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What the hell was that?!?!


red930
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Well, there's been something that I've put a lot of thought into for several years now and I was finally able to resolve it today.

 

I travel Interstate 10 quite a bit since it's the major East-West traffic artery in the area. Sometimes there's some very interesting things moving on I-10 but one thing in particular has caught my eye.

 

For several years I've noticed an lowboy trailer with a very aerodynamic container on it traveling I-10. Now I've worked some very interesting jobs at some very interesting locations but I've never seen anything quite like this before.

 

It's very hard to describe but it looks sorta like the front of a very aerodynamic RV without the chassis. There's an RV type A/C mounted on the roof and a huge circular opening at the rear. This whole dull grey thing is mounted on the deck of a lowboy trailer. There are no obvious tie-downs so the thing has to be attached to the trailer.

 

The "thing" is about 22 feet long, 12 feet high and just about 8 feet wide. This keeps it within the width limits for all of the Interstate system. Yes, I've been close enough to get a good read on the size of these things since I've seen on average about one a week for a couple of years.

 

Now here's the kicker.

 

The only reason I even became curious was I would see them with an escort in one direction and without an escort in the other. Now what could they be carrying that requires an escort and a wild looking cargo carrier? Headed West they have a full escort. When traveling East, it's just the truck with the container empty.

 

Well, I finally figured it out today. I recorded a show on Discovery called Really Big Things. I was watching it today and they had a segment about building windmills in Europe. As they were putting the completed generating equipment together I noticed a shape that looked familiar. I backed the video up a couple of times to make sure I was seeing what I thought I was seeing and sure enough, there was the grey thing I've seen on the road.

 

It took a more time on Google but there it was a big as sunshine. The strange grey cargo carrier is transporting the guts of a General Electric Wind Turbine. What I've seen is the "transport cab" that holds the gearbox and actual generator. The "gen-set" weighs about 60 tons which puts it over the legal limit for over the road without an escort. This is why they have an escort heading West and no escort heading East.

 

The parts are assembled and tested at a plant in North Carolina then put in the "transport cab" for the trip to the destination assembly facility. The containers are climate controlled during transport which is why they have an RV type A/C on top. Once the gen-set is removed from the transport cab, the load is within legal limits so they don't need an escort back.

 

The final destination is inside the nacelle at the top of the pylon for a windmill.

 

There are currently four major wind farm projects in Texas, Arizona and California using the GE windmills.

 

I provided a couple of links so you can see what I've been seeing all this time. Now remember that only the "transport cab"(nacelle) is on the truck. The pylon, hub and blades are not included.

 

http://www.power-technology.com/projects/c.../callahan2.html

 

http://www.ge-energy.com/prod_serv/product...mw_brochure.pdf

 

http://www.gepower.com/prod_serv/products/...15_brochure.pdf

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I've actually seen numerous windfarms throughout Germany so the turbines are quite familiar to me.

 

It's interesting to find out how the actual generators are transported though.

 

Probably the pylons, housing, and fans are produced elsewhere and the GE generators are installed once everything else is in place.

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If the nose cone of the shipping container looks like an enlarged space shuttle nose, I too have seen these and always wondered what they were. I have seen two or three trucks at a time hauling the empties, from what you describe. I am guessing they are putting more of them here: http://www.orion-energy.com/callingpage_dela_mountain.html. I drove past this wind farm a couple of years ago, and was amazed by the size of the powerplants.

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The hub end actually leans back at the top due to the bottom being on an angle but they definitely something you don't see every day. Recently they've taken to putting a large GE logo on the circular cap. For at least two years there were no identifying marks which just added to the intrigue.

 

I ended up behind an empty headed East this afternoon on the way home. The circular cap that seals the end was lying inside.

 

Just picture the entire nacelle from the links facing hub end backwards on a lowboy trailer and that's exactly what they look like going down the road.

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