Our Turbine Story – by Bill Michaels – Owner of the Fly Creek Cider Mill & Orchard
The Fly Creek Cider Mill harnesses the power of Fly Creek to operate the historic, 1889 Boomer & Boschert Press. Fly Creek is diverted into the Millpond north of the Mill, continuing around the property and flowing under the Goose Street bridge. When the Millpond is full, there is a ten-foot head of water atop the turbine.
The turbine rests in the base of a wooden water tank, like those holding fire suppression water on many NYC buildings. Recently replaced by Unalam (formerly Unadilla Silo Company) in Southern Otsego County, this tank maintains a consistent water level, matching that of the Millpond.
A lined steel pipe connects the Millpond to the water tank, enabling water to flow into the tank. Once the shutter assembly on the turbine opens, water flows through the running gear spinning the turbine. The running gear sits on a newly milled Lignum Vitae (Iron Wood) bearing reducing friction and wear.
A vertical drive shaft on top of the turbine rises out of the silo. The pully on top of the vertical shaft transfers the turbines revolutions by leather belt connecting it to a line shaft powering a water pump. This water pump creates water pressure for the cider press. At full pressure, the pump delivers 1500 cubic inches, equivalent to almost 50 tons, all from the power of the turbine.
Water exiting the turbine returns to Fly Creek through the exit race under the Mill.
The Mill’s 1872 Lesner Water Turbine, manufactured by Willim B. Wemple’s Sons in Fultonville, NY. It first operated a windlass on the Erie Canal maneuvering packet boats through locks. Once canal boats became motorized, the turbine powered pumps at the Cooperstown Water Works, drawing water from Otsego Lake. When the pumps were electrified, the turbine found its way to the Fly Creek Cider Mill, replacing a smaller, less efficient turbine.
Our historic turbine is not just a relic; it's a functional piece of history, embodying the evolution of technology and its role in our sustainable operations. Explore the heritage of the Fly Creek Cider Mill as we continue to blend tradition and innovation for generations to come.