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Windmill working again

Jim Scripps

In the last few days, Red, with the help of a friend from Oregon, have been scaling the 60-foot water tower in front of Red’s Old 395 Grill in South Carson City, reinstalling the windmill piece by piece.

A 10-foot wind vane, the final piece, will likely be attached today. A 10-foot diameter mill was installed earlier this week.

The windmill was placed on the tower in May of last year, but quickly succumbed to the weathering effects of the Sierra Nevada sun and wind. Badly battered, it had to be brought down a few months later. It was stored over the winter, and re-restored this spring.

“The paint failed, but now we figure it’s bullet-proof,” Tom said. “It’s screwed, glued and tattooed – the thing looks beautiful.”

Once a popular means of pumping water throughout the West, the Halladay Standard, which dates from the mid-1850s, is one of only 10 that are known to be in operation, said Bob “the Windmill Man” Popeck, who sent along plans and drawings of the Halladay design from “City of Windmills” Batavia, Ill.

Red split time early last year between construction of the restaurant, and restoring its signature artifact to close-to-original condition. The effort required little in the way of rebuilding, he said. Ninety percent of the parts were preserved by the dry desert soil in Yerington, where the mill and weather vain were found buried.

“This one started at the Fox Mercantile Store and then it went to a ranch,” Red said. “All of the wood was gone, but most of the metal was still good. Some of the bolts still had grease on them.”

Greg Sawin, owner of Industrial Fabrication of Gardnerville, made the replacement parts to specifications in the windmill plans.

Although the installation of the windmill at Red’s Old 395 Grill calls for it to be fully operational, controlled by levers at the bottom of the tower, Red plans to use it sparingly. “Maybe special occasions like the Fourth of July,” he said. “Until then we are going to leave it ‘out of sail.'”

‘Out of sail’ refers to the mill’s position when the blades aren’t turning, but the mill is allowed to turn in the wind like a weather vane. When its art work, the windmill’s six blades are self-adjusting, allowing for an even transmission of power.

As for its future, Red said it is likely that every few years the Halladay will have to be brought down and given a fresh coat of paint.

Popeck has said the windmill was made in Batavia. He has been involved with or connected to all 10 restoration efforts and says Metcalf’s appears to be the premiere restoration.