This is a particularly lovely example of a relatively simple but very practical working windmill. The drive shaft (which takes power to the machinary inside the mill) has 12 wooden poles (spokes) radiating out from the center and these support the sails of the mill.

3 x 4 = 12 spokes on the drive shaft

A wire forming a complete circle connects each end of the spokes helping to support the structure. Each spoke has a triangular cloth sail attached to it. Two of the points of the triangular sail are supported by the middle and the end of the spoke while the third point is supported on the parimeter circle wire. What is really clever about the design is that the trangular sails can be wrapped round the spokes so that the area of the sail can easy be adjusted. So on a windy day one can wrap a lot of the sail material around the spokes to make smaller triangular sails, while on days of little wind the sails can be un-wrapped to make a larger area to the wind.

One of the 12 triangular sails partly wrapped around its supporting spoke - set up for a good breeze !

Click here to make your own windmill


Dr Jonathan Hare, The University of Sussex
Brighton, East Sussex, UK

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