Sunday, 9 June 2013

Frederick's Grist Mill

Being interested in the history of technology, I wanted to have a water mill. And started some research. Now a mill was not just a building with a mill wheel. In reality it was a rather complicated affair of procuring waterpower and controlling it. The simpler form was the undershot mill, which did not need a mill pond and water being led into it over a longer distance via a mill stream to procure the necessary height for the water to flow onto the wheel. This meant quite some landscaping for the miller. On our flat gaming table it would be impossible to imitate this system of the overshot mill.
The undershot mill just needed a lively flowing stream or creek that would drive the paddles of the wheel. But still the water had to be controlled - or the mill wheel would be damaged in the next flood.
In consequence the base of my model got quite large: 65cm long, and 47cm wide.
Lay-out of the base
In the "aerial" view  you can see the creek at the bottom. It is thought to flow from right to left. The basic construction consists of plywood (land) and a sheet of acrylic glass (water). The latter, measuring 50 by 50 cm, had to be sawed into two pieces and put together again to reach the length of the base. It is underlayed with lightly coloured cardboard to represent white water. At the bifurcation to the right a yellowish stripe indicates the existence of the weir which forces the water into the mill stream. This can be blocked by a mill sluice in case of a flood. Some pieces of fur bark will later become a rocky structure. At the moment they are just based in black. The colouring in green and ochre indicates the later grassy spots and paths. The uncoloured rectangle is the position of the mill building, and the ochre rectangle will become the floor of the cowshed.
Making the wheel
The most tricky job was the construction of the mill wheel. You will be able to judge for yourself from the photo. The constructive parts of the wheel are: two circular parts of thin plywood (formerly an orange crate), the square axle (formerly a staff of a New Years rocket), the spokes (thin ledges from a hobby shop), and the paddles (cut from wood of French cheese boxes - fortunately we like French cheese).
Working on the mill building
Then I built the two storied mill building. The shingle structure of the roof I cut into the plywood with a chisel.
The ground-floor in reality contained the machinery: gears etc. I didn't bother to make this. The only remnant is the support of the wheel axle on the left wall. The ground-floor has a large door and three windows to give some light. By the way, the window frames were printed on transparent film and glued to the inside of the window openings.
The ground floor
The first floor originally housed the grinding stones. Here grist became flour. There are four windows and two doors. The one in the gable front is rather wide, for here the sacks of wheat were brought in and those with the flour lowered down to the ground.
The upper floor
This was done with the help of a pulley which was fastened below the ridge of the roof. At the lower end of the rope is a hook with a counter-weight.
The roof is separate, two angles holding the two parts of the roof together and fitting inside the gables of the first floor.
The roof, seen from underneath
The second door on the first floor leads to an exterior staircase.
The staircase glued together with pieces of plywood.
The ground floor and the staircase
The walls of the ground floor and the staircase are pasted over with a quarry stone structure from a model railway shop. Around the opening for the mill-wheel axle the wall has been washed with a greenish colour to indicate moss caused by moisture.
The outer staff sluice
The outer sluice is of a rather simple and old-fashioned construction. It could be opened and closed by working the single boards it consists of.
The inner sluices
The inner sluices control the  mill race (left) and the by-pass. They are both worked with gates that can be raised or lowered as required. Still the construction is rather primitive as the gates must be worked manually.
In the foreground you can see the outer support of the wheel the build-up of which can be better seen in the next photo.
Sluices and wheel support
Some rocks in the creek indicate the overflown weir. The current is produced with hot glue.
Overflown weir
The willow tree next to the cowshed once was a root I came across while digging in the garden.
The old willow tree (no mill without one)
The finished model I photographed in the garden (on one of the rare sunny days of Spring 2013):


 It is now ready for the Incident at Frederick's Grist Mill in the Forage Wars of 1776.

(I hope my English was good enough to make myself understood.)


AJ (Allan) Wright said...

Outstanding work!

Adrian said...

absolutely brilliant. well done.