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Virtual Tours

[Click on picture to view the high resolution source] The second windmill in Kinderdijk is every day opened for visitors from the first of april till the first of october between 9.30 and 17.30.  In the windmill you can see how people used to live in the old days. During weekdays and on saturdays the mill is operational.
This page will give you a guided tour through the windmill!
Living in a windmill

Working and living in a windmill was and is not easy. For instance the windmills can only be reached by foot or bicycle. But even in the past life was hard and poor. The millers used to have large families, 10 to 12 children was no exception.
There a several reasons for these large families: The influence of the church, no birth control, children often died in their first years and the more sons, the more labour could be done in the mill and the land surrounding the windmill.
Because of the bad circumstances the millers became self supporting, and they would grow their own vegetabels and have their own livestock.
Besides that they also did a lot of fishing. When the water is moved, the fish gets moved to. Fishing was easy by putting a net behind the scoopwheel.
One of the first things you'll notice when entering one of the Kinderdijk windmills, is the low door opening. In the early days the diets of the inhabitants of the windmills were not as well balanced as we are used to now. This caused the people to stay small, which resulted in low door openings.
[Click on picture to view the high resolution source]
On the ground floor of the windmill you'll find the underwheel, which is part of the mechanism, on the left and on the right is the livingroom/bedroom.
[Click on picture to view the high resolution source] The livingroom is a multifunctional room it's also a kitchen and the bedroom for the two parents and the youngest childeren. Because the youngest children need a lot of nursing they sleep close to the parents. Only the first two floors are heated!
The bedrooms for the childeren are located on the second floor (ground floor = zero). The beds are the so called closet beds, and are about 1.60m long. The shortness of the beds has nothing to do with the short people but everything with the people being affraid of dying when laying down to sleep. (dead people mostly lay down!)
[Click on picture to view the high resolution source]
The doors in front of the closet beds will keep you warm in winter time, when its freezing.
[Click on picture to view the high resolution source] This floor is called smoke attic. After the miller went out fishing, he would smoke his fish here. That's the reason why the windmill has black walls on the third floor.
The chimney also ends here, in the middle of the mill. A normal house has a chimney on the roof, but the sparks from the open fire might set the thatched roof on fire.
Therefore the chimney is located far from the roof and has two horizontal endings outside because of the changing winddirections
The fourth floor is called grease attic. This is the place where most of the mechanism of the windmills resides. The parts you'll find here are the brake, the upperwheel, the rollers where the top floor turns on and the king shaft [Click on picture to view the high resolution source]
[Click on picture to view the high resolution source] The top floor of the windmill is not fixed and can be rotated a full 360o turn. The thatched roof easily catches fire from sparks which are caused by braking and stopping the windmill. To prevent this from happening thick wooden plates are attached against the roof above the braking shoe.
The top floor will give you a great view over the unique landscape of Kinderdijk. Unfortunately the topfloor has now been closed for visitors because of vandalism. On the picture above you can see what you're missing!

Working in a windmill

All the Kinderdijk windmills are watermills, which means they are only used for draining. Now lets have a look what has to be doen before the draining can start...
[Click on picture to view the high resolution source] First there are the blades, every windmill has got four blades. The function of the blades is to convert the energy of the wind into power to lift the water. In order to catch the wind a sail is stretched over the blade. The amount of sail depends on the actual wind speed and the estimated wind speed later that day.
Normally the blade is fully covered with sail, but in a strong wind only half the blade will be covered. In case of a storm the windmill can even run without any sails. To prevent the windmill from burning down in a thunderstorm, a thick copper cable connects the iron part of the blade to the ground. The windmills are the highest buildings in a wide flat area and therefore the chances of being hit by thunder are quite high. Another chain is attached to the blade and the ground to block the blades when the brake might malfunction.
[Click on picture to view the high resolution source] Before setting the windmill off, the blades must be turned into the wind. This is done with the tail of the mill. The tail of the mill consists of a triangle shaped set of bars connected to the cap of the windmill. A wheel is attached to the tail and a chain is connected to posts that are surrounding the windmill. By turning this wheel, which looks like the steering wheel of a ship, the chain winds around the axle of the wheel.
The top floor of the windmill will start moving, because the cap is not fixed. It rests on big rollers and is kept on top of the brick walls by the weight of the blades and the tail of the windmill. The windmill can make a full 360o turn both clockwise and counter clockwise. [Click on picture to view the high resolution source]
[Click on picture to view the high resolution source] When the sails are set and the blades are facing the wind the brake can be released. This is done at the tail of the mill by pulling a thick rope. Pulling the rope causes a white, red and blue post at the top floor to move down on the outside and up on the inside. The post pushes the braking blocks up and away from the tooth wheel, called upperwheel, which is connected to the blades.
The main construction of a windmill is very simple: The blades are connected to a big vertical tooth wheel called the upper wheel. The upper wheel fits into a horizontal tooth wheel, which is connected to a 10 metres long wooden bar called kingpost.
Now the construction downstairs is almost similar to the construction upstairs. The kingpost is connected to a horizontal tooth wheel and this is connected to a vertical tooth wheel called underwheel and powers the scoop wheel.. [Click on picture to view the high resolution source]
[Click on picture to view the high resolution source] When the blades starts to turn, the scoop wheel starts to turn and the water is replaced. The scoop wheel throws the water against a big metal plate called watch door. The watch door separates the high and the low level and is normally closed by the pressure differences between the high and low level. When the scoop wheel is turning fast enough the pressure on the low side becomes higher than on the high level side which cause the watch door to open and the water flows up.
The total amount of water moved depends on:
* The difference in height between the levels
* the amount of wind
* the amount of sails used
2 rotations of the blades will cause one rotation of the scoopwheel. This is in an nutshell what has to be done before one of the windmills can operate!

[Click on picture to view the high resolution source]


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