When the wind blows…
Hold on. Not all mills generate energy from wind! Water power was also used, and in areas where neither wind nor water provided sufficient energy, animals powered the mill. They worked in a structure called a whim, or a horse capstan, which consisted of a main axle with a gear mechanism. Horses, donkeys or oxen were hitched to the shaft and forced to walk in circles. The shaft was connected to the runner millstone, either directly, or via a gear train. To see an example, take a look at the Roman grist and oil mill, which is powered by a donkey. In the smaller mill, the donkey sets the millstone in motion directly via the shaft. The horse mill to the right of the bakehouse is powered by –you guessed it – horses.
Have you recognised our mill? The model gives you another chance to admire our smock mill with its Bilau ventisails as it perches on its mound. You can even set the sails in motion by pressing a button. Next to it is the model of a post mill. This one lacks the mound and is called an Erdholländer in German.
The windmill with the long building at its base is a sawmill where tree trunks are sawn into boards and beams.
The water mill is dual function: it could process seeds into oil or mill grain into flour. On the left is the oil mill with two vertical millstones, the runners. Note the windmill sails painted on the stones! They’re part of what’s called an edge mill. Both stones turn around a vertical axis on a flat base and crush nuts and seeds to produce oil. The edge mill is driven by the water wheel.
But it could also drive the grist mill instead. The grain is fed into the mill via a hopper. A system of gear wheels transfers the energy from the water wheel to the runner stone inside the casing, and that mills the grain into flour.
Photos: © Dagmar Trüpschuch und Förderkreis Alte Mühle Donsbrüggen