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PowerPedia:Tesla's Pierce-Arrow

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1930 Pierce-Arrow Twin Cowl Phaeton, from French export catalog
1930 Pierce-Arrow Twin Cowl Phaeton, from French export catalog

Of all the legends about Nikola Tesla, one of the most intriguing is that he ran a touring sedan on a little black box, extracting energy freely somehow from the wheelwork of nature, requiring no petrol. This page is to provide documentation about that device and the event concerning Tesla's Pierce-Arrow.

Contents

KeelyNet BBS

TESLAFE1.ASC

Gene Langkopf posted an article to the "KeelyNet BBS" on January 30, 1993, as the Tesla's Electric Car #1 - 01/09/98 (TESLAFE1.ASC) file. Portion of that file follows:

Dallas Morning News

The Electric Auto that almost triumphed
Power Source of '31 car still a mystery
by A. C. Greene ("Texas Sketches column", Dallas Morning News. January 24th.)
[ed., omitted text not related to Tesla's car ...]
[...] a mystery car once demonstrated by Nikola Tesla, developer of alternating current, that might have made electrics triumphant.
Supported by the Pierce-Arrow Co. and General Electric in 1931, he took the gasoline engine from a new Pierce-Arrow and replaced it with an 80-horsepower alternating-current electric motor with no external power source.
At a local radio shop he bought 12 vacuum tubes, some wires and assorted resistors, and assembled them in a circuit box 24 inches long, 12 inches wide and 6 inches high, with a pair of 3-inch rods sticking out. Getting into the car with the circuit box in the front seat beside him, he pushed the rods in, announced, "We now have power," and proceeded to test drive the car for a week, often at speeds of up to 90 mph.
As it was an alternating-current motor and there were no batteries involved, where did the power come from?
Popular responses included charges of "black magic," and the sensitive genius didn't like the skeptical comments of the press. He removed his mysterious box, returned to his laboratory in New York - and the secret of his power source died with him.
[...]

Packard Newsletter

The Forgotten Art of Electric - Powered Automobiles
by Arthur Abrom
[ed., omitted text of early electric automobiles ...]
[...] in 1931, under the financing of Pierce-Arrow and George Westinghouse, a 1931 Pierce-Arrow was selected to be tested at the factory grounds in Buffalo, N.Y. The standard internal combustion engine was removed and an 80-H.P. 1800 r.p.m electric motor installed to the clutch and transmission. The A.C. motor measured 40 inches long and 30 inches in diameter and the power leads were left standing in the air - no external power source!
At the appointed time, Nikola Tesla arrived from New York City and inspected the Pierce-Arrow automobile. He then went to a local radio store and purchased a handful of tubes (12), wires and assorted resistors. A box measuring 24 inches long, 12 inches wide and 6 inches high was assembled housing the circuit. The box was placed on the front seat and had its wires connected to the air-cooled, brushless motor. Two rods 1/4" in diameter stuck out of the box about 3" in length.
Mr. Tesla got into the driver's seat, pushed the two rods in and stated, "We now have power". He put the car into gear and it moved forward! This vehicle, powered by an A.C. motor, was driven to speeds of 90 m.p.h. and performed better than any internal combustion engine of its day! One week was spent testing the vehicle. Several newspapers in Buffalo reported this test. When asked where the power came from, Tesla replied, "From the ethers all around us". Several people suggested that Tesla was mad and somehow in league with sinister forces of the universe. He became incensed, removed his mysterious box from the vehicle and returned to his laboratory in New York City. His secret died with him!
It is speculated that Nikola Tesla was able to somehow harness the earth's magnetic field that encompasses our planet. And, he somehow was able to draw tremendous amounts of power by cutting these lines of force or causing them to be multiplied together. The exact nature of his device remains a mystery but it did actually function by powering the 80 h.p. A.C. motor in the Pierce-Arrow at speeds up to 90 m.p.h. and no recharging was ever necessary!
[ed., omitted text not related to Tesla's car ...]

Sysop commentary

This following is a KeelyNet Sysop comments on the "Tesla Power Box" (on the page "Tesla's Electric Car #2", 01/09/98) as described in the original file "TESLAFE1.ASC":

The following are the details as removed from the file TESLAFE1 :
  • "The standard internal combustion engine was removed and an 80-H.P. 1800 r.p.m electric motor installed to the clutch and transmission.
  • The A.C. motor measured 40 inches long and 30 inches in diameter and the power leads were left standing in the air - no external power source!
  • He then went to a local radio store and purchased a handful of tubes (12), wires and assorted resistors. A box measuring 24 inches long, 12 inches wide and 6 inches high was assembled housing the circuit.
  • The box was placed on the front seat and had its wires connected to the air-cooled, brushless motor. Two rods 1/4" in diameter stuck out of the box about 3" in length."
The mention of this experiment in a local paper kind of blew me away but it did give "some" detail of what was in this mysterious power box.
[ed., omitted text of Moray experiments ...]
[...] Tesla Power Box
We will first of all note the use of an AC coil motor. This alone tells us that the Tesla device was superior and not so dependent on tuning as was Moray's machine which could only power RESISTIVE loads. All universal energy moves in WAVES and so is essentially for alternating current (AC). That is why Moray called his book "THE SEA OF ENERGY IN WHICH THE EARTH FLOATS". The entire universe is continually bathed in these AC energies and they cover the entire frequency spectrum.
What intrigues the hell out of me was how Tesla could use "off-the- shelf" vacuum tubes and other components, put them together in the correct configuration and make it work.
Another point we should note is the list of components :
1) 12 Vacuum Tubes (70L7-GT rectifier beam power tubes)
2) Wires
3) Assorted Resistors
4) 1/4" diameter rods 3" in length
NOTE, NO CAPACITORS! The wires could have been simply for connection or wound as coils. The 1/4" rods were either BUS BARS for power output taps OR more likely ANTENNAS! Resonant circuits can be constructed using several techniques. You can achieve the same effect from :
1) Resistors AND capacitors
2) Capacitors AND coils
3) Coils AND resistors
So, in the case of the Tesla Power Box, he either wound his own coils or simply used the wire to connect the resistors with the vacuum tubes. I am of the opinion that he used the wire ONLY for connection and DID NOT USE COILS! I also think he used a DIODE somewhere in the circuit in order to tap ONLY one polarity.
We have no specifications for the AC motor that Tesla used in the auto, so we have no idea if it was single or polyphase. In the case of a single phase motor, it only requires a single winding which projects a magnetic field that rotates according to the increase or decrease of the alternating current.
A polyphase (poly = two or more) motor uses multiple windings which are fed by phased input currents that alternate in such a manner as to reinforce each other. In the case of a 3 phase motor, the currents are phased 120 degrees apart. This gives much greater torque to the motor but requires 3 times the current because it uses 3 times the input energy.
Since the box powered an AC (coil) motor, it is probable it was TUNED to one or more frequencies, most likely polyphased frequencies.
So, if the 3" long rods were in fact ANTENNAS, we can calculate their frequency by using the following :
(I cannot express Lambda here so we will use w for wavelength)
w = v / f = wavelength in feet
w = 984,000,000/1,500,000 = 656 feet
f = 984,000,000/656 = 1,500,000 or 1.5 MHZ

3 inches * 4  = 1 foot
984,000,000/1 = 984,000,000
984,000,000/4 = 246,000,000 or 246 MHZ
This would indicate the 3" rods (if they were truly 3" in length and functioning as antennas) would resonate at 246 MHZ.
Because of the parts list description, I am of the opinion that it was a DUAL circuit. That is, 6 vacuum tubes and one 1/4" diameter 3" rod along with assorted resistors were to pick up and "pump" ONLY the positive going signals, while the other 6 vacuum tubes, rod and resistors did the same for the negative going signals. Such a scheme could either use PARALLEL or SERIAL connections of the vacuum tubes. Since current conduction is proportional to surface area, one would think that a parallel arrangement of the 70L7-GT rectifier beam power tubes with all INPUTS connected to one antenna source and all OUTPUTS connected to a common terminal attached to the load, would provide for the MAXIMUM current flow from incoming energy waves.
The nature of these "energy waves" is the question here. Are they cosmic rays, electrostatic, Schumann peaks, magnetic force, something "other" or Aether flow into the neutral centers of mass as per Keely.
Vacuum tube construction takes several forms. Of these, the simplest is two plates separated by a grid wire. When the bottom plate is heated, thermally induced ions (thermionic emissions) are emitted by the bottom plate. The grid can be biased by the application of voltage to increase, decrease or halt the flow of these ions to the upper plate.
Other forms include more plates with more grids to allow better control of the ion flow. By proper biasing, vacuum tubes can be operated as switches, modulators or amplifiers among other uses.
Vacuum tubes operate primarily with high voltages that control the ion flows. Modern transistors are equivalent to vacuum tubes except that they operate using CURRENT instead of voltage. Transistors equate to Vacuum tubes by the following comparisons :
                    Vacuum Tube       Transistor   Polarity
  Operates from      Voltage           Current
                     lower plate       emitter     negative - cathode
                     grid              base        neutral
                     upper plate       collector   positive - anode
In the case of the Tesla Power Box, the vacuum tube appears to function as a "pump", collecting incoming current in the form of ion intensification. Once this "compressed" ion field reaches a certain density, the pump allows it to be released into the next stage of the circuit, be it the actual load or another vacuum tube.
So if the circuit is 6 vacuum tubes in parallel, all fed from a common antenna, outputting to a common load terminal, then the common antenna input would feed all vacuum tubes with the same wave. This would give the greatest CURRENT accumulation because of the EXPANDED SURFACE AREA of the paralleled tubes.
Note, these vacuum tubes most likely operate in the "cold cathode" mode since the heaters of the vacuum tubes were not fed by any outside voltage to provide the heat for the more orthodox therionic emission.
If the vacuum tubes are hooked in series, then one "pump" would feed another "pump" to get successively higher densities of electrons. This would give higher VOLTAGES because of increased PRESSURE.
Keep in mind that electricity is much like air or water. We can think of voltage as pounds per square inch (PSI) and current as cubic feet per minute (CFM). That is PSI is pressure, CFM is flow.
Another analog is comparing a river to electricity. In such a comparison, the speed of the river is the VOLTAGE or pressure while the width of the river is the CURRENT or rate of flow.
Such a comparison shows WHY current requires THE GREATEST SURFACE AREA for the maximum flow. Fuses function on just this principle, when the current flows over the surface of the fuse, it creates heat. If too much current flows, it creates too much heat causing the fuse to melt and separate. The more surface area the fuse, the greater the amount of current can flow, another reason to not place a penny in a fuse socket.
So we have two antennas (1/4" diameter, 3" long rods), two sets of 6 vacuum tubes connected together by wire and assorted resistors. As the waves of energy are collected by the 3" rods, positive on one, negative on another, the energy builds up in the form of increased ions in each of the paralleled vacuum tubes. As in Moray's generator, the circuit will feed whatever load is attached as long as it does not EXCEED the current carrying capacity of the circuit components. What we have is an energy pumping system.
[ed., omitted drawing reference ...]

Borderland Sciences Research Foundation

Borderland Sciences Research Foundation posted "Telsla's Electric Car" on the 7th of April, 1997. The article, which contained excerpts of Vassilatos' "Secrets of Cold War Technology", follows:

Tesla's Electric Car (page 91)
Tesla had already considered the condition of charged particles, each representing a tightly constricted whorl of aether. The force necessarily exerted at close distances by such aetheric constrictions was incalculably large. Aetheric ponderance maintained particulate stability.
Crystalline lattices were therefore places within which one could expect to find unexpected voltages. Indeed, the high voltages inherent in certain metallic lattices, intra-atomic field energies, are enormous. The close Coulomb gradient between atomic centers are electrostatic potentials reaching humanly unattainable levels.
By comparison, the voltages which Tesla once succeeded in releasing were quite insignificant. In these balanced lattices, Tesla sought the voltages needed to initiate directed aetheric streams in matter.
Once such a flow began, one could simply tap the stream for power.
In certain materials, these ether streams might automatically produce the contaminating electrons, a source of energy for existing appliances. One could theoretically then "tailor" the materials needed to produce unexpected aetheric power with or without the attendant detrimental particles.
Tesla did mention the latent aetheric power of charged forces, the explosive potentials of bound Ether, and the aetheric power inherent in matter.
By these studies, Tesla sought replacement for the 100,000,000 volt initiating pulses which natural law required for the implementation of space Ether. Tesla had long been forced to abandon those gigantic means by other, less natural laws.
Thereafter, Tesla shifted his attentions from the appreciation of the gigantic to an appreciation of the miniature. He sought a means for proliferating an immense number of small and compact aether power receivers.
With one such device, Tesla succeeded in obtaining power to drive am electric car. But for the exceptional account which follows, we would have little information on this last period in Tesla's productive life, one which very apparently did not cease its prolific streams of creativity to his last breath.
The information comes through an unlikely source, one rarely mentioned by Tesla biographers. It chanced that an aeronautical engineer, Derek Ahlers, met with one of Tesla's nephews then living in New York. Theirs was an acquaintance lasting some 10 years, consisting largely of anecdotal commentaries on Dr. Tesla. Mr. Savo provided an enormous fund of knowledge concerning many episodes in Tesla's last years.
Himself an Austrian military man and a trained aviator, Mr. Savo was extremely open about certain long-cherished incidents in which his uncle's genius was consistency made manifest. Mr. Savo reported that in 1931, he participated in an experiment involving aetheric power. Unexpectedly, almost inappropriately, he was asked to accompany his uncle on a long train ride to Buffalo.
A few times in this journey, Mr. Savo asked the nature of their journey. Dr. Tesla remained unwilling to disclose any information, speaking rather directly to this issue. Taken into a small garage, Dr. Tesla walked directly to a Pierce Arrow, opened the hood and began making a few adjustments. In place of the engine, there was an AC motor.
This measured a little more than 3 feet long, and a little more than 2 feet in diameter. From it trailed two very thick cables which connected with the dashboard. In addition, there was an ordinary 12 volt storage battery. The motor was rated at 80 horsepower.
Maximum rotor speed was stated to be 30 turns per second. A 6 foot antenna rod was fitted into the rear section of the car.
Dr. Tesla stepped into the passenger side and began making adjustments on a "power receiver" which had been built directly into the dashboard.
The receiver, no larger than a short-wave radio of the day, used 12 special tubes which Dr. Tesla brought with him in a boxlike case.
The device had been prefitted into the dashboard, no larger than a short-wave receiver. Mr. Savo told Mr. Ahler that Dr. Tesla built the receiver in his hotel room, a device 2 feet in length, nearly 1 foot wide, a 1/2 foot high.
These curiously constructed tubes having been properly installed in their sockets, Dr. Tesla pushed in 2 contact rods and informed Peter that power was now available to drive.
Several additional meters read values which Dr. Tesla would not explain. Not sound was heard. Dr. Tesla handed Mr. Savo the ignition key and told him to start the engine, which he promptly did. Yet hearing nothing, the accelerator was applied, and the car instantly moved. Tesla's nephew drove this vehicle without other fuel for an undetermined long interval.
Mr. Savo drove a distance of 50 miles through the city and out to the surrounding countryside. The car was tested to speeds of 90 mph, with the speedometer rated to 120.
After a time, and with increasing distance from the city itself, Dr. Tesla felt free enough to speak. Having now become sufficiently impressed with the performance of both his device and the automobile.
Dr. Tesla informed his nephew that the device could not only supply the needs of the car forever, but could also supply the needs of a household - with power to spare. When originally asked how the device worked, Tesla was initially adamant and refused to speak.
Many who have read this "apocryphal account" have stated it to be the result of an "energy broadcast". This misinterpretation has simply caused further confusions concerning this stage of Tesla's work. He had very obviously succeeded in performing, with this small and compact device, what he had learned in Colorado and Shoreham.
As soon as they were on the country roads, clear of the more congested areas, Tesla began to lecture on the subject. Of the motive source he referred to "a mysterious radiation which comes out of the aether". The small device very obviously and effectively appropriated this energy.
Tesla also spoke very glowingly of this providence, saying of the energy itself that "it is available in limitless quantities".
Dr. Tesla stated that although "he did not know where it came from, mankind should be very grateful for its presence".
The two remained in Buffalo for 8 days, rigorously testing the car in the city and countryside. Dr. Tesla also told Mr. Savo that the device would soon be used to drive boats, planes, trains, and other automobiles. Once, just before leaving the city limits, they stopped at a streetlight and a bystander joyfully commented concerning their lack of exhaust fumes.
Mr. Savo spoke up whimsically, saying that they had "no engine". They left Buffalo and traveled to a predetermined location which Dr. Tesla knew, an old farmhouse barn some 20 miles from Buffalo. Dr. Tesla and Mr. Savo left the car in this barn, took the 12 tubes and the ignition key, and departed.
Later on, Mr. Savo heard a rumor that a secretary had spoken candidly about both the receiver and the test run, being promptly fired for the security breach. About a month after the incident, Mr. Savo received a call from a man who identified himself as Lee De Forest, who asked how he enjoyed the car.
Mr. Savo expressed his joy over the mysterious affair, and Mr. de Forest declared Tesla the greatest living scientist in the world. Later, Mr. Savo asked his uncle whether or not the power receiver was being used in other applications.
He was informed that Dr. Tesla had been negotiating with a major shipbuilding company to build a boat with a similarly outfitted engine. Asked additional questions, Dr. Tesla became annoyed. Highly concerned and personally strained over the security of this design, it seems obvious that Tesla was performing these tests in a desperate degree of secrecy for good reasons.
Tesla had already been the victim of several manipulations, deadly actions entirely sourced in a single financial house. For this reason, secrecy and care had become his only recent excess.

External articles and references

Websites
Books and journals
  • Nikola Tesla and David Hatcher Childress (Ed.), "Tesla Papers Nikola Tesla on Free Energy & Wireless Transmission of Power". Adventures Unlimited Press, September 1, 2000. ISBN 0932813860
  • Gerry Vassilatos, "Secrets of Cold War Technology - Project HAARP and Beyond". ISBN 0-945685-20-3

See also

- PowerPedia main index
- PESWiki home page

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