Attach Your Manual Grain Mill to an Elliptical Trainer

If your manual grain mill turns out to be too much work for your arms alone, consider attaching it to an exercise bike for added power.
By Monty Kaasch
August/September 2014
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MOTHER EARTH NEWS reader Monty Kaasch converted an elliptical trainer into the power source for a manual grain mill.
Photo by Monty Kaasch

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Our love of good, whole-grain breads inspired my wife and me to buy a hand-powered, stone grain mill to grind fresh, nutritious flour. Reality set in shortly after we received the manual grain mill in the mail and proceeded to grind 6 cups of wheat berries for our maiden bread loaves. We pretty much wore out the four arms we have between us by taking turns at the crank for nearly an hour. We had to grind and regrind the grain four times to get it fine enough to bake with.

Fortunately, we had ordered the optional pulley to modify the manual grain mill and attach it to an electric motor, which I did in short order. That method proved to be a lot quicker and less physical, but in the conversion we lost the aesthetics and satisfaction of using a manually powered tool.

One day, while shopping in a thrift store, I found an elliptical trainer that works arms and legs at the same time, and I was able to buy it for a pittance. After I disassembled the machine, I realized that all I needed to adapt it to power our grain mill was a pulley and a V-belt from the local hardware store, and a small piece of scrap plywood from my woodpile. We now grind our grain manually in much less time than before, and we get in a reasonable workout. The best part is that we can comfortably grind our own flour without using an external power source.

Monty Kaasch
Truth or Consequences, New Mexico

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