Dressing the Mill Stones
On a bright, cold March morning in 2011 our miller, John Liles, and Jon Sass, Chairman of the Lincolnshire Mills Group, dressed the stones at the mill. John prepared the mill and both men set up the block and tackle (1) to raise the runner stone by means of chains and then Jon wrapped sacking around the runner stone (2) after inserting a wedge between it and the bedstone.
The next picture shows the name of the maker of the runner stone, Stapelton of Hull, and the millstone balances (3). It is also possible to see the trough where the ground flour exits to the next stage of the process (meal floor).
Protected by its sacking, the runner stone was carefully winched up away from the bedstone (3a) revealing the furrows of both stones (4).
It was then placed on some planking (5) to be moved out of the way against the mill wall.
The next photograph (6) shows the runner stone neatly parked near the window.
When we looked at the bedstone we were pleased to see that there were no signs of pollutants or any other problems just old flour and grain to be disposed of (7).
John set to with Henry the vacuum cleaner (8), and Jon brushed away the old flour.
When the bedstone was totally clean, Jon gave a demonstration of stone dressing (9 and 10) to our miller. A tungsten toughened mill bill inserted into a wooden thrift was used for the operation.
The tool has to be used at the correct angle to be effective. Jon prefers to use traditional methods rather than an angle grinder.
When itinerant stone dressers were applying for a job they used to spread out their hands for inspection. This was to show the flecks of metal that had got embedded in the skin from their work. It was possible to tell from this how much experience a man had of millstone dressing, thus the expression “Show me your metal”.
Our miller learned at what angle he should insert the mill bill and how much pressure to exert (11).
The next two pictures show thrifts and mill bills on a rack (12), and Jon and John’s caps, gloves and tools (13).
The runner stone was gently and carefully lowered onto the bedstone (14) before the final job in the process, relocating the quant. Dr Pip Carter, our Chairman, was responsible for pulling the chains, while John and Jon replaced the quant (15).
This was not an easy task but we got there in the end. Now the millstones are ready for a season’s milling, and we await some strong winds!
Several more pictures of this event are available for anyone interested in seeing them.