Asee peer logo

Restoration Of An Antique Windmill By Reverse Engineering In A Cad System

Download Paper |


1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.376.1 - 1.376.7

Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Larry D. Goss

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

I Session 1438 --- .

Restoration of an Antique Windmill by Reverse Engineering in a CAD System

Larry D. Goss

Professor of Engineering Technology University of Southern Indiana Evansville, Indiana

ABSTRACT: A restoration project for an antique farm windmill is described. Narrative is devoted to the details of reconstructing nineteenth century technology with twentieth century hardware and processes. Special emphasis is placed on reverse engineering to determine the design of missing features and parts through use of a computer-aided design application program.

Keywords: restoration, reverse engineering, computer-aided design, history of technology.


In August, 1993, I purchased the remains of a Flint & Walling windmill with the intention of restoring and erecting it on a suburban lot. The mill was originally equipped with a 10-foot wooden wheel and wooden rudder which had almost completely disappeared through weathering and neglect. Many of the metal parts of the mill were worn, broken, or missing. The restoration posed several problems relative to differences in technology between the beginning and the end of the 20th century.

Scope of the Problem

There was damage on the mill from a variety of sources. There was obvious wear to the castings from normal use over its 68 year history. There was loss due to neglect, and there was damage to the structure and mechanism that had occurred during its disassembly and transportation. The mill had obviously run for a considerable time with no lubrication. As a result, all the sleeve bearings, which were nothing more than drilled holes, had wallowed out, the babbitt bearing liners on the cross slide were exceptionally worn, and the main support stem had worn completely through. The turntable bearing collar was completely missing. It very likely could have been broken on a cold winter morning when the mill had been put in gear while the pump was frozen.

Almost all the wood of the mill was gone. Originally, the rudder, wheel, and work platform had been of wood. Of the nearly 100 pieces of wood that had been a part of the windmill, only three were left; a spreader from the rudder, one section of an inner wheel hoop, and one board from the work platform. These parts were crucial in reverse engineering to restore the wheel. Key measurements from them simplified the exact scale reconstruction of the mill. If they had not been available, alternative means would have to have been used to derive the sizes of the original parts.

The windmill had apparently been dropped from some distance when it was disassembled. As a result, several pieces of the galvanized iron tower and wheel spokes were bent beyond use and had to be forged back into condition, Several important parts of the mill were missing. Among these were the throwout winch throwout lever, turntable bearing assembly, throwout pulley, pump coupler, and stub legs for anchoring the . : . , , ,

{n~j: ] 1996 ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings ‘.,+

Goss, L. D. (1996, June), Restoration Of An Antique Windmill By Reverse Engineering In A Cad System Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 1996 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015