With the propeller finished, I made a very basic windmill to attach it to and accommodate a vane to point it into the wind. It felt like something was missing but the moving scenes of whirligigs don't appeal to me, so I cast about for something different. Yes, another dubious brainstorm. Walking up the sidewalk one night I noticed the solar powered lights along it. Aha. I cut off the stem and attached it to the middle of the windmill (at the balance point so the weight wouldn't matter). I really like it. The light shines through the blades and looks like a beacon. People seem to believe that it is powered by the windmill, an illusion I like.
It is 7' in the air at the front of my driveway so it really stands out. I am hoping that white oak with several coats of spar varnish will hold up to all the rain we have here.
So, how does it perform? Pretty well, could be better. The bronze bearings and thrust washers work very well, offering minimal resistance. The blades are rectangular and a more aerodynamic shape would be better. The main thing though is that I made the blades quite narrow for aesthetic reasons. Compare them to the blades on the lawn ornament I have that turns so well:
They have much more surface area, looks like about double. I think this is the major issue. I like the looks of the narrow blades so well that I am willing to put up with it.