Friday, 22 July 2016

The flour sieve - final version

Well, we obviously had to do a bit of work on the flour sieve.  For one thing it was too fast on the drill, so Richard adapted a washing machine gearbox, taking out a stage of speed reduction.  For another, it needed to be easier to use, so we built a trestle to mount it on, with a shelf underneath for a flour box.

This time it really seems to work, a bit noisy though!


Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Mechanical benchtop flour sieve

Over the past few weeks we have been working on a machine to take some of the backbreaking effort out of hand sieving our flour.  We always sieve the meal because we haven't yet managed to prevent whole grains from ricocheting across the top of the stone and ending up in the product.  Up to now the flour bagger has had to shake a circular stainless steel sieve by hand, OK for small quantities but desperately hard work when there is 30kg to process.

The mechanical sieve consists of two wooden boxes, the inner one holding a sheet of perforated stainless steel mesh, agitated by a cam one side of the outer box and returned by sprung pushers the other side.  We can turn it by hand, but also by using a variable speed power drill

Today it finally became possible to try it out and, while it still needs some improvement, we were very pleased with the result - cue film....


Tuesday, 12 April 2016

The kiln finished - as far as we're able to go!

The first rows of tiles

It has taken several weeks to fit the kiln tiles, with Richard doing most of the work and everyone else running errands (fetching things, drilling holes etc) for him.  He has had to work on a board over the steel t-bars, the tiles themselves are not strong enough to stand on. To make things more difficult, some of the tiles are 12 inches square, and some are 31 cm.

The finished kiln floor
In any case. we only have about 55 tiles, and we would need 144 to cover the whole area.  As there isn't a complete layer, it was especially important to fix them to the bars.  We made a number of clamp brackets, fixed by a bolt through the existing holes in the tiles.  We decided to fit them to give a sort of cut-away view of the kiln. Here you can see the final installation.  As an electrician is due to fit some additional lighting, we have put signs up to warn him about the fragility of the tiles!

Other jobs today have included tightening the wedges in the pit wheel and main shaft, carrying on cobbling the yard, painting doors and mending the plant sales wheelbarrow for the gardeners!  Also a team of volunteers from Sizergh have been clearing out our headrace - thanks, all!

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Getting ready for opening

Jim hoovers the grain hopper
It's been a bit chilly lately after a relatively mild winter, as the picture of our launder and spillway shows.

Over the past 3 weeks we've been giving the stones, stone furniture and flour chutes a good spring-cleaning.  We stripped the grain delivery parts, dismantled the tun and then lifted and propped the runner stone so we could work safely between the stones. All traces of old grain and flour have been brushed and vacuum cleaned off, so we are ready for the new season.
Reassembling the stone furniture

The finished kiln handrail

Finally we put it all back together and sealed all the openings where wildlife might get in.

The tun on the shelling stones was left unfinished due to lack of time and material, but we have now completed that as well.

We Have our first tonne of grain on order from our usual supplier, but it will be Paragon wheat this time rather than the Mulika we have had in the past.

The kiln is now pretty much finished apart from lighting (not our job) and displaying the kiln tiles we have (nowhere near enough for a whole kiln floor).  Various bits of painting, limewashing, masonry repair etc have also occupied our time.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Kiln fencing approaching completion - slowly

This is  the section of the railing that has given us most trouble so far - the short run beside the two steps linking levels within the kiln room.  Got all the angles right at last at last, and we moved on to the next bit.  In fact the next 4 sections are all in progress now.

Meanwhile the cobbling crew have completed the base for the new cob oven and this has allowed them to cobble the area round it, thus completing the whole mill yard.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Work continues on the kiln room

 The contractors have finished building the restored kiln, mostly to our satisfaction!  Here you can see the arch which supports the centre of the drying floor being built on its former.

The big stone beams were then installed and finally the iron joists that will support the kiln tiles.  Here the angle iron beams are temporarily supported on wood blocks while the cement that holds them in place dries.

Finally the capstones were added to the tops of the walls.  These are machine cut and look rather out of place, but we are told that is how it has to be.

We volunteers are going to carry out the rest of the work - floorboarding, safety fences and putting in place what kiln tiles we have.

It will not be possible to fully restore the kiln, as we only have about 55 of the 144 kiln tiles we would need.  The proposal is, therefore, to put the ones we have in place as a kind of cut-away, so visitors can still see down to the fire box.  Interestingly, some of the tiles are exactly 12 inches (30.5 cm) square, and some are 31 cm!
The kiln tiles we have are all iron, and have corroded badly since they were last used, even to the extent of blocking many of their perforations.  Donald and David are seen here wire brushing the tiles and re-opening the holes with a punch, before Ray gives them a coat of paint.

We have also started fitting the floorboards, not an easy task as the kiln as rebuilt is not exactly square, and both its sides are at an angle to the outside walls of the room.  We have been instructed to use cut clasp nails.  Due to their blunt ends they don't easily penetrate the boards, so we have taken to drilling 5mm pilot holes.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Sorry it's been so long...

I haven't posted anything for a while, partly because there haven't been any finished projects, and partly because I've been too busy.

Most of our engineering work has been concerned with restoring the shaft and bearings for the 4th set of stones, from which the drive to the jigger box was taken.  We have also continued to try to rebuild the jigger box sieves, but are held up because we are waiting for materials.Here we see the shaft and stone nut dismantled on the bench.
The pulley for the original drive was mounted on wooden blocks wedged into the stone nut.  We decided to fix them more firmly by injecting builders' expanding foam around them.

The beam that supports the drive shaft was twisted and had a nasty shake at one end, so it was taken out and repaired.
While it was out, we cleaned the cast iron box that supports it in the back wall and fixed it properly into the wall.
When we replaced the beam, we found the bearing was not directly under the centre of the stone, so we moved the stone to get it just right.
The shaft is now ready to be refitted.  The item next to it on the Workmate is an adapter to fit to the square where the damsel originally mounted.  The idea is that we will be able to turn the stone by hand and so demonstrate the drive to the jigger box.

In other news, the cobbling of the yard continues, the old chicken shed having been removed.

Contractors are busy rebuilding the kiln room, and we the volunteers are contributing, 
both by helping to interpret the plans into reality and, it is planned, by doing some of the joinery involved in installing the flooring and handrails.

And, of course, we are milling most weekend afternoons, and have so far sold more than 350 bags of flour at the mill, plus whatever the shop has sold.