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Milling Drama

The previous blog entry was full of confidence about the coming year and National Mills Weekend. They call it the curse of the commentator.

With the overhead drive complete and everything apparently in good order we decided to do some gentle milling so that we would have flour to show visitors. We also needed to train up more volunteeers in the how to work the stones and produce meal.

It seems as though the timber in the mill has been steadily drying out since we made the building weather tight, and the spring weather has been unusually dry as well.

Whatever the reason, when we started to mill the entire bridge tree, along with the centre shaft and the great spur gear, jumped several inches downstream and out of mesh with the stone nut. Once the water had been shut off and our pulse rates had dropped below 150 beats per minute we took stock of the situation.

It appears that several wedges had loosened and dropped out allowing the bridge tree to move. The only breakages were to two wooden cogs, quite widely spaced around the great spur gear. The centre shaft has a new scar where it rubbed against the floor timbers but is otherwise undamaged.

New cogs were made and fitted and the bridge tree was eased back into its correct position and firmly wedged in place. It was not the end of our problem though. We have had to spend a great deal of time getting the mesh of the wooden cogs with the stone nut to run smoothly.

This has now been achieved but we are reluctant to try milling until we have carried out more checks. In particular we are worried about the condition of the great spur gear. This is one of the oldest parts of the mill mechanism and we want to keep it as original as possible so we have reluctantly decided to limit the mill to running "light" for the time being.

Sadly this means no flour on offer for National Mills Weekend and no milling demonstration then either. At least the mill is intact and we are still able to open to visitors.


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