Windmill Puzzle

Mon, 1 Oct 2012

I'm in Frankfurt for a couple of days hoping to finalize some new projects and generally having a good look round. On the way across I stopped in the small town to Xanten where lives this delightful working windmill.

Outside the windmill were posted various bits of information but unfortunately the windmill itself was not open to the public on a Monday.

This picture of a mechanism was posted on the notice board outside. The top wheel obviously connects to the sails of the windmill. The drive is then turned through 90 degrees and driven down to the wheel a the bottom where the speed of rotation is increased through gearing to drive the mill wheels at the bottom of the picture.
The unanswered question is, what it the part with the question mark for? 
A modest prize for anyone who can work it out in the comments section below. I'll be calling in to Xanten on my way back to the ferry so I'll find out and let you know.

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Comments (7)

  • Michael cc October 1, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    I think that these wheels are

    I think that these wheels are used to raise and lower the grain and flour sacks.

    Photo of this home


    Windmühle Xanten

  • cool022883 October 2, 2012 at 1:12 am

    i think its to rotate the

    i think its to rotate the sails so that they are in  position to catch the wind



  • bob.watson October 2, 2012 at 1:54 am

    It’s a sack hoist – used to

    It's a sack hoist – used to lift sacks full of grain from ground level to a level above the feeder chute. The vertical wheel is friction driven (I think) from the flat horizontal wheel. The vertical wheel can be lowered (to engage) or raised (to disengage) by pulling on the rope hanging from the outer end of the bar running above and parallel to its axis. This rope goes down to ground level so that the hoist can be controlled by the person loading the sack onto the hoist.

  • Dawn October 2, 2012 at 2:45 am

    I think that the wheels with

    I think that the wheels with no gears grind the grain. I think that the narrow boards at angles to each other with the ropes; the bottom one rocks pulling on the top one to rock it as well… unfortunately the ropes are not totally drawn in to show exactly their function. I wish I knew more because I would love rhe prize

  • frankenpaper October 2, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    I have not found the correct

    I have not found the correct answer but I found a good 360 picture of the inside of a windmill that looks like it has a similar looking feature.,38.92,65.6

    I think it is worth a look.

  • ijustgolf October 3, 2012 at 2:22 am

    it kinda looks like it would

    it kinda looks like it would be some kind of braking system…    a rope is pulled from below to actuate the levers applying pressure to the crankshaft through the rolling device to slow it down…?


    just a guess of course…   

  • maxlrainer October 3, 2012 at 9:16 am

    It is a sack hoist.


    It is a sack hoist.

    The picture above is a part of a pdf-file, which you can download here:

    which is part of this very interesting website:

Comments are closed.