A Visit to Mr. Keely - Astounding Performance of the Keely Motor, A. Wilford Hall, editor, Scientific Arena, July, 1886
“These experiments having been continued till satisfactory all round, and un- til many present had been supplied with flattened bullets, the final and most important demonstration of all was given in the actual running of the “Keely Motor” itself, of which the world has heard so much, and which consisted in a 25 horse-power rotary engine actuated alone by this so-called etheric vapor. And here we approach the description of a performance in very simple machinery for which our readers will need to summon all their resources of credulity in order not to suspect us of deliberate fabrication. But we declare in advance that what we are about to state are facts of which we are as positively certain as we are that we were personally then and there present.
“The “engine,” if it may thus be designated, consists of a smooth hollow sphere of metal about two feet in diameter.
“On this revolving trunnion, which extends as a shaft beyond the frame which supports the sphere, was secured a common pulley of a foot or so in diameter and of about six inches face, from which a belt of leather led to a saw, turning lathe, etc., in the room overhead. A valve-pipe leads into the interior of the sphere through an opening made in that trunnion, which remains stationary with the iron frame supporting the sphere. To the inner end of this fixed trunnion (as was shown by a similar sphere which was left open for inspection) are secured numerous resonating tubes and other vibratory devices, but which also remain stationary or fast to the inner end of the trunnion without touching the revolving sphere.
“Now comes the mistery of mysteries in mechanical contrivances, namely, the revolving of this sphere as the valve-wheel at the trunnion is turned, thus admitting the etheric vapor from the receiver through the flexible copper tube as before described.
“How this “engine” runs or on what principle a mechanical foothold can be secured within this smooth, empty by the vapor for moving any kind of machinery, was a matter concerning which no one present ventured to proffer even an approximate guess. Mr. Keely explains the process and the modus operandi by saying that the gas when once let into the sphere takes a direction which causes a vortex or whirl around its axis, thus, brushing its inner surface at enormous velocity, and that this interatomic vapor is of such a penetrating nature that it seizes upon the molecular structure of the sphere itself, thus pulling it along with it in its prodigious flight. This, perhaps, is as good an explanation as is possible to get at during the present stage of his invention, though it is utterly incomprehensible to the writer, even after thinking and dreaming over it for weeks since witnessing this marvelous fea- ture in the working of the engine.
“What is most astonishing about the rotation of this sphere, by simply turning on the vapor, is the fact that there is no escape for the gas anywhere, after it has done its work, nor any outlet or exhaust-pipe for such escape, as is well known to be absolutely necessary in the use of any gas, liquid, or vapor known to mechanics, and by which engines are readily driven. Instead of such apparently essential provision it seems, when the pressure of vapor is once admitted and the claimed whirling process has commenced, that it goes on indefinitely in some unaccountable manner, doing its work with unabated energy, and with no wings or internal projecting abutments against which to place itself and thus exert a moving pressure. And even if there were such projecting abutments, the force, when once inside the globe, must be free, according to the laws of fluid pressure, to act on both sides of such projections, thus preventing all motion of the sphere by stable equilibrium. This must be so according to all known or even conceivable principles or laws of mechanicals.
“Another, and perhaps still the strangest performance of all, in the operation of this engine, is the startling fact that Mr. Keely can cause the sphere to revolve in either direction and with similar power and velocity by letting the gas in at the same valve, and precisely in the same way! We suggested to him several times during the hour the engine was working, which way to start the globe revolving, and after touching it with his fingers and moving it slightly in the direction we named, he would turn on the force and the revolutions would begin with almost terrific velocity in the direction we had indicated.
“This single fact, with absolutely no exhaust and with no possible piston arrangement or movable abutment device inside as in rotary steam, gas, and water engines, demonstrates to our mind beyond the shadow of a doubt that the sphere must revolve by the whirling motion of the vapor inside of it, as Mr. Keely claims, and that the direction of this vortex, or whirl of gas, must be determined by the initial push given the sphere by the hand of the operator. This initial push of the globe in a new direction must therefore change in some way the end of the inlet pipe to an opposite whirl at the point where it emerges from the trunnion within the sphere. Still the mystery of its turning at all remains the same.
“We have considerable experience of late years in physical and mechanical investigations, and, as our friends believe, with some degree of success in solving intricate scientific problems, but we have never before been so utterly nonplused and at our wits’ end as in trying to give a rational explanation of this Keely engine on any known or conceivable principles of physical science or mechanics.
“That the engine, as well as the frame on which it runs, is entirely disconnected from the floor, having no pipes, wires, or other devices leading below or outside of the building by which extraneous power can communicate with the sphere to cause it to revolve, in incontestably certain, since the fullest opportunity was given us to scrutinize every part of it and the foundation on which it rested. That it actually runs, with the most tremendous mechanical power and velocity, alone from the gas or vapor, or whatever it is, let into it by turning the valve-wheel referred to, we are willing to stake and risk what little reputation we have, or ever expect to possess, for scientific or mechanical sagacity. We have been warned by friends since returning from the exhibition and expressing our opinion privately, not to injure our reputation by a public statement of such facts. But our reply has been that all the reputation we have ever earned has been from frankly avowing our conscientious convictions upon every physical problem presenting itself, and however much such opinions might fly into the face of the prevailing notions of science. [underline added]
“We are now too old to change front from and cowardly fear of being called a crank, though we are well aware that by this statement concerning the Keely motor we are endorsing mechanical results as simple facts, without any adequate cause for their accomplishment, so far as at present known to science and philosophy. All this, however, is the evident fault of science and philosophy, and not at all the fault of the facts which we have narrated, and of which more than twenty-five intelligent gentlemen present were witnesses with their eyes wide open in broad daylight, and concerning the truth of which, as here recorded, each one of them will certify if questioned upon the subject.
“The power of the engine to do efficient mechanical work was abundantly demonstrated in sawing wood, running turning lathes, etc., in the room over-head, connected by belting from the pulley attached to one of the trunnions, and also by a plank pressed down on this driving pulley, in order to check its motion by friction, with the weight of two men resting on the plank.
“With the actual running of this engine as an incomprehensible mystery, and with the demonstrated fact of a successful application of its mechanical power to do work, there can no longer be any manner of question but that Mr. Keely has made startling discoveries both in a new and undreamed of motive power and its mechanical application to machinery by new methods as astonishing as they are novel.
“That he uses compressed air or any known gas, as charged and insisted upon in the Scientific American, is absurd and totally impossible to conceive of, when we consider the available space for such compressed gas or air in all the cylinders put together which Mr. Keely employs. Besides, the phenomena accompanying the discharges of this gas or vapor after each experiment are entirely different from those of compressed air or ordinary gas.
“Mr. Keely justly complains that the Scientific American editors keep up the hue and cry of humbug and fraud against him, and at the same time have refused the most urgent invitation extended to them to come to Philadelphia and witness the operations of his discoveries before ridiculing them. It is a withering disgrace to the boasted progress of this age that any editor of a paper which flaunts “scientific” as a part of its title, should be afraid to witness and investigate a claimed new discovery before expressing an opinion upon it, lest it should render his journal unpopular with the unprogressive fogies of his patronage. Such spirit of journalistic cowardice is not only reprehensible, but detestable in the highest degree, and no paper pretending to be progressive should be considered worth reading by any thinking man so long as it fears to investigate any and all questions of science, philosophy, and mechanics which may come under its notice, and then give its readers the benefits of its unprejudiced opinion, let it strike where it will.
“It is only proper here for us to state that during the early experiments of the exhibition we were intensely distrustful of the mechanical relevancy of the bowing of the forks and of other vibratory performances in order to generate the wonderful force Mr. Keely evidently exhibited, but supposed them to be a sort of ruse or blind for the purpose of diverting the ingenuity of inventors present, who might otherwise pry into and discover the secret of his motive power. This apprehension we frankly stated to Mr. Keely, not at all intending it as an imputation against his honesty, though he thus took it, in the excitement of his experiments, and for which remark we afterward apologized. Suffice it to say, we came very nearly being voted out of the exhibition for unguardedly expressing our skepticism, in which case, had it occurred, this report would never have been written.
“But fortunately, after seeing the operations of the engine, the tuning fork difficulty became a matter of little consequence - a mere bagatelle in the way - as we asked ourself the serious question - if this sphere really revolves as we see that it does, and if it must so act contrary to all known or conceivable laws of mechanics, may not this so-called etheric vapor, which is capable of such unique performance, be all that Mr. Keely claims for it? And if this be a reasonable conclusion, my not such an unknown and inexplicable force be actually generated or liberated by the inexplicable agency or sound-force as correlated to the cohesive force which holds the particles of the air together? In all candor, as we contemplated what we had seen as simple facts, we were forced up dead against this problem: If the engine itself really does what we saw it do, in total defiance of every known force which was capable of doing such work might possibly be eliminated from the primordial constituents of the oxygen and nitrogen of the air by the interaction of sound and cohesion, combined possibly with the presence of electricity?
“In our continued editorial in this number of THE ARENA, and which will be concluded next month, on “How Substantialism Solves the Problems of Science,” we have shown, as will appear at the close, something in philosophy and science just as marvelous and inexplicable on any known principles of physics as anything claimed by Mr. Keely, but about the truth of which no scientific can have a shadow of doubt. If, for example, a bar for the solid metal Palladium, under the mild influence of a negative current or electricity that would not be felt by a kitten, will expand its texture one-twentieth (which no mechanical effort could effect) in order to take into its pores 900 times its own bulk of hydrogen gas, thus mechanically compressing the gas to a solid as firm as the metal itself, a work which a powerful steam engine could not accomplish, all of which we show to be absolutely true, may not the correlation and interaction of the forces of sound, electricity, and cohesion, through certain sonorous appliances and manipulations, evolve an inter-atmospheric vapor of hitherto unknown expansibility, and which will also give out the working energy of a steam engine with a trifling expenditure of mechanical force for its origination, as Mr. Keely insists, no greater than that of the negative electric current to which we have just referred? As an able scientist insists, if Mr. Keely’s discovery shall prove to be really what it claims to be, it will only be another overwhelming confirmation of the general truth of Substantialism in its solutions of nature’s manifold problems, by the interaction and correlation of the substantial forces.
“What the probable value of Mr. Keely’s discoveries will prove to be, it is difficult if not impossible to predict. If his large engine, now nearly completed, shall prove as successful in operation in proportion to its size as has the smaller one whose working we have tried faithfully to report, there is no question in our mind that the doom of steam as a motive power is only a question of a little time. [A Visit to Mr. Keely - Astounding Performance of the Keely Motor, A. Wilford Hall, editor, Scientific Arena, July, 1886.]