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Whirligigs

After finishing all 15 mechanical marvels, I decided to try making some whirligigs. I used this book:

 

Action Whirligigs: 25 Easy-to-Do Projects by Anders S. Lunde

Windmill and Tulips (August 2009)

 

 It takes a lot of clamps to glue up the propeller!  I used 3/16" balsa wood for the blades.  The 3/8 x 3/8 lapped main blades are very fragile compared to 3/4 x 3/4" main blades.

And here is the finished whirligig......

 

Woodpecker (May 2009)

 

Here is a short video showing the woodpecker whirligig in action.

This whirligig turned out a lot larger than I expected.  Per the book, I bought some 3/8" diameter 2" long tension pins from McMaster-Carr.  It turned out a 16d or 16 penny nail had too much clearance...whirligig would not set level per photo above. I did some research on nail size, and a 20d nail fits much better. 

The book also said your local hardware store would have a 6-32 die to thread the main brass drive shaft so nuts could be threaded on.  Our local Ace hardware only carried 3/8" and up dies.  I bought a 6-32 from McMaster-Carr.


 

Repairing Karen's Broken Windmill

My sister Karen brought over her favorite garden decoration, a windmill that sets on top of a high tower. Several of the blades had come out.

We took it into the woodworking Dr's emergency room for repair: 

And here is the repaired and re-painted windmill:

 

We simply cleaned out the glue and wood remnants in the slots in the center 4" diameter piece, then reglued the blades back in with Titebond yellow exterior glue. The main shaft is screwed into the roughly 1x1 inch piece using a screw type fitting with 1/4" pilot hole, like is used on particle board furniture.  I drilled a new 1/2" hole and glued in a piece of 1/2" dowel. I cut it to length after the glue dried, then drilled a new 1/2" pilot hole for the fastener. It split the 1x1 piece slightly when I screwed it in. If it doesn't hold up, I will have to make a new piece.  I started to draw this in Google Sketchup, but had trouble drawing the angular base. The outside of the base is 8x8.  I will have to refer to my Sketchup drawing for the other key dimensions. 

Now I hope it holds up for a few more years before I have to make a new one!

OOOps...after only a couple of weeks in the wind, somehow the windmill blew up...and broke the blades again.  Maybe top portion fell off the stand.  Further investigation is required.


  

April 2017 Update on Karen's windmill

Well, after being repaired in 2011, it held up for 6 years outdoors before it broke again!  I took it back to my shop for repairs.  I made a whole new propellor assembly from pressure treated wood, and a new base from pressure-treated.  Hopefully, it will hold up longer than 6 more years!!

Mounting Stand for Whirligigs

I thought my sister Karen's windmill stand was very nice looking. I decided to copy and beef up the design to hold my whirligigs. Here is the Google Sketchup design of my version....

 The tough part about building this was the 7 degree angled frame. I had to carefully use the compound miter saw to get the top and bottom leg angles correct.  Below is picture of painted stand with woodpecker whirligig on it:

 

 

 

 

 

 

I improved the design of the woodpecker by replacing the steel shaft brackets with brass brackets. The pre-drilled screw holes in the steel bracket had too much slop for the shaft which created a lot of noise when it ran. I also replaced the wire to the woodpecker with a piece of brass plate to reduce slop and noise. The mounting nail was replaced with a bent steel bracket to give better support to the whirligig.

Here is a Youtube video of the woodpecker in action:

 


  June 25, 2011 Update:

A 60 mph wind pulled the eye hook out of wood's tail. I beefed up the design by making a brass plate bracket that wraps around his tail. The brass bracket is held on to each side of Woody with 2 sheet metal screws.....

Here is a youtube video of Wood operating after the repair:

 


Man Crank Starting Old Car

I decided to make another whirligig. I used the baseline pattern from the whirligig book noted above. I redrew the whirligig in Google sketchup first:

 

Next I cut out all the pieces and then painted them. I used 5 colors. I decided to try a new mounting method to mount the whirligig on a 5/16" threaded rod. I cut out 2 pieces of brass plate 3/4" by 2" by 1/16" thick. I secured the brass plates to the whirligig using 4 sheet metal screws.

I placed the whirligig horizontal in the portable vise. I placed a level on top of the car to make sure it was horizontal in the drill press. I then drilled a 11/32" diameter hole through the 2 brass plates as shown below: 

 

 Shown below is the whirligig with final paint touches drying in the vise:

 This whirligig runs very smoothly with no clanking metal noise like the woodpecker whirligig has. Probably because the crankshaft is retained in wood versus 2 L-shaped brass brackets.

 Next step is to try it out in the wind!

And here is a Youtube video of this whirligig in action:

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nkCq5Y4ENQY

 As I tested this whirligig outdoors, it became bound up because the man's shoulder rose too high. I added a 1/4" dia wood dowel to the man to keep his shoulder from rising too high:

Preview Image

Here is a Youtube video showing the new pin:

 


 

Karen's Broken Windmill

My sister Karen brought over her favorite garden decoration, a windmill that sets on top of a high tower. Several of the blades had come out.

We took it into the woodworking Dr's emergency room for repair: 

And here is the repaired and re-painted windmill:

 

We simply cleaned out the glue and wood remnants in the slots in the center 4" diameter piece, then reglued the blades back in with Titebond yellow exterior glue. The main shaft is screwed into the roughly 1x1 inch piece using a screw type fitting with 1/4" pilot hole, like is used on particle board furniture.  I drilled a new 1/2" hole and glued in a piece of 1/2" dowel. I cut it to length after the glue dried, then drilled a new 1/2" pilot hole for the fastener. It split the 1x1 piece slightly when I screwed it in. If it doesn't hold up, I will have to make a new piece.  I started to draw this in Google Sketchup, but had trouble drawing the angular base. The outside of the base is 8x8.  I will have to refer to my Sketchup drawing for the other key dimensions. 

Now I hope it holds up for a few more years before I have to make a new one!

OOOps...after only a couple of weeks in the wind, somehow the windmill blew up...and broke the blades again.  Maybe top portion fell off the stand.  Further investigation is required.

I ended up making a whole new propellor assembly. The new propellor lasted the entire rest of the Summer of 2011.


  

July 2011 New Whirligig

The next whirligig I decided to build is called Who's the Boss. Here is a Google Sketchup design that I made:

 

Here are all the pieces in my paint shop:

 

Here is the finished whirligig:

 

And here is a a link to a Youtube video showing this whirligig in action:

  

This whirligig incorporates some of the things I have learned from past projects. I used wood bearing versus steel angle brackets to reduce noise. I used 2 brass plates to mount it on a 5/16" dia bolt. The propeller is also heavier duty with the blades made from 1/4" pine.


  

Repairs and Upgrades after Summer of 2011

We live on the northwest corner of town, and therefore we get very strong winds. By the end of the Summer of 2011, all 4 of my whirligigs were broken from the wind.

Over Christmas of 2011, I repaired and upgraded all the whirligigs.

Wife Teaching Man Who is Boss

The main drive-shaft broke. I increased the size from 1/8" to 3/16" diameter brass.

 

I had earlier bought a die from McMaster-Carr to make threads on the new 3/16" diameter rod.

I used my 12 inch long 3/16" bit to drill the new hole for the beefier crankshaft:

 

I then made another design upgrade to better withstand the high winds. I replaced the eye bolt screwed into the wife with a 3/16" brass rod through her body as shown in the picture below. On other whirligigs, the eye bolt got pulled out of the wooden body over time. I peened the left hand side of the through bolt and used a threaded nut on the right hand side. 

 I had to also bend the brass plate so the drive shaft could rotate freely.

Hopefully, this whirligig is ready for another season.

 Holland Tulip Whirligig

This whirligig lasted the longest because it has no moving parts except the propellor. I made the original propellor grades from interior grade Luan, so they gradually deteriorated in the weather.

 I made up a new jig for the drill press for making the propellor hubs. I made a 45 degree grooved piece which is clamped to the drill press. You can then feed the hub into the Wagner Saf-T-Planer and mill the surface the blades mount to.

 Here is a new propellor made of pine being glued and clamped up:

 



 August 2014 Update

A U.S. retiree living in Costa Rica contacted me via email. He wants to learn how to build the Who's the Boss Whirligig.  He has a computer in Costa Rica, but no printer to print off patterns. He is visiting the States soon and has a U.S. mailing address.

I decided to make him some cardboard patterns, and one unpainted model for him to paint and assemble.

I had previously entered this design into Google Sketchup, so I printed off some full-scale patterns, and transferred them to thick cardboard.........


I then used these patterns to make the parts for one whirligig.

I planed a piece of 1x12 pine down to 1/4" to make the propellors and the house:

 I then cut these out using the scroll saw.

I used a vise to hold the main body of the whirligig, to band-saw the 1/4" wide groove which receives the house:


The first time I built this whirligig, I made a jig to plane the 45 degree angle on the propeller hubs, using the Wagner safety planer on the drill press. I used it again...



It is nothing fancy, just a 45" groove cut in a piece of scrap board, which holds the hub at 45" to plane it.

Here is the propeller glued and clamped up.........



And here is the assembled and un-painted whirligig..........







I also made a Youtube video showing the un-painted model in operation.... 

 

Closing Thoughts on Making Un-Painted Who's the Boss

This is not exactly the same design as in the book, because I beefed it up so it would last longer in high winds. This includes 3/16" versus 1/8" diameter brass shafts, using a thru-bolt through the woman's body versus an eye screw, and 2 brass plates to mount the whirligig on a 3/8" diameter bolt.

Hopefully, this unit will find a  happy home in Costa Rica!

I packaged up the parts into 2 different packages, and mailed them from the Congerville, Illinois post office to the U.S. address.


 September 2014 Update:

A woman in England asked me to build her the MAN CRANKING THE OLD CAR whirligig. She is going to paint it, so my model will be unpainted.

I did not have cardboard patterns already made for this whirligig, so I made cardboard patterns first.  I printed out each piece from Google Sketchup, then glued each piece to cardboard, and then cut out the patterns.

Here is the cardboard pattern for the old car:



I traced all the places where the whirligig needs to be painted, as shown on the tires and wheels above.

Here is the car scroll sawed complete........

 I planed down some pine to 1/4" thick for the propeller blades and the man's thighs. I also planed some pine down to 1/2" thick for the man's arms.



Here is the whirligig almost completed and being held in the vise.......



And here is the completed whirligig........



I made a Youtube video showing this model in operation.........


This model worked very smoothly operating the propellers by hand.



Closing Thoughts on Un-Finished Man Cranking Old Car

This model should work very well in the English breeze

February 2016 Updated on Costa Rica Unpainted Whirligig

The gentleman's wife in Costa Rica painted the whirligig I made for him. She did a very good job..........

 

 

It is too windy where they live to really put it outside every day, so it stays indoors as a decorative piece.


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