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The Miller

From THE MILLER magazine 1867 

 

 

The trade of the Miller is important, since by means of it the first step is taken in preparing wheat for use. There is no article so well adapted for the food of man as bread.   It contains all the ingredients necessary for forming and sustaining the three principal solids of the human body, viz. the fat, the muscle, and the bone; and hence it is a wise providence that has scattered wheat so widely over the earth so that most nations are acquainted with it in some of its varieties.   

Wheat consists of starch and gluten, together with a little sugar and albumen.    It is the business of the miller to grind the wheat to flour, and otherwise prepare it for its intended use; and the building in which he does this is often picturesque situated by the side of a stream, commanding ∑ a head of water for turning the water-wheel which drives the machinery, or the mill may be situated on a hill or breezy down, where the wind gives motion to sails which drive the machinery, as in the common ∑windmill; or thirdly, if the mill be situated in a large town, and the horizontal be constricted on an extensive scale, the steam-engine is the prime mover.

The most essential part of a corn-mill is a pair of millstones, circular in form and placed one above the other, but not sufficiently near to touch.   The lower or bed-stone is fixed, and from its centre rises a spindle, on which the upper stone, called the runner, moves.     This spindle is moved by means of cog-wheels in gear with it, and connected with the prime mover.    In the centre of the upper stone is a hole, through which the corn passes to be ground.     The flat faces of the stones are cut into furrows, which allow the flour to escape, as the wheat is ground by the action of the stones.       The stones are covered in by means of a large wooden case,  opening at the bottom by means of a shoot into troughs in the floor below.

 There are several varieties of flour used in London: they are known as    
            (1). Best Flour, or Pastry White
            (2). Whites
            (3). Households 
            (4). Number 2 or seconds.
            (5). Thirds
            (6). Fine Middlings.

There is also Dusting Flour, used to give a fine colour and texture to the outside of loafs.      Each of the above varieties is produced by the admixture of several kinds of wheat, well known to the miller, as the variety of flour is to the baker.   For example: wheat containing much gluten may be mixed with one that containing an abundance of starch; a red wheat may be mixed with a white one; a moist one with one that is dry; and so on.    

The art of mealing, as it is called, consists in the judicious choice of wheat and in the proper arrangement of the machinery, so that the whole of the flour which the wheat is capable of producing may be obtained at one grinding.         The proper proportions of the wheat for grinding are mixed in a bin, after which the grain is passed through a blowing apparatus in order to separate dust and light particles.    It is next passed through a smut machine (fig. 98), consisting of iron beaters enclosed within a skeleton cylindrical frame covered with wire, the spaces being wide enough to allow the impurities of the grain to fall through.   The beaters revolve 400 or 500 times in a minute and by their action against the wires scrub the wheat, and remove portions of dust, smut, and impurities.     After this, the wheat is passed through a screen, arranged spirally on a horizontal axis, the resolutions of which scatter the seeds over the meshes, and allow small shrivelled seeds to pass through.    The grain is next exposed to a current of air from a fan, which completes the removal of chaff, dirt, smutt-ball, etc.     The result of all this elaborate cleaning is greatly to improve the whiteness of the flour, and also itís wholesomeness; and itís necessity is evident from the accumulation of impure matter in the cases of the screens.     As the wheat passes from the last cleaning machine, it falls down a canvas tube into the hopper which supplies the millstones (fig. 100), where a jigging kind of motion is kept up, so as to shake the corn into the trough over the stones in equable quantities; and so long as this action is going on properly, a little bell is made to ring, the motion of which ceases with the supply of wheat.

It has been already stated that the stones are boxed in to prevent the flour from being scattered by the centrifugal force of the runner.  According to the old method, this is done very imperfectly, so that there is considerable loss of flour, which fills the air of the mill, covers the men, and injures their health by being continually breathed.


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