Wednesday 11 October 2023

How I Discovered Johann Bessler’s Perpetual Motion Machine

I was about 15 years of age when I first encountered the Legend of Johann Bessler’s wheel. It was an excellent account written by R.T. Gould in his fascinating book “Oddities : A Book of Unexplained Facts” London 1928.  The chapter in question was called “The Wheel of Orffyreus”.  The story went as follows.

In 1712 Johann Bessler (aka ORFFYREUS) exhibited a machine which he claimed, drew its energy from gravity. Despite nearly twenty years of the most stringent tests, examinations and public trials, not the slightest sign of deception was ever found. Bessler died 33 years later, in poverty, still maintaining that his machine was genuine and there was no convincing evidence to the contrary. He had a number of supporters as well as enemies, and among his champions were some of the most respected men of the day. These men, included Gottfried Leibniz and Christian Wolff, top scientists of the calibre of Newton.

Bessler wanted to sell his machine for the sum of £20,000, a fortune in those days, equivalent to well over a million Pounds today. Despite the apparent audacity of asking such a large sum of money, it was not unique and in fact Bessler based the sum on the one offered by the British Board of Longitude, which, at the same time, was offering £20,000 to the first person to discover a means of locating the exact longitudinal position of a ship at sea . John Harrison eventually won the money although it took him and his son many years to get all of it from a reluctant British government.

Bessler failed to sell his machine, not for a lack of customers, but because he refused to allow access to his secret until he had the money in his possession. He offered his head to the axe man if he should be found to have deceived his prospective clients. But his determination not to risk being cheated defeated all negotiations. He died in harrowing circumstances years later, building Europe's first horizontal windmill to his own design of course. In mid-winter, starving, weak and in debt, he fell to his death.




These two pictures show all that remain of his last project; a windmill with a vertical axle to take advantage of any wind, regardless of direction.  For more detail about the windmill visit my web site at http://www.orffyreus.org/

After his death the remains of the building were utilised for a number of different enterprises because it was so sturdily built that it was thought too valuable to allow to fall into decay.  I took these pictures and several more and even today more than 300 years later, it is being offered for sale subject to some conditions to preserve it.

I found Gould’s account absolutely fascinating and since those early days I have checked it against historical records, and found it to be correct in every detail, although omitting much that wasn’t available to him at the time, some one hundred years ago.

There is a curious coincidence relating to this story; when Johann Bessler chose to ask £20,000 for the secret of his machine it was in the same amount in the same year that the British government offered their reward for a method of finding a ship’s longitudinal position at sea.  As I pointed out above John Harrison won the award for his marine chronometer.  

Harrison was 21 years old when the Longitude Act was passed. He spent the next 45 years perfecting the design of his timekeepers. He first received a reward from the Commissioners of Longitude in 1737 and did not receive his final payment until he was 80.

Coincidentally, at this time having taken a shore job at the Royal Observatory at Greenwich, in 1920 Rupert Gould visited the museum to see the Harrison chronometers, which were very corroded and dilapidated. He was inspired and wrote to the Astronomer Royal begging for permission to restore them and offered a bond of £100 against any damage he caused. He wasn’t some over confident amateur keen to tinker with an old relic, Gould had already restored one valuable antique chronometer. The Astronomer Royal gave his consent and allowed him to do the work at home rather than at Greenwich.

Gould, over a period of many years refurbished all five marine chronometers to their original condition.  It was a truly exhaustive venture, requiring special tools to be made in addition to trying to understand how they worked.

It was Rupert Gould’s book about Johann Bessler which gained my interest in Bessler and led to a life long study of the man and his life and of course his amazing wheel.  So there is a discernible thread connecting Bessler and British Board of Longitude, to John Harrison, to Rupert Gould and ultimately to myself.

I’m 78 now and I have thoroughly enjoyed my search for the truth, because it has become crystal clear to me that Johann Bessler told the truth and despite everything I’ve been taught I know beyond a shadow of doubt that his wheel was driven by gravity.  For those who don’t believe Bessler was genuine, read the numerous witness reports, letters and certificates published after a number trials and tests carried out on the machine.  Gottfried Leibniz was convinced of the inventors sincerity after having been allowed to study it twice and for a couple of hours each time.  He recommended a number of tests which could be carried out to prove that the machine was genuine. These were incorporated in the subsequent examinations which Karl the Landgrave arranged.  My book, Perpetual Motion; An ancient Mystery Solved? (PMAAMS?) details all the certificates and letters  to, from and about Bessler.

But the most important thing is the fact that Bessler left three books full of coded information which he suggested would provide proof after his death, that he had in truth invented a real working gravity-enable wheel, which I prefer to call a Gravity Wheel.  I have deciphered many of the codes and I will be publishing the information I have found, just as soon as I have built what I believe will be a working model based on Bessler’s clues.

You can read the details of many of these codes by visiting the web sites I have provided links to, in the adjoining panel on the right. There are many details in this blog which has been running for almost ten years now.  If you wish to find the codes yourself, you can obtain digital copies of Bessler’s books, each has a full English translation at the back.

There is also one more book which he never published, containing 141 drawings showing the various historical methods which were used to try and find the solution to a gravity wheel. Bessler, who planned to open a school for apprentices, intended to use a number of these drawings to take his pupils on the same journey of discovery as he himself undertook. They are collected in a book, called Maschinen Tractate, a digital copy is also available from the same right side panel.

NB. A fuller list of the books available can be seen by clicking on the top of the right hand panel where is says Bessler’s Books.  For the books click on Bessler’s books and a biography.  They an be ordered from either end of the panel.  Click on home to get back to this page.

PS On my other blog at www.gravitywheel.com I’ve begun to share information based of the pieces of code, which I’ve never shared before.  As I’m in the process of building what I hope will be a working model based on Bessler description through deciphering his clues, the added information on that blog will lag behind my build, but it will all be shown in time, even if my build fails. This is because I believe that I have 99 per cent of the information I need to make a successful build.  So even if it fails the information will be there for someone else to carry on the work I’ve started.

JC


                                                            Copyright © 2023 John Collins

14 comments:

  1. A bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush

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    1. Shutdowns aren't the best way to respond to the few naysayers here who needle you because they aren't happy with your delays or secrecy. It's best to just ignore them or better yet give everyone here more timely reports on what you are actually getting done. For example, have you yet attached the lever pivots to your new disc? Is the disc mounted on its axle and balanced yet? You set up a separate blog for those kind of updates, but so far the only recent photos you've provided us with are of that windmill Bessler almost finished in Furstenberg 278 years ago that you took 20 years ago!

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  2. Really Happy to have this door opened again..... Thank You Been reading Gravitywheel and finding your path of discovery to be very interesting. Thank You for sharing these personal details The goal is in sight Tally Ho

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  3. Most of us would never have heard about Bessler and his wheels if we had not read Ruppert T. Gould's account of him in his "Oddities" book. I recently read the wikipedia article on him and it's very interesting. He had several nervous breakdowns following the end of WWI and wound up getting a desk job at the Hydrographer's Department at the Admiralty. Aside from his interest in marine chronometers he was fascinated by paranormal phenomena and strange creature sightings and wrote about them. Maybe Bessler's wheels fit into his interests with clocks as well as the paranormal? IIRC, when Bessler first publicly exhibited his wheel there were many who thought that he was a sorcerer who had summoned demons to power it! Here's a quote from the wikipedia article on Ruppert:

    "Spurred on by the attention to the Loch Ness Monster in the popular press (news) and his previous work on the sea serpent, Gould spent some days at Loch Ness traveling around it by motorcycle. He interviewed many witnesses and collated evidence for the creature that resulted in the first major work on the phenomenon, entitled The Loch Ness Monster and Others. After this, Gould became the de facto spokesman on the subject, being a regular contributor to radio shows and newspaper articles.

    Historian Mike Dash has described Gould as "Britain's answer to Charles Fort". Paranormal writer Jerome Clark has described Gould as a "conservative and analytical" Fortean writer. However, sceptical investigator Joe Nickell has described Gould as an "overly credulous paranormalist".

    Gould was born in 1890 and died in 1948 at age 57. His Oddities book was published in 1928. I first read it during the 1960's. Here's a photo of Ruppert in his library taken in 1942 six years before he died:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rupert_Gould#/media/File:Rupert_Gould.png

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    1. Gould must have found out about Bessler as he was studying the marine chronometers built by John Harrison who was trying to win a British government prize of 20,000 pounds offered in 1714 for an accurate way to determine longitude while at sea. A very accurate clock was the solution Harrison came up with and he eventually won that prize. That was also around the time Bessler's wheels were appearing in Europe and making news. Bessler must have heard about the prize and that is why he wanted the exact same amount for the secret of his wheels. Somehow researching Harrison led Gould to the Bessler story and he was able to make it known to us. A lot of coincidences involved for the story to finally reach us.

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  4. JC wrote above "These two pictures show all that remain of his last project; a windmill with a vertical axle to take advantage of any wind, regardless of direction."

    I assume that only the first two stories made of stones are original and everything above that eventually weathered away and was replaced with other structures. But, how cool it must have been to stand in the same doorway that Mr. Bessler actually walked through centuries ago!

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  5. I wandered through the various rooms and up the stairs. I marvelled at the incredible massiveness of the building. I looked for signs of clues; writings, drawings, anything that might have drawn my attention to his wheel, but there was nothing.

    The walls were old and the plaster breaking off here and there. There were no internal doors left. The building has been used and abused for different purposes many times over the centuries and it’s hard to know how it originally looked inside.

    Yes the only original part is the lower two stories. But it felt as though Bessler was present, but that is just my imagination.

    JC

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    1. Have you ever thought , in the roughly drawn blueprints of the building , there are scales drawn to show the buildings measurements , that perhaps at location x=5 y=5 ........

      So anyway , I wanted to say by the looks of the drawings , it seems there were 2 versions planned or thought of , a horizontal axle and a vertical axle version , so it might be that there were suppose to be 2 of them and not 1.

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    2. JB, I’ve studied the drawings for many years but I’m sure that they were never intended to be shared with anyone else, so although I tried many ideas such as yours I don’t think there can be any information of use to us in our quest.

      There is only one version shown, although it’s easy to be misled into thinking there are two. As the notes were just for himself he did not worry too much about perspective and this causes a certain amount of confusion. All the axles shown are upright either from the side or from above. He’s included mill wheels as well. Hope this helps.

      JC

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    3. "JB, I’ve studied the drawings for many years but I’m sure that they were never intended to be shared with anyone else, so although I tried many ideas such as yours I don’t think there can be any information of use to us in our quest."

      I dont think there is anything hidden in those drawings too, i studied them too , i was thinking out loud since the walls were so thick i wonder if the thought ever crossed your mind.

      "There is only one version shown, although it’s easy to be misled into thinking there are two. As the notes were just for himself he did not worry too much about perspective and this causes a certain amount of confusion. All the axles shown are upright either from the side or from above. He’s included mill wheels as well. Hope this helps."

      Hope this helps , i cant read what he wrote , but the images seem to indicate a horizontal and vertical design , see?
      http://postimg.cc/hh7yRBbH
      http://postimg.cc/rzWJY9qT
      http://postimg.cc/jnz4wRM2
      http://postimg.cc/bs9RqNGF

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    4. In my opinion Bessler’s sketches show a vertical shaft windmill, plus the machinery inside. This includes horizontal shafts leading from the rotating windmill to the other parts needed such as the ‘dust floor’, the cereal feed system, the grindstones, the meal room etc.

      This link shows you some of the machinery Bessler would have needed to include but in a different positions because of the vertical shaft.

      https://www.norfolkmills.co.uk/windmill-machinery.html

      There is also documentary evidence of Bessler’s quotation to the members of the town council offering the vertical shaft windmill. I don’t have that evidence but there is circumstantial evidence. On the other hand Bessler could have considered the traditional windmill but not gone down that route for his own reasons. But I don’t think he would even have considered it.

      Again, just my opinion and you could be right.

      JC

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  6. It appears there were 2 options on the table though , thats my oppinion.

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    1. I would like to add also , the concept of vertical mills weren't as new as one might think , they have been designed very long ago (ancient) , it is just that it was not used as much as the common windmills https://www.tasteiran.net/stories/12099/nashtifan-ancient-windmills

      Secondly , i would like to add , Bessler's plans showed no way for a large amount of wind to circulate , he drew them enclosed inside the building , he did not draw ventilation except for the windows drawn there , i wonder what the real build would have looked like then with ventilation.

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    2. "He died in harrowing circumstances years later, building Europe's first horizontal windmill to his own design of course. In mid-winter, starving, weak and in debt, he fell to his death."

      "These two pictures show all that remain of his last project; a windmill with a vertical axle to take advantage of any wind, regardless of direction."

      "In my opinion Bessler’s sketches show a vertical shaft windmill, plus the machinery inside."

      John you wrote "building Europe's first horizontal windmill" then "a windmill with a vertical axle" and "Bessler’s sketches show a vertical shaft windmill".

      Just making you aware of that too.

      regards.

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The True Story of Johann Bessler and His Perpetual Motion.

  On  6th June, 1712, in Germany, Johann Bessler (also known by his pseudonym, Orffyreus) announced that after many years of failure, he had...