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Brief History of Windmills in the New World By T. Lindsay Baker, Daniel Halladay in 1854 is credited with having designed the first commercially successful new windmill in the New World. His windmill had a self-governing design. This means that it automatically turned to face changing wind directions and that it automatically controlled its own speed of operation. Halladay's initial wind machine had four wooden blades which swiveled to provide varying pitch in order to regulate operating speed. Later he devised wheels comprised of "sections" of thin wooden blades which could pivot in order to control surface exposed to the wind and thus regulate wheel speed. Windmills of this design were called sectional wheel windmills. Halladay invented his first successful self-governing windmill in Connecticut, U.S.A., and his company manufactured them there from 1854 to 1863. Delays in production and shipping, some caused by the American Civil War, prompted him to relocate the factory to Batavia, Illinois. There, in the Fox River Valley just west of Chicago in the American Midwest, his company thrived. It sold its Halladay Standard windmills by the thousands to farmers and ranchers on the plains and prairies of North America as well as farther afield. The earliest major competitor for Daniel Halladay's pioneer windmills were the Eclipse windmills invented by 1867 by the Reverend Leonard H. Wheeler. A missionary among the Ojibway Indians of Wisconsin, Wheeler and his son devised a windmill for use at their mission station. Instead of having a wheel comprised of pivoting sections, their wind machine had a "solid" wheel in which the wheel components were rigidly fastened together. The Wheelers attached their wheel to a hinged vane (or tail), which like a weather vane kept the wheel pointed into the wind when it was operating. Their mill had a second, smaller vane attached parallel with the wheel. This side or governor vane pushed the wheel out of increasing wind velocities to regulate its speed of operation. Other contemporary mills achieved the same end by placing their wind wheel just off center. The Wheelers used a weight on the end of a lever connected with the vane to "pull" the wheel back to face the wind when its velocity subsided. All mills of this design were called solid wheel windmills. Up to this time, all windmills in North America were built from wood, with some iron and steel parts holding the wooden components together. As early as the 1870s, however, all-metal windmills were introduced, but at first they were not especially popular. People believed that they were easily broken and difficult to repair. In time, however, the use of steel and iron for windmills increased so that by the beginning of the twentieth century the majority of windmills built were made from metal.
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