The brick floor got re-laid today at Shelsley Water Mill. A frosty morning means that we have much less trouble with mud, if only because the mud was all frozen solid. It might just be the cold weather but we only had a small team this Tuesday, with Headley, John and Richard being chivvied along by Martyn.
Headley worked on the control arms on the sluice box, getting the bearing blocks for the mechanism bolted in place. As with everything else at the mill there is more to the job than first meets the eye. In this case there was a lot of cleaning up to be done before anything could be bolted down.
These arms are moved by a hand wheel inside the mill to give a fine control of the water flow onto the wheel. The slide valve is made from a large piece of wood that sits inside the sluice box so that the pressure of water keeps it pressed against the end plate. The result is a letterbox slot through which the water can escape at speed onto the waterwheel. We think that it will take quite a lot of water flow to get the wheel turning but much less to maintain a steady speed once it is turning. We have quite a bit more work to do on the wheel before we are in a position to find out.
John continued where he left off last week, building the largest pier inside the mill. The piers are a mixture of ancient and modern, with the core being built with concrete blocks tied into the walls with stainless steel wall ties screwed into the brickwork and then the outside is faced with old bricks. Not the easiest of bricklaying jobs, but John is getting a lot of practise.
Martyn spent the morning mixing mortar for John and also cleaning bricks. If Doug ever wants a short break from the Australian sunshine there are lots of bricks to be cleaned up. We don’t think Martyn enjoyed the brick cleaning much because he left at lunchtime with some talk of a prior engagement. Before he left he did manage to take a most unusual photograph, Richard doing some work.
Richard shocked the rest of the team by demonstrating the he can do useful building work, in this case replacing the brick floor inside the mill that was lifted to fix the drains underneath the floor. He even used a bit of John’s mortar to lay a course of bricks on one of the small piers to bring it above the brick floor level. If he isn’t careful he is going to have to do some work more often as well as writing about it on this web-site.
After the lunch break we took a stroll round the mill pool, now mostly cleared by the Court House team. With the scrub and undergrowth cleared away it is possible to see the snowdrops making the most of the recent mild weather.
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