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«HAER No. NY-134 Windmill at Water Mill Village of Water Mill Town of Southampton Suffolk Gounty New York PHOTOGRAPHS REDUCED COPIES OF MEASURED ...»

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One of a considerable number of wind-driven gristmills built in an area which lacked sufficient water power, the mill was subsequently moved to a new location. Mills were apparently regarded as essentially "portable" objects and many were moved, some several times. With its production probably in decline, it ceased grinding toward the end of the nineteenth century when Long Island farmers had shifted production from grain tp market garden produce and potI atoes. Most other mills a^arently recorded declines in production in these years '-as well* Along with the Windmill at Water Mill, several other mills attracted the attention of the new estate owners, who placed them 3n their large properties as decorative objects or even converted them to residences. Some remain as part of estates, but others, like the windmill at Water Mill, have become community symbols, publicly or privately owned for the benefit o£ the public.

Recently, public awareness of alternative energy sources has refocused attention on the windmills, generating a new appreciation for their structure and operation and a new interest in preserving their machinery as well as their exteriors.


HAER No. NY-134 (page 21)

III. Structure and Machinery

Process Flow The miller, pushing on the tailpole, turns the cap on a "dead curb/' facing the sails into the wind. The four common sails rotate in a counter-clockwise direction, spinning the windshaft and the brakewheel attached to it. The cogs of the brake wheel engage with the lantern pinion wallower to drive the main vertical shaft. The great spur wheel on the stone floor powers two lantern pinion stone nuts mounted on iron quants to spin the runner stpnes of two pair of overdriven Z- r

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spindle is a two-weight centrifugal governor of iron with lead ball weights set on a bridgetree and regulated on a steelyard on the ground floor. These lower and raise the runner stones in response to wind conditions.

Grain was ground at the mill by dumping it into the hoppers above the stones from which it fell into the shoes and was fed into the eyes, of the runner stones. The runner stone, revolving above the fixed bed stone, drives the grain outward where it is ground by the radiating furrows cut on the stones1 faces.

The meal spout from the south grindstone leads to a bolter on the ground floor. The bolter was probably driven by a belt connected to a layshaft (now lying loose on the meal ff loor). The layshaft-.probabl^ engaged with the crown wheel, an upward facing pegged truncjle" wheel attached to the main vertical shaft above the great spur wheel. The chute from the north pair of stones leads into a box on the meal floor. If the miller did not wish to run a pair of stones, the stone nuts were thrown out of gear by removing the "bearing side cap of a" sprattle box," taking out the wedge and sliding out half the "bearing allowing the apindls on which the nut is mounted to come out of its bearing sideways. To stop the sails from turning the miller used a lever to apply a wooden brake shoe (now lying on the loft) to grip the outside rim of the brake wheel. The weight of the lever held the brake on, while a rope, pulley and cleat system released it.


HAER No. NY-134 (page 23) Windmill Size The Windmill at Water Mill measures 29 feet 4% inches from the first floor to the apex of the cap, making it the shortest surviving windmill on Long Island, with each ceiling height unusually low. It is the only one without a full third story. The mill is 20 feet 8^ inches accross the base and both the meal floor (first.) and stone floor (second) are smaller in diameter than any other mi 11?^ The sails, 23 feet 3/4 inches long are the f

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Conical Cap The two-gabled conical cap is found on six of the ten extant eastern Long Island windmills.° While conical caps are equally common in Cape Cod windmills, those generally have one gable, such as on the Eastham windmill, although at least one which has not survived, at Harwichport, had two gables like those found on Long Island mills. 70 The conical cap at Water Mill is framed with an umbrella truss of rafters mortised into a boss at the apex, the usual conical cap framing. Such a cap form is considered less efficient than the boat-shaped cap, which is found on only three Long Islaid mills but is considered "typical" on Cape Cod mills. It may be an earlier form of cap than ^the boat-shaped, but its origins are unclear.

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whereas the later sail types automated these adjustments to some extent.

The English sail innovations do not appear in any Long Island or New England mill. Long Island millwrighting practice did, however, differ from that evident on extant New England mills, most of which have "single" sails with no "weather," a more primitive form of the common sail also found on early English and Flemish windmills. A. satisfactory explanation of these differences awaits further research on the dissemination of millwrighting tecl^nology, but one possibility is that local millwrighting traditions, perhaps imported from specific English locales and perpetuated by eastern Long Island's insularity, have had more influence on Long Island craft practice than cultural and economic contacts between Long Island and New England. The one drawing of a Long Island post mill which we have, probably dating from the late eight

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"Dead Curb" The curb in a smock windmill is the timber ring upon which the cap circle rotates. All other surviving Long Island windmills have "live curbs/1 i.e. rollers interposed between the cap and tower which facilitate turning the sails into the wind. The Windmill at Water Mill is unique in lacking such rollers. Instead, its cap circle, centered on two-inch projections of the cant posts, rests directly on the curb, with generous greasing to reduce friction while turning. There are several examples of Massachusetts and Rhode Island mills with I 75 "dead curbs,M ranging in construction date from 1746 to 1810.

Although the "dead curb" is cumbersome to operate and requires jacking the cap off the cant posts periodically to grease it, such curbs continued to be used in both England and New England in windmills constructed in the early nineteenth century.

Because of their continued use, particularly in nineteenth century English mills with other more modern features such as patent sails, it cannot be assumed that a "dead curb" is necessarily


HAER No. NY-134 (page 27) a primitive survival of earlier millwrighting practice. Rather, it is possible that certain millwrights sought the added stability that such a curb provided. Perhaps mills built in exposed locations, as Hog Neck certainly was, needed the additional stability to reduce the danger of a tail wind dislodging the cap. Nantucket had several mills built in exposed locations with "dead curbs." Other Long Island windmills which have not survived may have also had "dead curbs"; some extant mills may have originally had "dead curbs" which were converted to "live curbs" with the addition of rollers, as was done in the Farris mill in West Yarmouth, Massachusetts/** t Therefore, although it appearfs to be a unique'and primitive feature among eastern Long Island windmills, further research on English and -Lang Island millwrighting practice might modify this conclusion.

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arrangement before it was replaced by an automatic flywheel.

Possibly other Long Island mills with fantails added later, including the Amagansett (c. 1814) and the Mill Hill (c. 1713) mills, also originally had tailpoles, as did Hildreth's sawmill (1822) at Seven Ponds, a post mill. The tailpole currently on the Corwith windmill dates from the restoration of 1931/1932.81 A luffing mechanism of this type is a relatively primitive method of winding the cap of a smock mill, commonly used on English post mills but found in only three extant English smock mills. Many Dutch mills even now employ an improved and strengthened version of the tailpole, but this innovation was apparently not familiar to easterly Long Island millwrights, as no examples of it are documented. Post mills with tailpoles were apparently the first tyjle of windmill built on eastern Long Island, and at one time there were at least eight of them in the area. A drawing of "Spider Legged Mill," in Bridgehampton, perhaps built in the late eighteenth century, shows.a hexagonal post mill with common sails, a six-section domed cap and a twotimber V- shaped tailpole terminating in a cart wheel. The millwright of the Water Mill structure may have adapted the winding mechanism from Long Island's extant contemporary post mills, but several Cape Cod, Nantucket and Block Island windmills built between 1723 and 1810 also employ a log tailpole mounted on a cart wheel. In fact, Rex Wailes considered this type of luffing mechanism "typical" of extant Cape Cod mills.

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prevalent New England practice; possibly the builder of the Corwith mill came from New England, as did many of Southampton's early settlers, including the Corwith family, who came from Marblehead, Massachusetts. Indeed, the similarities between the Windmill at Water Mill and those in New England give further evidence of the close economic and cultural ties between New England and eastern Long Island in the seventeenth, eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, before the advent of the Long Island railroad in 1844.

Compass Arm and Lantern Pinion Gears With the exception of the Beebe Windmill (1820), all other surviving Long Island r|ills containing major internal works have wooden gears and machinery, primarily oak. The gear construction of the Windmill at Water Mill is typical of these mills and serves as a good example of Long Island millwrighting technology in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Its brake wheel, great spur gear, crown wheel and wallower exhibit four different types of gear construction found in Long Island windmills and in English windmills built before the introduction of iron bevel gears in the mid-eighteenth century. Wooden gears remain in use in England to this day and are still the rule in Holland.

The brake wheel of the Corwith mill is an oak compass arm cogged face gear, built up of four cants mortised and pegged to four rim felloes. Two crossed timbers form the

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arms of the brake wheel. The brake wheel is.90 inches in diameter and has 60 square-cut cogs mortised and pegged into the frame of the wheel, all "but one now missing. In England the compass arm gear was generally superseded after the invention of the clasp arm gear in the eighteenth century, and few examples survive there. On Long Island, however, clasp arm construction is found as an original feature only in the Beebe (1820) mill; it also replaced compass arm gears in the Pantigo mill (1771) brake wheel, the Gardiner's Island mill (1795) great spur wheel, installed in 1815 and the Hook mill (1806) cobcrusher, added in 1850.

The great spur wheel is fledged to the main vertical shaft just below the bin (third) fl^or. It is also a compass arm gear of 70 inches diameter with 59 square-cut cogs placed on the outside rim o£ the wheel. Such spur gears were introduced in England in the eighteenth century, making it possible to have two run of atone arranged on either side of the main vertical shaft. This was an advance over the previous single stone mill with no intermediate gearing and the later "head and tail" post mill, with two pairs of stones driven by two gears or gear faces on the windshaft. All surviving Long Island mills were constructed with great spur wheels, but the prevalence of compass arm construction in these as well as in the brake wheels of mills built in the early nineteenth century indicates an isolation from English millwrighting innovation.


HAER No. NY-134 (page 31) Both the wallower and the two stone nuts in the Windmill at Water Mill are lantern pinion gears with oak disks bound with iron, and hickory staves. The wallower is 39 inches in diameter with 26 staves while the stone nuts measure 24 inches in diameter and have 17 staves. Like compass arm gears, lantern pinions are also survivals of earlier English practice, superseded in the eighteenth century by spur pinions with square-cut cogs and later by iron bevel gears. With the exception of the Gardiner's Island (1795) and Gardiner (c.1804.) windmills, which have wooden spur pinion stone nuts and the Beebe (1820) mill, with cast iron spur pinion stone nuts and

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Above the great spur wheel on the main vertical shaft is the crown wheel, which probably formerly engaged with a layshaft connected with a belt to the bolter. The crown wheel is an upward facing pegged trundle wheel 28 inches in diameter with forty round pegs. This is a gear contemporaneous with the lantern pinion and used in English windmills before the devel~ opment of iron bevel gears. On Long Island, only the Beebe (1820) mill has an iron bevel crown wheel; all others are trundle wheels, although some are downward facing rather than upv/ar d * The material and construction of these four types of gears

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of the wood joinery techniques practiced by eighteenth and nineteenth century woodworking craftsmen of Long Island's domestic and utilitarian architecture. They also demonstrate the isolation of Long Island's millwrights from English advances in millwrighting technology. However, New England mills, with compass arm brake wheels and a single pair of stones driven directly from a lantern pinion wallower, without any intermediate gearing {great spur wheel), appear to be survivors of an even earlier stage of millwrighting practice than Long Island's windmills. Explanation of these differences requires further research on the migration of technologies and the respective settlement patterns of the two areas. I

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beam of stacked 2"X 4"s, installed after a hurricane in 1954 dislodged the windshaft and its cast iron neck bearing dropped on the ground.

In the absence of any records, it is difficult to determine what the original windshaft may have been like.

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