what we do

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Decoration

Routine Maintenance

Routine Maintenance

We provide a thorough decoration service on all types of wind and water mills. This includes, cleaning down the mill (metalwork/brick/wood) Sometimes it is necessary to clean back to bare wood/brick. We can re-point any brickwork as required. Then a program of undercoat and 2/3 coats of paint can be applied. There are a range of paints available, which would be discussed with the customer prior to commencing work. Decoration works are carried out via an access platform where needed. 


We provide a thorough decoration service on all types of wind and water mills. This includes, cleaning down the mill (metalwork/brick/wood) Sometimes it is necessary to clean back to bare wood/brick. We can re-point any brickwork as required. Then a program of undercoat and 2/3 coats of paint can be applied. There are a range of paints available, which would be discussed with the customer prior to commencing work. Decoration works are carried out via an access platform where needed. 


Since 2019, coal tar has been phased out in the UK due to changes in Health & Safety Regulation, however we have a range of products that are suitable for 'tarring' mill towers. 


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Routine Maintenance

Routine Maintenance

Routine Maintenance

Wind and watermills are machines and can be dangerous if not routinely maintained. Good maintenance also ensures the mills' long life and can avoid costly issues in the future. 


We offer routine maintenance to both wind and water mills, including: internal and external inspection of the mill, oiling/greasing the mills' components, and running the mill to check for problems and spilling any water sitting on the sails.  


We also offer an annual survey of your mill where we carry out a full inspection and produce a report highlighting any issues that need addressing. These can either be carried out from the floor or by access platform. 



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Caps

Routine Maintenance

Sails

The style of cap varies from region to region, tower mills in the midlands usually have an 'ogee' shape whereas those in the north west and south east are boat shaped. 

 

In a fully restored windmill, the cap will need to support the weight of the sails, wind-shaft and the turning gear. The main timbers running front to back (sheers) need to be substantial to cope with the weight and the stresses of the wind.  Instead of replacing the entire cap it is often better to replace the sheers and repair the cap frame. 


If the cap is purely to keep the weather out then a lighter construction may be used. 

Repairing the cap is more easily undertaken with the cap on the ground. The cap and all its machinery can be lifted on and off the tower with a large crane.

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Sails

Stone Furniture and Mill Machinery

Sails

The 2 main types of windmill sail that we construct are 'Common' sails and 'Patent' sails but we also undertake repair and replacement of 'Spring' sails. We are always careful to follow the local tradition to ensure historical accuracy.

  

'Common Sails' have been used on windmills since medieval times. The sail consists of a wooden lattice over which the sail cloth (canvas) is spread. To adjust the sails the mill has to be stopped and the cloth rolled in or out on each sail.  Although these are the simplest sails to construct it is still important to achieve the correct 'weather', which is the slight curve the sail has, to ensure that the mill develops enough power to do the grinding. 


'Patent Sails' were invented by William Cubitt in1813. The sail consists of a number of bays each with its own shutter. The shutters are connected together by a striking rule which is connected to the striking gear. This allows all the shutters to be opened and closed even while the mill is working. This mechanism is more complicated but does have the advantage that the 'cloth' can be adjusted while the mill is running and the adjustment is automatic.


'Spring Sails' are similar to 'patent' sails however the shutters are held closed by the tension of a spring. The tension of the spring needs to be adjusted as the cloth is applied to each sail. The mill needs to be stopped if the spring tension needs to be changed.  


In 'Patent' and 'Spring' Sails, the shutters (shades) are usually made of canvas which help reduce the weight of the sail. In the midlands the canvas is stitched to a thick wire frame attached to a wooden back whereas in the south the canvas is tacked to an entirely wooden frame. A typical 'Patent' sail can weigh in excess of 1 ton. 


For any sail the choice of timber and the method of construction are very important. Windmill sails are subject to all types of weather from winter gales to baking summers. The wood needs to remain stable in these conditions without splitting. The paint needs to keep the weather out but still allow the wood to breath. If the materials used are not of best quality then the sails might look pretty for a few years but soon begin to decay. The metal work also needs to be substantial, the striking gear does not want to bend in high winds nor do the shackles want to work loose in a gale. 


The sails are usually attached to the wind shaft in one of two ways. Either the sails are bolted directly on to a cast iron cross attached to the wind shaft or the sails are bolted to a pair of stocks which pass through the canister on the end of the wind shaft.  Where stocks are used these also need to be substantial and made of good quality timber. 

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Stone Furniture and Mill Machinery

Stone Furniture and Mill Machinery

Stone Furniture and Mill Machinery

The millstone is surrounded by a wooden case (or 'tun' or 'vat'), similar to a barrel. Its purpose is to collect the flour which has been ground between the stones and ensure it flows down the spout into the waiting sack below. 

  

On top of the case sits the hopper legs ('horse') and hopper. Grain is fed from the hopper into the stones by the shoe.  The flow of grain into the stones is regulated by how fast the shoe is shaken.


If the stone furniture is not built correctly then the grain will not flow into the stones properly. If the slope of the shoe is too steep grain will flow too quickly, if the slope is too shallow grain does not flow at all.  The shoe also needs to be the correct shape to keep the grain from falling out of the side of the shoe and on to the top of the stones. This grain will not be ground and instead will end up as whole grains in the flour, spoiling it.


To make white flour a flour dressing machine is used. This sifts wholemeal flour to remove the bran and separate the remaining flour, the finest particles being the white flour.


Other machinery we have supplied include mixing machines for flour and grain, smutters for grain cleaning and crushers for producing flaked grains. 

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Wheel Cogging

Stone Furniture and Mill Machinery

Stone Furniture and Mill Machinery

To successfully re-cog a wheel that  will run smoothly takes time and expertise. 

  

Each cog has to be rough cut by hand and fitted into the cast iron wheel. The cogs then need to be marked out and shaped to ensure that the correct pitch is obtained. When correctly done the cogs should run smoothly and quietly. Since the cog is transmitting the mills power from one machine to another the correct choice of timber is important. The wood must be close grained with no knots or evidence of splitting. Woods traditionally used are apple wood, thorn, beech, hornbeam and for damp places such as waterwheel pits, oak.

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Stone Dressing

Pattern Making and Foundry work

Pattern Making and Foundry work

How often stones need to be dressed depends on how much grain is ground and the type of stones used. Millstone grit will need to be dressed more frequently than French burr, for example.  A good indication that stones require dressing is when the 'tentering' gear provides little control between coarse and fine flour and the stones make the 'meal' hot.  

   

First the runner stone needs to be lifted to allow the grinding surface to be inspected. If the stones are in a poor condition it will be necessary to cut back to a smooth and level surface before the main furrows can be cut.  This heavy work is usually undertaken using modern stone cutting equipment. The light feathering at the edge of the stone may be done using a traditional stone chisel.


Both the runner stone and the bed stone need to be dressed. The pattern of the furrows will depend on the type of grain to be ground. There are different patterns for wheat and barley with regional variations.  The depth of the furrows and the offset from the centre of the stone are also critical to how well the stone will grind. If the furrows are not cut correctly then flour production may be slow or, worse still, grain may get through the stones and into your flour spoiling it.


If the stones are completely worn out brand new composite millstones can be obtained. 

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Pattern Making and Foundry work

Pattern Making and Foundry work

Pattern Making and Foundry work

Many parts for wind and water mills are metal castings. Whether it is an iron cross to which the sails are bolted or a simple bronze bearing the casting is made in the same way.

  

Using a pattern, a mould is created in sand and then the molten metal is poured into the mould.  Careful thought is required to produce the pattern in the first place to ensure the item can be moulded and that the metal will flow into all of the parts of the mould.  When the casting has been made it will require finishing to machine the rough parts of the casting to a smooth surface.  


The quality of the casting is as important as the pattern making. If the casting contains too many blow holes or other imperfections then it may not be possible to machine it properly.


We can offer castings in cast iron, 'sg' iron, steel, bronze and brass