The shaft of Nederwaard mill 1 has been damaged yet again
Over the next few months, Nederwaard’s widmill number 1 will be out of order once more. Inside the mill, occupied by miller Bjorn den Ouden, damage to one of its shafts was detected yet again.
The damage was discovered about two weeks ago by Den Ouden himself. “It’s the exact same weld as the one that went bad last time,” the miller explains. “And in the very same spot, too. It’s about a metre down from the axle head.” After a fault was detected in the fifty-year-old shaft, which was manufactured here in Kinderdijk, a specialist firm was hired to fix it up.
Ever since these repairs were completed, Den Ouden has been inspecting his mill’s shafts on a monthly basis. Theoretically speaking, they have an estimated lifespan of anywhere between 40 and 50 years. “To be honest, I expected it to hold, but unfortunately, that turned out not to be the case. Then again, these sails do get exposed to a fair amount of pressure.”
In view of safety concerns, windmill number 1 of the Nederwaard area has ground to a temporary standstill once more, ceasing operations until the shaft has been replaced. Ad Wisse, who is responsible for all maintenance at Kinderdijk World Heritage, says that the process is sure to take several months. “We need to get a new shaft in; trying to repair it again would be pointless. A delivery time of about three months would be very acceptable, to be honest.” Overall costs of replacement are estimated at about 45,000 euros. Every single shaft is a unique and hand-crafted piece of engineering. This one measures approximately 28 metres across.
“Let me tell you,” Den Ouden says, “I’ll be jumping for joy if we manage to get the sails turning by September or October – in fact, I’d jump way above the height of this mill!” If you don’t count the pair of Kinderdijk museum windmills, Nederwaard 1 is the mill that makes the most annual rounds in the whole windmill area. “I managed about 620,000 of them last year. And yes, in case you’re wondering – I’m a pretty keen miller if I may say so myself.”