156 2nd June 2012 Cramer Mill at Stanford

I was contacted recently by Anton Boshoff of Stanford for help to get a Cramer Mill running.


He said it was possibly brought into the country for use at Camphill Hermanus, a place for ‘supported living and working with people with complex needs. [Also an] independent, residential and day school for children and young adults with special needs.’ 

As the badge shows, the firm was founded in 1835 in Leer in the north-western corner of Germany near the Dutch coast, and is still in operation, although now specialising in garden machinery http://www.cramer.eu/unternehmen/ueber-uns.html The Mill is a so-called Portable, meaning it can be assembled from a kit of parts by a layman, not needing the skills of a millwright, and driven from any power source. In this case there is an electric motor attached, and it will be run from a massive bank of solar panels which otherwise run woodworking equipment and other household needs.


It is very easy to dismantle compared with, say, a Stamford Mill with the same size stones, yet uses very little floor space, which was one of Blackstone’s selling features for theirs where the stones are on a horizontal axis. The other interesting feature is that the fixed bed-stone is above the rotating runner. This is only the second time I have come across this arrangement; the other being the pair of Mills at Elim. Suddenly one is thinking upside-down! 

With the three wing-nuts unscrewed as shown above, the hopper, horse, upper stone and the top of the tun can be lifted off as a unit. It’s not light, but for the two of us, to then turn it over and put it down carefully was no problem!


The runner is then exposed in the the tun, with a square socket for driving the agitator. I hesitate to call it a damsel!


The runner in turn can be lifted out, exposing the mace and cock head of the stone spindle, all in one, and a very easy-to-clean base of the tun.


It looks as though the cruciform support for the runner works as a fan to help expel the meal. The date inscribed under the runner was interesting, 2nd November, 1951; I was a baby in Cologne, 200km to the south at the time!


We were particularly interested in the dressing pattern and the amount of ‘swallow’ at the eye. We used a steel tube to check the profile and found the bedstone convex and the runner correspondingly concave. Perhaps this has the effect of holding the meal back a bit? The furrows seemed deep enough; in fact it looked as though it had perhaps never been used.


The stones are composite, the lands having a black abrasive stone mixed in, while where the furrows are, the granules are evenly yellow in colour. The furrows are tangential giving a good crossing angle and the surface of the lands is so rough that I doubt they will ever need further cracking or stitching.

The electric motor had been sent away to have new bearings fitted; it was very noisy when tested, but the stone spindle bearings felt very smooth. There are two guides for the axis of the motor’s mounting bracket; the lower has slots on its fixing screws, to align the flat pulleys so the belt won’t run off.

I mentioned that the Mill didn’t have a damsel; the feed is very simple, like a fertiliser spreader: a rotating agitator and a simple outlet which is opened by swinging a handle. The oval outlet in the picture below is shown half open. Not very sophisticated!


The quadrant on the outside for the handle is marked Groß and Fein, showing the relationship between feed and fineness. Below the outlet are magnets to catch any iron particles.


The basic setting of the height of the fixed upper stone is clever, there are three long curved slots in the top of the tun; the underside of each is a ramp. The studs set into the stone are pulled up against this ramp. Anton has set these at the mid-point for lack of a better idea! In the picture below, if the stud was at the right hand end of the slot, the stone would be at its highest.


There is about a 20mm difference between high and low; there is a reference to 20mm and turning to the left in the instructions (in German) which are made more difficult to read by their being scratched and pitted with rust.


The tentering set-up has a quick-release as well as a spring (like the Stamford), which in the case of the latter, is said in the instructions to allow a foreign object to pass through without damaging the stone.


The wing nut can be locked against the tentering wheel in the ideal position and the lever used to bring the runner up into working position (Betrieb). A large movement of the wheel is diminished by about two thirds at the stone spindle by the length of the lever and the position of the hinge point, as seen below.


The refitting of the the hopper, lid and bedstone was a bit difficult, to make the tun sides fit in the recess in the lid, but with practice it will be easier. The tie-bolts can be fed in from below and wing nuts are used to hold the lid down.


The meal spout is fitted with a close-fitting flap for changing bags without stopping, operated by the weighted lever in the picture above. The method of holding the meal bag on the spout is novel; there are round weights on bars fixed to the top of the spout. The bars are angled to converge on the spout as they go downwards. Simple and clever!


Here follow the first two columns of the instructions:



Not easy to read! On each side of the maker’s name there are other interesting decals.


A First Prize, and….?




By Andy Selfe (2nd June 2012)