Product Idea |

The Old Windmill

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Why I built it.

   The inspiration for this model came from the re-release of the Lego 10268 Vestas wind turbine set in 2018.
   Windmills have been in use for over 1000 years. They were one of the major sources of energy throughout the world, used primarily for pumping water and grinding flour. However with the harnessing of steam power in the 1700's and the industrial revolution that followed they mostly became redundant and their use declined, (although some still remain in use even today). Wind power was replaced by energy derived from coal and other fossil fuels.

    In the latter part of the 20th century we came to realise that fossil fuels have a dark side. CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels are one of the major causes of man made global warming which presents a major threat to the health of the planet. And so we have come full circle, re-engineering the technology of the past to suit the needs of our modern world thus reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and the damage they cause to the environment.

    As the Vestas Wind Turbine represents the modern incarnation of harnessing wind power I thought it would be nice to have a model of the pre-industrial revolution windmill.

About the model.

    There are many types of windmill but the type I have chosen to model is an octagonal tower mill of generic design, (this is not a model of an actual real windmill). The model is approximately 24cm x 24cm x 40cm in size excluding the sails and contains 2547 pieces. I found the octagonal shape of the base structure, gallery and tower a challenge to model in Lego and I have used 3 different techniques to achieve this.

    For a windmill to provide energy to do work it requires a set of sails to catch the wind and a means of turning the sails into the prevailing wind. To simulate the action of the wind a removable handcrank is provided on the right hand side of the model. A gearbox in the cap enables the handcrank to provide 2 different functions depending on the direction of rotation of the handcrank.

    Turning the handcrank anti-clockwise will rotate the sails. The sails of this windmill are right handed and therefore rotate in an anti-clockwise direction. In the cap is a small door that when opened allows a view of the mill stones that grind the flour. The top mill stone rotates when the sails are rotated.

    To turn the sails into the wind this type of windmill uses an automatic system driven by a fantail. Turning the handcrank clockwise will spin the fantail and rotate the cap clockwise when viewed from above.

    The main doors in the base open to reveal a view of the gearing for the crank. Exposed gears are a common feature inside a typical windmill.    

    There is sufficient space inside the base of the tower for the handcrank to be replaced by a motor. As the model contains over 2500 pieces I have not included a motor in the proposed design for fear of making the set less affordable but leave this for Lego modellers to add should they so wish.

Why I believe it would make a great LEGO set.

    I think this windmill model would make an interesting addition to the Lego range. A variety of building techniques encompassing both Lego bricks and Technic elements make for a challenging yet fun build. The model compliments the more modern Vestas Wind Turbine set and would make an interesting display model, more so if the set was motorised.