Mills in Alto Aragón — molino harinero

Sarsa de Surta

Sarsa de Surta is a village in the Sobrarbe municipality. From L'Ainsa take the A-2205 towards Guaso and Bárcabo. Past Arcusa (about 20 km) turn right where Sarsa and the Parque Natural de Guara are signposted. Follow the narrow road until you reach the small parking space with some information panels about the site. The mill is on the other side of the river, the río Vero (1).

Pictures: 01.i.1994, 31.xii.1994, 21.viii.2016, 22.i.2022

(13) The mill of Pedro Buil in the landscape; río Vero at right. — 2022

(14) Mouth of the wheel-house (cárcavo). — 1994.
The work place of this mill is very interesting and the wheel-house below the mill is no less. It is really worth the effort of working your way into the cárcavo through the narrow opening, at times half closed by brambles or other stinging plants (14).

In the cárcavo two sections can be recognised: the outer section (15) which drains into the restitution duct (22), and the inner section (16) where the wheel with its supporting devices is mounted. The roof of the outer section is a slightly pointed arch and is lower and narrower than in the inner section.

(15) Outlet of the cárcavo; notice the attachment point of the deflector (16) at right.

The inner section of the cárcavo (16, the wheel-house s.s.) is much wider and not centered relative to the water outlet. Its equipment is in perfect shape and ready to use (16–21) where it not for the lack of water — the current owner filled the mill pond with earth to expand his olive tree plantation.
The horizontal wheel (rodezno) is made of a combination of wooden and iron components. The wooden blades — only slightly hollowed out (17) — are mounted on a metallic hub and shaft. The wheel is shrouded by two iron rings. Everything is fixed by bolt screws.

(16) Cárcavo with deflector, wheel, nozzle with shutter.

(17) Wheel is a combination of wood (the blades) and iron (all the rest).

(18) Paradera (deflector).

(19) l to r: Rod of tentering system, wheel, deflector, shutter.

(20) Botana with sliding shutter.
What is most striking in this under-house is the presence of a deflector (18-19, paradera). A paradera is a device making it possible to control the water flow from inside the workplace. When the deflector is in the down position as shown, the water jet from the nozzle (botana) cannot reach the blades and the wheel stops. When the deflector is up, the action of the water will spin the wheel. The rod controlling the paradera can be seen in pictures 16, 19, and 20 left.

A deflector is particularly useful in watermills with an open chute like in Lacabezonada and Alins the only sites with this braking system also preserved. The problem with a deflector is that the movement stops, but the water continues to flow, which is a disadvan­tage in areas with little water.

Mills with a closed pressure pipe, like here, ending in a nozzle with a shutter (20) have a better way of controlling the flow. The shutter may conveniently be opened en closed via a rod from the workplace wit­hout any water being lost. Then why the deflector?

The deflector will have served as an emergency brake for when the feed hopper accidentally ran empty. No traces of such a device could be found in the workplace, which is not surprising since the mill had been out of use, and open, for decades.

(21) Pivot and bearing, tentering system.
(22) Restitution channel below the field (13).


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