Winds of Change
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The second woodfan windmill restoration we did last winter was a 'Challenge Vaneless,' also a 10-foot mill introduced about 1912. The unit is an early model since it has wooden arms that support the fan sections -later units came with a different front casting design and steel arms. Unlike the Baker restoration, the second windmill required major repair. All the 'dog bone' pivot linkages were worn oval and needed to be bronzed and redrilled. Also, the 7/8- by 1/4-inch flat control arms had to be replaced, along with the round rods, which control the position. Luckily, we had the castings for the ends of the fan sections. The mill had a rather hard-working governor arrangement, with a cast iron bearing and a very heavy counterweight that helps spin the mill at a constant speed. Like the Baker model, the Vaneless needed more grease. In spite of that fact, the main bearing was still good and had no excessive wear on the other pivot points. The main shaft's oilers have no covers, so the oil seeps in and washes out.
To show off our handiwork, my son, Matt, and I took the finished mills to a museum and put them on elevated platforms and treated them with a water-seal finish to bring out the natural wood color. For those interested in reading an enjoyable book on windmills, I recommend T. Lindsay Baker's 'A Field Guide To American Windmills,' a rather pricey book but well worth the money.
- Jim and his wife, Joan, operate Little Village Farm at 47582 240th St., Dell Rapids, SD 57022. Contact him at (605) 428-5979.
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