The Waterwheel is an ancient device that uses flowing or falling water to create power by means of a set of paddles mounted around a wheel.
Description. The most commonly used Waterwheel today is the overflow vertical wheel. This Waterwheel was invented by a man with the name of Ceutarl and has proven to be the most economical and energy efficient. It consists of a large paddled vertical wheel with a horizontal shaft, called a drive shaft, attached to it. This drive shaft goes through a circular hole in a mill wall and has a smaller wheel attached to it with the end of the shaft hooked into a secured greased socket. This smaller vertical wheel is flat with finger length horizontal pegs spaced evenly around its circumference. Almost up against this toothed wheel is another horizontal paddled wheel. This horzontal wheel, known as an Anthar Gear, is on the lower end of a spindle. The bottom of this spindle is locked in a greased socket attached by an X-shaped brace to keep this spindle in the same place. The spindle goes through a circular hole in the floor of the mill and has one of two millstones attached to its top. The top millstone does not move. This whole set up does not have to been in the river. It can be beside it or a short distance away. This is because the water is brought to the large paddled wheel by means of an aqueduct or pipe. This water brought to the wheel drops onto the wheel's paddles, thus harnessing both the forces of water and the downward pull. The dwarves also found that the rotation of this type of waterwheel could be adjusted to fit any speed without losing its efficiency. The force of the water moves the paddles, and the consequent rotation of the wheel is transmitted to the gears and the gristmill is operational.
History. The first reference to the use of a Waterwheel dates back to about 5000 b.S. It is believed this is the first mechanical energy that replaced humans or animals. Working by hand, or slave labor on trundles or harnessed animals did much of the same work performed today by waterwheels. The first Waterwheels can be described as a grindstone mounted atop a vertical shaft whose lower end was a horizontal paddled wheel set into a swift stream. This was very inefficient in transferring the power of the current to the milling mechanism. They tried to improve upon this by digging canals and forcing water down these to provide more power. It proved too costly and so these early mills were few and far between.
Then Ceutarl came up with the idea of making the Waterwheels vertical and using the stream flowing under the paddled wheels as a means of power. He put the wheel directly into the river or stream and used the current flowing under the wheel to rotate it. This brought more Waterwheels into use but there were disadvantages to this underflow Waterwheel. These Waterwheels were not much more efficient than the horizontal ones. Also, they required a rather substantial and constant flow of water, and became even less efficient or even useless at times of low stream flow. Near the end of his life Ceutarl came up with the Waterwheel described above and it has become the most commonly used, but the other vertical wheel is often still used. The Waterwheel was initially use just to grind grains but over the centuries it has been adapted to many other uses. Some of the other common uses are crop irrigation, driving sawmills, supplying water to villages, cloth mills and in forge bellows.
Information provided by Thuja