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I acquired this Sprout-Waldron mill from a friend of mine who lives about a mile from me. He had had it for several years and decided that he was never going to do anything with it and sold it to me. It came from a rice mill in Elton, Louisiana. Though the mill is in very good shape, the complete hopper and shoot assembly is missing. The stones are in fairly good shape, but they will require some work.
You can follow the progress here.
Here is the mill just after I got it to my shop. First thing I did was to split the case to check the condition of the stones. Though the stones were worn pretty bad, there were no cracks or breaks. I knew that the stones would have to be sharpened and dressed. I had never done this before, but I figured this would be a good mill to learn on as I didn't have a lot invested in it.
I started with the bedstone. I did a lot of reading up on dressing millstones. I basically used the specifications that I had gotten from Meadows Mills. I used a 4" angle grinder with a masonery grinding wheel. I cut the furrows so that they were approximately 1/4" to 5/16" deep at the eye of the stone and flared them out to about 1/16" at the edge of the stone. I angled the furrows out to the lands as per directions. Much of what I did was based purely on intuition and pictures of other millstones I had seen.
This picture shows the runner stone with all of the furrows cut. I went thru a couple grinding wheels cutting all of the furrows. Those stones are hard. There were sparks and at times the edge of the grinding wheel would glow orange. I can't imagine doing this without power tools.
After the furrows were cut, the furrows and lands had to be roughed up. Meadows' instructions said they should have the texture of sandpaper. That's pretty hard to attain. I used a pneumatic chisel with a pointed chisel tip. I carefully roughed up each furrow and land with the chisel. This picture shows the runner stone fully dressed, at least I think so. I guess the "proof will be in the pudding". Hopefully I will be able to grind some corn soon to see how it works.
One thing about these cast-iron enclosed mills is that they are solid. The two halves of the case are machined together and it's would be tough to get them out of alignment. I checked the alignment of the stones before splitting the case and they were square. I know that no matter how well the stones are dressed, if they are not square with each other you will not get a good grind.
My first attempt at grinding was not very successful. I had to do some adjusting on the shims on the bearing caps to tighten them up a little. I also added a thrust bearing between the bearing and big spring that separates the stones when you back off the adjusting screw. The internal part of the adjusting screw is still not correct but I worked around that. Then on Sunday, June 27, 2004, I tried a second time to grind some corn. I belted the mill up to my John Deere H tractor. I dumped corn into the mill out of a coffee can by hand. After a little adjusting, I was able to produce some really fine cornmeal.
Though I know I still need to do a lots more work on the mill, at least at this point I know that the stones are good and the sharpening job I did on them seems to be ok.
Unfortunately I couldn't take any pictures while the mill was actually grinding. I didn't have enough hands.
The picture on the left shows the new endcap that I had made. It's a lot simpler than the original. You can also see a short spacer I had made that fits between the screw and the mill's shaft. Between the spacer and the shaft I installed a thrust bearing. The picture on the right shows it assembled.
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