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How do you chnage the blades on an old windmill

ProfilePosted byOptionsPost Date


CuriousFish Report 24 Mar 2013 17:23

While 'granny hunting' in Suffolk we came across a windmill that has no 'blades', just the criss-cross arms where they would have been attached.
My man, being of an engeering mind, wants to know how our ancestors would have changed those blades.

Do any of the clever folks out there in the genes community know. how they would have done it inthe old days without modern technologiy


Sharron Report 24 Mar 2013 17:52

Can you say what sort of windmill it was?Tower mill, post mill or smock mill.


AnninGlos Report 24 Mar 2013 17:53

Just looked on google, there is an awful lot on there about windmills, quite interesting in fact and worth a look. I couldn't find anything about changing the sails except the fact that they would have been canvas (presumable attached to the blades), and it was the millar's job to repair the canvas sails. No mention of the actual replacement of blades. Maybe it didn't happen often.


Island Report 24 Mar 2013 17:55

Do you mean how would they replace them?


Julia Report 24 Mar 2013 17:57

PM sent, on the subject.

Julia in Derbyshire


Island Report 24 Mar 2013 18:01

Is it a secret?


Julia Report 24 Mar 2013 18:05

No, . Can't get into a conversation. Just about to go to you know where.LOLOL

Speak in a few days time

Julia in Derbyshire


RolloTheRed Report 24 Mar 2013 19:00

My great grandfather's brother was a mill wright and I have lot's of his notes and plans inc wind mills.

There are a lot of obstacles, plans designs and know how exist in plenty.

The force of the wind on the sails is very considerable. So are the turning forces for the gears and grinding wheels within the mill. Unfortunately restoring these old mills depends on the integrity of the core structure and more often than not they are too weak for any realistic restoration.

For touristic reasons faux restoration just for the look is far easier and cheaper!


CuriousFish Report 24 Mar 2013 20:07

Thanks for all the replies
Sharron, hopefully the link below will answer your question about what sort of mill it is.

Yes,AnninGlos, we googled too without finding the answer my man was looking for.
Julia, We'll look into that .

Island, The mill in question has no 'blades' which is what made my husband ask the question. He thinks they may have been made of canvas over a wooden frame. My man is a maintenance specialist and he wonderd how the miller woud get up there to do repairs to worn canvas and damaged frames.

RolloTheRed, as an engineer my husband has lots of modern ideas about how the blades could be replaced.When he saw how high off the ground they were that got him wondering and asking the question.about how it would have been done back then when the mill was in use.

Thanks again for all the replies.
When we know the answer I'll post it here


BrianW Report 24 Mar 2013 20:14

I believe that many of the old sails had hinged wooden slats that could be manually or automatically opened or closed to decrease or increase the power generated.
So for maintenance you open the slats, the sails stop with the lower one vertical to the ground, you lock the shaft and get out your ladder and ropes.
Repeat for next sail.


Sharron Report 24 Mar 2013 21:17

Long ladder,block and teagle job I would think.

That is a tower mill with sveral floors inside so I would think there would be some access from the inside as well.

Not as sophisticated as that of modern times,there was,nevertheless, scaffolding available and it must have been used in the building of the mill because there are no pot lugs to support an inclined plane.


AnnCardiff Report 24 Mar 2013 21:34

granny hunting? is that some kind of new sport in your neck of the woods :-S


eRRolSheep Report 24 Mar 2013 21:58

The same way that you change them on a new windmill


CuriousFish Report 25 Mar 2013 17:49

Thank you all for your replies. Mu husband is now much the wiser thanks to the knowledgable genes community.

AnnCardiff, granny hunting is often a very unproductive sport, and has proved to be just that this time.
Never mind. The snow has now gone where we are,and The Man and I have a few more days in Norfolk for soem some R&R