2022 Restoration Update 10
We have good progress to tell you about this month. The plaster repairs to the masonry structure have been completed, over some light stainless steel mesh in places for extra reinforcing. Two rings inside the Mill have been left unplastered until the two wooden floors have been installed, when we can finish plastering up to the edge of the floor planks. Whitewash has been prepared using an 18th century recipe in which lime is calcined to quicklime (calcium oxide), then slaked with water and tallow added. The water and quicklime react and produce enough heat to boil the mixture, which causes the tallow to form an emulsion with the mix (so this is an early form of emulsion paint!). The masonry of the Mill tower has been (and the wall of the threshing floor will later be) painted with this limewash, which has been graciously donated by Tom O’Connor of Midas Paints.
Meanwhile, most of the wooden parts at the top of the Mill were brought to the site from Solid Engineering in Grabouw and Floorscape in Maitland. The Curb Ring was carefully lowered onto the top of the masonry cone (as you can see in the dramatic photo), where to Andy Selfe’s relief the bolts still in the masonry fitted perfectly through the holes in the wooden ring – his measurements of the bolt positions had been accurate to within a millimetre or two.
On top of the fixed Curb Ring go the rotating Cap Ring, together with its matrix of beams that spread the heavy load of the Windshaft and Sails, and the long and short Stretchers (painted green) that enable the whole cap structure to be rotated. These parts all had to be assembled on site before lifting them into place. That assembly was done inside the threshing floor.
The next step was to lift this assembly to place it on top of the Curb Ring, which had been lubricated shortly beforehand with lard (18th century again!) by Anthony Buckland. The two photos show the suspended Cap assembly, and then it is lowered into position resting on the Curb Ring.
The next item to be lifted was the Tail Pole – the tall, nearly vertical beam that helps to turn the Cap. Andy incorporated into it an important feature, part of which can be seen in the small photo below – a water pipe (now hidden under a painted wooden cover strip) that can feed a water spray to the outside of the thatched cap. If someone can help us turn on this water remotely with a smartphone app, please contact either email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Vertical Shaft and the Brake Wheel have also been lifted into the Mill. Within the next few days, the Cap will get its thatch cover. This will keep the inside of the Mill dry, and enable all the interior “furniture” to be fitted.
This is being cut to size by Kimon Mamacos of Sentinel Timbers in Hout Bay, but needs two months between each cut to dry out. This process is still continuing. Meanwhile, Jon Stevens at Floorscape is busy sourcing the right wood to repair the burnt portions of the wooden latticework on the sails. Once the Windshaft is ready, we will manoeuvre it onto the support frame, threading it through the Brake Wheel on the way. The last photo shows the Brake Wheel before final varnishing, with four dates carved into it – 1796 when Mostert’s Mill was built probably by Dirk Gysbert van Reenen, 1935 when the first restoration took place funded by the Dutch government, 1995 when the second restoration took place funded by the SA government, and now in 2022, the Fire Restoration funded by you!
Meanwhile John Wilson-Harris and his colleagues at Gabriël Fagan Architects are working on the details of the doors, shutters, windows, floor beams and planking, ladders, handrails and other architectural items. These will all be installed in the coming winter months once the thatch is finished and working conditions inside the Mill are dry.
For detailed information on the whole restoration process, please visit https://mostertsmillafterthefire.blogspot.com/?view=magazine compiled by Andy Selfe.
Yours sincerely – the Mostert’s Mill Restoration Team