Mills in Altoaragón - aceitero
situated on the shore of the Embalse de El Grado, was the middle
of nowhere. The new connection from L'Ainsa to Barbastro brought Mipanas
nearer to the modern world. Park the car where Mipanas is signposted. There
is enough space next to the garbage containers. Walk the gravel road towards the
village. You'll soon reach the mill.
||(1) Mipanas — white circle: this mill; black circle: the other mill
(2) mill next to the village road
(3) mill as seen from Mipanas village
he mill is an empty skeleton. The roof is gone and all things not too heavy also.
But it's an opportunity to get an idea about the usual layout of an oil mill.
The ground plan is rectangular. The most striking feature visible from the outside is the enormous difference in the height of the walls.
The wall at the back is about two times as high as the front wall (2, 3). This high back wall is a necessary prerequisite
for the older mills which had to accommodate a huge prensa de palanca. We can see the same situation in the
mills of Abizanda and Castilsabás which is one of the
very few cases where the main beam of the press is preserved and in good shape. I wish I could say the same about
Coscojuela de Sobrarbe which is the nearest spot with the same type
he entrance is located in the center of the façade (2). The door (7)
was still in place when we visited in 1994, but was gone in 2010.
Inside, there is only one huge space without any divisions. Next to the entrance at the right is a rectangular
container which served as a temporary storage for the olives to be processed (4, 6). At the
opposite wall and in the center of the room several smaller, round containers can be seen (5, pilas).
They served to catch and decant in order to obtain pure olive oil without water. You'll find almost the
same constellation in Abizanda.
The space where the olives were crushed is situated at the left side of the entrance (6, 9).
(4) storage (algorín)
(5) oil containers
(6) workfloor layout
Pict. 9 illustrates that the flat circular space to crush the
olives —the balsa— occupies most of the space at the left of the entrance. From storage
the olives were spread out in this balsa. The stone was then turned around by man- or animal power.
The result was a mash of olive flesh and stones. When ready this mix was gathered and spread out between mats under the press.
In some mills the axle carried a funel (tolva)
which provided a continuous flow of olives (e.g. the other aceitero of Mipanas, or
Troncedo). A scraper guided the paste towards a pit from
where it could be collected. The whole contraption made it possible to work without interruptions.
(7) entrance door hinge
(9) ruello in 2010
(10) ruello in 1994
(11) pudding stone
|The press with large beam which originally must have been used
had several inconveniences. Its size was a real burden. Both length and height put important claims
on space and capital investment. The whole extraction process required complex manipulations to be done in the
right order by at least two people working together.
Sometimes a much smaller type of press was put in place (e.g. the mill of Sieste).
Pressure was built up by turning a wooden screw.
n the second half of the 19th century a new type of cast iron press became popular.
They were compact and could exercise a pressure which was three times more than the former cantilever press.
The daily production was more than double with one operator only. And to top it all off the required capital
—building included— was less than a quarter!
Reasons enough to move from the old system for which the mill originally was built to the
cast iron press still present (6, 8).
(12) factory label on the press
Terrestre y Maritima
The press is a N°82 of La Maquinista Terrestre y Marítima
dated 1880. MTM was born out of several smaller firms in 1855 and located in Barcelona.
Main business presumably was hydraulic presses (from the 1870s) and steam engines, but before
that time they must have made screw presses, because we've found similar presses
of the same brand in several other oil mills.
ther specimens of the same brand in:
The last three with two screws instead of a single one in the center.