Monday, 24 October 2011

Meeting the Traditional Corn Millers

On Saturday 22nd, Richard, Bob and Sara Braithwaite (custodian of Acorn Bank) were invited to join a meeting of the Traditional Corn Millers Guild. They were at Little Salkeld watermill for one of their two annual meetings, hosted by Nick and Ana Jones. We met them for afternoon tea and to watch an excellent 30 minute film that they had commissioned.

On Sunday morning it was their turn to visit us at Acorn Bank. We started the mill early and set about milling our last 25kg bag of grain. Having all those experts around made it both slightly embarrassing and extremely helpful to encounter one or two new problems.

The first was that we seemed to be unable to get enough power to produce flour, until it was pointed out that the stones can be "choked" if grain is delivered too fast ("you are literally grinding to a halt!"). A reduction in the feed produced an immediate improvement. In fact we were able to reduce the water flow after the machine had "warmed up".

Secondly, there continued to be whole grains in the product. These turned out to be missing the grinding process due to scatter from the bottom of the damsel bouncing them across the top of the stone. It is strange that this has not been a problem before.

Thirdly, we continued to have difficulty with the grain feed from the hopper to the shoe - either it ran too fast and overfilled the shoe, or it didn't run at all, giving a threat of running "dry". This needs constant attention. Others reckoned that their hoppers sit in the grain in the top of the shoe and therefore don't run if the shoe is full - like a budgie seed feeder. We will try to rebuild the shoe and the support for the hopper to give this effect.

We were very pleased that the professional millers generally approved of our efforts, and Mike Thurlow, Miller at Letheringsett Watermill said "What you have done with that pair of stones is excellent - I think you all should be very proud of your achievement.". We were also very grateful for the free advice they so generously gave. Thanks, traditional corn millers!

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