This is where you’ll find out how to start up the mill.
Take a look at your smartphone. It shows the wind shaft and the cogwheel that sits like a crown on the upright shaft. Two blocks are clamped into the cogwheel, one on the right and one on the left. These are the brake beams that block the sails. Before the sails can be set in motion, the brake beams are folded down.
The steel band around the cogwheel, called the brake band, is still the original.
Below the cogwheel, you can see a horizontal oak beam that’s chained to the steel brake band. It operates much like a shoe brake in a car, so as gravity tightens the brake band around the wooden cogwheel, it brings the mill to a standstill.
The miller needs to release the brake manually before he can start up the sweep. That means he has to climb up into the cap, where the brake is operated by a chain running over a roller. But the miller can’t do that...
... until he’s operated a kind of "gear lever" here on the dust floor. You can see it in the floor of the dust floor as well as on your screen. Depending on the position of the lever, it either engages or decouples the stone shaft from the great spur gear. Just a brief reminder: we saw the stone shaft down on the stone floor, where it powers the runner inside the tun that encases the millstones.
Once the "gear lever" is in the correct position for whatever the miller wants to do, he releases the brake band by hauling up the oak beam. That leaves one final step: he needs to close the panels on the ventisails and release the airbrakes – and that needs to be done outside. Then, provided there’s enough wind, the sails will gradually begin to turn. If the miller needs to stop the mill again later, he has to do it all again – but in reverse order.
Now, we’re going to make our way back down. Please go down the stairs backwards and hold on tight to both handrails. Once you’re standing outside the mill, think back to where the sails were before you went inside. Can you spot the difference?
Photos: © Dagmar Trüpschuch und Förderkreis Alte Mühle Donsbrüggen