In 2015 Oldland Mill Trust were made the proud owners of a winnower and which we have now fully restored. Traditionally this was used by farmers in conjunction with a thrashing machine, stationary engine, or tractor. The purpose of the machine is to separate the weed seeds and chaff from the harvested corn. From this, the saying, ‘separating the wheat from the chaff’ was formed.

The Winnower
The Cooch Winnower

A patent was recorded by Joshua COOCH for an earlier machine from which this one was born.

To describe it as a ‘Heath Robinson’ type device would not be too far from the truth. That may sound a bit comical but there is a science behind the design. The whole machine works by air pressure through the machine, created by a large fan contained in the fan drum, which must revolve at 200 rpm. As the fan is driven by a drive wheel on the starboard or drive side of the machine, the amount of air entering the drum, is controlled by two wooden panels mounted on either side of the body which can be raised or lowered. The air now pressurised exits the fan drum through a narrow gap to the smaller end of the machine. Here is a ‘triangular box device’ over which the air is controlled. This box can be moved forward or back against a marker gauge from 1 to 10 depending which of the seventeen types of grain you wish to separate. The ‘mixed’ grain is dropped by means of an early auger, through the passage of air via the main hopper over a roller. There are seventeen sizes of screen to choose from. Depending on the pressure, the chaff is blown out of the machine and the wheat is saved.

The whole operation is controlled by a series of metal links, bearings, rods, chain etc which drive the fan, the roller and the sieves. All of these are contained in a large wooden ‘box’ which forms the frame holding everything together. Altogether a practical, technical implement which in its time was a market leader, exhibited at the Great Exhibition and winning awards at trade shows across the country.

Watch the winnower in action (may require additional software) here.