William Skinner

skinner1William Skinner was an engineer and machine-tool operator in the first half of the 20th Century.  After a Real Estate crash in 1926, he turned his attention to inventing. His most significant invention, by far, was his “Gravity Power Machine” which he began demonstration in 1939. His fifth prototype was able to multiply the power from a 1/8th horse power electric motor to power all the machines in his shop, using gravity as the force multiplier.

Here are the contents of a Newspaper article, published in 1939:

Gravity Force Used to Raise Motor Power
By Jack Woliston
Miami, Fla, April 4, 1939 (UP)
Reprinted in the “Citizen Advertiser” of Auburn, New York.

“W. F. Skinner proudly displays his latest invention, a device that multiplies power in a startling fashion.

Skinner has great hopes for the principle he embodied in his device, which he calls “a gravity power machine”. He said, for example, he believes the machine’s principle could be carried to a point where a one-horsepower motor would provide electricity for a community of 2,500 people at a total cost of only $5 a month.

“Almost any engineer will tell you that what this machine does is impossible” said Skinner, and then proceeded to demonstrate in his workshop here.

His working model of the “gravity power machine” was run by a one-eighth horsepower motor. The device, in turn, operated a heavy-duty, 12-foot lathe, a six-foot drill press and a hack saw from the same shaft at the same time.

Normal Power Cited

“Almost any engineer will tell you that to run even that heavy duty lathe and produce the quarter-inch shavings from a steel bar like it does would take a two-horsepower motor” Skinner said.

The “gravity power machine” consists of a steel framework containing four shafts controlled by eccentrics. On each shaft is an off-balance weight which Skinner said was “about the secret of the whole thing”.

He explained that the shafts, turning in the eccentrics, moved the weights in a circular motion at 60 revolutions per minute. Because the weights are off-balance, he said, they are always “falling”, producing the multiplication of power.

The “falling”, Skinner said, is more correctly a following of the weights to new centers of gravity caused by the changing positions of the shafts. The weights do not actually fall. The one-eighth horsepower electric motor, Skinner said, was used only for power to turn the eccentrics and the “gravity power machine” provided the power, in turn, to operate the shop.

1200 Per Cent Step Up

Skinner estimated the “gravity power machine” would increase the horsepower of a motor about 1200 per cent (12 times). A one horsepower motor, he believed, with a perfected “gravity power machine” to multiple its output, could be made to drive a generator large enough to produce electricity for 3,500 persons. And the operating cost would be only about $5 a month, he estimated. [This suggests that higher gains than “12 times” are possible.]

The machine Skinner exhibited was the fifth he has built in the 14 years he has been “working up the idea”.

A number of engineers have inspected his invention, he said. One of them was A. P. Michaels, a Jackson, Fla., consulting engineer, who gave Skinner a letter describing the machine as “a practical device and will have a definite field where it is necessary to use power to drive equipment. It should result in a very large saving of power needed”.

One Engineer Silent

George C. Estill, electrical engineer and retired president of the Florida Power and Light Company here was another who examined the device but he said his check was not complete enough to allow him to form a conclusion.

Skinner turned to inventing after the collapse of the Florida real estate boom of 1926. He recently perfected a device for recharging dry cell batteries. He collects royalties from several children’s toys and special types of furniture he has invented.

Skinner said some skeptics were inclined to wonder whether his “gravity power machine” was obtaining power from some other source than the one-eighth horsepower motor because the shop was electrically operated. To make the demonstration more convincing, he obtained a one-fifth horsepower gasoline motor manufactured to run model airplanes, which he said he would install to produce the power for the shop.”

This story would be difficult to believe, except that a film of the machine in operation still exists, which you can watch here.

There is also a significant discussion thread on the design and replication efforts on Energetic Forum, HERE.

With this information, it seems fairly clear, that with proper engineering, it is possible to harness gravity as a “force multiplier” in a purely mechanical device.

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