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Volunteers Built Working Gristmill
A working gristmill in a timber-frame building with a water wheel is the newest attraction at the fall show of the Nittany Antique Machinery Association (NAMA) in Centre Hall, Penn., thanks to a group of volunteers.
    With a fascination for gristmills, retired telecommunications engineer Bob McLaughlin began the journey to build a gristmill in 2007 when NAMA agreed to support the project. After finding two 42-in., 1,500-lb. millstones in 2010, McLaughlin and other volunteers started working on the building and mechanism to use the stones.
    They cut the red oak timbers for framing with NAMA’s sawmills, and a professional carpenter volunteer planned the mortise and tenon construction using oak pins made by a local Amish man.
    Donated old mill parts were used to create the gears, pulleys, and bearings to turn the grindstone. Much planning went into the design to support the stones and include viewing areas from above and below in the 16-by-30-ft. 2-story building.
    “Our first grind (using corn) was in 2018 at the fall show,” McLaughlin says. “These were locally manufactured stones, and the grooves are deeper.” So, the stones do a good job of grinding corn, but not wheat.
    The gristmill attracts 150 to 200 visitors at shows. A local farmer provides the corn for the mill and takes the ground corn home to feed his animals.
    McLaughlin and other volunteers meet regularly to maintain and work on the mill. The building and mill turned out well, but the water wheel is a work in progress. Until it’s operational, an antique tractor and belt pulley provide the power to turn the mill. It can also be powered by steam and stationary engines, which fit well with NAMA’s focus.
    Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Bob McLaughlin, Howard, Penn. (RLM101@verizon.net).

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2023 - Volume #47, Issue #2