Projects: Renewing a tradition: building a watermill with epoxy
In the early 20th century, there were more than 60 watermills on the river Drava in Croatia. Destroyed in World War II, none were rebuilt – that is, until now. We find out what role epoxy has to play in bringing this impressive craft back to life.
“It should be an awesome place to take photographs!”
If you’re lucky enough to visit the beautiful city square in Osijek, Croatia, anytime soon make sure you take a walk down to the waterfront. Soon to be moored up to the riverbank is a brand new floating watermill, designed in the traditional Croatian style. “It should be an awesome place to take photographs!” smiles Ivan Zec of Metal-Zec, who are building the mill. “It’s a fully functioning mill, 16.5 metres long with a giant six-metre mill wheel. It should become a tourist hub, with workshops and activities for children and adults alike.”
Construction of the watermill is part of the ‘Miller Path’ project, a collaborative effort between Hungary and Croatia. The project aims to strengthen cultural tourism, reviving traditional trades from the region as brand new visitor attractions to boost socio-economic development. Milling grain is one such trade, with Croatia having a strong heritage of water milling dating back hundreds of years.
Building to last
Epoxy has proven to be critical on this build. Although the original plans didn’t specify its use (as per traditional construction methods), the mill will of course be submerged in a significant amount of water. “We consulted with Yacht Center Adriatic and others and decided that laminating and bonding with epoxy was a sensible plan for protecting the boat,” says Ivan.
“The mill is essentially built as a catamaran.”
The mill is essentially built as a catamaran, with one large and one small hull, and is entirely constructed from larch. The hulls are glued to the ribs of the craft using WEST SYSTEM 105 Epoxy Resin® and 206 Slow Hardener® and 406 colloidal silica, whilst the same mix is used for fairing. Both hulls are covered with 280 gr/m2 fibreglass and laminated with PRO-SET® 125/226 epoxy, before being coated twice with a mix of WEST SYSTEM® 105/206 epoxy. “Yacht Center Adriatic provided excellent technical support and it was clear to us that WSI epoxy products are of a very high quality,” says Ivan.
Inside the mill there will be a millstone and visitors can try grinding grain for themselves. The watermill will also stand out for its large glass walls. “You’ll be able to see through the glass to the mill wheel, which will turn all year round,” says Ivan.
The symbol of Osijek
Construction of the mill began in late March 2015. In August, Metal-Zec lowered the main frame of the multi-hull onto the water at Osijek port – a nail-biting process involving an enormous crane. Now, preparations are being made to get the mill ready for its final home. “We hope that the mill will be a great tourist attraction,” says Ivan. “It should soon become a recognisable symbol of Osijek.”
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