There is occasionally debate both here and on the Besslerwheel.com forum about the source of the energy used by Johann Bessler’s wheel, and yet not as much agreement as one might have expected. There are many theories, some stranger than others, and yet Bessler makes it perfectly clear where the energy comes from. He says, at one point, ‘these weights are themselves the PM device and the essential constituent parts which must of necessity continue to exercise their motive force so long as they keep away from the centre of gravity.’
How much more clearly could he have stated it? There is no doubt in my mind that gravity is the chief constituent of what ever provides the necessary drive to cause the wheel to turn continuously. I used to say that gravity provided the energy, but that statement is incorrect because gravity is not a source of energy. I saw this interesting comment on the matter.
In answer to the following question “Since gravity is unlimited, can we use it as an infinite energy source?” Dr Christoper S. Baird responded, “ No, gravity can not be used as an infinite energy source. In fact, strictly speaking, gravity itself can not be used as an energy source at all. You are confusing forces with energy, which are very different things. Energy is a property of objects, such as balls, atoms, light beams, or batteries. In contrast, forces describe the interaction between objects. Forces are the way that energy is transferred from one object to another when they interact, but forces are not the energy itself. Gravity is a force, so it just provides one way for objects to exchange and transform energy to different states.
We can say that energy is a kinetic or potential property of the weights - and gravity can transfer that energy to Bessler’s wheel by causing the weights to fall. We can apply that energy in two ways; one way is to land the weight in a position which overbalances the wheel making it rotate a little bit, but then you need to lift the weight back again but there is not enough energy left to complete the lift required; the second way is to apply some of the energy during the fall of each weight, using the fall to raise the weight that has previously fallen. Perhaps this could lead us towards the solution? If we can find a way to combine the two actions we might succeed. When a weight falls, it will continue to fall until something stops it. The fall of that weight may be slowed if it has to raise another weight as it falls. But when the weight stops it’s fall, if it lands in a position to one side of the centre of gravity, it may not be falling in the same way as before but it can still add its effect to the rotation of the wheel, simply by it being out of balance.
So Bessler’s wheel was enabled by gravity, (and thank you to Bill McMurtry for suggesting that refinement, so long ago that I doubt he remembers now!) Reading the above comments we can see that gravity caused the weights to fall, ‘landing on the side towards which the wheel turns’ and causing it to rotate, through imbalance; but…. during its fall the weight is not doing anything except moving downwards because of gravity, but it could use a portion of that energy generated by its fall, to help raise the previously fallen weight?