Monday, 4 August 2014
The building of Bessler's Wheel
I've often wondered how Johann Bessler built his wheel, by that I mean what order did assembly take place and what problems did he encounter in the process. I simply build onto a wooden disc but if I wanted to hide the interior I'd use a second disc to cover the open side. When all is assembled I mount it onto an axle and place it in the bearings which are fitted on a stand.
Bessler was dealing with a much larger wheel and considerably more, and heavier, weights. I think he would start by mounting the chosen axle onto a supporting structure, possibly one which he could move easily. But would he then mount a twelve foot disc for one side onto the axle? No, I think he would begin with a much smaller disc of about half size, say six feet diameter. giving him three feet depth to access the interior. He probably made the mechanisms, or at least as much of it as he could, before attaching it to the the cross bars. I assume that holes would be cut through both discs for the crossbars and fixed both inside and outside to each disc.
Having the wheel diameter much shorter would allow access for fitting the mechanisms to the cross bars. Without the second disc already in place there would be too little support for the mechanisms. Once the initial assembly had been completed in the smaller wheel he could add the rest and proceed to fit the remaining portions of the wheel. I have reason to think this method was used because of a piece of description of the wheel found in Bessler's Das Triumphirende. He describes the wheel as being in the form of a drum, twelve feet wide, with a thickness varying from fifteen to eighteen inches. Curiously nobody has ever recorded this variation in thickness, as far as I'm aware, but it seems safe to assume it was there.
I think 'sGravesande measured the thickness at the rim and got 18 inches, which suggest that the 15 inch thickness was further in towards the axle. If this is the case then the wheel was built in two sections as I described above, and the other part added once the mechanism was securely fixed inside. This later addition would have been attached to the outside of the first part thus giving and extra inch and a half to to each side of the wheel.
This is a copy of a drawing I included in my book about Johann Bessler, Perpetual motion; An Ancient Mystery Solved? It shows the two thicknesses I have described above :-
I suppose the canvas covering which would also have covered the positions of the cross-bars also disguised the varying thickness present.
I have considered other reasons for having varying thicknesses but this seems to me the most likely. It's possible that a section, or sections, of wheel might have been removable from under the canvas which could provide access to the weights to remove them when required. I can see how this might be achieved through several pieces being removable to allow access all the way around the wheel. Because that is another detail often overlooked; how did he access all the weights from around the whel through one aperture? He couldn't so there were either several, which would require several holes in the 'disc' under the canvas, or he simply removed sections from some area a certain distance from the axle, presumably near to the rim.
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