The Mill came out of the desire for a Watergate in the town wall, mostly to provide something that would fit alongside The Wharf and extend the waterfront.
I'd already had a couple of watergate designs on the drawing-board, playing with different mechanisms for creating a grate over a low opening in the wall as well as decorating the wall to try and avoid the grey slab problem so I wasn't overly worried about the wall aspect of the build therefore I could turn my attention to the mill buidling itself.
With the mill building I knew that I wantted a roof that curved over, ie. steep sides at the bottom getting gradually shallower until they reach the peak. For playability purposes I wantted to follow the design paradigm set by 6067 Guarded Inn with an open back and a hinged side/front. I decided to stick with the brick palette used by the Guarded Inn and use the red timber panels, brick budget would also be commensurate at around 260 bricks.
The first technical challenge was how to build a waterwheel out of bricks available in the late 80's.
- 6 hole technic wheel with connectors?
- pairs of 3 way technic thingys with brackets?
- Existing part, eg. Fabuland?
- Clips onto pirate part; modified plate with octagonal handles
With mill building I started at the top, working downwards to build the roof. Primarily it was a case of matching my desired curve to the width of the building which I assumed would be two 4444 panels or 10 bricks wide. With a rough plan for the roof in mind it was time to start working from the bottom up. First to go in were the ground floor panels, stone panels adjacent to the waterwheel, red half-timbered panels on the front. The later half-timbered panel would be part of a hinged wall that allowed access to the interior so the hinges had to be sited, finally an arch to support the upper layers on the open, accessible side.
Fixing the roof to the lower floor turned out to be more complex than expected, not from a construction perspective but from trying to fit doors to the front and rear gables. I started out trying to fit square 4x6 doors, but they just weren't sitting right. My next attempt utilised pairs of 3x6 Curved Doors on both the front and rear gables. These were accomodated by raising the roof a little higher on some low walls although the low walls were eventually removed in favour of having the doors on the outside of the roof rather than under a gable. The mill itself backs onto a fairly standard piece of town wall, 4444 panels with inverted black slopes on the outside supporting a walkway and parapet.
On the wheel side the 4444 panels were spaced two studs apart to allow a technic shaft to pass through into the interior. A techic crown gear and associated pinion allowed the water wheel to drive a turntable that represents the millstones. A couple of slopes at the base of the wall help hold together the plates that for the base of the model.
The watergate went in next, aerials into a 1x6x2 arch with a craftily placed piece of foliage to disguise it slightly and add a bit of colour differentiation. To add a bit of height differentiation a tower, loosely copied from 6062 Battering Ram, was added on the opposite side of the mill stream. Model complete...
I'd always felt that the far side of the stream felt a bit barren. During the initial design phase I'd tried adding both steps and a platform but they didn't sit particulary well with the model. After several months I finally got around to assembling my 80's style town in it's entirety and it was during this process that I realised the number of opportunities for creating interior walls running perpendicular to the main wall were fairly limited. This set me thinking about whether The Mill could become one of the opportunities for creating a perpendicular wall. Duly a section of wall terminating in the usual technic brick and pin connection was added on the far side of the mill stream from the mill building, the parapet overhanging the stream. This later point being important since I could already see in my mind opportunties for sections of wall with a stream running infront of it. A simple bridge and gate being the most obvious but I also had visions of wash-house and maybe even a latrine. Whilst I intend to use these sections internally they could easily be used in the context of a moat against the external wall and so form another great way of extending the town.
Finally the design is settled and I've got a couple more ideas stacked on the corner of the drawing board ready for a rainy afternoon.
The Minifigs added are the miller and his wife, plus two soldiers maning the wall and tower. The usual props, swords, spears and bows for the soldiers, barrels for the miller. I have nothing to represent sacks of grain or flour, the options are limited to either 1x1 bricks or 1x1 round bricks, there's nothing else available from the 80's bricks. Colour choice is similarly limited, white or yellow being the obvious.
The LDD file is available here.
Story - None, it's another piece of Medieval life.
Buildability - Nothing complex, the waterwheel is a little fiddly, everything else is brick on brick.
Playability - Accessing the upper floor of the mill is a little tricky, opening the wall is easier than squeezing fingers the doors. The lower floor is much easier to access with the open back and the opening side wall. Turning the waterwheel turns the millstones so that the milling process can be acted out.
The two sentries provide defence and there's plenty of walls, wheels and roofs for them to leap around if they do engage in battle, plus the added indignity of a river to fall into!
Cost - At 270 bricks it's slightly over the target that I'd set myself but fairly close. Ideally I'd spend another 10-15 bricks on detail in the mill and additional utensils for the minifigs.
Consistency - The open steps are an anachronism but don't look out of place, the octagonal plates forming the wheel were also introduced later than our 80's time-period but again the colouring and usage is such that they don't look out of place. The simple build techniques and panel construction also contribute to the 80's feel. Shown here lined up against my Beggars steps and the classic 6067 Guarded Inn. There's also the first of the buildings that will extend the river and which will be the subject of the next posting.
Looking at it with fresh eyes after a couple of days what the Watermill lacks is that little bit of yellow the Guarded Inn has that just lifts the design, the brown doors don't provide enough colour variation to make it stand out. The Guarded Inn doesn't have much, just the shutters and roof windows but that's all it takes from the accent colour.
It's another nice slice of medieval life and the stream running through the town opens up a whole host of new possibilities that I can explore over the next few weeks and months.