Thursday, 10 September 2009

Proof of principle device almost finished

It has been suggested that as I am nearing completion of the reconstruction of Bessler's wheel that I should write something every day, detailing my progress, however I think I would bore my readers to death with the minutiae of my daily construction efforts. Having said that perhaps it might help some of you to understand why it is taking so long to finish what seems, on the face of it, a relatively simple thing to complete, if I describe my latest problems which have led to this delay.

I have made a new set of mechanisms in new material and when moved by hand they perform as designed, but it's still difficult to get the actions perfect and I have to keep altering the way things are arranged, not because the design doesn't work, but to get the various pieces to work together without either missing each other entirely, or getting entangled and locking together. It is surprisingly difficult to transfer a design which is both in one's mind and on paper into a practical reality. Everything works as it should do when moved by hand, but then you find that under its own steam, so-to-speak, or rather gravity, the levers are either too close and bump into each other, or too far apart so that an engagement designed to occur, misses! There is some flexibility in the levers giving rise to too much lateral movement. But if I tighten them down to limit the lateral motion, they become stiff and don't move easily. I may have to add some kind of lateral bracing to support them unless I can produce a proof of principle (POP) wheel without further delay.

I have found that by altering the order of the pieces I have eventually achieved the best arrangement. The order can be changed throughout the depth of the mechanism, by that I mean, not the plan view, but the sideways elevation. It doesn't alter the way the mechanism works but it does improve and free-up the action.

I had fitted five mechanisms to the backplate but as they were unable to move properly and freely, due to entanglement, I have rearranged them and three are now fitted and working as designed. The remaining two will be done as soon as I can get into the workshop again. On some days I only get ten or fifteen minutes in my workshop and sometimes none at all.

I am doing this on a shoestring, as I always have done, just to make a POP machine, but I have seen estimates of money spent on prototypes, posted on various forums, and I am surprised at how much people spend, because I have spent no more than about £100 (about $160) in the last ten or maybe even fifteen years of modelmaking! I have to admit that some of the models shown are amazingly well engineered, rugged-looking and most impressive, but I suspect I could have built half a dozen rough and ready models in the time it takes to build just one high quality one. In the end we only require a working model to prove the principle, however roughly constructed. Once that has been achieved then a high quality product based on the original design can be built.

And another thing; people often describe the high quality bearings they use to reduce friction but I worry little about friction, as long as there is enough energy to turn the wheel continuously against any friction that is all that is needed. My axle is a threaded rod and it rests in a couple of plastic copper plumbing pipe wall supports screwed to two upright pieces of wood. Cost was less than a pound for a pack of five.



  1. you are certainly correct about friction, however less is obviously better and if you have that mechanism "almost" exact you may find that the motion reveals itself more readily with less friction. However, maybe that's precisely the reasoning that has kept this secret for so long.

    Let me ask, have you found a little spontaneous motion yet?

  2. You might think you're near completion, but I expect you'll be tweaking this for a very, very long time- come success or failure.

  3. No, Wind, not yet, not until all mechanisms are functioning together

    Anon, 'come success or failure?'- Surely no tweaking needed if success comes?

  4. Anonymous makes a good point though my friend.

    I hope your rationality defeats your obsession, at least in terms of aspirations of grandeur. Sooner would be better. Especially for those of us who are rationally obsessed with our own projects cranking away hour after hour in research, drawing, building, or just the distracting daydreams in between.

    We share a belief that this pursuit is not irrational, but when mixed with obsessions, especially grand aspirations, what is already of debatable rationality quickly degrades to universally irrational.

    I know it's easy for me to say, my 37th model is probably no more likely to work than my 36th. Only, just now, I'm not sure why. Then I find out why and move on to the next. Sisyphus we are. Cursed.

  5. Obsessed but not to the point of irrationality, I hope. Sooner suits me too and as I have said ad infinitum, if it doesn't work, I'll share it, and no tweaking! Sisyphus, yes! - But I tend to imagine myself more like Ixion, chained for ever to this accursed wheel! Only mine remains stationary for ever.


  6. ....'come success or failure?'

    Well, the 'tweaking' comment was more geared towards the highly likely assumption that you'll fail, but not denying that you just may succeed. Some folks just keep dragging a dead horse with perpetual 'pass the buck' tweaking of a failed concept.
    "There was an old woman who lived in a shoe, she swallowed a fly, perhaps she'll die, etc, etc....."
    Now, I'm off to google 'Sisyphus' and 'Ixion'???

  7. My main wheel cost a few thousand dollars once I finished it. Too much for something that didn't work but I was so frustrated I just needed to build something big, impressive. Helped relieve some Perpetual Tension.

  8. Wow, that must have been some engineering marvel to see! If this one works maybe I'll go for broke and make one giant engineering masterpiece, or rather get someone to do it for me!


  9. Hi John,

    Bessler was limited to a purely mechanical design in his days.

    Anyone knowing the principle today will probably have other design options available to him.

    Any thoughts on this?


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