NYT - 7/3/1875 - Statement of note of the holders of the secret of its power - an expected revolution in the mechanical world - a substitute for gunpowder - explosions rendered comparatively harmless - the difficulties encountered - experiments of a skeptic - Mr. Keely's claims - the invention to be perfected before it is patented - the secret to be then given to the world - the men who know the secret.
Further particulars in relation to the Keely motor, which was the subject of an interesting letter in THE TIMES a few weeks ago, and which has been referred to by most of the leading newspapers of the country, have been given to a reporter of THE TIMES by Mr. Sergeant, of the firm of Sergeant & Cuttingworth, of this City. According to the statements of this gentleman, the newly-discovered power is inevitably destined to revolutionize the entire mechanical world and render possible, and even easy, feats which seem now beyond the power of the most perfect machinery in the world. Guns are to be fired by the same power that drives the ship that carries them; explosions are to be rendered comparatively harmless; engines of 5,000-horse power are to be constructed so as to occupy no more space than an ordinary steam-engine, and all the marvels which are accomplished by steam are to be performed with infinitely greater ease by the cold vapor evolved from air and water. The wildest dreams of the Arabian story-teller seem commonplace when compared with the marvels that are promised in this newly-discovered force of nature, if the statements of a well-known business man of good standing, and of high repute as a scientific inventor, are to receive the credence that would be given to them in any other subject. All the difficulties naturally to be expected in learning the use of so tremendous an agency have been encountered in the experiments that have been made with which the parts of a new engine are being fashioned for the use of the motive power. Metal has been made especially for its construction. A new scientific vocabulary has been fashioned to express the operations hitherto unknown in mechanics, and perfect success has attended the experiments made thus far.
Mr. Sergeant says: "One year ago to-day I began an investigation into the powers and properties of what is termed the Keely motor. I was at first an utter skeptic, knowing that the things which were claimed for it were utterly opposed to all my scientific teachings, and that, according to all that was known on such subjects, the claims of Mr. Keely were apparently absurd. But I had some curiosity on the subject, and, being applied to by a number of persons, some of whom were pecuniarily interested in the discovery, and all of whom desired a careful investigation to be made, I concluded to go to Philadelphia and examine it as an expert. They offered to pay my expenses while I did this, but I preferred to pay them myself, and did so. Mr. Keely claimed that he was able by the utilization of a power coming from the consumption of air and water, to produce a pressure of thousands of pounds to the square inch, and do it immediately, almost instantaneously. I was incredulous, and the surroundings made me still more so. I said to Mr. Keely that in the introduction of all the great inventions or discoveries of which I had ever heard, the discoverer had great trouble to persuade people to listen to him, and greater yet to persuade any one to invest money to the novelty. But here this was reversed. People were investing money in something of which they know nothing except what he chose to say about it. That of itself looked suspicious to me, and the extravagant stories which he told convinced me of the fallacy of believing him. He was very jealous of his secret. He would not for a long time admit me to see what he was doing that I might investigate the matter. It was only after a strong pressure had been brought to bear on him that the consented to do as much as let me see him work, and when this was at length accomplished by the intervention of his friends who were interested in the invention, he had in the room a man named Beokel, who has worked for him for a number of years, who would be able to testify if need be that on such a day he (Keely) had exhibited his invention to me. And so great was his anxiety to keep the secret that the very stockholders were kept out of the room while we were together, and their counsel coming to the closed doors knocked, and was answered by Mr. Keely, who would not admit him.
I said to him that if he would, in the way he described, show me, not a pressure of thousands of pounds, but of a hundred pounds to the square inch, produced immediately, would believe that he had a new invention. He showed me at once a pressure of a thousand pounds. I dared not believe him, even although I had told him that I would. I thought he must have some kind of seidlitz powder concealed somewhere, or some gun-cotton, or nitro-glycerine, or some other powerful explosive. I examined closely, expecting to find some little pea somewhere that would explain the wonder to me. I found none, and yet I was not convinced, even by seeing. The thing was too wonderful for me. But I continued my investigations until I found no room for any further doubt. I did more. After being with Mr. Keely for a long enough time to solve all my doubts, I went away and consulted with others. I went especially to one man whose name would be instantly recognized, if I should tell it, as that of a scientist known all over the country. He was a skeptic, as I had been. I told him what I had seen. He heard me through, and told me I must be deceived; that Mr. Keely was using some chemical of which he kept me in ignorance. He thought at first from my descriptions that it was carboline, or a vapor from it, and, at my request, he produced a jet of that vapor. I allowed the jet to play upon my hand and found that it was so cold as to produce a stinging sensation. I said, This is not Keely's vapor. That is pleasant to the touch. I smelled of the carboline vapor and it was utterly unlike Keely's, for the carboline had a scent about it which Keely's had not, although the Professor said the carboline could be produced with scarcely a trace of the scent. But I have swallowed all I could get of Keely's vapor, and I find it is pleasant. You can live on it. I asked the Professor if the carboline vapor was capable of condensation by simple expansion. He said no, and I know it was not Keely's, for that is condensed in simple expansion. It turns back to water, and that water I can drink. After each conversation with the Professor, in which he would tell me that I was deceived in this thing or that. I would go back to Mr. Keely and watch and study his operations until I know I was not deceived. At length he allowed me to work his machinery myself, and I found I could do as he did; and the machinery for producing this vapor is so simple that a child eight years old could work it. Deception was impossible under such circumstances.
Some of the articles that have appeared in relation to the Keely motor being based, as all these articles have been, on the reports and statements of those who know nothing about the matter, have contained the most absurd statements. It has been asserted that we do not know the difference between pressure and power; that we claim to have a perpetual motion machine; that we pretend to be able to make something out of nothing, and many similar things are put forth by persons who ought to know better than to assert such things in relation to the men who are connected with the Keely motor. The assertion that I do not know the difference between pressure and power is sufficiently answered by the reputation of the firm of which I am a member. It is not likely that we could have obtained that reputation if we were so ignorant of the very principles involved in the work we do. A perpetual motion machine is one that makes its own power. One that does not make its own power cannot be a perpetual motion machine. Now, Keely pretends to do no such thing as that. On the contrary, Mr. Keely's claim is entirely different. He claims to produce from the consumption of air and water a cold vapor capable of condensation by simple expansion, and which contains power enough to produce a pressure of 20,000 pounds to the square inch. It is admitted that no cold vapor capable of condensation by simple expansion can be produced by chemicals, but I know that by Keely's method it can be produced, for I have produced it, and condensed it in just that way, and have drank the water produced by the condensation. The professor to whom I have alluded, when I told him that I had drank the water so produced said, 'Oh, you are deceived.' He thought that Keely had substituted the water which I had drank in a surreptitious manner. I went back to Keely and tried it again to be sure that I had not been deceived in that manner, and I convinced myself that I had not. As to the idea that Keely claims to produce something from nothing it is absurd, for that is just what he does not claim to do. He claims to have discovered one of the laws of nature by which this vapor can be produced.
When I talk to the scientists about a pressure of 10,000 pounds to the square inch they are incredulous, but I have seen it at 16,500, and I have weighed it, so that I know there is no mistake. We are now having a gauge made by which we can weigh it up to 50,000 pounds. One of the difficulties in our way has been that we have not yet handled the thing at the great pressures at which it can be used. It takes time to make all the experiments needed, and, although we are pursuing them as rapidly as possible, we cannot do everything in a day. We have used it up to 16,500 pounds pressure, and are going on as fast as we can. There is one hindrance. We do not know what we can cover with our letters patent. We cannot, of course, cover a natural law by a patent, and what we can cover we must describe so fully that any person expert in such matters can do the same thing from our description in order that he may know when he infringes on our patents. This we have not yet been able to do, because we have not yet used it at the heavy pressures at which it can be used. We know that it will produce 250 times the pressure that steam will, and in order to control this agency we must have engines of Austrian gun-metal. The engine we use is a regular yacht engine, with a pair of 3 by 3 cylinders, and capable of working under a pressure of from 500 to 1,500 pounds to the inch on the piston, but the engine we are constructing will be capable of working under the tremendous pressure which we shall produce.
It has been asked how we will harness such tremendous power. We will do it with gun-metal, and in such a way that it will be safe. In making guns such exactness is possible that they are able to tell how many times the gun can be fired before it will burst, and the bursting comes, not from the force of the explosion itself, but from the unequal strain produced by the burning of powder. This element of destruction we do not have to contend with, because our pressure is even, with machinery made on scientific principles there will be no danger or possibility of explosion. But even if there should be an explosion, which could only come from some defect in construction, there would be no danger excepting from some flying piece which might do damage, of course. In an explosion of a steam boiler the destruction is caused by the sudden and marvelous increase of pressure which occurs at the moment of explosion. This is not understood scientifically, but the fact remains that when a boiler explodes under a pressure of say thirty or forty pounds, at the instant of explosion there will be a pressure of 10,000 pounds on the sudden liberation of the steam, and it is this which causes the damage which results. Now, with the Keely motor it is entirely different. Supposing there should be, from some defect in the machinery, an explosion, and the motor should be suddenly liberated. By its expansion it would be condensed to water, and no damage would be done.
The Keely motor not only will do the work of steam, but is applicable to all purposes for which gunpowder is used, and is far superior to gunpowder or any other explosive known. We have a rifle from which we have fired hundreds of bullets with it, and these experiments have demonstrated its superiority to gunpowder. It is well understood that the forces of the gases generated by the explosion of powder lessens as the ball travels on its way through the barrel, and that if the barrel were long enough, a partial vacuum would be formed behind the ball. The study of the subject has led to the experiment of exploding three or four cartridges in succession behind the ball as it travels through the barrel. By this means a tremendous impetus can be given to the ball, as has been repeatedly demonstrated by experiment. But the pressure of the Keely motor is continued up to the time the ball leaves the muzzle of the gun, when of course by further expansion the motor is condensed to water.
One of the remarkable things about the Keely motor is that it cannot be transmitted at a lower pressure than 1,000 pounds. It can be used, of course, at a lower pressure after it is put in action. It can be regulated like steam, but its transmission at less than 1,000 pounds pressure causes its condensation. It is like steam in this respect, only, of course, the pressure at which it can be transmitted is much higher than that of steam. This disposes at once of the absurd allegation that it does some certain things at a low pressure, but that it is doubtful whether it will work at high pressure. The time will certainly come when our gun-boats will be worked by the same power which will fire their guns.
After this power had been discovered by Mr. Keely a co-partnership was first formed and he continued his experiments. Afterward a joint stock company was organized through the instrumentality of Mr. Charles B. Collier, who is now one of the four men who know what the motor is. The four are Mr. Keely, his workman, Boekel; Mr. Collier, and myself. After this stock company was organized it was resolved to offer a limited amount of the stock for sale. The amount was fixed at $50,000 worth, and I offered to take it all myself. This was, however, objected to, as there were other parties who wanted to buy stock, and it was thought not best for one person to have more than a limited amount. Another company has been organized in New-England, which has purchased the privilege to buy the patent for the six New-England States. They have paid the first installment of the purchase money for the privilege, which is $50,- - -, and they have two other payments to make of the same amount. When these are paid, they will have the right to buy the assignment of the patent for those six States. Paying for it one-half of their capital stock. The buyers of stock in these companies are influenced solely by their confidence in the men who know what the motor is. They have no knowledge of it themselves. Although private exhibitions of it have been given under great pressure from the stockholders, who demanded to be shown what the thing was. An engine was shown, working by the new power, but it was impossible for any one who saw it to understand the motor. There is no necessity for telling the public about it, because we have plenty of money to follow it up ourselves, and ask none from the public, and our great anxiety is to keep the secret until we shall have perfected our system of working the power so as to be able to take out letters patent that will protect us.
It has been said that Mr. Keely has received large sums of money, and has been raised from poverty to comparative affluence by those who expect to benefit by his invention. The facts are that be receives $200 a month for his personal expenses, and his machinist's bills are paid. This money is advanced to him, and if he receives other money it must be from a sale of his interest, and I don't think he would sell a dollar's worth of that as a matter of principle, for if he were to dispose of his interest it would be demoralizing in its effect on his associates. He works on his invention so constantly that I have repeatedly, taken him away from it, and taken him out driving, fearing that his constant application would be injurious. It is of course uncertain how soon his labors will be completed, but it is probable that before long the patents will be taken out, and the whole thing given to the world. Until that time, of course, we can say no more than has been said. The stockholders are impatient, and, not being men of science, are unable to see why we cannot patent what we have, and then patent the improvements that we are able to make. I have had considerable experience in such matters, and have taken out so many patents that I have learned that it is best to perfect an invention before patenting it." (The New York Times)