Gould included an account of ‘The Wheel of Orffyreus’, which, since those long ago days, I have come to realise, is the best account of Bessler’s wheel, (up to my own, of course!) My own research confirmed everything he wrote about, but of course, back in 1930, he did not have the tools for research that we have now. Gould described the accusations Bessler’s maid fabricated against him and it was in her description of how she was made to turn the wheel that I first saw a glimmer of light, which I latterly understood to be proof that she lied. It was that tiny crack in the wall of professional scepticism by the members of the elite scientific, rich and powerful men of those days that allowed me to see an alternative to the narrative that had sealed Bessler’s fate and perpetuated the idea that he was a criminal.
That brief sudden moment of clarity engendered by the impossibility of the maid’s claims against Bessler remained with me for several years until I realised I would get no resolution to my concerns until I had either tried to build a perpetual motion machine myself, or tried to find out more about Johann Bessler.
The first research involved obtaining as much information as possible from the British Museum Library, including some of Bessler’s original publications and other documents referring or relating to him. The immediate problem confronting me was that I had no German, neither the modern kind nor the 300 year old kind. Unphased by this seemingly insurmountable problem at the naive age of about 24, I wrote a letter to a local paper requesting assistance of anyone prepared to translate some old German documents free of charge. Amazingly I received offers of help from six or seven people. I settled on one man, Mike Senior, who became a life long friend but who, sadly, passed away a couple of years ago. He was an ex-school teacher who left because he complained the kids didn't want to learn. He had degrees in 18th C German, classic Greek and Latin plus Astrophysics and Botany! He was a regular contributer to various scholarly magazines and had solutions to some of the most complex puzzles particularly those of a mathematical nature. Everything of Bessler’s which I have published was translated by Mike, other than the notes accompanying Maschinen Tractate which accomplished by fellow researcher from the USA.
I would say that since the age of 24 I have been involved in Bessler research and as I will be 74, next year, that is approaching 50 years. I have constructed countless models each built in the hope that it would spin continuously driven purely by the force of gravity causing the falling of weights inside the wheel. Have I ever felt like giving up? No, never because I know Bessler succeeded and it is therefore possible.
The concept is simple and Karl the Landgrave was surprised no-one had thought of it before, so it s only a matter of time. I would have thought 50 years was time enough!
It's only been during the last three or four years that I have begun to understand how he did it, but even then it has been a hard fought battle to find some of his clues and work them out, and correct the false first impressions I got. So far all those clues found and interpreted by many people do not seem to have any relevance to a solution and only time will tell if mine are any better. So next year? I've lost count of the times I've suggested that, but confidence is high!