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Watermill Blog -  Dancing Damsel
4th September 2008

What are we talking about? The damsel in a mill is the device that spins with the runner stone and shakes the grain into the stones. The name is supposed to come from the fact that the damsel never stops chattering, but the damsels at Shelsley Watermill have been silent for over eighty years.

That silence is soon to be broken. Brian Dixon delivered the last few wooden cogs this morning and Martyn, Max and Colin worked hard to get them all fitted. Brian offered to make all of the cogs that we need, both the large size for the great spur gear and smaller ones for the crown wheel, well over a hundred in all. This represents a great deal of work and we owe Brian a big thank-you for taking the job on.

With all the cogs in place the wheel was eased round by hand to identify any tight spots. A few were found and dealt with by shaving wood from the offending cog.

Satisfied that nothing was going to bind or fly apart we opened the penstock valve and let water onto the wheel. Wheels turned and the stone spindle spun beautifully. The runner stone was not in place so we dropped the damsel onto the spindle to get some idea of the speed.

The result can be seen in the video clip. The clip also captures the first water powered run of the sack hoist. This still needs a bit of work, with some pulleys and rollers to be finished by Dick but it hauled a can of oil up the height of the mill exactly as it would a sack of grain.

John and Jonathan were frustrated in their attempts to work on the retaining wall by the weather with heavy showers making bricklaying impossible.

Dick and Dave made a good start on fabricating pulleys and rollers for the sack hoist controls. Dick took them home to do some finishing work with his lathe so we should have something to put in place next week.

With the weather still threatening the team packed up quite early but with a sense of achievement. Even the frustrated bricklayers went home happy.

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