Friday, 4 November 2011

Why the Kassel wheel turned so slowly and what this could mean for us today.

I posted this thought on the Bessler forum but I think the message got lost in the argument I was trying to make, so I repeat the point here.

If Bessler was able to make his first three wheels turn at 50 RPM regardless of whether they were one or two-way wheels, why would he make his final and most robustly built one, only able to turn at about half the speed of the others?

My suggestion was that it was done in anticipation of the the long endurance test, so he could be sure that it would suffer less wear and tear because it would only have to to turn half the number of times, compared to the Merseberg wheel.

We know he claimed to be able to make wheels that could turn slowly or faster, so the slow rotation inherent in the Kassel wheel was deliberate. But there was a disadvantage to this decision, the slower RPM was less powerful, in my opinion, so he added extra weights on either side of the existing ones to give the wheel a little more power, and that is why the Kassel wheel was thicker than the Merseberg one, which was the same diameter, but only two-thirds the depth.  It seems to me that a slower turning wheel might produce less power than a faster turning one? If so that would explain the extra depth to his wheel when compared to the Merseberg one - he needed to add some extra weights.

On the above understanding I suggest that it would be possible to produce a much faster turning wheel complete with extra weights that could generate the kind of power we seek for our modern electrical requirements.



  1. Hi John,..I don't think there is any disadvantage with a slower turning wheel if you consider the water wheel and the windmill.They were slow but they were still able to do a usefull job of work.
    The reason why the bigger wheels turned slower also is because the periferal speed has to be same as the smaller ones to keep the centrifugal force below 1G.,otherwise this would tend to limit the wheel by causing the pendulums to sling outward.Bessler was very careful to limit his wheels by using a load or an external pendulum.
    Look at how slow these wind turbines turn.They they still produce megawatts of power.
    Any wheel that works using gravity is unfortunately sublect to the angular velocity acceleration factor.

  2. I agree Trevor, but the Merseberg wheel was the same diameter as the Kassel one, so their periferal speeds could have been the same, and if there wasn't a problem with centrifugal force with the first one, then there shouldn't be a problem with the other.

    Even though I admit your argument about the slow rotation of wind turbines etc being sufficient, I'm still thinking that faster is better.

    I just read that the average wind turbine speed is between 15 and 20 RPM wich seems slow until you realise that the tips of the blade (over 120 feet in length) are moving at between 130 mph and 190 mph!

    Obviously the circumference of the Kassel wheel does not move at anything like that speed!


  3. Trevor is right you should look at the definition of rotational kinetic energy for the answer. Without knowing the attached mass(or moment of inertia) you can not say anything about the wheel's power just by looking at the rotation rate.

  4. Faster means more power and many more problems from the engineering perspective. If we agree that the payload weights are located at the rim of the wheel, and these have to be stopped in their motion to be sent of along a different path, the forces are very significant. Imagine what a 4 pound weight falling from a 12 foot height could do to you. People have been killed by less! However, inside the wheel, something would have to "catch" the falling weight and then propel it at speed off in another direction. The forces are huge. A slower wheel would do much to extend the mechanical life of such a system, but at the cost of power.

  5. JC wrote:

    "If Bessler was able to make his first three wheels turn at 50 RPM regardless of whether they were one or two-way wheels, why would he make his final and most robustly built one, only able to turn at about half the speed of the others? "

    I remember reading that Bessler's Gera and Draschwitz wheels were turning much faster than 50 rpm, like 60 or 70 rpm. The Merseburg wheel speed was given as either 40 or 50 rpm., perhaps 50 when running freely and 40 while lifiting a load?

    Anyway, one has to forget the idea that a particular wheel produced more power as its rotation rate increased. No, as a wheel's rotation rate increased, its torque would drop off at an even faster rate so that the wheel's power actually continuously decreased. This is why the Weissenstein wheel would slow from 26 rpm to 20 when it was made to run the Archimedean screw water lifter. It had to reduce its speed to be able to output the 25 watts needed to operate the device.

    Paradoxically, despite their low initial speed, Bessler's wheels actually produced FAR more power when just starting up than when they were running freely at their maximum terminal rotation rates! (Note that by "maximum terminal rotation rate", I mean the maximum rotation rate when a wheel was running freely.)

    Apparently, the maximum terminal rotation rates of his wheels were determined by how quickly centrifugal forces build up and began affecting their weights as the wheels began to accelerate. This unwanted force inhibited the shifting of a wheel's weighted levers and caused the CoM of the weights to begin dropping below the axle and further reducing wheel torque. So, while using MORE massive weights within a given wheel would certainly increase its torque and power output at any particular rotation rate, the extra mass would also then lead to a wheel with a LOWER terminal rotation rate .

    I don't think the lower terminal rotation rate of the Weissenstein wheel was intentional. It was merely the result of using more massive weights than were used in the Merseburg wheel in an effort to increase its "power output profile' as the mechanical engineers might say. But, as you note, the lower turning speeds would have the added advantage of extending the operational time of various parts before they failed. Obviously, the parts in that wheel were able to hold up for almost two months of continuous operation.

  6. John, no one knows why the Kassel wheel was slower. Not even Technoguy. The only person who knows is dead. For all we know, it was slower simply because it was wider and weighed more than the Meresburg.
    I don't buy the unwanted force argument, because you would have to know the design to know if increased rotation reduced torque. No one knows the design. We can't say what happened when it started or accelerated.
    The wear and tear theory is as good as any. It's too bad that when he said he could make them as fast or as slow as he wanted, he didn't elaborate on why, or not, he would do that. We assume he was referring to power. He could have been referring to parts wear.
    He had to prove first that they didn't wind up, and then he had to increase their power, and then finally prove they couldn't have been turned from another room.
    Whatever he did to get them to turn, however slowly, quickly,powerfully, or weakly, is the question.

  7. In my opinion why Bessler's wheel turn slow in Kassel was purely for safety reason,locked for two months or longer in sealed room and unattended he had to take many things in to considerations,
    such as, bearings overheating,lubrication,wheel weight,wheel supports,vibration's,dislodging from wheel supports,breakage,etc.

  8. It's actually possible to calculate the mass of the weights used in the Weissenstein wheel if we make a few assumptions.

    First, assume that the maximum terminal rotation rate of the Merseburg wheel was 50 rpm (it would only have slowed to 40 rpm when performing outside work). We already know that it used weights of about 4 lb weights each. We also know that the maximum rotation rate of the Weissenstein wheel was 26 rpm and want to determine the mass of the weights it used..

    Now, if the maximum terminal rate of a wheel, R, is inversely proportional to the mass of its individual weights, m, we can write an expression for this rate as:

    R = K / m where K is a constant

    Solving for K for the Merseburg wheel gives:

    K = R x m = (50 / min)) x (4 lbs)

    K = 200 lb/min

    IF this constant also applies to all of Bessler's wheels (and I suspect that it does) , then we can write and expression for the mass of the Weissenstein wheel's weights as:

    m = K / R = (200 lb/min) / (26 / min)

    m = 7.7 lbs

    We see from this that the Weissenstein wheel's weights would have been about TWICE as massive as those used in the Merseburg wheel and would have made it twice as powerful as the Merseburg wheel at any particular rotation rate at which BOTH wheels could operate. I can just imagine Bessler bragging to Carl that he would build him a wheel twice as powerful as the destroyed Merseburg wheel!

    Doubling the the mass of the weights Bessler used in any particular wheel would also double the centrifugal forces acting on those weights at any rotational rate and double the interference taking place in the smooth shifting of the weighted levers. The final effect of this would be to HALVE the wheel's maximum terminal rotational rate.

    It's possible to generalize the previous formula to derive one for the mass of the weights needed to make a wheel of a any diameter have a particular maximum terminal rotation rate. I leave that as an exercise for the "ambitious" reader

  9. I anticipated your predictable reaction Doug,.but I stand by what I say. The reason being that I've had hands on experience and I know what centrifugal force can do to the wheel.
    Bessler had to avoid cerifugal force as a large wheel turning at 1 rev.per second or more would tend to rip the wheel apart,it was only made of wood.
    There is also the gyroscopic factor which resists fast rotation.This is the principle of how solid state vibrating gyroscopes work.

  10. I'm not saying centrifugal force was avoided because it might "rip the wheel apart" (which doesn't make sense, by the way, but that's another topic), I'm saying it isn't the reason he designed the Kassel wheel to go slower. Techno said the CF built up and reduced torque. I'm not buying that, because no one knows the mechanisms' design. For all you and techno know, CF might be useful.
    Which brings us back to John's reason for this topic, bessler might have been able to make the Kassel wheel turn at 60 rpm, and no Trevor, it wouldn't have ripped it apart. I'm sure it was a little more sturdy construction than that. But unless we know how it turned, the mechanics of it, we can't say for sure why it only turned at 26 rpm. Formulas notwithstanding.

  11. Doug you are right,..CF build up could not influence the torque,but I believe that CF was used to reset the pendulums which once reset would gravitate with the wheel to the bottom and the whole process would begin again.
    Even my 1 meter wheel at 1 rev /second wants to jump off the ground.Can you imagine a larger wheel at the same rpm the angular gravitation increases exponetially.

  12. CF has no effect on a wheel's torque? Not likely!!

    Bessler tells us that the weights on his wheels' ascending sides would "gravitate toward the axle" and then "climb back again" toward the rim (later he declines to give the "details" of this process). This apparently was the basic process which continuously kept the CoM of a wheel's weights on its descending side during rotation so as to create the wheel's torque and power.

    CF DIRECTLY interferes with the first part of the process above. As a wheel's speed increased so would the CF acting on all of its weights and it would become more and more difficult for ascending side weights to "gravitate" toward the axle. They would still move toward the axle, but, in order to compensate for CF to do so, their levers would have to rise even higher before they began to "gravitate" toward the axle.

    The result of this was that the CoM of all of a wheel's weights (always locatedon the wheel's descending side) would slowly begin to rotate around and under the axle as the wheel's speed increased The wheel's torque and power would then both decreasing toward zero.

    Therefore, CF interference IMMEDIATELY began negatively affecting an accelerating wheel's energy output, but also eventually served a useful purpose. It resulted in a maximum terminal rotation rate which would then keep a wheel's drum from being torn to pieces by CF.

  13. He also said in addition to the " gravitating to the center..." quote , "Many would-be Mobile-makers think that if they can arrange for some of the weights to be a little more distant from the center than the others, then the thing will surely revolve."

    So which is it? He contradicts his own words.
    Or this:
    "On one side it is heavy and full; on the other empty and light, just as it should be."
    Full AND empty? If that's the case, he is being intentionally cryptic, I guess, because of his critics. Or maybe that's the secret.
    Nothing he said can be trusted as revealing anything about how the wheel worked. He said the movement can be found In the drawings or somewhere.
    "the movement". Not the mechanism, "the movement". That's a good clue, it implies the "why" for the wheels, but not the "how". Most of the drawings show overbalanced wheels, that may be why the wheels worked, but it doesn't have to mean HOW they worked. It might not be the mechanical solution everyone wants it to be. It might be an energy transformation solution.

  14. @ Doug

    From studying Bessler's writings, I am NOT convinced that he ever actually lied about anything! He just, for obvious reasons, did not tell the WHOLE truth. The real problem is that we have less than perfect translations (sorry, JC) and a tendency to interpret them in terms of our own particular pet theories du jour.

    "Would be mobile makers" ARE right in thinking that an overbalanced wheel will turn and output energy. The problem is that all of their designs, except for that of Bessler, will only do this briefly until they achieve balance. NO such design will ever work continuously unless it can ALSO continuously keep its weights' CoM on a wheel's descending side. That's where that ALL IMPORTANT "Connectedness Principle" comes in. Bessler had this principle (found via tremendous effort AND luck!) and no one else did. Hopefully, this situation will change soon.

    "One side is heavy and full and the other empty and light, just as it should be." merely refers to the CoM of one of his wheels ALWAYS being located on the wheel's descending side. Actually, each side of a wheel always contained 8 working weights mounted on levers, but, through shifting, it was as though ALL of their mass was located on the descending side.

    Bessler never wrote that his PM "movement" could be found in his writings. In the Intro to MT he only says that by combining PARTS of the machines illustrated with a "DISCERNING EYE" that it would, indeed, be possible to BEGIN to look for a movement in them and finally find one.

    I agree with this statement. There ARE many clues to the PM movement Bessler found in his drawings. But, one will only make sense of them (that is, decode them) if he actually has a complete working wheel in front of him or if he is ACTIVELY building (sorry "armchair philosopers")and about 99% of the way to finding the design Bessler used. If one does not yet know where these clues are located or what they mean, then he is either COMPLETELY on the wrong track OR he is on the right track, but still VERY far from the destination to which he wishes to arrive (which is, of course, the SUCCESSFUL duplication of Bessler's design).

  15. Correction:

    Above I wrote:

    "Actually, each side of a wheel always contained 8 working weights mounted on levers..."

    Each side of a TWO directional wheel would contain 8 weights (total of 16 weights present in the whole wheel), but only 4 of them (total of 8 for the whole wheel) would be in use when the wheel was in motion in either of its two possible directions.

    In the case of a ONE directional wheel, EACH side would contain only 4 weights (total of 8 for the whole wheel) and ALL of them would be in use when the wheel was in motion in its "preferred" direction.

    Sorry for the confusion. Most of the time when I write about the mechanics of Bessler's wheels, I am referring to his ONE directional wheels unless otherwise stated.

  16. The remark of P47 (Euclidean geometry, from Anon) made me think. I think I may have found something interesting, consistent with Bessler's number-5 obsession, and many other clues as well - including John's idea of kiiking. I will send a couple of sketches and ideas to John, let's see what he thinks of it. Maybe we're getting close.

    Incidentally, it will also show why the wheel cannot move faster than a certain speed.

  17. Technodude, centrifugal force has no effect on torque, positive or negative.Trevor is right. It is in the wrong direction for producing or consuming torque.

    Andre, why does it show that the wheel can't move faster than a certain speed?

  18. Doug, let's see what John thinks of the design I came up with. If he thinks it's viable, I'll post full details here including drawings, with detailed explanation. To answer your question: it's a consequence of the way Bessler arranged the mechanism - assuming I am correct.

  19. @ Doug

    Ordinarily, I would agree with you.

    BUT, when CF interferes with the very processes by which a device such as one of Bessler's wheels produces its torque and power, it can have a BIG affect on those.

    If CF did NOT affect the power output of a Bessler wheel by constantly reducing it as wheel rotation rate increased, then one would expect a wheel to constantly accelerate until it tore itself to pieces.

    Fortunately, due to disabling effects of CF, this did NOT happen.

  20. That's amazing. Who knew gravity possessed such force?

  21. The force of gravity, when continuously applied over time, can do some amazing things.

    Bessler's wheels had very low torque, but they also acted like flywheels and could accumulate considerable angular momentum by the time they reached their maximum terminal rotation rates.

    Imagine the surprise of witnesses seeing a 60 lb weight begin rising from the ground level of a building to a second floor window when its rope was suddenly attached to a wheel's axle. The wheel could, by carefully picking the moment to attach the rope to its axle, even be made to come to a dead stop with the load weight hanging motionless outside the window. The load would then begin dropping at the same nearly consant rate (feet per second) back down to the ground.

    When it reached the ground, the weight would stop dropping and its looped end would then fall away from the peg on the wheel's axle. The wheel, however, would continue turning and, again, when the looped end of load weight's rope was reattached to the axle peg, the entire process could be repeated. This could be done over and over so that over time one could imagine a single wheel lifting TONS of weight!

    Yes, even a "weak" wheel outputting only a few tens of watts of power can do some amazing things if the conditions of the demonstrations are carefully set up.

    IMO, Bessler, aside from being a crafting / mechanical genius, was a master showman in the rank P. T. Barnum and Houdini!

  22. Who cares what the output was,Perpetual motion is Perpetual motion.In anycase most engines need some sort of flywheel to smooth out the dead spots.
    It does not matter what the output will be,success will you famous,so get to it!

  23. @ Trevor

    Like you, I'm not that concerned with the power output of Bessler's wheels because, in their present form, I don't see them as a solution to our energy problems. The fact that they were so weak indicates that they will only be of limited commercial value. But, afterall, they did use gravity which is the weakest of nature's forces, so this is understandable. Hopefully, once we understand how his weight driven wheels worked, we can go on to develop more powerful versions that use the other forces of nature.

    However, by knowing the power output of a wheel and the masses of its weights, it's posssible to estimate the location of the CoM of the weights. That information can then be important in determining what the static arrangement of the weights within a drum was. That information, in turn, can give one an idea of HOW the weighted levers within a wheel must shift about during drum rotation so as to keep the CoM where it is on the wheel's descending side at all times. After alot of additional work, one might just find that he has the details of the Connectedness Principle!

  24. Question for John: is there a possibility for me to publish here what we privately have discussed recently? I want to share it with these guys.

  25. Andre, Andre...

    He he he...

  26. After all thats said and done I personally would be prepared to dedicate an entire basement room to a bank of Bessler wheels in order to be entirely independant from the electricity grid.
    Energy is becomming our most costly commodity.I can't wait to be free me from the petrol cost burden by using electric vehicle transport.

  27. @ JC

    I'd certainly like to see what Andre has come up with. If it looks plausible, maybe I could persuade a very skilled friend of mine to make a computer model of it to see if it actually works.

    @ Trevor

    Somehow, I suspect that, one way or another, we'll be paying through the nose for energy for the rest of our lives. If everyone actually had free energy devices powering their homes, their local governments would be heavily taxing them to make up for the loss of their tax revenue on the current "UNfree" sources of energy we purchase.

    It won't be too long before we're taxed for the very air we breathe and the waste we excrete! LOL!

  28. Yes please publish our discussion here, Andre. I have no problem with that.


  29. No problem, but I'd like to publish not only the text but also the drawings I made, and explain the idea in detail with accompanying text. Is there a way to publish the drawings?

  30. I can do it for you, Andre. Send them to me with the text and I'll publish it here.


  31. I've got the drawings but perhaps you can send some text to put with them?


  32. technoguy,..There is no way the govt.can tax you for energy that is free and non polluting.
    The most they can do is charge you vat.on the materials.

  33. We pay a sewer fee in addition to a water bill. So, we are taxed for our waste here. The less we flush , the less water that has to pass through the treatment facility and the less our fee. It's a price for a service ,if you don't have a septic tank like we used to.
    The air we breathe is cleaner because of the Clean Air act which costs industries money to implement which eventually gets passed along in the form of higher prices. So, in that sense, we are paying for the air we breathe.

  34. One proposed tax plan that really gave me a chuckle was mentioned last year in the news.

    It would have put a tax on emails with the money going to the US Postal Service. That's right, they wanted to get paid for a service they did NOT provide! They wanted it to make up for the money that they were not making on postage stamps because so many people were using emails instead.

    I haven't heard much about this proposed tax lately, but assume it has been dropped because nobody could stop laughing long enough after hearing about it to enact the legislation to make it a reality!


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