Sunday, 1 November 2015

Work continues on the kiln room

 The contractors have finished building the restored kiln, mostly to our satisfaction!  Here you can see the arch which supports the centre of the drying floor being built on its former.

The big stone beams were then installed and finally the iron joists that will support the kiln tiles.  Here the angle iron beams are temporarily supported on wood blocks while the cement that holds them in place dries.

Finally the capstones were added to the tops of the walls.  These are machine cut and look rather out of place, but we are told that is how it has to be.

We volunteers are going to carry out the rest of the work - floorboarding, safety fences and putting in place what kiln tiles we have.

It will not be possible to fully restore the kiln, as we only have about 55 of the 144 kiln tiles we would need.  The proposal is, therefore, to put the ones we have in place as a kind of cut-away, so visitors can still see down to the fire box.  Interestingly, some of the tiles are exactly 12 inches (30.5 cm) square, and some are 31 cm!
The kiln tiles we have are all iron, and have corroded badly since they were last used, even to the extent of blocking many of their perforations.  Donald and David are seen here wire brushing the tiles and re-opening the holes with a punch, before Ray gives them a coat of paint.

We have also started fitting the floorboards, not an easy task as the kiln as rebuilt is not exactly square, and both its sides are at an angle to the outside walls of the room.  We have been instructed to use cut clasp nails.  Due to their blunt ends they don't easily penetrate the boards, so we have taken to drilling 5mm pilot holes.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Sorry it's been so long...

I haven't posted anything for a while, partly because there haven't been any finished projects, and partly because I've been too busy.

Most of our engineering work has been concerned with restoring the shaft and bearings for the 4th set of stones, from which the drive to the jigger box was taken.  We have also continued to try to rebuild the jigger box sieves, but are held up because we are waiting for materials.Here we see the shaft and stone nut dismantled on the bench.
The pulley for the original drive was mounted on wooden blocks wedged into the stone nut.  We decided to fix them more firmly by injecting builders' expanding foam around them.

The beam that supports the drive shaft was twisted and had a nasty shake at one end, so it was taken out and repaired.
While it was out, we cleaned the cast iron box that supports it in the back wall and fixed it properly into the wall.
When we replaced the beam, we found the bearing was not directly under the centre of the stone, so we moved the stone to get it just right.
The shaft is now ready to be refitted.  The item next to it on the Workmate is an adapter to fit to the square where the damsel originally mounted.  The idea is that we will be able to turn the stone by hand and so demonstrate the drive to the jigger box.

In other news, the cobbling of the yard continues, the old chicken shed having been removed.

Contractors are busy rebuilding the kiln room, and we the volunteers are contributing, 
both by helping to interpret the plans into reality and, it is planned, by doing some of the joinery involved in installing the flooring and handrails.

And, of course, we are milling most weekend afternoons, and have so far sold more than 350 bags of flour at the mill, plus whatever the shop has sold.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

WILFRED WRIGHT, Miller at Acorn Bank

We had a visitor to the mill over Easter weekend whose sister, Jane Ottaway, had found one of our millers in her family tree research.  This information is posted with the permission of her brother, Mark Godfrey:

Wilfred WRIGHT was born in 1800 in Aspatria, Cumberland and baptised on 29 March 1801.  In 1826 he is recorded as a farmer in Torpenhow, Cumberland and on 29 May 1830 he  married Mary Gram in Torpenhow.

In the 1841 census he is recorded as the miller at Acorn Bank Mill, Temple Sowerby, Westmoreland.

Wilfred was also a well-known wrestler (Cumberland & Westmoreland Rules).

Quote from ‘The History of Wrestling’

Cumberland and Westmoreland John Weightman of Hayton, Carlisle ring.

He was opposed, from the second round, by the following wrestlers, namely Thomas Lawman, Wilfrid Wright , John Robson of Irthington Mill, Joseph Robley and George Irving. 

Quote from ‘Carlisle Characters’

On another occasion, when wrestling in Penrith fell with Wilfrid Wright, he said “Noo, Wif, I’s gaen to throw thee straight into yon furrow yonder!”  and proceeded to do just that. Wright exclaimed: “Cush, man! I dudn’t think thoo cud ha’ deun’t hofe sa clean!”

Wilfred died on 18 August 1844 aged 44. He was still the miller at Acorn Bank Mill at the time. Cause of death is described as Apoplexy and instantaneous and there was an inquest:

Carlisle Journal Saturday 24 August 1844 (p. 3 col. 2-4)

INQUESTS  (Before Mr. CARRICK, Coroner.)

At Penrith, on Tuesday last, on the body of Wilfrid WRIGHT, of Acorn Bank Mill, aged 44 years. The deceased came to the Griffin Inn on Saturday night last, and, after sitting in the kitchen for a short time, his left leg lost all power, so much so that he was obliged to have the assistance of the ostler in leaving his chair. At his own request he was removed to a stable, where he was provided with a sraw bed and sufficient clothing, and was waited on by the ostler at different times during the night. He rose at seven the next morning and walked down to the kitchen, having recovered the perfect use of his paralyzed limb. In a few minutes he returned to another stable, where, in the presence of the ostler, he fell forward upon the floor and died, almost instantly.

Verdict – “Apoplexy.” WRIGHT was a noted wrestler in Cumberland.

Apoplexy is defined as a sudden brain haemorrhage or stroke. 

It is possible that an injury sustained through wrestling may have been the root cause of his early death.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Thinking about sieving flour...

We are well into milling again, and the wheel is still running very smoothly and efficiently.  This in spite of some of the brass screws we used to join the bucket boards together breaking under the force of the water.  We normally sieve all the flour by hand, and we have been wondering whether we could reinstate the jigger box for this purpose - more interesting for the visitor and easier for us!

The wrecked jigger box in the 1950s
Over the past few weeks David has cleaned and waxoyled the metal supports of the jigger box.  Today Richard, Donald and I were looking at the possible drive shafts and the arrangement of the sieves and spouts in the box.  We still have the old sieves that were retrieved from the mess that was there before restoration began.  On examination, it is not at all clear how they were used, in what order, or how they fitted into the box.  The ones made by the restoration team (actually only wooden frames for the sieves) don't seem to be the same as the old ones, and there isn't space to slot them into the box with sieves attached.

The new jigger box with
sieve frames pulled out

Two of the sieves from the old jigger box
The old bottom cover and third sieve

 Meanwhile, the cobbling is coming on well, and I managed to get a decent picture of the mill from over the river without the summer leaves blocking the view.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

A rather chilly day!

Ice in the launder and spillway
Not a good day for doing what I planned to do - varnishing the inside of the flour chute - as the temperature inside the mill never got above -1 degrees.  The tine of varnish says not to apply below 10 degrees - about July by my reckoning.  Not good for cobbling the yard either.

Instead we did a few jobs.  We moved some of the large stones for the kiln from one part of the yard to another.  We mended the cement mixer by making some brackets to hold the stirring paddles, which had broken off.  We repaired the plaster lining of the French burr stone which had developed serious cracks, and sanded down the flour chute. And David continued overhauling and Waxoyling the iron parts of the jigger box.

We also found the maker's plate from the French burr stone, which we had always believed to have been stolen.  It shows that the stone must have been made before 1853, as the partnership was dissolved in February of that year.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Happy New Year!

The above pictures show the finishing stages of the dummy saw bench drive.  First three pieces of wood were cut into circles and trimmed to represent a toothed wheel.  After several stages of processing they were clamped together and glued.  The second picture shows the toothed wheel in place on the shaft.  We think this must be pretty much how the thing would have looked.

 Among other jobs, Richard made some adjustments to the chains on the dump valve.  This included putting adjustable links in so we could make sure the gate dropped level.
 With the stone lifted for its winter clean, Richard has adapted the wooden bearing blocks to take a grease nipple, as suggested by one of the comments on this blog.  This will make it much easier to keep the shaft lubricated in future, and removes the need for the masses of supposedly grease-soaked sacking that filled the other 3 slots in the bearing casting.
Instead we have cut some complicated wooden pieces to fill the 3 slots, while not bearing directly on the shaft.  Here Richard is trying one in place.

Other jobs have included still more cobbling of the yard, and work on the "declutch" lever for the shelling stone, which has not worked since some modifications we made last year.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Experimental Evidence

1                     2                       3
We know that breadmaking machines are not very good at making bread from the relatively low gluten flours that are made from British wheat.  For anyone who is uncertain about the properties of various flours and how they behave in a breadmaker, Philip Day from Leeds has carried out an experiment under controlled conditions.  He writes "to demonstrate the differences, I've baked three loaves using the Panasonic standard 'Wholemeal loaf' using 350 grams of flour in each case. Flours used are

  1. Acorn Bank stoneground wholemeal
  2. Waitrose Very Strong Canadian Stoneground Wholemeal [Spring Red Wheat]. 
  3. Carrs Strong White and Strong Brown [not wholemeal], roller-milled mixed 50/50."

If you want to bake using our flour, the recipe published by Little Salkeld Watermill certainly worked well when I went on one of their breadmaking courses.  Alternatively, I find a 50:50 mix with Allinson's Very Strong white or wholemeal works well in the breadmaker.

Meanwhile, back at the mill, Richard and I finished installing the dummy shaft and pulley in the former sawbench area.  These pictures show the inside and outside ends and their replica bearings.