The Stone Buhr

Milling With a 1917 14-28 Rumely Oil Pull

| October/November 2001

  • Lester Pierce's stone buhr

  • Lester Pierce's stone buhr

  • Lester Pierce's stone buhr
  • Lester Pierce's stone buhr

I grew up eating corn meal and graham products from the family operated stone buhr. My maternal granddad became a miller in 1907, using only the one mill powered by portable engines. He acquired a mill that was installed in 1880, powered by a water turbine and a smaller turbine to power the flouring equipment. This was setup on land not yet owned by the builder. Whether this 1859 patent was new or used is not known, but water source problems and other issues ended its career on the river. Through changes of hands the structure was torn down to build a barn.

Fuzzy facts again arise as to granddad buying the mill or how it was acquired. One story has him rescuing it from the river. An uncle now deceased recalled a four horse team and wagon bringing the 2,600 pound mill home to be in the dry until a millhouse was completed in 1907. Custom grinding each Friday and finishing on Saturday was common scheduling until the 1930s. This was a service to a widespread community to grind grain for man and beast.

Dennis Rupert's 1917 Rumely 14-28 belted to Lester Pierce's 1859 Spring Mill stone buhr at this year's Rumely Expo in Lathrop, Mo.

A stone buhr is not fast, but corn and wheat and oats were ground. Corn meal and wheat flour were a community staple, and corn, wheat and oats were commonly used for hog feed, mixed together with water or milk for slop.

Operation of a mill is beyond the memory of most people, but it doesn't seem so long ago to me. This old Spring Mill has a large, wooden, square hopper to feed grain down through a hollow shaft that turns the upper horizontal stone. The lower horizontal, 30 inch stone remains still, other than when a hand wheel is turned to raise the bolster holding it. Raising or lowering the bottom stone regulates the coarseness of the grist. The upper stone and shaft are turned by a 30 inch flat belt pulley. Belt guides somewhat on the order of a fairlead were originally used to keep the belt on edge, which allowed a twist to a vertical powering pulley. The top stone is hinged so it can be lifted to expose the stones for sharpening with a Paulding hammer. This chipping in a spiraling manner provides the gristing ability.

Now comes my current interest, other than running the mill every chance I get. This mill was powered by a 16-30 Rumely for many years. The 2001 Rumely Expo was held in Lathrop, Mo., this past June. The Lathrop club hosted most models of Rumely from distant states to put on a show and provide memories and examples of our past. I keep the mill on a trailer, so I drove the 63 miles to Lathrop to find a 16-30 to belt up to the mill. Dennis Rupert of Hillsdale, Mich., obligingly belted up his 1917 Rumely 14-28 and pulled the mill. That fine old 14-28 of his really ran nice, and its performance with the mill seemed so natural.


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