Wooden Water Wheel

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Wooden Water Wheel Photograph

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Washington, MI - United States

A water wheel is a machine for converting the energy of free-flowing or falling water into useful forms of power. A water wheel consists of a large wooden or metal wheel, with a number of blades or buckets arranged on the outside rim forming the driving surface. Most commonly, the wheel is mounted vertically on a horizontal axle, but the tub or Norse wheel is mounted horizontally on a vertical shaft. Vertical wheels can transmit power either through the axle or via a ring gear and typically drive belts or gears; horizontal wheels usually directly drive their load. Water wheels were still in commercial use well into the 20th century, but they are no longer in common use. Prior uses of water wheels include milling flour in gristmills and grinding wood into pulp for papermaking, but other uses include hammering wrought iron, machining, ore crushing and pounding fiber for use in the manufacture of cloth.

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