Lou's Place in Cyberspace
CASTLE VALLEY MILL
The Annex section of the mill, located on the north side of the building, was added to the main building sometime between 1852 and 1879.
Business at Reeds Mill was increasing and an additional power source became necessary to assure the mill could operate in times of low water. The Annex was added to house a steam boiler and apparatus necessary to run a Corliss side valve type horizontal stationary steam engine.
The engine was mounted in the Mill basement proper, parallel to the north wall. Steam pipe connections passed from boiler located in the Annex basement to the engine, through the north wall where the basement staircase is now located. The engine had a large flywheel and a pit was dug into the floor to allow it to fit.
A large brick chimney was built to exhaust the smoke from the boiler. The chimney top is at a level near the height of the roof peak. The original Annex had large double windows. The windows and door were re-arranged during renovation in the 1950’s.
View of original Annex section, added between 1852 and the 1879 It has been verified the chimney was in place by 1882.
A 1939 photo shows the deteriorated condition of the Mill and Annex. All the windows had been broken out. The large Annex chimney was damaged at the top from a lightning strike, and the small chimney on the roof at left is about to fall. Henry Fischer restored the Annex, rearranging the windows and door, and removing the small chimney.
In the article below from the "History of Bucks County" it is stated that the mill, then owned by James Reed, was running on both water and steam power by 1887:
"James Reed learned the trade of a millwright, which he followed many
History of Bucks County 1887
In the 1950’s Henry Fischer did extensive renovations to the Mill in hopes of getting it back to running condition. The Annex was restored and the large chimney top, damaged by a lightning strike, was repaired, and small chimney above the Office was removed.
The boiler and steam engine had been removed between 1938 and 1941, as scrap metal, and were gone before Henry Fischer purchased the mill.
Henry Fischer purchased a used crank start HART-PARR duel fuel internal combustion engine, which could run on both gasoline and diesel fuel. It was used it to drive an AC Generator and the drive shaft was continued from the generator thru an old Mill basement window, into the Mill basement.
Henry Fischer attached a pulley wheel to the drive shaft and built other pulley arrangements, to power a mill stone he had installed himself.
His intention was to power the millstone mechanically, and create power with the generator to supply electricity to individual electric motors to power the mill processing machinery.
Henry Fischer never lived to see his dream materialize. The motor and generator system remain in the Annex basement. Mark Fischer intends to get them restored and running one day.
Henry Fischer made extensive repairs to the Annex building often using materials on hand. He used the side frames of an old "Steward" truck as joist support beams mounted to the large brick chimney sides.
Henry Fischer Jr. who was about 16 at the time the mill was purchased, helped his father do most of the restorations on the mill, and was a great source of information for this study on the condition of the Mill when Henry Fischer first purchased it in 1948.
Mark Fischer’s (present owner) father "Bob" was ten years old at the time and recalls watching his father and older brother make the repairs, helping when he could. He helped cut and remove the elevator leggings throughout the Mill.
The Annex is used presently as a workshop with assorted wood working machines in place. It is heated with a wood stove and is a well lit workplace with large windows installed in the north wall.
In a visit to the mill to gather data, in the darkness of the Annex attic, I inadvertently miss-stepped and my right leg, up to my hip, broke through the ceiling sheet rock leaving a hole in the ceiling! I felt a bit embarrassed causing the hole, but it was relatively minor and I was not hurt but for a few bruises. I accomplished my mission as shown by the illustrations that follow.
Annex foundation was added to north side of Mill.
A large brick chimney was built to exhaust the smoke from the
steam boiler for the stationary steam engine, and wood stoves to heat the building.
A steam boiler was installed as the construction progressed.
Annex with floor joists in place.
Annex with floor joists and rafters in place.
Flooring and roof lathing installed
Annex as it appears today. Boiler was removed thru rear wall which was bricked over after boiler was taken out.
Base of chimney in Annex basement. Covered hole was where boiler smoke was vented to chimney. Damaged brickwork may have been caused during removal of boiler, which may have been attached.
. Frame from "Steward" truck was used for joist supports for first floor.
Gas engine and AC generator installed by Henry Fischer after 1948. Location is in Annex basement. Drive shaft extended through original Mill window, and into main basement area. Original intent was to power millstone by shafts and pulley from this device. Other processing equipment was to be powered with individual electric motors driven by the AC generator. This idea was abandoned. This location was the site of the boiler for the stationary steam engine, which was removed between1938-1941. Window is original Mill window in north wall.
Hart-Parr duel fueled motor and clutch connected to the AC generator on right. This motor was used in two other area mills before purchase by Henry Fischer.
Henry Fischer Jr. who helped his father install the motor-generator set in the 1950’s explaining its operation to Mark Fischer, present owner of the Mill.
Small can on left was for gasoline, used to get the motor started. After starting it would then run on diesel fuel by changing fuel lever. When cranked by hand, the engine still had great compression! The hand crank for starting the motor is resting across the cylinders in this photo. Motor was water cooled by a circulating pump connected to a 50 gallon drum of water outside the Annex basement.
Drive shaft from generator extends through window area into Mill basement. On the end of this shaft was a pulley and belt to drive the millstone Henry Fischer had installed. Small motor like device above hand is the DC exciter for use with the AC generator.
Generator control panel. Bricked wall behind generator where boiler was removed.