Water Mills

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beachboy
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Water Mills

Postby beachboy » Sun Aug 25, 2013 11:43 am

May I ask for help to become informed.

I will regardless build a variation of the Wills kit & place it on my creation of 4mm life.
The plot is to include a narrow waterway running through a tunnel under the main line and arriving out into a part harbour scene. The non harbour side will have Mill.

There are some interesting websites, but do not give away much, probably to encourage a paid visit a buy a bag of flower. Fair enough. I have also noted a nice book on milling, but low on the priorities.

I understand the miller opens the slew gate so water will flow to turn wheel. He can stop the gringing wheel turning by some screw method inside (?). My curiosity asks, will the the wheel turn only in one direction ? Even I have to laugh. But, looking at the gearing it looks possible. Then if the water flow is tidal, will his or her wheel start turning in an opposite direction during a grinding session. Which could upset the seating arrangement inside.
It appears a hopper is above the wheel, 'upstairs' ?

Also, I plan to have the loading of bagged flour upstairs on a higher level. I assume the bagged flour will need to be kept dry, and therefore a chimney come fireplace will be appropriate. A divide may exist between grain & flower. I suspect a lower level would not be good with the raty's sniffing a meal. Would planning the building include accomodation. Or are these building not livable in.

There's a challenge. What do you know to enlighten me please ?

Steve.

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Guy Rixon
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Re: Water Mills

Postby Guy Rixon » Sun Aug 25, 2013 2:38 pm

Speaking as a non-expert...

In all the water mills I've seen (and I've visited a few preserved ones), the wheel runs in one direction only. Some of the internal machinery, like the powered sack-hoists, depends on this. In a tide mill, AFAIK, the operation is to trap the water on the flood tide and then let it run out with the ebb, so the wheel runs again in one direction and only at certain states of the tide.

All the mill machinery can be taken in and out of operation while the wheel is running. The stones are gear driven (always, I think) and the gear trains I've seen include a sliding pinion that can be moved out of mesh to disengage a pair of stones. Bear in mind that most mills have multiple sets of stones but don't always need all the pairs running. The belt-driven gear like the hoists can be engaged and disengaged by slacking the belt tension (movable idler pulley) and moving the belt. Incidentally, these kinds of arrangements also apply to other works, such as metal-working shops with water-driven helves. if you're ever in west Devon, consider visiting the NT museum of water power at Finch Foundry, Sticklepath.

The flour does have to be kept dry, but a fireplace in a mill would be too dangerous. Flour dispersed in the atmosphere is highly explosive - mills sometimes explode in modern times due to sparks. The water mills I've visited have been quite dry enough inside without fires. Wooden construction may help here. If a mill complex has a chimney, I'd expect it to be on a different building from the mill proper. This begs the question of what happens with a steam-driven flour mill; I've not visited one of those.

On the (ex-) watermill next to our cottage, the miller's house is next to and separate from the working building. The mill-workers cottages, one one which my wide and I own, are separate again. Mills are noisy places inside when working and nobody would want to live in the mill structure.

Typically, grain is hoisted to the top of the mill and worked down chutes to the stones by gravity, thus assuring a steady feed without manual intervention. There's a shaft-driven (or belt-driven) device called a "damsel" on the chute to shake the grain out of the hopper and keep it moving. The stones can be on the first floor up, below the grain hoppers, and the flour comes from the stones by gravity again (possibly another damsel on the output chute for the flour) to the ground floor. You could move the flour back upstairs for storage, but it would be extra work...and wouldn't stop the rats anyway. Hoisting the flour to get it onto a railway loading dock sounds plausible to me, given that the railway arrived after the mill was built. If the mill is later, then I think it might be deliberately made tall enough that the bagging floor was at the intended loading level.

I can highly recommend a visit to a preserved mill. I found Houghton Mill near Huntingdon particularly informative.

Hope this helps,
Guy

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Guy Rixon
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Re: Water Mills

Postby Guy Rixon » Sun Aug 25, 2013 3:05 pm

One other thing, while I think of it: it would be very unlikely that the mill wheel would run directly in the main stream of a river. In almost all mills since the end of the middle ages, there would be a leat taking water off the river, or more often from a storage pond, down to the wheel-pit and a race taking the water back to the river. The leat and pond assure a regular supply of water at a suitable level for the wheel. The leat doesn't have to be a big water-course; the one down the back of our cottage is only a handful of feet wide. Similarly, it doesn't have to be very deep. If you have a tide mill on an estuary, then I think you still need the leat but you not the storage pond because the river itself stores the water at high tide. if you have a tide mill off a harbour without a significant river, then I think you would need both leat and pond.

Cheers,
Guy

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Tim V
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Re: Water Mills

Postby Tim V » Sun Aug 25, 2013 3:25 pm

You are talking of a specialised Tidal mill, there were a few. A quick Google turned up a few images.

Ordinary river mills are quite different in their storage of water.
Tim V
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Noel
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Re: Water Mills

Postby Noel » Mon Aug 26, 2013 12:01 pm

It isn't just flour mills that are at risk. Many fine powders in suspension in air will burn and explode, even some metals. Commercially, the most vulnerable are/were flour mills, cotton mills, woollen mills and sawmills. The very high risk to early Victorian cotton mills [a number were completely destroyed by fire] helped drive the development of 'fireproof' buildings, using only non-flammable materials [iron, brick, tile and concrete], with separation of processes, minimisation of communication between various parts of the buildings and protection of those communications which were unavoidable. In particular, later mills had boiler rooms which had no communication with the main mill except via the engine room, with communicating openings protected, and particularly hazardous processes in separate fireproof blocks. I don't know about steam flour mills, but I would expect something similar there.

Noel
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Noel

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Andy W
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Re: Water Mills

Postby Andy W » Mon Aug 26, 2013 6:12 pm

I seem to remember when visiting the excellent St Fagan"s museum mill, being told that flour/dust in the air could spontaneously combust. Did I mis-understand? Is this possible or is a spark needed?
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martinm
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Re: Water Mills

Postby martinm » Mon Aug 26, 2013 6:39 pm

Dust explosions
An arcane subject, this.
Google for 'dust explosions' and start worrying.
All those working in a wide range of industries are at a significant risk - wood dust is the one nearest to us as modellers, but not the only one!
martin

Alan Turner
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Re: Water Mills

Postby Alan Turner » Tue Aug 27, 2013 7:24 am

Ealing wrote:I seem to remember when visiting the excellent St Fagan"s museum mill, being told that flour/dust in the air could spontaneously combust. Did I mis-understand? Is this possible or is a spark needed?


A source of ignition is required but it doesn’t have to be much - a spark will do it.

The reason why flour mills are at great risk is because the flour dust (strach) is flammable.

Alan

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Ian Everett
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Re: Water Mills

Postby Ian Everett » Tue Aug 27, 2013 9:19 am

Gayle Mill, near Hawes in Wensleydale, is a passion of mine and of our large force of fellow volunteers. See http://www.gaylemill.org.uk/

It displays several features relevant to this discussion, albeit that it was a originally a cotton mill, converted to a wood mill in 1879, and is fed by a river (not much tide on Gayle Beck!)

1. Switching the various machines on and off is done by sliding belts from "loose" pulleys, which rotate without rotating the shaft, to "fast" pulleys, which are firmly connected to the shaft and hence drive the machinery. This is a common way of operating belt-driven machinery.

(We are told that the use of fast and loose pulleys gives rise to the terms "playing fast and loose" (switching on and off quickly) and "knocking off time" (when you would knock the lever which moves the belt from the fast to the loose pulley to switch off the machine at the end of the working day). But it has to be said that Wikipedia does not agree...)

2. It also has a couple of turbine/generator units (and a modern turbine/alternator installed in 2006), and the output from the more recent of these (1920s) went via a switch board which has a lovely solenoid over-load switch with pots of mercury to act as conductors for the on-off switch, which would thus be spark free.

3. Its reservoir, or mill pond, is unusual in that it is some distance upstream from the mill leat. Water from the pond is fed back into the stream by opening a sluice gate, and it flows in the normal stream channel for a few hundred yards before being diverted into the leat proper via a weir. I am told that such an indirectly fed leat is unusual, although I have found a very similar one just a few miles away above Askrigg.

The mill is well worth a visit if you are in the area.

Ian

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Flymo748
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Re: Water Mills

Postby Flymo748 » Wed Aug 28, 2013 6:48 am

beachboy wrote:I will regardless build a variation of the Wills kit & place it on my creation of 4mm life.
The plot is to include a narrow waterway running through a tunnel under the main line and arriving out into a part harbour scene. The non harbour side will have Mill.

There are some interesting websites, but do not give away much, probably to encourage a paid visit a buy a bag of flower. Fair enough. I have also noted a nice book on milling, but low on the priorities.

Also, I plan to have the loading of bagged flour upstairs on a higher level. I assume the bagged flour will need to be kept dry, and therefore a chimney come fireplace will be appropriate. A divide may exist between grain & flower. I suspect a lower level would not be good with the raty's sniffing a meal. Would planning the building include accomodation. Or are these building not livable in.

There's a challenge. What do you know to enlighten me please ?


Hi Steve,

I know a little bit about mills and milling... My father-in-law is a volunteer at The White Mill at Sturminster Marshall in Dorset, and I've been around it several times. He has also built a model (about 1/12th scale) of the mill machinery on all three floors, and it works with a hidden electric motor :-)

The White Mill is a National Trust property, so available to visit if you are around that area.

However they also have a website: http://www.whitemill.org/index.html

You can take a virtual tour, which explains the milling process and the interior layout. It also covers the water management system, and the attached accommodation. Unlike other examples, the miller's cottage is part of the same building.

Have a look at it and see if it covers the questions that you would like answered. If you need to know anything more specific, I can ask him when I next have chance.

HTH
Flymo
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www.5522models.co.uk

beachboy
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Re: Water Mills

Postby beachboy » Fri Aug 30, 2013 6:37 pm

Could I say thankyou for the comments & advices, which I will save for when I commence the planning and building of this building.

I did some local research last year, and found there was a tidal mill at The Tide Mills near Newhaven. According to Victorian and Edwardian Sussex by James Grey, this was the largest mill in Sussex, but now long gone. I understand the area was cleared in connection with WW11. But was four stories high. The seaward facing wall had sixteen large sash windows & two loading doors on different levels. Surrounded by workers cottages, the mill included a full size windmill on top for hoisting up grain for the granary. Flour being supplied to the King at the Royal Pavillion, and the military. The surrounding beach still has the rails where the old Brighton collected the stones for ballast. But I notice someone has taken the visible railchairs.

Steve.


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