Pedal-Powered Grain Mill

Hi Kris,

First of all, congratulations on your wonderful Low-Tech Magazine. I’m telling everyone around me about it.

I love to tinker but I have “two left hands” (I come from a family of intellectuals), so I’m forced to go for the simplest.

After making a very basic pedal-powered washing machine that gives complete satisfaction, I set about making a pedal-powered flour mill a few months ago, as I happen to have a large stock of wheat. I picked up an old exercise bike at the landfill, and coupled it – using an old dryer belt – to an old cast-iron grain mill (the Diamant Grain Mill D525 makes very fine bread flour in a single pass using two grinding stones made of granite) with a few bolts, a wooden board and two wooden beams. The belt is tensioned using very small wooden edges. Everything is easily dismantled in a matter of minutes.

The mill works just fine – it is way easier to pedal than to turn the wheel by hand. The trick is to add the wheat very gradually. You can do this while still on the bike, as shown in the photo. At slow pace, it takes me 15 minutes to obtain 500 grams of very fine flour in a single pass (I tested both wheat and buckwheat). I showed it in the little ‘repair cafĂ©’ I set up in my village. Like the pedal-powered washing machine, kids love it.

Fun fact: all the males who saw the mill wanted to add improvements to it, tilt the mill, add a gear reduction, etc. The mill was just too simple for them – nothing really impressive there. I replied: “It works just fine the way it is, why would you make it more complicated?” ;- ) I don’t know what could possibly go wrong with this mill, except for the dryer belt maybe – but you can find as many dryer belts as you want for free at the landfill.

My new pedal-powered project is a water pump inspired by the one by MayaPedal. It’s not finished yet. I can’t wait to use it.

Anyway, thanks for all your inspiring articles in a crumbling world. Keep up the tremendous work!
Jean-Baptiste (Vorey-sur-Arzon, Auvergne, France)