The volunteers at Bunbury Mill were faced with a massive task when they discovered that many of the wheel timbers were in such a poor state.
When they carried out a detailed inspection of the 10-ton water wheel late last year, it was found that the boards were seriously eroded, some were split apart, and one or two had already become detached from the locating slots in the cast iron framework.
This meant that the small band of volunteers had to repair and replace 36 ‘buckets’, each formed by three timbers – the sole board, the riser, and the ladle board – 108 boards in all. Each bucket is secured by seven well-rusted bolts – a total of 252.
In January they passed the point of no return, and set about removing all the ladle boards and risers, and around one third of the sole boards using nearly a ton of oak.
While in the wheel pit, the boards were fitted by two people on top of the wheel, and one or two ‘hamsters’ inside the wheel. They were very careful to ensure that the wheel was locked during this time!
In February the last board was fitted. Two days later the platform was removed, the sluice was opened, and the team was elated to see the wheel turning sweetly with another 40 years of life in it.
For more information visit www.bunburymill.com. The mill opened to the public on Sunday 26th March, then every Sunday and Bank Holiday afternoon until the end of October.
A well-earned break for some of the 16-strong team who worked for over 400 hours on the project.