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11 January 2019

Annual maintenance in the quiet month of January

Here at Kinderdijk UNESCO World Heritage, winter is put to good use as the quiet month of January sets the scene for a round of annual maintenance. While the Nederwaard Museum Mill gets a fresh paintjob, other locations are prepared for the new season up ahead, while the tour boats get to spend some time ashore.

Meanwhile, work hasn’t stopped at the sites for the new entrance zone and the Visitors Centre. As you can see, the World Heritage grounds are abuzz with activity in what is turning out to be a grey and cloudy first month of 2019.

“This is called oxen blood red”, miller Björn den Ouden reveals as he stands in the Nederwaard Museum Mill – paint roller in hand. “This is much closer to the original colour if you ask me.” Over the course of this month, Den Ouden will be splashing fresh paint onto much of the woodwork on the mill’s lower floor, as well as part of the first floor. “We simply can’t manage to cover the entire mill in three weeks. We will have to finish the job in January next year. I love the month of January. It’s a breath of fresh air.”

Björn den Ouden.

Björn den Ouden.

Cams

Dangling some fifteen metres overhead, meanwhile, a pair of millwrights are making the best of ‘just another day at the office’. The upper spurwheel is undergoing a refit of its cams: 69 in total. “The ones that came off are 70 years old at the very least”, suspects millwright Koos van Vliet of De Gelder Millwrights and Contractors from nearby Sliedrecht. Trimming the wooden cams to size and meticulously replacing the worn-down ones is a very precise job, often leaving just a few millimetres of margin for error. Although these cams may be small, they constitute a crucial component of the mill’s mechanism once the sails start turning. The cams attached to the upper spurwheel ‘bite into’ the pinion attached to the top of the main shaft. That shaft, which runs all the way down from the top of the mill, sets the entire downstairs mechanism in motion.

Tour boats

Throughout January, both our Cruiser and Hopper tour boats are on dry land. Earlier this week, the Hopper was hoisted out of the water to be carried over land to a shipyard in Hardinxveld-Giessendam. There, the vessel is scheduled for a new coat of paint and further minor maintenance.

The Hopper was hoisted out of the water.

The Hopper was hoisted out of the water.

This month, of our two museum mills, only the Blokweer Museum Windmill is open to visitors. Due to this restricted accessibility, you get to visit us at discount rates. Great news for anyone who appreciates the majestic calm of a peaceful Dutch landscape, because if you do, then January is the perfect time to plan your visit!

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The author

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