by Susan Yates
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This kept the sails turned into the wind by means of a series of gears which turned the winding worm and wound the cap around the wooden cogs of the curb. The fantail turned clockwise and was eight bladed. To turn the cap through a full 360 degrees required 3,250 turns of the fantail. It was possible to hand wind the cap with a key which was kept in the cap itself.

The sails via the windshaft, which was made of iron, powered the 9ft. 2in. brake wheel, so called because the brake that stopped the mill was applied to this wheel. The brake wheel inter-meshed with the wallower, which was fixed to the main drive shaft or upright shaft. The upright shaft was made up of four sections bolted together and was four sided. This shaft became sixteen sided and was made of pine and was 21in. square at the wallower. In the smock mill at Upminster the upright shaft was in two pieces with a universal joint made of iron. This it is claimed allowed for more tolerance when the mill was operational and reduced the risk of distortion of the wooden smock frame. The upright shaft passed through the dust floor, the bin floor and the stone floor to the meal floor and the great spur wheel. Approximately 3ft. below the great spur wheel was situated the wooden cogged bevel gear, about 4ft. in diameter, which facilitated the use of the engine drive. The engine shed was situated to the south west of the mill. The great spur wheel drove the three stone nuts which in turn drove the stones. The stones consisted of a lower stationery stone called the bedstone and a moving upper stone called the runner stone. All three pairs of stones were made of French burr – a quartz quarried in France just outside of Paris. Found in small pieces the burr is cemented together with Plaster of Paris and encased in iron hoops. The stone positions were north-west, south-east and the added south-west. The north-west and south-east pairs were 4ft. in diameter and the south-east pair had a diameter of 4ft. 10in. . Each pair of stones is encased in a wooden vat or tun. The stones had grooves known as furrows chiselled into them, the untouched part was known as land. This enabled the runner stone when passing over the bedstone to perform a scissors like action. The grain came though the linen shutes on the bin floor into the large wooden hoppers, one above ach pair of stones. It was then fed along the shoe into the eye of the stones in a flow regulated by means of a metal spindle with four vertical rods, which stood up from the stones and turned with the runner stone. The four rods struck the shoe as it turned thus ensuring a consistent flow of grain. This device was known as the damsel, some say because it made more noise than anything else in the mill others because it did more work than anything else in the mill. The real reason being that prior to the invention of this device a young damsel was paid to sit and tap the shoe to ensure the regular flow of grain. Attached to the foot of the shoe was a leather flap from which a string ran up to the ceiling where it was attached to a bell called the warbler. When the grain supply was running out the leather flap would no longer be depressed and therefore the string would go slack, the bell would drop and be rung by a projecting peg on the main shaft. This alerted the miller so that he could refill the grain hoppers or disengage the stone drive. Failure to do either of the above would be allowing the stones to run without grain passing through them which would at best blunt the cutting edge of the stones meaning the particular pair of stones would have to be shut down until such time as they could be recut. However, more importantly if the stones run with nothing passing through them they can cause sparks. This is very dangerous as grain can give off highly flammable gases and with all the dust in the air the sparks would easily ignite them and as the main fabric of the structure was wood this would burn quite quickly and easily.

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