Windmill Weights: Pictured - Identified
by Rick Nidey and Don Lawrence.

Windmill Weights: Pictured - Identified
Co-Authors: Rick Nidey and Don Lawrence

We'll start by letting you know that this book has gone out of print since this review was written. It's a good book, and well worth trying to track down if you have an interest in windmill weights. It was self-published by the authors in 1996 and has no ISBN number. We don't have it for sale, and can't help find it beyond suggesting you might try one of these search sites:

Our Review

This book on windmill weights is one of those on a specialized topic that was needed to round out basic information on weights. Taken together with the Sites and Simpson books (if you can find Sites) it fills a major gap. The authors state that there are 384 different weights shown and 278 weights identified; and that it was 3 years in the making. It is illustrated with black and white photos.

The book is self-published, and as such has some typically uneven production characteristics in the photos, and a few typos, but these are very minor; and when compared to all the information and pictures are of little consequence.

There is a great deal of useful information about weights, collecting, and history; in addition to some detailed end notes which explain more. The authors have obviously taken great pains to ensure this be as accurate and inclusive as possible. If someone is looking for good working information to assess weights, then this book does the trick.

Here are some selections from the book to give you a little better idea of what you will find. The following is used by permission of Don Lawrence.

Types of Weights The biggest and most spectacular weight is the Counter Balance Weight or Tail Weight. This weight was used to counter balance the weight of the wheel upon the tower bearing. This weight often became the trade symbol that a company used to mark its product so it could be identified at considerable distance. This weight is sought by all collectors.

The second type is the Governor Weight. This weight was used to help control the action of the wheel as the speed of the wind increased. Some governor weights are considered very desirable but others are more common in appearance.

The third type of weight is the Spoke Weight. This weight is placed on the wheel spoke that is starting down just as the wheel is starting to lift the sucker rod. This is the undiscovered weight for most collectors. Not many collectors have a good variety of them. See end note No. I.

The fourth type is called the Regulator Weight. A Regulator was an elaborate pump or a device bolted to the tower. Either the regulator pump or the regulator bolted to the tower usually had a weight. This we call the Regulator Weight. See the end notes, 2, 3, 4, for what several makers said about their device. Also see Windmillers Gazette XIV no. 3 summer 1995.

The Evolution Of Collecting As old mills wore out or were destroyed by storms, farmers and ranchers would often save a weight because of its appealing nature or its useful characteristics. Hense; (sic) many ended up as yard decorations, door stops, or even anvils. Early collectors of smaller collections were usually older men of farm background who found them in their neighborhood or at farm sales.

In recent times collectors are of maybe three types: One who collects what he likes, One who collects all weights, or the folk art collector. The folk art collector likes mainly the figural weights; animals, birds, stars, moons, etc. Any writing is a factor and they place a lot of emphasis on old weathered paint. This old paint is almost never from the windmill factory but came from the weight being decorated for an ornament or in a more recent repainting of the windmill. In the hundreds of weights your authors have seen, we found only one with an original paint job. It was from an old parts bin and had never been used on a mill.

If Your Concern Is The Antique Weight, Read This.

Assume that most of the popular and more expensive weights have been reproduced. Go look at the older and better collections and learn to tell the hard well seasoned or long weathered rust. Also learn what a sand adhered casting looks like- sand combined with aged rust in the finish of a weight. Rust will vary from northeast to southwest depending on moisture, temperature, or even acid rain. Learn who made good castings and what was a bit poorer.

If a weight has new paint be afraid unless you are allowed to remove the paint. A hot vat in an engine rebuilding shop will melt new paint over night and it will wash off with a water hose the next morning. Most holes that are not tapped with threads are cast in and have a slight taper. Be afraid of straight drilled holes. Know what weights had Holes and what the use or reason was for the hole. The best protection you have is to know the pedigree of the weight. A weight in one location for many years is always a good indication.

Watch for cracks and for welding. The most desirable weight has no repair, but an old weight skillfully repaired is better than none at all. At least a repaired weight is old and can look acceptable if the craftsmanship is good. Many good weights from the north have small freeze cracks that are hard to avoid. This is usually a chicken box or a ball of some type. Remember the full mill is worth much more than only a weight.

End Note13. Twenty-four years ago, your author lived at Holdrege, Nebraska, and knew the late John Strasman of Wilcox, Nebraska. John was a machine shop operator and inventor of farm equipment and a life long resident of the Hildreth area, (Wilcox is about 6 miles from Hildreth). John claimed Hildreth Iron Works, Hildreth, Nebraska, made the Hildreth B and the Hildreth and Hastings Success. The pattern maker was Burt Winters and the B Weight was for the first letter in his first name. From this point on, the story is confused as to what was first, second, and third.

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