The mill wheel has not turned for some 50 years. The drive axle was a piece of oak - probably a tree from the local woodland - about eleven feet long and 16" - 17" diameter.
There had been a heavy cast iron spigot or gudgeon driven into each end to provide a rotating metal shaft sitting in a fixed bearing. The outer end of the axle had rotted away and was resting on the ground at the top of the pit in which the wheel had been suspended.
The large gear wheel(66 teeth) or "pit wheel" shown on the previous page has been secured in position by tying with ropes and chains to the surrounding superstructure.
The water wheel has been jacked up to its approximate working position and securely propped.
The old axle was roughly six sided at the inner end but two opposite sides were longer than the other four making it a "squashed hexagon". It was roughly octagonal at the outer end. It definitely seemed "tree shaped". It was about 10" less in diameter than the holes in the water wheel and gear wheels, the gap was filled with wooden wedges which centralised and secured it within the wheels. It probably weighed two tons.
The hole in the centre of the pit wheel was six sided but the centre of the water wheel was twelve sided.
It was important to learn how the inner gudgeon had been fitted. This could not be seen with the axle in position.
To make removal of the old axle easier, after removing the centralising wedges which were complete in the pit wheel, the axle was sawn through as close to the pit wheel as possible. The short section and gudgeon was secured in position still sitting on the inner bearing. The outer eight foot long section was pushed/pulled out using a bottle jack and levers.
The remaining section was then slid out carefully - it weighed about 2cwt - to reveal a stone with an arc carved out of the top in which the gudgeon sat. There was a brass plate behind the stone which was obviouly a thrust bearing. The end of the gudgeon which pressed against the brass plate was still bright and shiny as was the quarter which had rested in the stone. It was all coated with a thick grease.
The picture below shows the cast iron bevel gear(31 teeth) or "wallower" which transmits the drive from the water wheel axle to the vertical shaft. Also visible are some broken teeth on the pit wheel.
Below - the shifting gear(21 teeth) or "stone nut" ,which
engaged the drive to the millstone on the floor above, and the spur wheel(88 teeth) which is fixed to the vertical
shaft above the wallower .
The picture below shows the axle shaft with one wedge remaining between it and the inner gear wheel. The white measure stick is marked in feet and rests on the stone bearing. The iron hoops which surround and strengthen the shaft can be seen as can the cast iron gudgeon protruding from the end of the shaft. The pit wheel has wooden teeth - possibly apple wood. The ropes and chains secure the gear whilst the axle is replaced.
Below is the grooved stone with the brass thrust plate
Below - The inner gudgeon - notice the iron wedges
driven in to tighten up the within the hoops.
When the inner gudgeon was dismantled 104 iron wedges
were found to have been driven into the end of the shaft - presumably to tighten
it as it worked loose over the years.
The old axle.
The present owner - Peter Davis (on the wheel) and
assistant Roy Carpenter having just removed the inner end of the axle.
Return to Mill 1st page or Renovations Part 2
İRoy Carpenter & Peter Davis 1999