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Rotating the Cap

There are many different methods for a mill to be turned into the wind. The simplest as used in Post mills is to push a beam linked to the rotating part of the mill until it faces the direction of the wind. An alternative is to use a form of crank either at the rear of the Cap of via a system of chains and wheels from the ground to manually rotate the mill. The most advanced and least labour intensive method of moving the cap is to use a Fantail. This is a smaller windmill that is set at the rear of the cap at 90 degrees to the main Sails. It works by catching the wind and as the Fantail spins it cranks the cap around until the wind catches the main Sails and not those of the Fantail.

Wheatley mill uses a manual mechanism. There is evidence that the Cap could be turned in one of two ways either a hand crank operated from the Tail platform of the mill's Cap, as can be seen in the picture below left. Or via a chain connected to the same mechanism that hangs down to near the ground from the Tail, which means the mill could be rotated from ground level. The diagram above shows the details of the hand crank mechanism. From this it can be seen that as the hand crank is turned a set of gears transfer the rotation inside the cap where a second set of gears turn a cogged wheel (see below right) that meshes with the large cogs set into the Curb. As this cog moves so slowly the cap is ratcheted around to face the wind. At the current time this mechanism is not to be found in the mill as it is still awaiting restoration in order that it can soon be refitted.

It is rumoured that at some point Wheatley mill did have a Fantail that was jury rigged by the miller on the Tail of the Cap, although no evidence of this now exists.

Rotation Handle Worm Gear

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