Beginning to write about the smocks, we assume the following:
1) You have read the section about the «Post-based mills» — There will be no repetitions.
2) You understand the main rule of any mill — everything must be functional.
3) You want to read a shorter story about the smocks than about the post-based mills.
So, here we go!
A Smock, or a Dutch mill, appeared later than a Post-based mill. This happened both in Russia, where they were brought by the merchants and Peter the Great, and in Europe, where they were simply invented later. First, let’s start with the disadvantages of the post-based mills, which is only one in fact, i.e. strong limitation of the weight of the barn. This means that you can hardly install more than a pair of millstones, that a barn can hardly be more than a couple of meters high, and that there is no place to store the grain.
It is clear that in order to remove these limitations, you need to learn to turn a separate part of the building to face the wind. Well, logically, it’s the roof, or the cap. This way, you solve all the problems: for better power distribution you can install as many pairs of millstones as necessary, because you do not have to turn all those heavy millstones. You can make the tower very high, and, therefore, make longer sails, which in turn means that they have bigger surface, which provides greater power. Finally, you can equip several floors of the mill as an “apartment” or a barn. It looks like there are advantages only!
We will begin to get acquainted with the architecture of the smocks the same way as we did with the post-based mills: from the outside, or, more precisely, from below. So, let’s start with the foundation. What foundation could a house have, you might ask. It turns out it has, and that is why. One of the problems is adjusting the width of the sails. The sails in Russia are most commonly made of several pieces, whereas in Europe they are stretch, which means that some of the boards from the sails can be removed, and some part of the canvas can be lowered. What for? Well, to lower the speed. If the wind is too strong, you need to slow down the mill to reduce the dynamic loads on the gears and the building itself. At this point, you may use the brake. Yes, there is certainly a brake in the smocks, but a mill is not a car. You cannot slow it down a little bit. As the gears and the brake are wooden, the mill is not able to work if there is friction and the subsequent heating of the parts. Thus, it is necessary to change the width of the sails.
And to change this width, you need to reach the sails somehow. There are no hanging balconies as in the post-based mills so, the sails can be reached only from below. There are smocks «growing from the ground» (1). As a rule, they are low and you can reach the sails from the ground. There are smocks with barns. In this case, the front edge of the barn is beveled, so that it is easier to stand on it (2). There are smocks, surrounded by circular barns (3); these mills have access to the sails from everywhere. There are also smocks with specifically made bulging beams (4) (two mills in Kholmogory 1, 2). Finally there are smocks, where it’s impossible to change the width of the sails. Such mills are simply stopped to a halt in strong wind.
Having dealt with the lower part, we move on to the tower. The tower can be logged, framed or made of stone (one mill in Manychskoe). The tower can be sheathed (5) (even a log house — after all, the hoof protects it from moisture, and its weight does not matter here) or shingled (6) (three mills — Zaval, Ladoschino (Vitoslavlitsy), Tolvuya (Kizhi)). Well, it can be not covered by anything (7).
As for the ladder, there is nothing special about it: it stands firmly on the ground. But we will tell you about the tailpole. The tailpoles of the smocks are more massive and consist of three (8) or five (9) beams. Two Kholmogory mills (1, 2) have a more ancient type of internal winding — without the tailpole. Instead, inside the mill, the cap sits on iron rollers (10) and a rack (11). With the help of the steering wheel (12), the miller inside the mill rotates the cap along this rail. In these mills there is a hatch through which you can look outside, apparently in order to understand the direction of the wind. A few more words about the rotation of the cap: the cap touches the main tower along the entire circumference, which gets oiled (13). And to prevent the cap from being displaced, it is additionally fixed by special sticks or rollers (14).
Well, now when we’ve looked at and enjoyed the tower, let’s get inside, right to the top. Evidently, the sails of the smocks are not much different from those of the post-based mills, apart from their size. And, yes, there has survived one smock with sixteen sails in the village of Kulyabovka. Until recently, there was a clever fixing to support this system (link), but, unfortunately, it got lost. The windshaft in general is the same. Instead of iron inserts, in smocks there is an iron ring (15). Of course, the windshaft has exactly the same diameter as the cap. As it is rolled, it can be placed only directly in the center.
Since we need lots of different powerful mechanisms, we should place them downstairs. Otherwise, what’s the point? Therefore, the rotational motion must go down from the top, and for this reason the vertical shaft passes through all the floors of the mill. Near the ground it is inserted into the movable board for adjusting the vertical angle (16), and at the top it ends with a massive wallover (17) or in one mill only – in Zaval — with a spurwheel (18). When the cap rotates, the camwheel moves along it.
Now we see a building that is cut through, from top to bottom, by a rotating pole. (If this pole (vertical shaft) is not long enough, it can be constructed of parts, both in height and width). Thus, any mechanism on any floor can now be connected to this source of energy.
Let’s consider the simplest scheme. There is a platform on the ground floor of the mill (19), under which there goes the vertical shaft (20). Under the platform, the vertical shaft is attached to the ground. A spurwheel is mounted on the shaft, and to the left and to right two spindles with spurwheels or stonenuts are attached to horizontal beams (21). As in the inverted post-based mills, the spindles go up and move the millstones (only the runner, of course) on the platform in pallets with lids. This is how two pairs of millstones are connected. On the top of the millstone there are hoppers. The shoes come out from the platform, under which the grain sacks are put (22) (23).
It’s a classic construction, and definitely there may be differences. In some mills there is no platform, and the millstones are on the second floor. In this case, the shoes go down straight away. In the destroyed mill in Chirscha there was an interesting system of hoisting a sack full of flour (link second and third pictures from the bottom). The hoppers can hang on the stonecranes (24) or a special hinged construction (25). But the idea is still the same: on the ground floor the spindle is connected to the vertical shaft with the simplest gear transmission, which sends the rotational movement up. An exception is the mill in Kursk. It has the gears as in the non-inverted/direct post-based mill: a vertical shaft (spindle) immediately connects to the millstones.
What else could be connected to the vertical shaft? You can connect the camshaft of the crushing mill (26), or the whole horizontal shaft, which itself will deliver energy to other mechanisms. (27) There are two mills like this: Spass (Kostromskaya Sloboda) and Kochemlevo (New Jerusalem). They look as if the whole factory could fit inside. However, whatever you connect, it will be strictly between the top wallover and the bottom spurwheel. Thus, by the number of remaining squared holes on a vertical shaft, we can know about the number of gears existing in the mill.
As for the brake, the idea is the same: it stops the brake wheel. However, the power here, unlike the post-based mills, is greater, that’s why the brakes completely envelop the wheel and are regulated by powerful beams (28). Sometimes these beams are suspended on the blocks and can be adjusted from the lower floors.
A few words about the sack hoist. In some mills, a two-step system is used: the grain sacks have to be carried on the third floor. You can make a usual hoist, as in the post-based mills, only here it is inside the building so, you need self-opening doors in the floor. If you see the remains of such doors, it is a sure sign that the mill had a hoist. Also, it can be made automatic. To work, it must be powered from the vertical shaft and be shut down in some quick and convenient way. For example, in the mill from the village of Zaval, they used a flat wheel, moving along the same wheel on a vertical shaft, pressed against it by the weight of the sack (29). When the sack is up, the wheel is lifted and the system gets disconnected.
In general, this is it. As you can see, there are no special types of smocks. However, it would be great to generalize them in some way, right? Here we present some list of the surviving smock mills of Russia. Please, mind, that our generalization is not a classification, and therefore not every mill must fit into it, and there are no rigid rules. We will distinguish three common types of smocks according to the geographical area they belong to, and will explain this. Of course, there are other smocks, but to make a larger and fuller generalization, unfortunately, there are not enough mills — they are too different and specific.
Chernozem region smocks
Chernozem region smocks are the southernmost ones in Russia. Further to the south there are no forests, so stone mills or less expensive post-based mills are more common. All Chernozem smocks are log houses with no paneling at all. They are low, and the sails practically touch the ground. There are no barns, and the log house starts straight from the ground. There is usually one or two pairs of millstones in these smocks. There are no tricky structures or additional mechanisms in them (30).
Chernozem region smocks are those of the Kursk, Belgorod, Voronezh and Saratov regions. To the south of this “line” three mills have survived: post-based mills in Bolshoe Remontnoe (Rostov region) and Kirovskoe (Kalmykia), and a stone smock in Manychskoe (Stavropol region). There are no wooden smocks to the south of this “line”.
A little to the north of the Chernozem region, there are southeastern smocks, characterized by a fairly low barn enveloping the base of the smock as a skirt. All smocks of this type are framed, with two pairs of millstones. Their barns are octagonal or quadrangular, depending on the number of supporting pillars in the frame. Such construction, in addition to increasing the space under the roof, also provides access to the mill sails, regardless of where the mill is turned at the moment. The mills are tall, and it is necessary to stand on the roof of the barn to maintain the sails. None of these mills has been moved to a museum, which played a cruel joke on them (31).
Seven of the eight remaining smocks are abandoned and are on the verge of total destruction. The only smock which is taken care of is in Polnoye Konobeevo (Ryazan Region). Another interesting smock — in Kulyabovka (Tambov region) – is the only known mill with 16 sails. Unfortunately, the sails haven’t survived. Another example is Levino (Tambov region). This mill, possibly, was one of the hundred of other mills around Morshansk — the center of bread trade. The mill in Maloye Boldino (Nizhny Novgorod region) – is very close to a famous museum, but it’s still in the ruins after the never-ending restoration. Another mill (Barinovka) is the last mill in Samara region, a rich and densely populated region. Three other mills are almost completely destroyed and are located in the villages of Nikolaevka (Republic of Mordovia), Starye Algashi (Ulyanovsk region) and Smirnovo (Nizhny Novgorod region). The latter is in slightly better condition. The mills are really in a poor condition, so the slogan «Let’s Save the Mills in Skirts» has strong grounds.
Volga region Smocks
To the north of the southeastern smocks there are Volga region smocks. Volga region smocks make the most numerous type of mills in Russia at the moment. With some limitations 20 historical mills can be considered Volga region smocks. They are all the mills of Chuvashia, Udmurtia, Mari El, and Kirov region. Two Volga smocks are active: Chem-Kuyuk (Ludorvay — Udmurtia) and Dubenki (Tarkhany — Penza region). Two more stand on one historical site (the only pair of smocks like this) — Shorkino (1, 2) (Chuvashia)
We can say that Volga region mill is the most standard smock mill. They are always log constructions standing on the barn. One side of the barn is bigger to the front, and it is used for the sails maintenance. They always have two pairs if millstones, and the hoppers hang on the cranes and have a very characteristic bend. The cranes themselves, like the other columns on the first floor of the mill are decorated with some simple carvings. There are two cranes in the mill. There are no other mechanisms or unusual things. Most of the mills are sheathed or upholstered. Outside the Volga region, such mills have been found in the Urals — Mochischensk (Lower Sinyachikha — Sverdlovsk Region), Suzdal Museum (from the village of Moshok) (1, 2) and Staroe Ivantsevo (Nizhny Novgorod Region). (32)
To the North of Volga region Smocks the Russian North begins, i.e. Tver, Kostroma, Novgorod and further to the sea. This is where the most technically unique smocks have been preserved. Spass (Kostromskaya Sloboda — Kostroma) and Kochemlevo (New Jerusalem — Moscow region, brought from Tver region) with a horizontal shaft and many mechanisms. Zaval and Ladoshchino (Vitoslavlitsy — Novgorod region) upholstered with shingles and equipped with automatic sack hoists. Rovdina Gora (Arkhangelsk region) and Bor (Malye Korely — Arkhangelsk region) with an internal winder. There is a round, shingled Tolvuya mill (Kizhi — Karelia). Kozhposelok (Malye Korely — Arkhangelsk) has an additional crushing system and a sack hoist.
All these mills have been significantly influenced by the European trade, though it is almost impossible to put them into one group. Some of them are log houses, some are frames; the internal mechanisms are different, and all of them are unique. Therefore, we simply say that there are too few smock mills to the north of Volga region smocks to make any generalizations. By the way, of all the eight northern smocks listed here, only two mills is on historical sites — they are Rovdina Gora and Zaval. Rovdina Gora has also kept its unique steering wheel mechanism, and it is on the verge of collapsing! It really needs your help! (33)