When Johann Bessler, aka Orffyreus, first demonstrated his perpetual motion machine, he showed that it would begin to rotate as soon as a brake was released. It measured 4.6 feet in diameter and only 4 inches in thickness, and would accelerate up to its maximum speed of about 50 rpm. Although subsequently he demonstrated much larger wheels which could turn in either direction, they were motionless until they were given a gentle nudge in one direction or the other, at which point they accelerated to their maximum speed in two or three turns. The instant over-balancing feature of the early wheels indicated that their internal mechanical arrangement was in a state of perpetual imbalance, hence the need to apply a brake and locking attachment.
It has been argued that the wheel was stopped at a certain point at which it was out of balance, but in my opinion this is unlikely. Witnesses were encouraged to adjust the speed of the wheel by screwing and unscrewing a bolt and I’m sure that some people would have brought the wheel to a full stop or at least slowed it down almost to a stand still. It would quickly have become obvious if there were any points during rotation where imbalance was not detectable, or to put it another way, they could stop the wheel at a point at which the wheel didn’t continue to rotate.
Bessler himself described the action within the wheel, as if it was constantly hunting or seeking balance, but not finding it, and I believe that without this feature perpetual rotation wouldn’t happen. The later two-way wheels were invented in order to dispose of the suggestion that they were wound up. Whether or not they were as efficient in their use of the same mechanical advantage as the first two wheels remains to be seen, but they must have been more complex in their internal arrangements and therefore more likely to suffer break-downs.
I have always believed that Bessler sought to make the latter two wheels rotate in either direction by installing a mirrored version of the original wheel. The idea being that both directions would cancel each other out thus leaving the wheel motionless. Giving the wheel a nudge would engage which ever drive would propel it in that direction, leaving the alternative drive to either work in reverse, or lock up.
I tested this concept using two Savonius turbines on a single axle but with each designed to turn in opposite directions and I placed them in the path of the wind from a powerful fan, they did indeed spin in opposite directions. With both turbines on the one axle but now connected to each other neither moved, predictably, but with nudge in one direction, they began to rotate, one forwards and one backwards, but only achieving half the speed of the two disconnected ones. I have a video of the experiment which I will post when I find it! This supports the conclusion that mirror imaged mechanisms might hold the answer to the two-way wheels.
I know that other people don’t accept the mirror image design, speculating on a few alternatives, but I think this principle is something that would occur to Bessler first of all; two wheels on one axle each designed to turn the opposite way, but linked together.
Alternative ways of producing wheels which turned in either direction required some kind of mechanism designed to make the internal mechanism change direction and I think this would be difficult to achieve, especially as there are no reports of Bessler operating some kind of lever to engage or disengage the internal mechanism. Reports just say that the same technique of gently starting the wheel in a desired direction worked equally well for each direction. This leaves just an automated reaction to the change of direction of the wheel. This in my opinion complicates the mechanism too much.
I know many people are working on the idea that there were about eight sounds being emitted from the side of the wheel towards which the wheel turned. This sound was described as a “weight landing gently”, but what ever the cause of this sound, it was only with reference to the two-way wheel, and not the earlier one-way wheels. I have asked the following question many times without ever receiving a simple logical explanation. “Why try to build Bessler’s two-way wheel, which are likely to be more complex than the one-way ones? The eight sounds of weights applied to the two-way wheels, but I know some are incorporating the eight sounds into their one-way wheels and that seems to me equally inexplicable.
Finally I have also reminded people that Bessler admitted that he had on previous occasions muffled the sounds coming from the wheels obviously with the intent to confuse or deceive the impressions of the design of the mechanisms within the wheel to the audience. The same technique could have been applied to the two-way wheel. Added to this we should not rule out additional sounds made by extra weights installed to further confuse.
But in the end I know almost everyone has their own ideas about Bessler’s wheels and I just hope someone proves to be right and soon - I just need to know how he did it!