Our windmills two replacement sails are now scheduled to be up and turning by the end of September.
The story so far… Having found that two sails at Heage windmill needed to be replaced due to wood rot, the Trust made enquires seeking replacements. There are few millwrights able to carry out such work and our enquires showed that the cost would be around £60,000 and delivery would be about 2 years. This was not acceptable to the Trust as we wished to return to our normal 6 sail display as soon as possible.
The volunteers at the mill felt they were capable of making the replacements themselves and that we were able to obtain suitable pre-cut wooden members from Constructional Timber of Barnsley for less than a third of the above quote. The two offending sails, weighing approximately 1 tonne each, were taken off and the part time work of assembling the new timber into sails was undertaken ‘in house’. We found that no less than 84 pieces were needed for the pair of sails. Also, each piece had to have any knots treated. They pieces were then coated with sealer, carefully painted and assembled in a predetermined sequence.
The team agreed to carry out the work in our marquee on site and aimed to ensure work was carried out on a minimum of two full mornings a week. To date, some 400 working hours have been expended and much experience gained.
In parallel, all the iron fittings from the old sails were removed and re-painted and the 40+ shutters washed and cleaned prior to them being transferred to the new sails. The first replacement sail (sail E) currently has all the sail bars and the frame in place and will soon be ready to accept the fitting of the 21 shutters taken from the old sail. Due to space limitations, work on the second sail (sail B) could not start at the same time but presently the stage of sail E is such that the sail bays could be turned upright, creating enough space for the second sail to be started. Presently the angled sail bars are being fitted and work will continue in parallel.
Due to weather and holiday limitations we are expecting to be able to complete the assembly of the pair by the end of September and aim to fit them back soon after.
The cost of the work is being covered by money taken from the mill maintenance fund of Heage Windmill Society but, of course, donations will be most welcome as the cost is estimated at some £20,000 for materials alone. We are continuing to mill flour with four sails and our normal range of flour is still on sale at the mill.