Wednesday, 10 October 2012
Bessler's wheel was not just a toy.
I think it's time to question the apparently widespread assumption that Bessler's wheel, which, while it might make an interesting toy, could not generate any useful electrical power because it would be too puny.
The Kassel wheel was just over eleven feet in diameter and eighteen inches thick and, with a rope wrapped around the eight inch axle, it could raise a box of stones weighing seventy pounds. The Merseberg wheel, which was a similar diameter but only one foot thick could also raise the same weight of seventy pounds. Both wheels could turn in either direction but the Merseburg turned at 40-50 RPM whereas the Kassel one achieved a maximum of 26 RPM.
Wolff describes how the Merseburg lifted the 70 pounds through a pulley which had to be reduced more than four times, making the lifting quite slow. Now on the face of it this would indicate that the wheel was barely able to lift the seventy pounds, however it may also indicate that Bessler wanted a slow lift to make more impact on his audience. At 40 - 50 RPM the lift would be over too quickly and would require him to lower it and relift it too often or too soon.
If, as I have often suggested, in the two-way wheels, the driving mechanisms are mirrored within the wheel to provide rotation in each direction, logically the one-way wheels had more power than the two-way versions. This is because the redundant mechanisms in the latter, would have to be turned in the wrong direction and must therefore have added resistance to rotation.
The narrower Merseburg wheel was designed to spin faster than the larger Kassel wheel, and yet was capable of raising the same weight of seventy pounds, aided by the load-reducing pulleys - there was no record of the pulleys being used on the Kassel wheel. .I suggest that Bessler deliberately designed the Kassel wheel to turn more slowly, and I have argued previously that this was done in order to allow it to complete the long endurance test with out fear of it stopping prematurely due to wear and tear. It seems reasonable to assume that the internal design of each machine differed in some way, and it will be recalled that Bessler mentioned in Apologia Poetica, "if I arrange to have just one cross-bar in the machine it revolves very slowly, just as if it can hardly turn itself at all, but on the contrary, if I arrange several bars, pulleys and weights, the machine can revolved muster faster." So perhaps the Kassel wheel had fewer cross-bars but then Bessler added more weight to compensate for the reduction in power. These would be added in line sideways or horizontally, leading to the increased depth or thickness of the wheel.
The second wheel was nine feet in diameter and only six inches thick and yet it turned at 50 RPM too - as did the first one which was only four feet wide and four inches thick - it seems as though 50 RPM was the normal spin speed.
Bessler said that he could design his wheels to turn fast or slow with greater or lesser power. We can believe him because he showed it with the four wheels he exhibited, and of course he hadn't sold one at the time of writing, so his integrity would have been called into question if he could not do as he claimed.
It's worth pointing out the limitations within which Bessler worked. 70 pounds was probably the most he would want to handle during his exhibitions. Also the rope used to lift the weight had to be thin enough for use in the pulleys and yet have sufficiently high breaking strain to lift 70 pounds, probably not a problem. He repeated his lifting and translocation demonstrations many times and most likely tried to make it as easy for himself as possible, hence the extended slow lifts.
One more thing; any engine can be scaled up to produce more power and this applies to Bessler's wheel just as in other instances. This being the case it stands to reason that there is much more potential power to be had from Bessler's wheel than anyone seems prepared to admit.
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