Tuesday 10 June 2014

Even more wheel power

Quite a lot has happened.  Nick and Ana Jones have finally sold Little Salkeld watermill and are due to enter well-earned retirement (!) next week.  As a consequence, we are unable to buy our wheat from them as we have done since we started milling.  However, Nick very helpfully found a supply of good quality wheat for us, and we had our first tonne delivered a couple of weeks ago.  I would like to thank Nick and Ana for all the help they have given us over the past few years, and to wish them all success in whatever they turn their hands to in the future.

A couple of weeks ago, I visited the National Trusts's Cragside.  I was interested to see that their model of a pitchback wheel had a simple step at the end of the launder to kick the water flow upwards.  This avoids the impulse of the water from opposing the motion of the wheel.  Our wheel has been highly efficient since we re-boarded it, but there is never any harm in increasing efficiency - after all, we might have a dry season and be short of water.

With this in mind, Richard added an extra baffle board to the end of the launder to achieve a similar effect. When we tried it out, the wheel turned (not under milling load) with much less water than ever before.
 We have also built part of a tun over the shelling stone, with a plastic window at the front.  This is partly to improve the safety of the mill operators while the machinery is turning, and partly to show visitors what is going on in the milling tun.

The newly efficient wheel has enabled us to turn out much more flour than before in a standard weekend session, and we now have a good stock in the mill and the shop.

Other jobs have included cleaning out the tun and flour chute and improving their resistance to intrusion by mice and insects and continuing to expand the cobbled area - George is now working across the front of the barn.