With the extra load from the working elevator, we’re noticing we need more power, and therefore, more water. The amount of water is governed by the sliding gates in the weir at the dam, added to any overflow (which diminishes as the water below it is consumed during the day); the height of the sluice gate and the opening in the wooden launder directly over the water-wheel. All these were arrived at by pure guesswork, and we’re only now noticing limitations.

I can easily make more slides in the weir. Only two of the five sections have slides built in. I can easily add an extension to the height of the sluice. On the Sunday of the second Open Gardens weekends, we ran as close to the sluice overflowing as we ever have.

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Improvements to the flow between this pond and the top end of the launder could also be made; it can be seen in the picture above that the water level in the pond is considerably higher than that in the launder. However, the main limiting factor is the opening over the water-wheel. The trap-door cannot open any further; as it is, it touches four consecutive buckets as they pass. I leave it like this; it’s a subconscious reminder of the rate the wheel is turning at.

I suspect the next move will be to modify the opening in the wooden launder. The trap-door is longer than the opening, so the next move is to lengthen the opening, probably streamlining the angle of the far edge to assist the flow downwards.

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I tried to keep count of the number of visitors, but it was impossible. Every time, I think the figure reaches 100 on these Open Days. Perhaps it’s not that many, but it puts a strain on the vocal cords, particularly with all the machinery running there’s a considerable hum in the Mill! Each day of the Open Gardens we milled and sold about 25kg of Stone Ground Meal, in addition to the bread which was being baked every day, made from the meal from the previous Saturday.

The ‘new’ sifter is causing a stir! It’s a large, imposing machine and while I doubt that the quantities of meal which we produce will ever justify its actual use, it’s an interesting addition to the range of machines in the Mill, and I feel there would have been one originally.

There wasn’t much time during the Open Gardens weekends to progress with its restoration so I hoped to get a lot further on the following Saturday. No such luck! A constant stream of visitors, one with a sizeable order phoned in in advance for meal, kept me busy milling and talking. A birthday party was being held at the Main House and the guests streamed down after a delicious lunch, to which I was invited, to experience the Mill.

I carefully sanded away at the frames for the screens until I had two of the three fitted:

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There’s a catch missing at the rear of this one; luckily there’s one to copy from. The mesh of the screen is much too fine and needs replacing.

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This is the 1st (cake flour) screen, which is still a bit difficult to hook up at the back before swinging it up to clip it in at the front. There was a lot of scrubbing out to do inside the machine to remove cobwebs, old flour and dust. The middle frame has no catches at all, so they will have to be made, and there’s no mesh on that either. I have brought the frames home and hope to progerss further before my next visit!

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On the night of Monday 8th November, I was asked to give a talk on the restoration so far, at a meeting of the local Bot River Aesthetics Association. I prepared a disc of about 50 photos and gave a slide show which helped the audience envisage the set-up, which, for some reason, the locals hardly ever visit!

Andy Selfe

14th November 2010