration – once. After that…