WATERWHEEL PROJECT, ( edited, more pictures etc. video link )

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Project by bushmaster posted 07-22-2016 04:37 AM 6034 views 8 times favorited 26 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This project was completed several years ago and has been making music ever since, takes a holiday every winter. I grew up with water wheels on the farm, my dad and his brother made several power generating systems over the years. The first provided the farm with electricity for over 20 years before the power lines came through the valley. Even then his dream was to put a power system farther up stream where he could get 120 feet fall, that system has been upgraded and is still producing electricity for years to come. This is just a small project following in the dreams of my dad.
I just have a small stream flowing through my campsite, with making a small dam i could raise the water level to operate a small wooden waterwheel. I chose 5 feet as the diameter and about 16 inches wide. The construction was quite straight forward, cut the angles, spine the sections together, Hard to describe but if the pictures are zoomed in you can see how it was put together.
Two sides assembled on a scrap shaft that I picked up somewhere.

To dado the buckets in I had to make two jigs to cut dado’s so they would match on both sides. Nothing scientific about the angle, just so it looked about right.

Then assemble buckets and back pieces, couple of pictures showing assembled wheel and pulley.

The last thing I had to do was to lathe the wheel round, that took alittle pondering, I came up with this idea of using a jig and router, jig is fastened to the axle. one had to just spin the wheel psst the router, infact it was self powering with the rotation of the router bit.

The next thing was to make the dam and supporting beams and install it and let it kick up its heals and spray water


I first set it up as an undershot wheel just to get it operating, then I set it up as a breast wheel. the breast wheel captures the water in the buckets in a curved section. The weight of the water increases torque. An advantage if you are not able to have an overshot setup. The first summer the wheel was operating I had a expansion problem with the water and it would jamb. For the next year I dried it out and lathed it round again, reducing the diameter of the sides to fit a steel ring. I made the steel ring smaller, heated it up till it would just slip on with a slege hammer, cooled it just like they use to make wooden wagon wheels. has not been a problem since.

I had to cut a vee grove in the pulley, I came up with a very easy way to do that, after I tryed mounting it on my lathe, not a good idea to day the least, it is 3 feet in diameter.
Anyway it was a fun project and I love watching it and listening to the paddles striking the water. You can hear it in the short video that I prepared from footage I took with my picture camera at the time. It is about 5 minutes.

Thanks for looking and watching, I can answer any questions you might have, comment appreciated.

-- Brian - Hazelton, British Columbia

26 comments so far

View Shuja's profile


287 posts in 2618 days

#1 posted 07-22-2016 04:58 AM

That is quite simple & beautiful. What generator did you use?

-- shuja

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5623 posts in 4764 days

#2 posted 07-22-2016 05:38 AM

An interesting project. It is amazing what so ingenuity and hard work can accomplish.

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View BobWemm's profile


2963 posts in 2978 days

#3 posted 07-22-2016 07:01 AM

Those are fascinating, I could sit and watch one for hours.
Great Job Mate.


-- Bob, Western Australia, The Sun came up this morning, what a great start to the day. Now it's up to me to make it even better. I've cut this piece of wood 4 times and it's still too damn short.

View muesli's profile


510 posts in 2560 days

#4 posted 07-22-2016 08:24 AM

I love this project and the result of your work!
And listening to the sound of the wheel, I instantly thought of music. Though the only instrument I can play is the CD-player. Really great!

-- Uwe from Germany.

View crowie's profile


4472 posts in 3002 days

#5 posted 07-22-2016 09:28 AM

Is there anything you can’t do Brian, WOW, a water wheel generator…well done sir…

-- Lifes good, Enjoy each new day...... Cheers from "On Top DownUnder" Crowie

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

26058 posts in 4157 days

#6 posted 07-22-2016 10:35 AM

WOW, That is really cool, Brian. I love natural power generation…like water, wind and solar!!

cheers, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Ivan's profile


16719 posts in 3919 days

#7 posted 07-22-2016 11:46 AM

I like woodworking and engineering combination. Awesome woodworking job with all those joinery. I must remind you that, my countryman Nikola Tesla also started experimented with waterwheels. So – who knows!...

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View JoeinGa's profile


7741 posts in 3058 days

#8 posted 07-22-2016 12:37 PM

Waterwheels are fascinating and mesmerizing to watch. Yours is very much so.

1st off your video link doesn’t seem to work for me, so I went to one of your lathe posts and followed THAT video link, where I was able to find this waterwheel vid.

I do have a question though. I see the difference in how the water “funnel” is set level to the wheel for breast running and below the wheel for undershot running. Is there any advantage for running a wheel one way or the other?

Thanks for sharing !

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View Scott Oldre's profile

Scott Oldre

1128 posts in 4483 days

#9 posted 07-22-2016 12:44 PM

Now I want to make one, but I have no water source. Dam it.

-- Scott, Irmo SC

View JoeinGa's profile


7741 posts in 3058 days

#10 posted 07-22-2016 12:59 PM

Now I want to make one, but I have no water source. Dam it.

- Scott Oldre

Well Scott. Sometimes you just gotta think outside the box and improvise ! :)

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3918 days

#11 posted 07-22-2016 01:11 PM

Brian, this is a very nice yard ornament and conversation piece. In my mind’s eye I can imagine sitting nearby and listening to the relaxing gentile noise it must make. Nice work.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30609 posts in 3390 days

#12 posted 07-22-2016 02:15 PM

Very cool

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View irtamos's profile


315 posts in 3095 days

#13 posted 07-22-2016 02:48 PM

Good job!

-- irtamos, Belgium

View Eric_S's profile


1565 posts in 4247 days

#14 posted 07-22-2016 02:49 PM

Very cool, here is the fixed url for your video

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View PPK's profile


1856 posts in 1861 days

#15 posted 07-22-2016 02:58 PM

Super cool. Ditto to the question about the generator… What does it power? Also, I couldn’t figure out the vid. link. It may be broken? Great build though. thanks for sharing.

-- Pete

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