Iconic Founders Park windmill loses its blades

MISSING PIECES:  The Founders windmill is without its blades while routine maintenance is carried out.
MISSING PIECES: The Founders windmill is without its blades while routine maintenance is carried out.

The windmill at Nelson's Founders Heritage Park could be mistaken for a lighthouse or maybe even a Nebraska grain silo right now.

Its blades are missing because of maintenance, not earthquake risk, the Nelson City Council says.

Despite a notice in the building that a seismic assessment has indicated it might be earthquake-prone, and could pose a potential risk in the event of a significant quake, the blades had been taken down for routine maintenance, a council spokeswoman said.

They had been removed for the first time in about 15 years.

"They come down in one piece and not as four blades, and have to be removed and reinstalled by crane," she said. "The maintenance is not related to the seismic investigations."

Maintenance of the blades involves re-cladding them, checking bolts and fixtures, removing rust and repainting them.

The council said the blades would not be put back up until June or possibly July.

They are driven by wind, not a motor, and a governor ensures that they do not spin too fast.

"There are no sails, as it is a replica of the Bush windmill from Millers Acre, and the original did not have sails," the spokeswoman said.

Structures at Founders are among Nelson heritage buildings which could face earthquake strengthening if assessments find that they need it. Last year the council budgeted $5000 each year over three years for seismic evaluation of Founders.

The Nelson Mail