The Prairie Mills
Golden, Illinois

Brake Wheel

The photo above shows the brake wheel and brake of the Prairie Mill.  The brake wheel is in the cap at the top of the mill.  The sails are attached to the wind shaft on the other side of the brake wheel.

The brake wheel has two functions.  First, the brake wheel transfers wind energy to the wallower and main spindle, which provides the force to turn the millstones.  Second, the brake wheel was used to stop the mill.  The "Flemish Brake" is a ring of steel placed around the brake wheel and surrounded by a series of wood "blocks."  It operates similar to a drum brake on an automobile.  To stop the mill, a brake beam (not seen) pulls on the blocks which tightens the steel ring around the spinning brake wheel.

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