Old Mills in the United States
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Terminology

animal powered a millstone that is turned by a shaft that is connected to an ox, cow, horse or human.

bedstone the fixed, immovable bottom stone. The capstone turns on top of the immobile bedstone.

belts usually made of leather, the belts are attached to the drive shafts and transfer energy from its source to the other milling equipment.

bolting a process used to sift flour through a silk screen.

breast waterwheel a type of waterwheel where the channel of water is directed at the wheel's mid-point. This wheel is used when there is an abundant water supply.

buhrstone has its origin from the French-buhrstone, buhr is used generically to refer to a millstone.

capstone the top stone that turns on the immobile bedstone.

carding mill is a mill used to comb the fibers of wool to make them straight and create woolen batting.

cider mill is a mill that employs a press to squeeze the juice from apple pulp.

dam a wooden, stone or concrete structure that is used to divert the supply of water for the mill's power or store the water for use in the future.

elevator a series of cups on a belt inside a shaft that carries the grain around the mill before, during and after it is processed.

flume an artificial channel built out of wood, stone or concrete that carries the water to the mill.

french buhrstone a high quality white granite was quarried in La Ferte-sous-Fauarre, France, in the late 1700's and early 1800's. When the quarry became depleted, chunks of the stone were banded together to make a millstone. These high quality stones were known as the French buhr.

gristmill a mill that grinds corn into meal.

head of water the distance the water falls, just before it hits the wheel, to the channel where it returns to the stream.

head gate a gate that is located at the dam that controls the quantity of water to enter the millrace.

log dam a dam constructed out of logs that was built in a crib fashion which allows debris to be caught in the openings which solidified the structure.

mill pick a tool used to dress millstones.

millpond an area in an existing stream that has swollen due to the construction of a dam or a pond built specifically to hold a water supply for the mill. There is a channel built from the stream to the pond and another channel built from the pond to the mill. The quantity of water is controlled by wooden gates at the head of each channel.

millwright a miller who can run all phases of a mill and can maintain all the mill's machinery.

overshot waterwheel a popular waterwheel design because it is used when there is a limited supply of water. The water is directed at the top of the wheel which takes advantage of all the head, or power available.

penstock is a place where the water is held before it is released onto the waterwheel or turbine.

planing mill a woodworking mill where planks of wood are made smooth.

raceway a channel dug into the ground to carry water to or from the mill.

sawmill a mill where logs are cut into planks. There are two kinds. One is a circular saw and the other is an up-and-down saw.

shaft the wooden connector between the waterwheel and gears that change the direction of the energy.

sluice it is a channel that carries water to the mill.

sluice gates the gate that controls the amount of water that enters the sluice.

steam engine an invention used in the late 1800's and early 1900's that used steam to channel power to the drive shaft to turn the stones.

steam-powered an alternative power source used in the late 1800's and early 1900's to supplement the water supply when there was no head or when the mill had no water supply.

stone ground flour or meal that is ground with millstones.

tailrace the channel that carries the spent water from the mill back to the stream.

turbine an iron tub with iron flanges placed at such an angle so that when the water falls onto the turbine it turns and provides the mill with power. The turbine is virtually maintenance free. It would not rust as long as it was submerged. Some of the parts need to be greased every two years. A turbine's life span is 60 to 70 years.

undershot waterwheel water flowed under the wheel. There is minimal contact with the paddles on the wheel. This wheel was used only where there was an abundance of rapid moving water such as in mountain streams.

up-and-down sawmill has a single blade that moves up and down rapidly. The log is fixed in a mobile track that carries the log through the blade.

water-powered a mill that was powered by water with a wooden waterwheel or an iron turbine.

waterwheel a circular wooden wheel whose face has paddles protruding in such a manner as to act as troughs to hold the water. The weight of the water in the troughs make the wheel turn.

wheel pit some mills were designed such that the wheel had to be built into the ground. The hole dug for the wheel was called the wheel pit and was encased in brick or stone.

windmill millstones that were powered by the wind. A large mast set on top of a cone shaped roof and was covered with sails. The wind catches the sails and spins the mast which is attached to a shaft that is geared to another shaft that turns the millstones.

woolen mill a mill that processed wool.

 

 

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