2021 Restoration Update 4

– What has happened in the past month?

Last month we told you about a Eucalyptus tree in Stellenbosch that had died several years ago, and was donated to us for carving out the large windshaft (6,5 metres long, 0,4 x 0,4 metre square cross-section). Unfortunately after felling this tree it was found to contain a split too big for the windshaft, but it was nevertheless cut into a useful number of thick planks from which the two curb rings are being fabricated.

Stretchers and triangular beams:

These are the green-painted beams outside the main mill structure that are used by the miller to rotate the cap so that the sails face into the prevailing wind. They are shown in the sketch (from which the mill masonry has been omitted), and include the horizontal stretchers, the long and short braces and the tail pole. The wood is all spruce. It has all been purchased and been sent for further machining.

Detailed plans and budgets:
We mentioned last month that these would be needed for presentation to big corporate or state entities in order to raise the substantial sums needed for a professional restoration of the mill. They are also needed to help gain approval from Heritage Western Cape (HWC), who have to be convinced that any work done complies with the statutory guidelines for heritage restoration, and from the Department of Public Works (DPW) in Pretoria, who manage Mostert’s Mill (and the adjoining residence De Meule) on behalf of the nation. Those budgets and a detailed plan of the steps to be taken to re-build the wooden machinery have been completed and given to HWC and DPW. HWC also requires a full report from a heritage architect, which is being prepared. The heritage trusts we have approached all need those approvals from HWC and DPW before they can release funds to us. In the meantime, we are using your donations (which have totalled over R 300 000 so far – tremendous thanks to all of you!) mainly to carry on with the purchase and machining of wooden components.


We have been greatly helped by the Zamani Project, associated with UCT ( https://zamaniproject.org/index.html ), which carried out detailed 3-D photogrammetric surveys using advanced laser equipment at Mostert’s Mill last September, and have now provided us with access to their results. Their 3-D model, drawings and photographs have enabled us to measure with millimetre accuracy almost all of the wooden components that were lost in the fire.


Metal components

These are being kept in safe storage away from the Mill and are being identified and sorted by the Restoration team. Parts needed for specific applications have been wire-brushed to remove soot and burnt paint and given a coat of primer. These include the 5.2 metre wrought-iron ring in seven sections which surrounded and reinforced the Curb ring on top of the tower. From the measured diameter of this ring, the outside measurement of the wooden Curb has been determined.
Various other metal parts have been cleaned, primed and marked with their function.

Neck and Tail Bearings

These have been made out of solid granite by JA Clift of Suider Paarl and donated by William Clift – thank you William!

Vertical shaft

The original wooden vertical shaft which drove the Runner stone via the Lantern pinion was an old ship’s mast presumably from a wreck in the late 1700s. This was totally consumed by the fire. Rather than replace it with a new wooden beam, the plan is to re-use the old Tail-pole which although burnt, still has enough cross-section to work as a Vertical shaft. Char has been removed using traditional methods with an adze leaving an interesting pattern in the wood. Into one end the heavy wrought-iron Quant must be recessed and the whole bound by three sets of interlocking eye-bolts, which are among the parts already cleaned and painted.

Stone-ground wholemeal

If you are missing your sourdough loaves made with stone-ground wholemeal and spring water, contact our generous supporter Adri Schutz of Mount Elsewhere Bakery at 082 784 2661. She offers free delivery to to the Southern Suburbs, Atlantic Seaboard, Deep South, City Bowl and Hout Bay.

Yours sincerely – the Mostert’s Mill Restoration Team