Part 4: The Founders’ Story

Craig Murray

For Everything (Nimmo), Turn, Turn, Turn – The Tale of Transporting the Pelton Wheel

Craig had found his waterfall, a sizeable cascade that carried snowmelt and rainfall year round into Nimmo Bay. Turning the powerful tumble into energy would require another discovery entirely, however. So, off Craig went to a hydro conference to see if he could figure out, and possibly even procure, what was needed. He learned he needed a Pelton wheel, a highly efficient turbine that extracts energy from the impulse of moving water. By coincidence, naturally, he also met a salesman named Craig Murphy. Craig Murphy was not only willing to sell Craig Murray a Pelton wheel, Craig Murray could make payment arrangements with Craig Murphy to do so.

“I was able to get the turbine on a coastal transportation boat that made regular deliveries to Sullivan Bay, about ten miles away,” recalls Craig. “They used the boat’s crane to lower the Pelton wheel onto my aluminum herring skiff. The delivery boat had already departed the dock by the time the skiff really started to leak.”

When Craig realized the 1,500-pound Pelton wheel was going to swamp the skiff he did what anyone would do…

He commandeered another vessel, caught the coastal transport boat, and convinced the captain to turnaround and return to the dock, which is exactly where he left the turbine for Craig to deal with.

Craig knew the next transport boat and, more importantly, it’s hoist, would come by in a week’s time so he returned to Nimmo and began lashing together a log float. He was confident the makeshift barge would handle the Pelton’s weight, but he was also dependent the year’s highest tide of the year to float the float as close to its final destination as possible.

Craig would also have to borrow a boat powerful enough to haul the cargo. Fortunately, he’d run into his friend Walter Rudd in Port. McNeill. Walter swiftly volunteered his vessel for the expedition. But Walter was rather fond of drink and punctuality was not his strong suit.

Would he show up in Sullivan Bay at the right time, the hour prescribed by, not only the arrival of the coastal transport, but an exact tide?
As had happened once or a hundred times, Craig enjoyed no other option.

“Walter showed up when he said he would and he was sober to boot,” Craig muses. “We towed those logs mostly in the dark, arriving at Nimmo around 1 AM, timed perfectly with the 18 and ½ high tide. We used a come-along and some chain to move the beast about 40 feet closer to where it needed to be.”

old photo | Nimmo Bay

The Pelton wheel was more or less in place, but you don’t just plunk a turbine down in the middle of a waterfall and turn on the lights. It took Craig and Deb a year to haul hose 220 feet up a steep embankment, to dig a large ditch in the river above, and to gather six large pipes that a helicopter had dropped through the trees and sledge them down the steep decline and into place.

“I brought in explosive workers to dynamite rock and professional gluers who mostly eyeballed the pipe elbows to keep the connection taut and seamless. We also constructed wooden boxes that we anchored with concrete. The kids would hoot and howl every time the dynamite went off.”

Once power was secured it was time to bring in a new lodge. Surprising absolutely no one, floating the lodge to Nimmo Bay would prove far easier said than done. Alas, that’s another story.

To be continued…

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