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Aardvark Daily

New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 24th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

Content copyright © 1995 - 2019 to Bruce Simpson (aka Aardvark), the logo was kindly created for Aardvark Daily by the folks at aardvark.co.uk



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2 August 2018

I'd already the story which prompted today's column when a reader dropped me an email with a link to it.

Originally I'd thought "so what", this isn't really new but, on reflection (thanks Perry), I realised that this really is the sort of thing that every "bloke" can relate to.

Here is the story and I expect a great many Aardvark regulars will have already read it but it does bring a smile to my face and remind me of the type of project we should all be showing an interest in.

I bought one of the first F&P direct-drive washing machines -- albeit not the very first "Gentle Annie" version (which had its problems).

To be honest, I wasn't totally impressed with the reliability of our machine. In the few short years we owned it from new it needed a couple of logic board replacements, a new switch for detecting when the load was unbalanced and a new pressure switch for measuring the water level.

I was not that happy with the mounting repair bills, especially when I compared this machine to the uber-reliable F&P 400 we'd owned for more than a decade previously and which had never caused any problems at all... except that sometimes when performing the spin-cycle, it would wander across the laundry floor and wedge itself against the door, such that I had to pull out the louver windows clamber through a small hole in the wall to gain access to that room.

When the direct-drive machine was finally put out of its misery (apparently the bearings on the tub had failed after only a few short years), I did strip it down and take a look inside.

The logic board was a whole lot of nothing (and I'd already seen those twice before) but the tub and motor assembly was something far more fascinating.

The very first thing I thought on seeing that neatly wound rotor and all those rare-earth magnets was "wow, this would make a great generator".

Obviously, I was not the only one who thought this and since then there have been countless DIY generators built around these things.

The repair-man who read the last-rites for my own machine told me "you're lucky, they're using much weaker magnets now in the newer versions so they're not as good for turning into generators". Sad news indeed!

However, even the newer machines are still quite viable as a low-cost way to generate electricity and I have to wonder how long it will be (if it hasn't already been done) before some bright-spark (no pun intended) repurposes them into direct drive motors for a home-built EV.

I seem to recall that there are now quite a few instructional guides online to help with the task of turning your old direct-drive washing machine into a generator and indeed, I had planned to use one of these as the generation element for my low-profile, low noise roofline generation project -- which I may revive in the near future.

The only gremlin with the project described in the Stuff story is (as you'll see in the comments) the spectre of "government intervention" and New Zealand's penchant for over-regulation. There are fears expressed that now it's become very public, someone with a clip-board will arrive and demand all sorts of red-tape be complied with in order to meet the demands of council or some government environmental group.

There are at least two Aardvark readers who are "off grid" so I wonder if anyone has their own stories of DIY generation to share in the forums?

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