Well what a week we’ve had at Priors Flour HQ! We had planned to spend three days dressing (sharpening) the millstones on our electricity powered Hurst Frame and installing a new auger system to enable us to move grain and meal (flour) up the mill. I am pleased to say, that has all gone well. Then what we did not expect – preparation for Storm Eunice which is howling around me as I write this post.
So far, so good (at least from what I can see) on the storm front, although this has certainly been a punishing few hours for our 165 year old mill. Fingers crossed, there is no damage after the 75mph gusts which are we are experiencing.
Lifting millstones requires great care, attention and focus on safety. Below, you can see how we lift the millstones using chain blocks, a lifting gantry and lifting strops.
You can see the “runner stone” (closest to the camera) which is the top millstone – this has been lifted off the “bed stone” (see behind) and then turned over to expose the grinding surface. The grooves (called “Furrows”) are then deepened (these days we use an angle grinder with a special tool) and the grinding surface flattened before the “stitching” is applied by hand using a mill bill and thrift. This roughens up the grinding surface which then works more efficiently. The diagram below shows this:
The “Furrows” have an interesting naming history. The longest furrow is called the “Master Furrow”, the next longest is called the “Journeyman Furrow”, the next longest – the “Apprentice Furrow”. Why? The Miller or Master Stone Dresser would set the Master, then hand over to the Journeyman, then the Apprentice and so on! Spreading the labour – it was hard work.
What’s the impact now the stones are dressed? We can mill faster and still produce a quality meal whilst creating less heat – which further maintains the baking qualities of the flour! Thanks to our millwright, Malcolm Cooper for his help this week.