Mostert’s Mill

+27 (0)82 771 6480
Rhodes Ave, Mowbray, Cape Town

2023 Restoration Update 12

Masonry and Thatching

The thatched cap has been completed, and after work stopped for a while during the festive season, the next step was to connect the tail pole to the long and short horizontal stretchers with the long and short braces.  These are the heavy green-painted beams that enable the miller to rotate the whole cap so that the sails face into the wind.

The four diagonal braces each have a wooden cap to protect their exposed top ends.  On similar mills in the Netherlands, this cap is known as a Klapmuts.  A muts was a 17th century farmer’s cap, and a klapmuts was a version with flaps to keep the ears warm.  The small town with this name near the N1 to Paarl was named long ago after the nearby hill Klapmutskop, which is reminiscent of the shape of these farmer’s caps.  Our photos show our Chairman John Hammer applying glue to a klapmuts he has just finished painting red, our engineer Andy Selfe attaching a klapmuts to the top of a brace, and a view of the the finished windshaft.


The windshaft is now complete and ready to be inserted through the hatch visible in the thatched cap in the photo below. But first there is an interesting step. If this windshaft were suspended in the middle by a mobile crane, it would be difficult to get it far enough into the cap for the crane to be disconnected. The solution is to hang a weight on the outer end of the windshaft so that it can be suspended off-centre. This way, the windshaft can be fed far into the cap before disconnecting the crane hook.

How do we “hang a weight on the outer end”?  The obvious choice is to use one of the two sails.  These sails have heavy steel stocks to which are attached wooden lattices that will support the canvas sail cloths when the Mill is in operation.  If necessary, further balancing will be done by hanging a 1000-litre plastic bin on the outer end, partly filled with water until the windshaft is level.

The photo that includes workmen shows one of the sail stocks with the wooden lattice work on one half of it.  The other half of the lattice can be added only after the hollow steel stock has been threaded through the square hole in the windshaft.  The holes (mortises) for the two stocks are visible in the green-painted far end of the earlier photo of the windshaft.  The trolley in the photo is there so that when the sail stock is turned by a right angle ready to thread through the windshaft, the edge of the wooden lattice does not rest on the ground.

The larger photo of the Mill shows the windshaft in the foreground with the outer sail stock fed through its mortise, and the complete lattices attached on both sides and painted black.  The right hand lattice is hard to see against the dark background behind it, and note that it is inverted relative to the left hand lattice.  You can see in the small photo that the the sail cloths are on opposite sides of each of the two long stocks.

The Next Internal Fittings

Meanwhile Kimon Mamacos of Sentinel Timbers is busy cutting eucalyptus into beams and flooring planks for the two internal wooden floors of the Mill. Another important component of the Mill is a cylindrical wooden box or casing called furniture that fits around the two millstones, the lower one fixed and the upper one rotating. This wooden casing serves to collect the ground wheat flour (called meal by millers) and funnel it down a chute into a bag. The wooden enclosure is being constructed by Charel Rossouw, helped by Juan Blom, who have a high quality built-in furniture business which they operate from the back of a former General Dealers shop (Harris Bros) in the main street of Grabouw. They are using some drawings made in 1984 of a similar enclosure, scaled down from the Mostert’s Mill original, for use at Onze Molen in Durbanville. These drawings were given to Andy Selfe by Kobus van Schoor, who had prepared them when he was an architecture student and had kept them ever since. Another breakthrough was the acquisition from a derelict building in the Elgin Valley of a collection of old Oregon pine beams and floorboards, which after cleaning and planing are being used by Charel and Juan for the enclosure.

The whole enclosure and the heavy millstones inside rest on some sturdy beams (hustings), and for these we were lucky to be offered a number of Burmese teak pillars by Henry Louw of Dreyersdal Farm in Bergvliet. The pillars come from a partly burnt house in Simonstown. They have also been cleaned and planed, and mounted onto galvanised steel forks (see photo) which will be set in concrete in the Mill floor, such that the bottom of each beam is flush with the floor.

For detailed information on the whole restoration process, please visit compiled by Andy Selfe.

Yours sincerely – the Mostert’s Mill Restoration Team