Monday, December 12, 2011

Power System Project

    The original power system was put in the Fall of '94. There was a suitable natural pond at the top of the falls that would give around a 400 foot head to the line and lots of pressure. It took 2500' of inch and a half thick walled water line to reach there from the cabin,  we got about 4 good strong local lads and one middle aged t'sama on the end and hauled it straight up that steep rocky mountainside. From the natural pond up there water was fed into a barrel with a screened inlet which we hooked the line to.
Back down at the cabin the high pressure water ran through a nozzle which turned a cupped wheel that drove a truck alternator. That charged up a bank of deep cell batteries hooked to an inverter which changed  12 volt into 120 volt household current. I had lights, VCR, toaster and could run a power tool for a short period, so it had its limitations.
It worked out to about 1000 watts continuous, and 2000 (2kw) watts short term demand.
In 1999 a decision was made to install a much larger system, capable of generating  25,000 watts.(25kw)  This would open a whole new world that included baseboard heaters, washer and dryer, welder, and most anything else, but most importantly, a hot tub.

The pond depth up the hill needed to be increased first thing. We needed to get a bunch of sand filled bags up to the dam site to experiment with the height we needed and to estimate the flow.  There was no road up there in those days and everything needed to be packed up with beasts of burden. I enlisted the help of some neighbors from Skatin as well as some energetic campers that were into a little extra money. I recall paying $7 a bag delivered to the dam site. It sounded like a pretty good deal until they found out they had to be filled with sand first. It took about 20 minutes to climb the 1400 foot trail up to the top of the falls, there were ropes strung on the steepest sections.
Main beasts, Robin T, Pierre Poirier, Harry Williams, Fred Charlie (kneeling), Sid Hunter.

Once we knew the height we could figure out what we needed for cement bags to complete the job later. When word got out a load of cement bags had arrived, I had a hard time finding volunteers, it was a heck of a steep mountainside to pack a 40 lbs load on your back. I forget how, but some how we managed to talk a friend into coming up to visit that owned a helicopter. Once here he was put to work long-lining the load to a small helipad near the dam site, and in an hour the whole load was up there.

A gasoline powered rock drill was packed up the hill and a series of holes had been drilled in the solid rock  lip of the pool. Steel rods were driven into the holes for anchors.  The cement bags were stacked on top of each other with the steel rods poking through to build up the height to the desired level, then the protruding rod ends nipped off with bolt cutters.

The cement bags cured right in the water, forming a simple, effective, and so far, indestructible dam.

A load of 8" diameter flexible PVC pipeline arrived.

A special machine gripped the pipe, heated it up and welded the 60' lengths together and attached flanges to bolt them together. We made up 4x 300' lengths, stretched across the airstrip.

A four wheel drive backhoe was used to drag the sections across the road and up to the base of the falls.
 A large pulley had been secured way up the hillside, 2000' of cable was run up to the pulley and back down to this point. The machine would pull on the one end of the cable and skid the long length of line up the mountain side. The first section went right to the top and plugged into the dam, the rest were hauled up and bolted together. We used a small chainsaw winch to 'steer' the pipeline around trees and obstacles on the way up.

This was taken two thirds the way up. Uncle Al and I, he originally bought the hot spring property in the 50's, and hiked up the hill at 73 to have a look, keenly interested in the project.

Over the Winter a pelton wheel was made to order and coupled with a 25kw generator.
 First thing the next Spring I began installation and connecting it to the penstock. The water comes in the line and blows on the pelton wheel then dumps into a box underneath and runs out a culvert to the side. It was a trying chore to line up the shafts of the pelton wheel and the generator, you are only allowed a few hairs either way, and to make it worse, the shafts were different diameters.

Don't even ask what it costs to land a cement truck out in this country. Actually this was timed when there was some other work being done in the valley and they were out already.


                                           Jefferey Wallace (Kilahuskin)  1949--2011

   I lost an old friend last week. I met Jeff one rainy Fall day not long after I came into this country,  his vehicle broke down near by and I went out and gave him a hand, we were friends ever since.
He and "Auntie" Marie adopted this whiteman from the hot spring soon after, and he stood right up there with her when I received my Indian name at a gathering in 1996. "We are here to give this t'sama a name" they said.
I gave him work when I could, with the addition to the cabin, and the power project, he was responsible for the great rock work around the generator shed. He is missed.

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