James is owner of APRS World, which makes wind turbines for harsh locations, as well as wind-energy instrumentation, and control equipment. James’ work frequently takes him to remote helicopter-access sites in Alaska, and to wind farms across the United States. James has been installing and servicing small wind turbines for 15 years, and has been designing and manufacturing them for more than seven years.
Petzl Pro Vertex Best Professional Helmet (with Petzl Pixa 3 headlamp). My helmet is my No. 1 piece of safety gear. It goes on my head the moment I get to the job site. I like this helmet because it is small for travel, provides full head protection, has straps so it won’t blow away, and has an integrated mount for the Pixa 3 headlamp. But it’s tight for getting liners and other cold-weather gear to fit under it.
Klein Tools 3239 Adjustable-Head Spud Wrench with a Klein 5417 Leather Holder. I always keep an adjustable spud wrench in a leather holder on my harness. The spud wrench is used to align tower and turbine components, tighten bolts, pry things, or even to hammer stubborn components. It is especially well-suited for tower work because it has a tether hole—a falling spud wrench could be deadly, so I tie off the wrench.
Milwaukee Tools M18 Fuel 3/8-inch impact wrench. After years of experimenting, I have found the one cordless tool that suits my needs. I used to carry a variety of cordless tools, but when traveling, all that weight is prohibitive. The M18 Fuel has a brushless motor with a lithium battery, and can produce 200 foot-pounds of torque. With a 3/8-inch square to 1/4-inch hex adapter, I also can also use normal power screwdriver bits and 1/4-inch hex-shank drill bits.
Favorite Tower Techniques
• Have lifelines. Insist on safety climbs/Lad-Saf. With a permanently installed safety climb, there is no temptation to free-climb the “last little bit.” And there is no possibility of selecting an inadequate tie-off point while climbing. It is much faster and less tiring to climb the tower.
• Take advantage of tech. Bring a water bottle, snack, and your smartphone. Especially while erecting towers and turbines, since there can be a lot of waiting. The smartphone is great for when you need to download a manual or to document something with a photo.
• Pack versatility. Carry a lot of carabiners and small lanyards up the tower. They are infinitely useful to secure parts, tools, etc., to the tower while you work.
Do as much as you can in your shop or on the ground. Plan your tools and materials so you will have everything you need on the tower.
Photo: James Jarvis designs, manufactures, tests, and installs wind turbines in a variety of environments.
Courtesy Anna Jarvis