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Monday, June 6, 2022

More Stone Age

See the 1,000-Year-Old Windmills Still in Use Today | National Geographic
National Geographic

Stu visited some old windmills and posted some photos.

Driven shaft and exposed gearbox in Salzkotten

This picture shows the bevel gears being used to drive the grindstone, which makes me wonder how they accomplished this before iron gears were something a farmer could afford. I mean, if the ancients could build the Antikythera mechanism they would surely have had the ability to make big bevel gears. But after that, nobody mentions gears until Leonardo starts putting them in his designs around 1500 and it wasn't until the 19th Century that we got the hobbing machine which automatically cuts metal gears. So I'm thinking the probably started casting gears around 1700. For a large, crude mechanism such as this mill casting should have been adequate.

We've been grinding wheat for thousands of years, so what did they do before 1700 to drive the grindstone? 

Wooden cogwheel driving a lantern pinion or cage gear

You could use wooden gears.

Cast iron mortise wheel with wooden cogs meshing with a cast iron gear wheel

This one kind of confuses the issue, as we have an iron wheel with wooden teeth engaging an iron gear.

Or just use a windmill with a vertical axis so you don't need gears at all. That's what we have in the video above.

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