We have discussed the various perpetual motion machines, aka ‘wheels’, invented and exhibited by Bessler, so often and for so long, I think we have become blasé about their extraordinary potential, so here are few reminders which I hope will inspire you (and I) to greater efforts in our search for the secret of his success.
First wheel at Gera, 50 RPM, unloaded. Only 4.6 feet diameter, 4 inches approx thickness. Rotated at almost one turn per second!
As did the second wheel at Draschwitz, 50 RPM, unloaded. Only it was 9.3 feet diameter, 6 inches in thickness and twice the size of the Gera wheel yet they both spun at 50 RPM!
Even the third wheel at Merseburg, 40 RPM ‘or more’. Increased to 12 feet diameter, 11.15 inches thickness. Almost hit the 50 RPM speed and it might have done so but we don’t have accurate records of its speed. This one was three times the size of the first one!
Fourth wheel at Weissenstein Castle, Kassel. 26 RPM unloaded. 12 feet diameter, 18 inches thick. It was thoroughly examined by Baron Fischer who described the sound of about eight weights landing gently on the side towards which the wheel turned. This wheel was designed for the long endurance test so was designed to rotate at half speed.
It would seem that size doesn’t necessarily limit its speed of rotation nor its ability to lift heavy weight, which is what Bessler said.
Going back to the first wheel spinning at 50 RPM, almost once every second. As many will know, I have always maintained the belief that there were five mechanisms within the wheel. Others think there were 8 mechanisms. This wheel turning at almost one second per rotation made a lot of noise, as was reported many times. Five weights hitting the side of the wheel during each second, as it turned would indeed make what Bessler refers to as a ‘loud clattering noise’. In later versions of his wheels he attempted to reduce the noise by using felt and/or springs. NB - 8 weights would make even faster ‘clattering’.
The Kassel wheel is believed to have 8 weights, according to Count Fischer, but how many mechanisms? I ask because I believe there were also five mechanism in this wheel, but the Kassel wheel and its predecessor, the Merseburg wheel were both bi-directional, or two way wheels. This may complicate the mechanisms and could potentially lead to incorrect assumptions. But just considering the sounds of eight weights hitting the side of the wheel, we can understand why he could only say ‘about’ eight weights.
It turned at 26 RPM which is one turn every 2.3 seconds, so 8 sounds per turn of 2.3 seconds, or 4 sounds in just over one second might well have been difficult to count, especially when you take into account other sounds which might have been made by the counter rotating part of the mechanisms. But it was still able to lift the same amount of weight as the Merseburg wheel. Perhaps it was made thicker to house internal weights which were both heavier and larger.
At this point I wished to insert a couple of metronome links illustrating the high speed of the sounds of the Gera wheel and the Kassel wheel but I had some problems, but here’s one which hopefully demonstrates the sound of the 300 beats per minute of the Gera wheel
The Kassel wheel diameter 12 feet, circumference 37.7 feet, speed 26 RPM, or 140 revolutions per mile. The rim speed was 11 mph. A cyclist peddling at 11mph would feel a moderate breeze; walking in a 11 mph breeze is noticeably strong. Standing by the Kassel wheel which was as wide as your living room but a third higher than the ceiling, you would certainly feel the draught coming off the wheel, just as you would if a runner ran past you at the same speed - only a much stronger draught. The amount of vibration felt in the room would have been impressive, with all the thumping weights and the massive rotating drum, spinning with enough energy ‘to lift a man off his feet if he were to grab hold of it’.
The Merseburg wheel lifted 70 pound weight up the outside of the castle, and whether you take account of the pulley system or not, that is a sizeable lift, but as I’ve pointed out before, the pulleys were used to slow the demonstration down.
Demonstrating his device in front of a lot of important people required good organising. If, for instance, the Merseburg wheel lifted the 70 pounds weight 50 feet to the top of the castle wall, as reported by professor Wolff, it would be over too quickly. The 6 inch axle turned at least 40 times a minute. 19 inch circumference would lift the stones the 50 feet in less than a minute, but slowed four fold with pulleys would provide a longer lift and give the spectators time to move to the windows and watch about 4 minutes of lift.
My point is that there have been several attempts to estimate the energy output from Bessler’s wheel, and yet there is no way of accurately establishing its potential output. We don’t know how many weights were used, nor their heaviness. We don’t know the structure within the wheel, but we do know that the first three wheels could spin at about 50 RPM, later ones could lift a weight of 70 pound, and finally run for at least 54 days. We don’t know if the bi-directional wheels had less potential than the uni-directional ones. We might assume that there was little difference if the three early wheels could all rotate at 50 rpm, including the two-way Merseburg wheel. We know the wheels were scalable up to massive sizes because Bessler tells us so, and common sense supports him.
In his Apologia Poetica Bessler writes ‘ with the help of good assistants I would have thought that something well over 20 ells in diameter would be possible, should anyone think such a thing desirable, and if the Lord should grant me the necessary strength and health’.
22 Ells is equal to 37 feet diameter! Imagine a wheel of that size and then try toconvince everyone that it only has a small energy output. Bear in mind that Bessler implies he will be available to help build such an enormous wheel should the need arise. One of the largest water wheels ever built is the Laxey wheel, built in 1854 - 72.6 feet in diameter turned 3 times a minute. According to the Domesday book, in 1089, there were over 6000 water mills in more than 3000 locations in England and Wales. Most of them were small, although wheels of more than twelve feet in diameter were plentiful in the later medieval times, so the technology and ability to build large were readily available.
One curious thing is that despite the above information there seems to be a reluctance to suggest that his wheels might have had a much larger energy output than anyone here or on BW forum might wish to be associated with. Why I don’t know, but most machines can be made larger to achieve more and this wheel certainly fits that fact. But look at this statement from Bessler, ‘ If I were to place, next to a 12-Ell wheel, one of 6-Ells, then, if I wanted to, I could cause the smaller one to revolve with more force and useful power than the large one. I can, in fact, make 2, or 3, or even more, wheels all revolving on the same axis. Further, I make my machines in such a way that, big or small, I can make the resulting power small or big as I choose. I can get the power to a perfectly calculated degree, multiplied up even as much as fourfold.
Finally, I noticed a curious coincidence, well almost a coincidence. The first three wheels rotated at 50 RPM, one might almost think they were striving for a 60 second spin speed, only friction preventing it. The Kassel one’s speed could be regarded as just half that of its earlier brethren. With no load and no friction might they have automatically measured the full minute? Just a coincidence I’m sure, but interesting, especially as there were comments about the remarkable regularity of the turning of each wheel, like clockwork.