Monday 21 September 2015

Johann Bessler was Born 100 years Too Soon!

Johann Bessler promoted his wheel as a solution to flooding in mines and also for pumping water for use in 'Gentlemen's pleasure gardens' and other uses in various manufacturing processes.  It has been suggested that Karl might have been considering the wheel as a means of returning the water to the top of his famous water cascade. In fact it is extremely unlikely that he harboured such thoughts given his years overseeing the experiments of Denis Papin which concerned a number of steam-related inventions.  He was familiar with the shortcomings of such constructions and it is doubtful that he thought Bessler's wheel was capable of pumping anything without the aid of steam or some other unrelated discovery. The unpleasant truth is that Bessler's wheel would not have been capable of providing a solution to either the mining problem nor the cascade and would have been of limited use to the other suggestions.  At that time it would just have been a novelty.  Today we see potential in a number of areas, particularly in the generation of electricity, which opens up its potential to an enormous degree.

In spite of the above negative aspects there were plenty of rich princes who would have paid a lot of money to have the machine to display to their visitors.  Andreas Gartner's whole life involved designing and building intricate machines for the entertainment of his wealthy patrons, for which he was well-paid, so I think Bessler could have sold his machine if only he had found a way to negotiate a settlement .

By making it drive an archimedes screw Bessler hoped to demonstrate its potential as a pump, but in reality it isn't a pump so much as a water lifter, and a limited one at that.  They were used in Holland to assist in draining water from land and everywhere for irrigation, but they were man or animal-powered.  Nevertheless, I think he might have had a market there, where low lifts were needed.   

Karl's cascade measured  almost 600 feet in height and it needed about 92,000 gallons of water to flow from the Hercules monument at the top all the way down to the big lake by the castle, where a fountain pumped water over 160 feet into the air. This whole system relied on natural pressure from reservoirs at the top of the hill and underground pipes whose locks were opened manually.  Once the reservoirs were empty the cascade dried up, so could only be operated occasionally once they were refilled by rainfall.  One can see the potential benefit of finding a way to return the water to the top but I don't think even today there could be an easy or cheap solution, and certainly not with an archimedes screw!

Today during the summer, twice a week the cascade is allowed to run for a few minutes.  That is to conserve enough water for another display of the cascade,in case of drought, and the same applied in Karl's day.

The competitor for Bessler was Newcomen's beam engine which was first run about 1714.  This machine devoured coal ravenously and produced huge clouds of smoke but it did work and many mines installed them.  It drew 10 gallons of water per stroke and ran at approximately twelve strokes a minute, so pumped about 120 gallons a minute, good for draining mines but obviously still inadequate for Karl's cascade.  A rough calculation suggests it would take about 64 hours of continuous pumping to replenish 92000 gallons and that would only lift the water a quarter of the height needed.

Newcomen's engine could pull water up from a depth of about 140 feet,   Bessler's wheel attached to an archimedes screw was limited by the length of the screw, a few feet.

So Bessler's wheel could have been little more than a novelty at the time but not so today and were he here he could rightly ask for a trifling £100,000 and more for the secret and the machine.  He was born too soon, but what if he had sold the wheel?  For several years it would have remained a toy-thing of the rich, but eventually someone would have taken hold of his wheel and attached it to an electrical generator and history would have been made - perhaps Michael Faraday in 1821, would have recognised the potential in Bessler's wheel and made the connection.



Monday 14 September 2015

Could Bessler's Wheel be made More Powerful than we Thought?

Here is a little hypothesis which might generate some discussion.  Many people are convinced that Bessler's wheel will never be more than toy; a novelty, with insufficient power to be of any practical use.  I disagree; I am convinced that a way will be found which makes Bessler's wheel a really valuable and practical alternative to the current methods of generating electricity.

Let us suppose that Bessler's wheel has been solved and we have the working model available for all to see, on the internet.

If the wheel is driven by weighted levers in a special configuration, any attempts to squeeze more power out if it will be limited by the confines of the wheel, and the mechanism.  Lengthening the levers to get more drop will only result in some additional height being required to raise them again - a no-win situation.  Increasing the size of the weights will also be self-defeating because they too will be harder to lift again. Depending on which configuration we use there may be other possible increases incorporated but still, they will have to be paid for in one way or other.  But perhaps there is  another way to increase the power output?

Suppose the output of the successful wheel is very small, as many have suggested both here and on the besslerwheel forum, how can we increase it? Assume that the wheel produces just enough energy to rotate itself continuously and lift a relatively light weight.  If we add another wheel to the same axle, we shall double the output, because the second wheel will simply add its energy to the first one which is already rotating the axle.  

Why not add ten wheels to the same axle, each wheel adding its own small energy to the total?  In other words mount ten wheels each containing five mechanism (or however many you believe were contained within the wheel) on to the axle to create up to ten times the original power output.

This, it seems to me could be a real method of increasing power. Bessler himself stated in his Apologia Poetica that "I can, in fact, make 2, or 3, or even more, wheels all revolving on the same axle", so I suggest that was in his mind when he wrote it.

No need to increase the number or size of the weights or the levers, just build several Bessler's wheels in series all on the same axle.



Tuesday 8 September 2015

How did Bessler Build his Wheel?

As I have said before, I use a disc of wood to attach the various mechanisms and the whole is mounted on a slim axle, but this is not the answer that Bessler could have used.  My method results in a flimsy construction incapable of carrying out the tasks Bessler's did.  His method required the construction of a framework as depicted in my original biography about him., see below.

In my original sketch I included eight divisions but things have changed since then.  In the first place I envisaged, and still do, two separate wheels, one a mirror image of the other, designed to turn the Kassel wheel in either direction.  There might therefore have been a need for only four radial struts; one set for each direction that the wheel turned.  Subsequently I proved to my own satisfaction that there were in fact five mechanisms operating inside the wheel and therefore five radial struts required for each direction of the wheel.

The initial framework might have stopped at the half way point, as shown in the illustration above, allowing access easily to the areas close to the axle.  The rest could have been added later to complete the construction. I read somewhere, but I forget where that the thickness varied from 15 to 18 inches on the Kassel wheel and I have shown why this might have been necessary above right.

The axle makes an interesting study.  Six inches in diameter and six foot long; using a wood weight calculator I found the weight to be estimated at between 50 and 100 pounds dependant on whether it was pine or oak, and there are many other possibilities using other woods, but the weight is significant.  There must have been some kind of support for the axle before he even began, unless he used a vise to support it and hold it still.  A hundred pound axle would be a heavy object to manoeuvre around and I think it likely that he made a work-bench designed to hold it in position while he worked on it.  But the six foot radial arms would become a problem because it would need the support structure to hold the axle six feet above the ground, otherwise the ground would interfere, unless he then added to the final section of each radial arm at a later stage., so I lean towards the three foot segments as the way to begin work on it.

Another thing is the positioning of the three-quarter inch bearings.  Any one who has had a bike will be familiar with the way the wheel can become wobbly.  How Bessler managed to build his wheel without any reported wobble because the wheel was slightly out of true was an achievement in itself.

How were the radial struts attached to the axle? Perhaps he used dowels sunk into the axle and subsequently used them to provide an attachment.  Or maybe there is a clue in the two drawings below, taken from his "Das Triumphans.."

The square box-like structure lends itself as a means of attaching to an axle.

Just some thoughts about the problems he faced building such a large structure on his own.



Sunday 6 September 2015

Update on wheel, moving house, clues etc.

I really enjoyed the contributions to this blog and the previous posting, so feel free to continue on this one. 

It has been suggested that perhaps my wheel is already running and that I'm holding back the secret for some nefarious purpose, but the truth is so much more mundane. I recently put my house up for sale and as anyone who has done this knows, the place must be kept immaculate at all times for any potential purchasers to view it at its best.  Consequentially my workshop has been tidied and my wheel hidden - I don't want any snoopers to see what I've been working on!

After a week the house was sold and I assumed that after eight weeks or so we would move out - wrong, the buyer changed his mind and backed out!  I had just got the wheel back out, but now its back in hiding again and the house is back on the market and we await another series of house viewings.  Until it is sold we cannot move to Spain.

In addition my beloved mother-in-law is having to sell her little bungalow to fund her remaining days in a nursing home.  She's 93 and can't do it herself so guess who's getting her house ready for sale?  Yes it's me again, getting two houses ready for sale and  hoping to buy two more, one here and one in Spain!

So any revelations about my wheel actually working will be on hold until I can get to work on it again, but I am continuing to write up the details and will publish as soon as I have finally tested this wheel.

In the previous comment section it was suggested that we would not know if we had actually discovered the secret of Bessler's wheel rather than an alternative method of  achieving the same result as he did.  I have said this many times now but in response I will just say that my proof that I have discovered his secret relies totally on his clues, and they are not mere interpretations but a series of physical undeniable pieces of evidence.  The proof is not dissimilar to a series of logical argument put forward by a lawyer in a  court of law - or the chain of evidence published in support of a medical conclusion.  We will know if we have Bessler's secret.

Also my claims that the number 5 is an important part of the Bessler wheel is routinely dismissed but I can assure you that is it a vital ingredient.

Finally I fear that I sound just like Ken and Oystein, and yet I have little or no knowledge of their clues any more than they know of mine, can all three of us be right?  My feeling is that Oystein has genuine knowledge although whether it refers to the wheel's structure or relates to some other matter, I have no idea.  For me Ken's code is harder to see, impossible in fact, for me.  I placed what potential encoding I could find in the portraits on my website at and also at the other portrait link on the same web site, it was not helpful in my opinion, but we are each convinced of the efficacy of our own pet theories and maybe we will each turn out right, after a fashion.



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