The Restoration of an Enterprise No. 60 Gristmill circa 1916

After a great trip to Homestead Heritage in Waco, TX last year, I told my wife, “Man, I sure would like a gristmill!” At Homestead Heritage they had a nice water powered grinding stone where they would grind all sorts of grains.  Being a bread baker, I really wanted to try my hand at some freshly ground grains for a change.  No less than 48 hours later, my wonderful wife came home with this gorgeous piece of history:


Beautiful, isn’t it?

Sure, it’s a little bit rusty.

OK, it’s a lot rusty.  So rusty in fact that none of the pieces would budge.  This called for some serious cleaning up.  I ended up getting a 100+ quart Sterlite container and setting up a hydrolysis bath for this baby.  What this consisted of was:

  1. Large Sterlite Container
  2. Lots of water
  3. Baking Soda
  4. Scrap Stainless Steel
  5. Car Battery Trickle Charger

I dissolved a good amount of baking soda in the water, then I placed the entire gristmill (except for the wooden handle) inside the bath.  Next I clamped the stainless steel piece to the side of the container where it wouldn’t touch the gristmill.  The next part was so cool…I hooked up the battery charger negative terminal to the gristmill and the positive side to the stainless scrap…  Plugged the sucker in and… BLAM!  Everything starts to bubble.

After about 48 hours in this bath all the rust and corrosion had fallen off the gristmill and I was able to take it completely apart to clean the pieces.  A little time with a wire brush and cloth and it was all nice and clean.  Next, I oiled it all up with vegetable oil, and seasoned it in the oven like a cast iron skillet.  Here are the results:

 

This thing is truly gorgeous.  But does it work?  You betcha.

Add some wheat berries, crank the handle….

My very own freshly ground flour.  A dream come true!  Then it was time to make a couple monster loaves of bread.

Fantastic!

 

9 thoughts on “The Restoration of an Enterprise No. 60 Gristmill circa 1916

  1. Wow Ben. Electolosis..that’s genius! Where did you tumble to that idea?
    I’m ready to go buy rusty junk from all over right now!

  2. I just bought one of these today Ben. I guess one could also make corn meal? was the stainless steel strap touching any metal,,or did it only need to be in the water due to current flows through water. I bought it because I think it will look good in my man cave,,but after seeing your project,,I would love to make me some fresh Hot Water Cornbread,LOL!

    • Hey Danny,
      The stainless just needs to be in the water. The baking soda and water provide everything the car charger needs to conduct the current between the two metals in the bath. Good luck!

        • It doesn’t really matter, 2 works fine, as does 10. It won’t end up pulling more than about 10 amps usually, so save money and electricity by using the smaller amperage.

  3. I googled Enterprise 60 grist mill and came up with you. :) My brother bought my Mom one just like this, restored it for her, and she used it sometimes to grind coffee. What all can you grind in this? Do you know if there were different size internal grinders for it, kind of like a meat grinder having different plates? Thanks!

  4. I don’t want to be a wet towel but using stainless steel for the sacrificial anode can generate hydrogen gas and cause other problems.

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