I decided that when I was 78, I would begin to share what information I have acquired over the years, that I haven’t published before. So today I’m 78 and ready to publish the same details both here and on the BW forum. It will be brief and to the point, and I may not show where all the clues came from, but I can tell you that all the clues I found came from GB, AP, DT and the Toys Page in MT. None came from Bessler’s portraits, which means that my information probably doesn’t relate to any of Ken’s, and when you see them you will understand why I have been so dismissive of his work.
It has been 63 years at least since I first met Johann Bessler. Then I was no more than about 15 years of age and I read and reread the account by Rupert T. Gould in his compendium of Unexplained Facts, called “Oddities” and wondered if the story was true. At that time I reluctantly accepted that it must have been a false claim and Bessler was lying - because that was what I was taught!
A few years later, and after many attempts at drawing numerous sketches of perpetual motion machines, I happened to be in a second hand bookshop and quite by accident came across an original copy of “Oddities”. I bought it and devoured the details avidly and almost immediately I spotted the flaw in the maid’s evidence.
She claimed that the wheel was turned by means of a lever secreted within the supporting pillars of the wheel. This was connected to a turning handle fixed to the wall of Bessler’s bedroom. This lever was apparently designed to turn the wheel by applying force to the bearings on the ends of the axle. My first thought was that it wouldn’t be possible. The contact point was too small, the wheel was too big and heavy, and most unbelievable, for the endurance test, Bessler, his wife, his 14 year old daughter and the maidservant herself, were required to operate the wheel 24/7 for 54 days! These illuminating statements were responses to questions raised by investigators to her charge that Bessler was a fraud.
The bearings were always open to inspection; the wheel was routinely moved from one set of support pillars to a second set, to allow the many examiners to check for such just such tricks. There were other questions all designed to get to the truth of her accusations, but one she was unable to answer was the Landgrave of Hesse’s role in these events. He had stated that the wheel was genuine and he had personally inspected it, verified that it worked and fully understood it. He had issued a certificate saying that. He had only allowed Bessler to exhibit the machine subject to his approval. It’s worth noting that the Landgrave was respected for a number of experiments which he had funded to aid Denis Papin with his steam engine. He was known as a man interested in keeping up with the latest scientific thinking.
So with these considerations firmly fixed in my mind I proposed to try to find out how Bessler’s wheel worked. I was aware that I might also discover how he faked it, and that was acceptable. But I didn’t worry that it might take a long time to find out anything useful the latest, but I didn’t think it would take this long. I have, over many years, identified numerous clues and published many of them, but it’s only been within the last two years that I finally got to the truth and I now know how Bessler’s wheel worked.
So I hope to build a working model, or Proof of Principle in my 78th year. My only concern is that my engineering skills and equipment might not be up to the job. Consequently I have found some kind person to make a sim according to the design I’m working on. Hopefully we’ll know soon if I’m right, but I’m absolutely convinced that this design is the one Bessler used……BUT as I always say, even if it fails, I’m certain that my design is 99 per cent correct so I’ll publish the details and explain how I arrived at the solution. There will be no doubt in anyone’s mind once you see the real clues, that this design is correct.