Dismantling a Windmill, From the Top Down

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Most people who move windmills use a boom truck, and gently drop the structure, as shown here. Loren Lockman, though, prefers a more "hands on" approach.

Loren Lockman is at the top of his field: literally. Self-employed in the business of buying, selling and refurbishing windmills, Loren accomplishes in two hours time what most people would never attempt.

“I totally disassemble the windmill, from the top down, piece by piece,” he says. “I’ll average two hours a piece to disassemble an eight-foot head on a 40-foot tower and load it onto my truck. Some of them have taken as long as six hours, but I have taken down seven, complete, in one day.”

His is a decidedly traditional approach.

“It’s the old fashioned way. There’s just a handful of people in the country who do it my way,” he says. “The more modern way is to bring in a boom truck, use a crane and hoist it sideways.”

Loren never goes up without a utility lineman’s belt, and he’s nothing if not cautious. Still, he has had some, uh, interesting experiences.

“On the wooden platforms, you always stand on the bolts,” he says. “But I have stepped through the wood when I wasn’t on the bolts. That’s why I have the belt. And more than once, I’ve pulled the helmet off the motor, and there was a nest of bees in there that came out in a swarm.” Gulp.

“Usually, if you’re still,” he says, “they’ll go away.”

“And I have chipped ice off as I go,” he notes. “This is year ’round work.”

Loren specializes in Aermotor windmills, which are still in production. He also has an interest in early wooden wheel windmills. “Right now I probably have 20 that need to be restored,” he says. And there’s plenty more available.

“There’s a lot of wooden wheel mills still hiding in groves of trees,” he says. For Loren, that’s job security.

“I won’t say it takes a lot of knowledge to do what I do,” he says, “but it takes a lot of patience, and a lot of guts. Every situation is different.” FC

For more information: Loren Lockman, 15303 Papio Street, Omaha, Neb., 68138; (402) 891-1061.

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