Tuesday 16 December 2008

Restoring the winnower

The original winnowing machine at Acorn Bank mill has long since disappeared, but a hand-operated machine, originally from a local farm, was on the site. It was in a very sorry state, having been used as a sawbench, attacked by woodworm, and left to rust and rot. We decided to try to restore it.

This is how it looked in March 2008 before we started work...

As the machine is not part of the Acorn Bank estate, and as there are plenty of surviving winnowers around (Heatherslaw Mill and Aberystwith Museum to name but two), it was decided to restore the machine so that visitors could see how it worked rather than stick to strict accuracy.

The restoration included various woodworking tasks - making leg extensions to replace the parts that had rotted away, making grain chutes etc, as well as treating inside and out with preservative. The mechanical parts were stripped down completely, cleaned and painted with matt black Hammerite before being reassembled. All of the sieves had rusted away, so we replaced the coarsest one by weaving it from wire, the next by using 1cm wire mesh and the finest using a discarded fireguard. The paddles in the fan were replaced with plywood and finally the curved front cover (originally metal, but completely rusted away) was replaced with clear plastic so that the works could be seen.

...and this is the finished restoration