My own project to build a version of Bessler's wheel in order to prove that I know how to do so, is progressing slowly and steadily. I’m using old bits and pieces from previous attempts and having to adapt them to their new purpose which is probably slowing things down, but it is less costly than buying in new material.
Now that I have accepted that nothing will prove the design other than an actual working model, I have enjoyed being in my workshop again, but I wish the temperature outside would warm up a lot. It’s currently -4 degrees Centigrade which is equal to 24.8 degrees Fahrenheit and I can’t heat the garage enough to make any difference. But I wrap up and it’s not so bad.
The wheel is three feet in diameter, marked out in fifths, like a pentagram. There are five mechanisms and five weights. I am working on constructing the levers which isn’t too problematic. I can see where the cords will pass and I have the ten pulleys marked out approximately.
I thought the cords might present a problem because there would be times in their action when the cord would loosen, and I would have to design some way of gathering the loose cord to hold it ready to tighten again. I considered attaching the pulleys to a spring loaded short lever, but in the end I found that it won’t be a problem because the falling weight which will pull the pre-falling weight just 30 degrees, acts at exactly the same time as the pre-falling weight, so the cord always remains taut. Both actions are simultaneous.
On another matter, I see the comments previously have cast doubt on the power obtainable from Bessler’s wheel. Bessler himself said he believed a wheel of some 20 ells in diameter would be possible.
From my book about Bessler, “ John Rowley, master of mechanicks, for making a dam before and behind the engine, for clearing the old foundation, for setting down a new frame, 26 foot long and 11 foot high, broad enough for the twelve foot wheel for the new wheel of twenty-four foot diameter and twelve foot broad; for the new brass engine with brasses to the crank, forcing rods and a new crank et. . . £740.”
From this we can see such a large wheel was readily achievable
A 20 ell diameter wheel would be about 37 feet wide, and Bessler was obviously answering a simple question about what might be achievable. But having a wheel of such a large diameter is not necessary, when you could mount several wheels on a single axle, thus multiplying the potential output many times over, while keeping the diameter smaller. Modern designs would adapt a wheel to minimise the space required.
Wind turbines can be over 300 feet high and more than 200 feet wide Steam turbines can weight hundreds of tons, by comparison Bessler wheels could be effective at much smaller sizes.
It has often been commented that the reason he never sold his machine was because it wasn’t as powerful as competing methods such as water wheels and wind mills, one reason for his failure to sell his machine was because of his terms of sale. He demanded the money up front before anyone could look inside the device - an understandable precaution. No one was prepared to risk that. The Czar of Russia, Peter the Great, was prepared to accept such a deal, although if Bessler had been found cheating, there is no doubt he would have demanded the ultimate sanction of execution. Unfortunately Peter died on the way to Kassel.
The other reason that his wheel was never sold was because no one could find a practical use for it. Windmills and water wheels had accomplished all that people needed and Bessler’s wheel was unproven. The only use which was considered was in removing water from flooded mines and that was solved by Newcomen’s Beam engine which began to remove water from Cornish mines in about 1705. This system used a piston pump, something unavailable to Bessler’s wheel. Although ingenious, Bessler’s machine would never find a practical use until our time, when we need a cheap, 24/7 device for producing electricity anywhere in the world.