With Open Gardens weekends at the end of the month, I wanted to make sure the Elevator was working properly for the occasion. While I thought before that we’d only use the elevator on special occasions, it’s working so well that I think we’ll use it all the time! One of the concerns was that rodents might be a problem, but natural controls seem to have cured that problem completely. There are often grains lying on the floor from week to week from the experiments with the elevator, and nothing seems to be touched!

So I brought a long list of chores and materials which I tackled before even thinking of starting up the Mill. There was a cover to make for the inspection hole in the descending chute at the top, a hand-rail to get ready to put up over the water wheel and I had made up a shallow tray for sliding in under the elevator base for catching grains if it does have to be cleaned out.

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Next, I wanted to finish lining the lower portion of the delivery chute to the Vitruvian Mill with galvanised sheet, using tacks as the originals were fitted.

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Then the lid, just a metal lining for the meantime. Something else was fed from this chute which we have not fathomed yet. A gap can be seen on the left, now covered by the galvanised strip. I don’t want to interfere with the woodwork as clues might be lost. One has to remember that some machine stood next to the Stamford Mill; one can see the marks in the concrete of the floor.

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Next, I was losing grain between the descending trunk of the elevator and the top of the delivery chute, so with an offcut from last week, I made and fitted a lining over the join. The grain will be thrown against this face, so it will help for wear, too.

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I also brought along steel bracing for the grain cleaner. The machine rocks considerably anyway, but the added forces from the agitation of the final chute to the Vitruvian Mill seem to rock it from side to side too much. I have experimented with a piece of wood clamped to the front with success, so these steel braces are a more permanent solution. Now the whole floor rocks!

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In fact, the chute works so well now, that I might experiment with a reduction in the stroke, which could be done very easily.

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The last job, before testing was fitting the cover. Then I could start the Mill up and try it all out!

Remembering to first have the elevator running before adding the grain to avoid choking the base again, I got the wheel turning at about 5 RPM and threw half a bucket of grain into the elevator hopper. The sluice at the bottom is just open a tiny amount, yet the grain flows down fairly easily.

The window I fitted in the front of the trunking mainly for the benefit of visitors has an unintended advantage! While some grain was being thrown into the delivery chute, I was able to watch the balance of the grain falling back down the descending trunk. I gradually increased the water supply, and disconnected some load (throwing off the belt to the Gutmann, for instance), to increase the water wheel speed.

The effect was dramatic! With one eye on the window in the trunk and the other on the rev-counter, the speed went just over 6 RPM and there was suddenly no more grain falling in the descending trunk and the base was empty! I only milled about 4kg; the purpose was just to test the elevator, but as expected for a long time, the elevator has helped us to find out what the minimum speed for the water wheel should be!

So now, exactly four years into the restoration, we can say the elevator is working properly! Next is the grain cleaner, and hopefully Joos Solms will soon bring down from Natal, the rotary screen we plan to add to the line-up of machinery, as it seems strange that there isn’t one. He has a delivery in our area this month.

Before closing up, I gave the new wood of the elevator delivery network a coat of varnish, and measured up for a cover for the elevator hopper.

Andy Selfe

10th October 2010