Lou's Place in Cyberspace
CASTLE VALLEY MILL
LEFT FRONT GRAIN ELEVATOR
Corn, Wheat, or other grains to be processed would be put into a grain bin located to the left of the front entrance on the first floor. This hopper had a chute passing through the floor leading to the bottom bin or "boot" of the left front grain elevator.
The grain would then be lifted from the Boot beneath the floor to the distribution head of the Left Front elevator located on the third floor. The distribution head had a swivel chute called a "spouter" which could be rotated to one of four different positions, directing the grain to a particular milling process.
Since the grain was not processed yet, it first had to be cleaned of attached debris as dirt, dust, smut, and foreign plant matter before any further processing was begun.
The elevator consisted of a continuous loop of cotton or leather belt running between two pulleys. It was driven by the top pulley wheel. The top drive pulley had a coating of rubberized material or asphalt on it to prevent belt slippage.
On the belt were attached small tin buckets, evenly spaced. As the buckets went around the loop they would pick up the grain from the bottom boot, carry it along upward in an enclosed square shaft or "Elevator legging" to the top pulley where it would dump as the bucket moved over the top of the pulley wheel.
The dumped grain, because of the velocity of the turning pulley, would fall in a trajectory into the distribution spout and down the chute to which it was directed.
The entire elevator is completely enclosed to reduce dust and the possibility of a dust explosion, and help prevent rodents and insects from gaining access, and kept the grain clean and dry.
On each floor there were removable panel sections in the legging to allow for inspection, cleanout, of fix a problem with the belt bucket.
The tin elevator cups were evenly spaced at six or fifteen inch apart depending on the grain type. Most buckets being about three inch’s square. Corn mill have much larger buckets
The elevator system was originally developed by Oliver Evans, the man responsible for changing the entire way grain was processed. It was called "the American system".
Evans was a genius, called the "American Watt". Besides revolutionizing milling he contributed to the development of early steam technology.
Above from "The Mechanical Handling of Materials" G.F. Zimmer 1905.
Left Front Elevator bottom, or "Boot" located under first floor in basement. Diagonal chute on right directed grain from receiving bin on first floor into elevator boot. A second chute also enters this chute in center.
One half of boot is missing, showing the interior of elevator mechanism with pulley wheel and chute entrance on bottom.
This view shows the shut off slide and linkage which shuts off grain from spilling into boot from the grain bin. To the right of this is a smaller rectangular chute coming from the second floor. A second shut off in front of this chute cuts off all grain from either chute to the elevator boot.
This view shows the computer image for clarity. The receiving bin chute is on the right, in front of it, in a maple colored wood, is the bin shut off. In the center of the image is a narrow rectangular chute coming from the second floor. To the left of this chute is the main cut off slider, cutting off all grain from entering the boot.
This view, with the center chute removed for clarity, show’s the bin shut-off and its linkage. Linkage is mounted to floor joists. This shut off was operated from the first floor.
This view shows the main cut off slider and linkage. The linkage is mounted on the chute legs extending through the floor. Chute Legs are not shown in this view.
View showing shut off linkage.
View showing complete unit, with boot covers in place.
View showing interior of elevator with pulley wheel, belt, and elevator cups that lift grain to elevator head elevator on the third floor.
Interior of elevator boot with pulley wheel removed showing the chute entrance at the bottom of the boot.
Elevator boot showing main cut-off slider in chute entrance. (light colored object)
The grain elevators were an important part of the system originated by Oliver Evans allowing the distribution of grain thru the Mill. His system used gravity to move the grain downward thru each step of processing, with the final product, the flour or rough feed, ending its journey thru the mill in a sack, barrel, or bin.
For local farmers, the mill provided for the sale of their grains for flour to the commercial market, and supply feed for their livestock. The mill was an important part of 19th century life.
Grain bucket’s mounted to belt. Detail Small bucket
Elevator speed information, from 1910 Barnard & Leas catalog
Elevator buckets-from catalog Corn Buckets
Elevator accessories Elevator heads Elevator boots