Since ancient times and for hundreds of years, grain mills, hammers, sawmills, spinning mills, and hemp rollers have been powered by water wheels. In the nineteenth century there were hundreds of thousands of mills in all of Europe. It is an enormous historical and cultural heritage of inestimable value, which is for the most part, abandoned today. Recently, there is a renewed interest in their reuse, both for their widespread diffusion in the territory and for the excellent environmental integration and intrinsic sustainability. Even when, for economic reasons, their recovery for the original tasks is not suitable, the conversion into mini plants for the production of electricity can be advantageous. In the paper, analyzing some typical examples of the old water mill of the Piemonte region, in North-West of Italy, the mechanical architecture of old water mill, from water wheels to millstones, is described and the functional details of various mechanisms are provided. In fact, by knowing only the specifics of the ancient mills, it is possible to enhance their potential and restore them from the perspective of a renewed high quality production, or reconvert them in mini-plants for the production of electricity.
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