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Nikola Tesla

Some time before the government stepped in to destroy Tesla's dream, he had built for himself some devices that proved his tower worked as he said it did. One of the legendary inventions of Tesla was his electric Pierce Arrow. The "Tesla Car" was put to the test in 1931, under the financing of Pierce-Arrow and George Westinghouse at the factory grounds in Buffalo, New York. The Pierce Arrow was powered by an 80 horsepower, 1800 r.p.m AC electric brushless air-cooled coil motor. It measured 40 inches long and 30 inches in diameter. Under the hood there was an ordinary 12 volt storage battery. And there were 2 very thick lead wires going from the motor to the dashboard. There were no capacitors. The now infamous secret black control box he carried with him and never let anyone examine, had a bank of 12 radio tubes. This device was powerful enough to rectify a wireless signal that powered the Tesla car up to 90 miles per hour all day long.

At a local radio shop the evening before the week long testing was to begin, Tesla bought 12 vacuum tubes, some wires and assorted resistors. He assembled them in his hotel room inside of a circuit box 24 inches long, 12 inches wide and 6 inches high, with a pair of 3-inch rods sticking out. A 6 foot antenna rod was fitted into the rear section of the car. Getting into the car the next day 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 8 days, rigorously testing the car in the city and countryside, often at speeds of up to 90 mph.

As it was an electric motor and there were no batteries involved, where did the power come from? 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". Tesla also stated that although "I do not know where it comes from, mankind should be very grateful for its presence".

Popular responses included charges of "black magic". Several people suggested that Tesla was mad and somehow in league with sinister forces of the universe. The sensitive genius didn't like the skeptical comments of the press either. He removed his mysterious box after his test in Buffalo, returned to his laboratory in New York - and the secret of his power source died with him.

In the coming months, John Hutchison's hypothesis on this device will be put to the test as we will attempt to recreate Tesla's control box by a schematic designed by John, and transmit enough power through it to run an automobile. The parts list discussed for the recreation includes the following:


1) 12 Vacuum Tubes (70L7-GT rectifier beam power tubes or possibly 21-A)
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.

I've been doing some reading on Tesla over the past few decades. I seem to encounter the same basic story time and time again. From the claims I have managed to gather the following information:

240 VAC
1800 RPM
80 HP

If single phase the motor would draw 325 Amps with a rating of 406 FLA

If poly phase (3 phase) the motor would draw 188 amps and have a rating of 235 FLA

More than likely it was a 3 phase motor. The assumption of current requirements being triple is an error. To be able to push the vehicle to speeds in excess of 90 MPH the motor speed may be required to double unless the transmission gear ratios were changed.

12   vacuum tubes (70L7)
2     1/4 inch x 3 inch rods
1      1.8 meter antenna

One account has it there were only 3 - 70L7 tubes used (and no mention of the other 9) a different account has it that all 12 were the 70L7 vacuum tubes. From information I've found so far the 70L7GT tubes didn't come out until several years after the test run in 1931.

The two rods are very likely going to be mutual inductive couplings in two separate power coils or they are cores for tuning the inductive coil circuitry in the receiver controls.

I believe the antenna is going to be a 5/8 wave antenna, with a 1.8 meter length is going to be about 99 MHz. It is possible with the antenna size the frequency is going to be between 20 MHz and 150 MHz. My personal hunch would be 99 MHz.

Watch closely what happens as frequency supplied to the motor increases above 60 Hz... you should notice motor speed rise above base speed... there will also be changes in KVAR.... too far overspeed and the motor will self-destruct.

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 emanating from Wardenclyffe, most likely polyphased frequencies. Tesla's tower had the ability to produce hundreds of millions of volts of radio frequency. Keep in mind that an average 6 foot tall Tesla coil puts out at least 2 million volts ac pressure easily when tuned. If the lightning bolts are suppressed, the invisible discharge becomes a very powerful radio transmission. 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 analogy 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/amperage or rate of flow.

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