Thursday, 25 October 2012

Johann Bessler's graphic clues to the mechanisms in the Orffyreus wheel.

Someone grumbled that I haven't posted any interesting clues lately, well I can't give out any hard and fast clues yet, but here are some pointers to how I interpreted some perceived clues and got their meaning 

As I've said before, the most useful of Bessler's clues are those which show the actual mechanism.  They are contained in a few illustrations. That being so, how come no-one has been able to build a working model based on those clues?  The answer is, because Bessler deliberately confused the simple interpretation of the drawings by omitting some features, adding unecessary pieces and moving others into the wrong position, and pointing out what he had done, in other drawings.  

One particular example can be interpreted by re-orientating the drawing to the position in which the mechanism would naturally respond to gravity.  If you study the drawing, one part of the mechanism is semi-detached, and consequently by re-orientating the drawing, and allowing gravity to act as if it was a real mechanism and not just an illustration, thus changing the position, the item then shows itself in its correct position.  Reversing the orientation of the drawing again does not mean that the item discussed should return to its former position as this would then be incorrect for the functioning of the mechanism.

It is this kind of encoding that permeates Bessler's clues and requires a certain amount of lateral thinking.

One drawing is, as I have mentioned before, not showing the wheel in its true dimensions, but this advice was dismissed as wrong or irrelevant, which is of course the reader's prerogative.

Another one shows the two positions of the mechanism and how they vary in their connections with other parts of the same mechanism, during their range of movement - the connectedness principle.

Yet another drawing provides corrective information about a particular item in a different drawing and this can be established with a fair degree of certainty once you know what to look for.

There is one drawing which also hides the principle which I have described, but encoded, at the end of each post on this blog. I even described the clue on my website,, although I did not understand what it meant at the time. I stumbled on the principle by chance and then had it confirmed by the clue in question. This principle is the one which Bessler says he found where everyone else looked.  It is the one thing you need in order to build Bessler's wheel.

I can't put it better than Bessler did, "no illustration by itself contains a description of the motion; however, taking various illustrations together and combining them with a discerning mind, it will indeed be possible to look for a movement and, finally to find one in them."

I apologise if people do not find this helpful, but I wish to retain what I know for my own build.  Of course I might be completely wrong and I wouldn't want to lead anyone else up the wrong path.  There is much more to be learned from Bessler's drawings and they would not have been so carefully drawn and included for our consumption unless they were there to aid reconstruction, but, to the casual eye, they offer nothing of use to anyone seeking the answer. 



Sunday, 21 October 2012

A sawmill such as Bessler's wheel would have powered.

Bessler probably acquired his timber from a sawmill and yesterday I came across this amazing saw mill built in 1673 at the Willermershof farmstead in Schwarzenbach, this 'Knocking' Saw was in use until 1963 when it was moved to Vogtsbauernhof in south-eastern Germany. 

You can see from the video that it is driven by a waterwheel which uses precisely the same 'three tusked cams', or lifting arms, fixed with tenons, that are evident in one of Bessler's drawings.

From the above video, "farmsteads operated their own saws when the property had a considerable amount of forest area. They cut their own timber for private use as well as to sell commercially. Contracting the saws out to other farmers was also an additional source of income. There was a widespread use of 'knocking' saws in the Black Forest starting in the 16th century. The technique originated in the 13th century.

The 'knocking' saws is driven by a middle-shot water wheel. This turns a shaft axis that has three tusked cams, or lifting arms, fixed with tenons. When rotated, these cams knock against the overhead saw frame, thereby lifting it. With each turn of the water wheel, the saw frame is hit upwards three times. 

This hitting motion creates a knocking sound that can be heard from quite a distance away. When the frame has reached its highest point, it drops down suddenly. Upon falling, the saw blade cuts the trunk. The trunk is fastened down to a sled. By dropping, the saw frame sets a mechanism into motion shoving the sled towards the blade of the saw.

Trunks measuring up to 20 ft in length could be cut. Sawing a 20 ft board or plank takes about 45 minutes. Generally, boards and planks of a thickness from 3/4 to 3" were cut. Squared timber, such as used to build houses, had to be clouted with an ax. Boards and planks were needed to build houses, furniture, and wagons."

Boards of 3/4 of an inch  still sound a little on the thick side for Besslers' wheel but I guess they could be trimmed down some more - or even sliced in half.  Teuber described the Merseburg wheel as being covered by thin deals which I presume would have been thinner than 3/4 of an inch

It seems clear that a similar mechanical arrangement could have powered other kinds of mills.

NB More clues to come in next post.



Friday, 19 October 2012

Petrol from Air!

This morning's news reveals that a British company is making petrol from fresh air!  There are a number of articles about it, for instance this one

'The “petrol from air” technology involves taking sodium hydroxide and mixing it with carbon dioxide before "electrolysing" the sodium carbonate that it produces to form pure carbon dioxide.

Hydrogen is then produced by electrolysing water vapour captured with a dehumidifier. The company, Air Fuel Syndication, then uses the carbon dioxide and hydrogen to produce methanol which in turn is passed through a gasoline fuel reactor, creating petrol.

Company officials say they had produced five litres of petrol in less than three months from a small refinery in Stockton-on-Tees, Teesside.

The fuel that is produced can be used in any regular petrol tank and, if renewable energy is used to provide the electricity it could become “completely carbon neutral”.
The £1.1m project, in development for the past two years, is being funded by a group of unnamed philanthropists who believe the technology could prove to be a lucrative way of creating renewable energy.'

At first sight this looks as though it might spell doom for Bessler's wheel, however, the process has to be a viable commercial operation to succeed and to produce just 5 litres in 2 months does not seem too awe inspiring, but then this is just a test facility and something much larger looms on the horizon.

Can they produce petrol at a better rate than the current rate for a barrel of oil (42 US gallons and about 35 UK gallons) which is currently between $92 and $112 per barrel?  Possibly, but the governments will still tax it to death.  Of course the same goes for Bessler's wheel but it is the greener option, despite the claims that this new process is greener than anything so far produced.  The carbon-neutral aspect of it could be supplied by Bessler's wheel and an electricity generator.

We must await developments meanwhile, on with the build!


Monday, 15 October 2012

Johann Bessler's wheel was ahead of its time.

We routinely discuss the various tests that Bessler's wheel was subjected to, such as the 70 pound lifting test, the translocation to a second set of bearings, the 54 day endurance test and the turning of the archimedes pump. Plus, the ability of the latter two wheels to turn in either direction... and there were numerous examination carried out over the twelve years or so, most likely executed by persons determined to prove the alleged scoundrel a fake, but no one succeeded, hence our view that he was genuine.  

I was considering what other tests Bessler might have included to try to prove his machine was genuine and I couldn't think of any.  In Gründlicher Bericht he describes the possible uses his machine could be put to, such as driving a mill wheel, cable making, glass or stone polishing, alloying, laundry and bleaching, in clocks and machinery associated with hydraulics; pumping water for various uses. I don't think that any of these could easily be added to the ones he demonstrated at the castle.

I have always assumed that during his two meetings with Gottfried Leibniz, Bessler asked what tests the latter could recommend he arrange, and perhaps the endurance test would have been suggested, along with the advice to ensure the wheel bearings did not seize up, perhaps by slowing the wheel down. They might have also discussed the ones described in the previous paragraph, but I think they were probably dismissed as unworkable or not worth the trouble?

As far as I can see the only additional possibility available to him, was to find a man of unimpeachable reputation for absolute integrity who, having seen the interior of the machine, could vouch for its validity  - and Bessler found that man in Karl, the Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel.  

This leads me on to another thought.  In those suggested uses Bessler provides in his Gründlicher Bericht, there isn't really one that could be put to beneficial use in place of the existing methods used at that time.  Pumping water out of mines seems to me to hold the most potential but there was competition in the form of the steam engines of Savery and Newcomen.  But Savery's engine was limited to a depth of 10 meters (just over 30 feet) and Newcomen's, operating huge pistons, eventually prevailed.  

But these machines were steam driven.  It is hard to imagine Bessler's wheel drawing up much water by means of an archimedes pump!  No wonder Karl did not buy it for his cascade.  All cascades and fountains of the time were gravity-fed from a number of reservoirs on the top of the hill ... how ironic!

I think that Bessler failed to sell his machine for the simple reason that his invention was ahead of its time. Many inventions are conceived simultaneously by several different persons because the time is "right", meaning that a technical and scientific foundation exists and that there is demand and business potential for the invention, but Bessler's wheel came at a time when there was no way of using it to pump water.  Piston pumps using one way valves had existed but they were few and far between and too small for Karl's cascade. Now, however, the conditions are perfect for Bessler's wheel as an electricity generator  and all the other things we can imagine; I suspect it will be discovered simultaneously by different individuals from many different places, because the conditions for its entry into the modern world are last.



Sunday, 14 October 2012

Parametric oscillation applied to Bessler's wheel.

I recently posted a response to a comment, pointing out that I had been recommending the study of parametric oscillation as an aid to solving Bessler's wheel, on the undermentioned web site for some years.  I was surprised therefore, to receive a number of emails telling me that they had never been to the website as they didn't know about it!

This has surprised me, as all the links to my websites are there in the side panel to your right as you are reading this.

I guess that the problem lies in the similarity of the domain name with Scott Ellis's website, which is an excellent site with a forum dedicated to Bessler.  People may have thought it was a link to his web site and having been there already, ignored it.  My domain name has an 's' on the end of 'Bessler', and his doesn't.

So just to be clear,  the website details my theory about how Bessler's wheel worked using parametric oscillation, or swinging, and I describe 'kiiking', an Estonian version of swinging which in my opinion provides additional information.



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.



Monday, 8 October 2012

Looking for a modest investment with a guaranteed return? Look no further than Bessler's wheel!

Occasionally, it suddenly hits me, what a massive wall of scepticism faces us in our determination to convince others that Bessler' wheel was a real machine.

To me the evidence is clear, but convincing anyone else is not so much an uphill climb, as a verticle ascent of the severest difficulty with a multitude of overhangs, loose rock and perilous falling boulders - in bare feet!

I think we all understand the difficulties of explaining how it is possible to have a wheel turn continuously, purely from the falling of weights which have to be lifted again at every revolution - we can't ....yet! Hopefully, if you are here, then you probably believe it is possible to achieve this without violating any laws of physics.  You are not alone - I have received, over several years, many emails in support of my contention that gravity-enabled wheels are a legitimate source of power for charging batteries and driving mechanical systems.

Three of those emails have come from professors who were openly supportive of the idea, but left it to me to discover how! Others came from people who wanted to express their support in writing but could not be seen publicly expressing their approval.  Then there are the hundreds who have over the last sixteen years (my goodness, has it really been that long!) supported my efforts and agreed that there is something worth looking into.  The fact that these people are educated and familiar with the laws of physics has given me some optimism that at least a working model would be accepted by them, but what I would really like is for some large company with a decent research budget to take a look at the evidence and put some money into finding the solution.

The amount of money being spent on alternative energies which don't include gravity-enabled wheel is huge and doubly frustrating when our own efforts which cost peanuts in comparison, could revolutionise the energy market overnight once the correct solution is known.

Here are a few figures gleaned from google.  There is, for instance, the failed solar company, Solyndra,  which received $535 million in federal aid before it went bankrupt in 2011, what a waste!

In the California Valley Solar Ranch, a 250-megawatt utility project is being built by NRG Energy on more than 4,000 acres of dry, sun-drenched land in San Luis Obispo County, northwest of Los Angeles. The ranch's 1 million solar panels will provide enough power for 100,000 homes, but at the cost of $1.6 billion — nearly all of which, according to the Times, will be paid for by government subsidies.

Last year, global spending on new renewable energy projects hit a record of $195 billion. According to the analysists at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, annual spending on new clean energy projects will not only surpass that amount in the coming years, but double it. By 2020, annual investments in adding clean energy capacity will reach $395 billion, driven largely by fast-paced growth in solar and offshore wind. Spending levels will grow to $460 billion by 2030, the group said in a report released today.

When is someone going to direct their attention towards Bessler's wheel and inject some of that money to prove that it works?  I know the answer of course, not until someone produces a working model!



Sunday, 7 October 2012

Storing electrical energy in liquid air.

Turning air into liquid may offer a solution to one of the great challenges in engineering - how to store energy. The Institution of Mechanical Engineers says liquid air can compete with batteries and hydrogen to store excess energy generated from renewables.  IMechE says "wrong-time" electricity generated by wind farms at night can be used to chill air to a cryogenic state at a distant location. When demand increases, the air can be warmed to drive a turbine.

Engineers say the process to produce "right-time" electricity can achieve an efficiency of up to 70%. IMechE is holding a conference today to discuss new ideas on how using "cryo-power" can benefit the low-carbon economy. 

The technology was originally developed by Peter Dearman, a garage inventor in Hertfordshire, to power vehicles. A new firm, Highview Power Storage, was created to transfer Mr Dearman's technology to a system that can store energy to be used on the power grid. The process, part-funded by the government, has now been trialled for two years at the back of a power station in Slough, Buckinghamshire.

You can see a video of the engine at

I've posted about this because this technology for storing electrical energy might also be applicable to electricity generated by Bessler's wheel.



Wednesday, 3 October 2012

The tax advantages of the Bessler automobile.

What follows is speculation based on numbers obtained from a variety of sources and they may be open to question but the basic argument  remains unaffected by any discrepancies later revealed.

I had to fill up my car's fuel tank today and it cost me £75, or $120 US dollars.  Petrol or gas costs upwards of  £1.36 per litre here in the UK, which works out at £5.14 per US gallon, or $8.20.  Suppose that one of us succeeds in replicating Bessler's wheel and further development eventually results in an automobile engine that can replace the traditional internal combustion engine..  

In the UK, about £27.3 billion was raised through fuel tax in 2010/11, so if our little enterprise should result in the eventual demise of the old gasoline engine, or at least to its reduction to an insignificant level, where will the government be looking to find their missing billions? Not hard to guess!  Scary as this thought is, it is going to happen sooner or later regardless of which engine replaces the current ones.  So I'm sure that somewhere some accountant has already worked out how to screw similar amounts from the poor old taxpayer.

I suspect numerous road tolls will proliferate - we don't have many currently, here in the UK - and maybe an annual tax, or excise duty, will be applied to each car, just to be allowed to use it on the roads.  But even if that happens will they find the £27 billions from the, roughly, 31 million cars on the British roads?  And that is a falling figure.  That works out at approximately £840 or $1344 per annum from each driver.  All they (the government) have to do is slap a £1000, or $1600, tax on every car using Bessler's wheel - every year -  and they're covered!  However although that sounds like highway robbery think of the savings in not having to buy fuel.  In 2010 it was calculated that we spent about £1500 a year on fuel for our cars, so there's saving of £500 already!

Of course the Bessler engine will (should) be simpler and cheaper to buy as well as to run, so perhaps it will work out even better for us in the long run...and very much greener.

This is not too serious a comment, just a bit of musing for those interested in the possible long term  potential ramifications of replicating Bessler's wheel.



Monday, 1 October 2012

The purpose of the waxed linen covering and pivot points

Bessler is said to have covered his wheel with waxed-linen. Considering this fact led me on an interesting mental ramble.  

The German words used to describe the cloth covering in Das Triumphirende is leinwand which means canvas/linen/fabric. The other German words used are überzogen, which means  covered/drawn-over; and äusserlicht meaning external/outside.  OK, but in the Latin text he uses the words linteo = linen, cerato = waxed, and vestito = covered/clothed.  So I'm assuming it was waxed linen or canvas.

When I build a test model, I fix everything to a single disc, mounted on a free-spinning axle. The disc is made of medium density fibreboard (MDF) and I can drill holes and fix pivot points and add stops easily.  The only difficulties arise if I need a lever to pass over the top of another pivot point, or another lever with a weight attached to the end.  In those cases the pivot point has to be made shorter to allow the passing lever to pass over it and not get stopped too soon.  It's a bit like watching the hour hand pass over the minute hand of a clock, the hour hand has be nearer the clock face than the minute hand, so it can easily pass over it.

This is all fine and well until you wish to build a more substantial model that will do work - or you need to exhibit it and wish to cover the inner workings.  The obvious thing is to attach another disc to the axle to cover the mechanism and this requires all those pivot points to be attached at their outer ends to the new disc.  Those pivot points that you shortened now need to be repositioned because if you don't they will obstruct the passage of the other lever you had designed to pass over it.  It takes time and trial and error to achieve the new positions without affecting the continued operation of the mechanism and these new positions explain, for me, some of the mysteries about Bessler's drawings.

As for the waxed linen, I think the purpose of using it to cover the sides of the wheel was to hide any clues the spectators might get from seeing the placing of the various pivot points and other fixings.  Without the covering of the waxed linen the positions of all the pivot points would be visible to the examiners and therefore potentially offer clues as to their purpose and action.  

Also, he is said to have introduced a flap in the cloth which gave him access to the interior so that he could remove the weights prior to moving the wheel from one support to another.  But here is another mystery.  To get all the weights out, or at least to get all the weights he could reach, out, he would surely need several flaps?  They couldn't have all been accessible from one position in a twelve foot diameter wheel.  He must had to lock and unlock the wheel as he removed the weights otherwise it would spin until balanced again.  Maybe he had one flap at each weight access point?  It is a pity nobody counted the flaps.

But ... he might have accessed the weights by unbuttoning the edge of the linen, then he wouldn't need a special flap.



Johann Bessler's Graphic Clues

Despite including several drawings illustrating his wheel (althouigh external views only) in his publications, Grundlicher Berchicht, Apolo...