Saturday, 24 November 2012

Bessler's windmill and his self-moving wheel.

I have spent several hours of computer time arguing that the wind is a conservative force, like gravity, and yet it can be used to drive windmills, therefore gravity can be used to drive gravitywheels. There have been two chief arguments against this idea but both are easily refuted and I'd prefer not to open that can of worms again here. This time I am approaching the subject from another angle in the hope of persuading some of you to my point of view.

When Bessler left Karl's employment he continued to invent new ways of using his gravity-enabled engine, describing ever-lasting fountains, continuously-playing carillons and even a submarine capable of providing continuous fresh air. All of these clearly depended on the driving force of his self-moving wheel. This fact alone supports the view that he was honest.  But his last invention was potentially a winner, if only he had succeeded in finishing it.  He fell to his death from a new kind of windmill which had a vertical axle and presented its sails to the wind regardless of what ever direction it came from.

The earliest recorded windmill of this design was found to be of Persian origin, and was invented around 500–900 AD. This design was called a panemone, with vertical lightweight wooden sails attached by horizontal struts to a central vertical shaft. It was first built to pump water, and subsequently modified to grind grain as well.  Later the Savonius wind turbine was invented by the Finnish engineer Sigurd Johannes Savonius in 1922.  This design bears a  a surprising similarity to the yin-yang symbol familiar to the Japanese and Chinese.  There are some who support the idea that the yin-yang design originated in ancient times in China where it was originally a windmill very similar to a Savonius windmill,  and which was used for pumping water and grinding corn, and whose design gradually became associated with the religious leaders of that era and subsumed within the Taoist belief system. Certainly it can be argued that the attributes belonging to the yin-yang are similar to the associations applicable to a gravity wheel, as for instance this description, "yin and yang,literally meaning heavy and light, and it is used to describe how polar opposites or seemingly contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other in turn in relation to each other. Yin and yang are not opposing forces, but rather complementary ones, that interact to form a greater whole, as part of a dynamic system".   I may say more about this in my next post.

These windmills with their vertical axes present their blades parallel to the wind and reflect the same attitude as gravity does, acting on a gravity-enabled wheel.  It takes but a moment's thought to see that Bessler must have considered the attitude his wheels had to have, in order to take advantage of the downwards force of gravity and he applied the same logic to a windmill to take advantage of the wind.  Unfortunately his desired position on the top of a hill was denied him and it is doubtful if it would have worked where he was forced to build it, lower down in the village of Furstenberg.  It is unclear exactly how his sails were designed although I have posted the only known drawings of it, left to us at my website at  It is possible that drawings exist showing the details of his planned sails and these might give some indication of his design for the gravity-enabled wheels.

Perhaps the design of Johann's gravity wheel gave him the idea of adapting some of its features for use in his new windmill.  This would seem to imply that he also thought of gravity as similar to the force of the wind.  During his years of research we know he studied wind and water mills carefully and must have linked the forces of wind and water to that of gravity and come to the conclusion that they were similarly capable of driving a wheel.



  1. It's obvious that a horizontal windmill has the advantage of being able to react to incoming wind regardless of its direction of origin. In fact, I'm a bit surprised that those wind turbines they are now using to generate electricty did not use some sort of horizontal design so that they would function regardless of wind direction. My putting multiple horizontal blades along the length of their central pylons, it would be possible to multiply by several times the amount of power they could produce.

    As to Bessler's wheels using components similar to what he used in his Furstenberg windmill design, I would seriously doubt that. There is no way one is going to "catch" gravity for rotary motion with a sail as he would with wind. It's just not possible.

    But, there is one thing that a horizontal windmill and one of Bessler's one-directional OB PM gravity wheel's have in common. They can only work if there is an imbalance in the forces acting on each side of them. Thus, each must have a "center of applied force" that is NOT located at their center of rotation.

    In a horizontal windmill of the type Bessler constructed, the incoming wind could only collide with the exposed portion of sail while the covered section felt no force acting on it. In Bessler's OB PM gravity wheels, the CoM of the weights is located and maintained on ONE side, the descending side, of the wheel so that side feels more of a downward pull than does the opposing or ascending side.

    I, too, find Bessler's continuing to try to promote his wheels by using them in conjunction with other devices after he destroyed the Weissenstein Castle wheel to be further evidence that he was NOT a hoaxer. It would be nice if we could see any plans he made for those devices.

  2. Starting to look like no one is interested in Bessler's windmills enough to comment on them.

    I find this strange because this site is the place where the Master died! I'm curious if it is known WHERE near the base structure his body was found and what the exact nature of his fatal injuries were? That might give some clue as to whether he died of "natural" causes, an accident, a suicide, or "foul play".


  3. The drawings make it seem the blades were going to go through the shaft under the roof.

    1. In the bottom left drawing, it looks like something has been drawn that is attached to the shaft. Not a sail, a sort of connecting piece like a tie rod.

    2. I think that "tie rod" you see in the lower left sketch is just a cross section of a raised floor that extends from the wall of the upper story to the very shaft of the windmill axle itself. Aside from providing a place to "nest" the offset drive shaft on the right side of the first floor that powers the grinder there, the sloping floor was probably intended to "funnel" the incoming wind and concentrate it on the particular sail it was striking. This, of course, would serve to increase the torque generated.

      I note that Bessler's plans seem to indicate TWO possible approaches to the arrangement of the sails he would use.

      In the first arrangement suggested in plans 5 and 7, he uses six large sails attached to their rotor and each sail spans the height of the upper story.

      In the second arrangement suggested in plan 2, he also has six sails, but they are smaller and arranged in two separate tiers on their rotor such that each tier contains three sails each that are arranged so their ends form the corners of an equilateral triangle. Perhaps Bessler believed this staggered arrangement of smaller sails would provide more torque to the rotor because it prevents any one sail from completely cutting off the wind flow to the sail leading it.

    3. No, the rods going to the rectangle floating above the sloping floor.

    4. I think I see what you are referring to.

      The two "connecting rods" are probably just part of the frame from the rotor that would hold the canvas sails. Perhaps what you are referring to as the "floating rectangle" represents a canvas sail that has been rolled up into a cylinder around a core axle is held between the ends of the "connecting rods".

      If the openings the walls that let the wind in could not be covered (as by sliding covers of some sort), then perhaps, in order to shut down the windmill when not in use or to protect it from being damaged when the wind velocity outside became excessive, Bessler had some sort of mechanism that could be used to retract the canvas sails by rolling them up onto the axles at the ends of the "connecting rods". Who knows, maybe he actually invented something similar to the pull down shades we use on windows today! The canvas sails would be under constant spring tension and some sort of pulley system attached to the windmill shaft could then be used to simultaneously retract all of the sails into their rolled up positions when desired or necessary.

  4. John, is the house located in Klappenweg?I thing,i founded on Google Earth.

  5. Bessler gave the wheel life,and the wheel took Bessler's life.
    Ironic and sad story.

  6. JC wrote: "It is unclear exactly how his sails were designed although I have posted the only known drawings of it, left to us at my website..."

    From studying the various designs, it looks to me like the sails were just flat panels of stretched canvas oriented perpendicular to the incoming wind. What is not that obvious, I think, is that EACH of the building's outer walls on the story containing the horizontal windmill had HALF of its side open to the wind and the other half covered by a wall. In effect, Bessler's windmill was just the equivalent of a water wheel turned on its side with the incoming wind only allowed to strike one of a pair of diametrically opposed panels.

    I wonder how complete the structure was when Bessler fell from it to his death? Perhaps he was testing the unrestrained mechanics of the windmill when a sudden unexpected gust of wind came along and made its fabric sails begin to rapidly rotate. He, not being aware of this, might have been struck by one of the moving sails and thrown out of the opening in the side wall for a drop of tens of feet to the ground. Such a fall might have been survivable if he had landed spread out on soft earth. But, perhaps he fell head first and broke his neck on impact while also being knocked unconscious. Today, with 21st century emergency medical treatment, such an accident might be survivable, but, obviously, not so for the mid-18th century.

    Amazing how well prepared he was for his sudden demise. He had already destroyed his original House of Richters prototype wheel and the one he had finished for the Royal Society and had previously burned and buried all drawings and wood printing blocks describing his OB PM gravity wheel design. ALL of the information pertaining to his wheel was then contained in only TWO sources. One was his brain that died in November of 1745. And the other was...well, you all know what I would insert here, so I won't bother to do it again!

  7. Time for some fantasy. Here's what I would do AFTER the secret of Bessler's wheels was rediscovered IF I was a billionaire.

    I would purchase the Furstenberg property containing the foundation for Bessler's windmill and then hire craftsmen to rebuild the entire structure using those sketches you published, John. They would only be allowed to do so using the same tools and materials available in the early 18th century. This would result in a working, wind powered grain mill and I'd have a gift shop on the first floor where visitors, after touring the mill and learning more about Bessler, could purchase baked goods made with whole grains and enjoy them with tea or coffee. They could also purchase bags of the ground grain to take home for use in their own baking recipes.

    Next, I'd find the locations of ALL of the dwellings that Bessler stayed in where he gave public demonstrations of his first three wheels. I'd purchase these and have the original structures rebuild as exactly as possible to what historians think they would have looked. Each would have a WORKING replica Bessler wheel of the correct type in it that the public could view. At a gift shop, kids could purchase a kit to make their own replica wheel or could buy a ready made model wheel for a higher price.

    Being super rich, I'd even consider rebuilding Weissenstein Castle on its original site. This would be used as a hotel to house those on a "Besslerland Prilgrimage" who would be visiting the various towns that Bessler had exhibited wheels in. And, of course, the full size replica castle would contain a room with a working replica of Bessler's last known two-directional wheel for guest / tourists to view. There would be a theater in the castle where a movie about Bessler's life would be shown around the clock.

    All sites would be operated by people dressed in early 18th century clothing and only music from that time would be played. I think something like this could be VERY popular and would do wonders for the local economies involved.

    Now...all I need is the money!

    Interesting enough, THIS Wednesday, we in the US are having a multi-state lottery in which the jackpot prize is, CURRENTLY, estimated at $425 MILLION dollars! It could well hit 1/2 BILLION dollars by Wednesday! I'll be purchasing some tickets later today...just in case lightening strikes!

  8. This actually quite interesting, John. The quality and accuracy of the drawings is surprisingly high, IMHO, especially considering the times. There's also something that appears to be a estimate of cost? I couldn't read it well enough. Although the text is not always clear, maybe it is interesting to read what the old fox had to say. The first (cover) page can be read easily enough.

    One thing is clear: old man Bessler was a out-of-the-box thinker. I'm impressed. TG, if you win the lottery, you buy that building and I'll help you restore it!

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