On 6th June, 1712, in Germany, Johann Bessler (also known by his pseudonym, Orffyreus) announced that after many years of failure, he had succeeded in designing and building a perpetual motion machine. For more than fourteen years he exhibited his machine and allowed people to thoroughly examine it. Following advice from the famous scientist, Gottfried Leibniz, who was able to examine the device, he devised a number of demonstrations and tests designed to prove the validity of his machine without giving away the secret of its design.
Monday 28 February 2022
Thursday 24 February 2022
The Merseburg wheel and the Weissenstein or Kassel wheel were two-way ones and could both be turned in either direction with a gentle push in the desired direction. I have always believed that the way this was achieved was by placing a pair of one-way wheels on the same axle, but with one wheel designed to turn in the opposite direction to its twin. This would create a balanced wheel, with no restrained impulse to turn it in any direction.
Giving it a push sufficient for one weight to fall would initiate the impulse to begin to turn in that direction. Once begun, the sequence would be repeated continuously. When a twinned wheel was to be turned in reverse it had to be designed with one of two options; firstly it could be allowed to move as dictated by the positions the rotation caused it to adopt, with little or no negative effect on the mechanical advantage being generated by it’s paired wheel; or there was a feature or device designed within each mechanism which locked it into whatever position it was in as soon the first weight in the other half of the twinned wheel fell..
Many years ago I tested this theory using models of two Savonius windmills mounted on one axle, but not fixed to the axle. Each one was designed to turn in the opposite direction to its twin. Firstly they were allowed to turn independently of each other and when placed in the path of a fan, each began to rotate in opposite directions. Next I coupled the two windmills together. Now neither moved when in the path of the wind. I gave the joined windmills a little nudge in one direction and the assembly began to turn in one direction. The same thing happened in the other direction of rotation. I gave a full account of the above experiment in my biography of Bessler, “Perpetual Motion; An Ancient Mystery Solved?”
The resultant rotation was about half the speed of the uncoupled windmills. In this example the concave portion of the Savonius windmill when moving against the wind led to a braking effect, hence the slower speed of rotation. However in the Kassel wheel the half speed of rotation was a desired effect to reduce wear on the bearings. In the Merseburg wheel I think Bessler found a way to lock and block negative action in the wheel which was forced to reverse.
If the reversing mirror-imaged wheel generated some resistance to the forward motion of its twin, Bessler must have found a way to wipe out all of it in the Merseburg wheel, because it was able to rotate at about the same speed as the other one-way wheels. Or it might have been possible to stop all mechanical action in the reversing wheel, because without any weight movement there, the wheel would not be out of balance at anytime. Unless the mechanisms stopped in one position which would have led to an imbalance at one point in rotation. It might have been this that Bessler said, gave him a headache trying to set it correctly - stopping the weights from moving at all in the reversing wheel was one task but how to achieve that neutral point of balance at any point in rotation, automatically?
Saturday 19 February 2022
When Johann Bessler’s largest wheel, the two-way version, was demonstrated at Kassel, it was recorded that the sound of eight weights were heard to land softly on the side towards which it turned. I have often suggested that there might have been ten weights, but two of them, one in each half of the wheel, given a thick layer of felt to deaden the sound of their impact, giving the impression that there were only eight weights. However if that was the case, the rhythmic thumping noise heard from the wheel, turning at 26 rpm means each turn took 2.3 seconds. Counting 8 thumps every 2.3 seconds it’s no wonder von Erlach said “about” 8 thumps per turn. Even so, if there were two silent weights operating, their silence would have introduced two gaps in the rhythmic thumping. Surely this would have been mentioned?
The description of each weight landing “softly” suggests they were all felted. The official reports specifically mention the great evenness of the wheel’s rotation which I think, obviates my suggestion of one or more silenced weights. So perhaps there were two sets of eight weights each set driving the Kassel wheel in a particular direction. The reason why I introduced the idea that there could have been two inaudible weights was because I could not understand why some researchers said that they were trying to make a two-way wheel which according to Bessler was very difficult; while others were using the eight weight description which applied to the two-way Kassel wheel to make a one-way wheel. We have no knowledge of the sounds emanating from the one-way wheels other than that they were very noisy.
The Kassel wheel was designed to turn more slowly than its predecessors each of which were able to turn at about double the speed. The Kassel wheel was built to withstand the wear and tear it expected to undergo during the endurance test of 30 days which, in the end, ran for 54 days before it was stopped. It’s speed of rotation was slowed by a half to preserve the integrity of its bearings and I assume this was achieved by reducing the distances of the movements within the mechanism. This design might have reduced the mechanical leverage obtained in the previous wheels, but increasing the mass of the weights might retrieve the lost lifting power. This may explain the increase in the thickness, or depth of the Kassel wheel, compared to its predecessor, the Merseburg wheel. In support of this suggestion Bessler said that he could make wheels turn very slowly and lift greater weights or turn very quickly, of small size or of great size.
All this tells us that we have documented evidence of one wheel using eight weights, turning at 26 rpm and nothing about the others except they each rotated at around 50 rpm yet were all of different dimensions. That sounds to me like 50 rpm was the best speed available with Bessler’s design, regardless of size and the 26 rpm version was the modified design. If the mechanisms inside the Kassel wheel moved through a limited range compared to the others, then perhaps there were more of them inside than in the others - 8 or more? Fine if you are committed to building the two-way wheel, even though you don’t know how the one-way wheel worked, but I think the one-way one is the way to go!
Saturday 12 February 2022
It seems as though our move to our next house is looking at least three months away, so I’ve decided to change my plans. I’m going to complete a drawing of how I believe Bessler’s wheel worked, I’m also trying to complete the book detailing all the information Bessler gave us about how how his wheel worked and I will explain the simple concept which made it work. I will also get a sim made according to my design
The book will be available in both printed and digital format - possibly through my new web site or on Amazon. By the time it’s ready for publication there will be a sim demonstrating how it works, and the sim will be real without any camouflage or deliberate or accidental failure or bugs which prevent anyone viewing it or making their own version. The design is simple to understand although it may take me a while build it, which is why I’m taking the time before we move to try and prepare everything I might need.
I will just point out that over the last twelve years that this blog has been running I have posted details about information I have deciphered from Bessler’s clues and they have generally all been dismissed or ignored. I haven’t minded, but I am kind of surprised that the same errors of misunderstanding or misinterpretation have continued to proliferate and become embedded in the surrounding trivia, so that it become difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff.
It was always my intention to offer information based purely on documentary evidence, ignoring from the beginning the assumption that Bessler’s wheel must be a scam because such a machine was said to be impossible. I studied the evidence in those documents and knew that that assumption was wrong.
Some of the translations were mildly inaccurate, but not so much that they misled people. Thanks to the work of several people those inaccuracies were corrected. Thus we have this corpus of texts which should be our starting point. Speculation is useful but it must be recognised as such and not embedded in the rest of the real evidence where it can mislead or slant opinions without foundation.
People are welcome to research this material as they like, but I would urge them to keep it simple and not, for instance try to invent the two-way turning wheel, such as the Merseburg and the Weissenstein wheels. Bessler himself mentions how difficult they were to complete successfully. In which case using the reports by Fischer von Erlach which described the sound of eight weights landing on the side towards which the wheel turned is of no use if you are trying to make a own-way wheel, and why would you want to start with the hardest one to replicate, surely the simplest one, the one-way wheel is the one to start with?
So I believe that once people can see my work on deciphering Bessler’s clues and the solution, the sound of headdesking will be like a worldwide rolling roar of thunder - an example of a physical expression of extreme frustration, aggravation and annoyance or resignation that you didn’t see it yourself!
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