The Electric Auto that almost triumphed
Power Source of '31 car still a mystery
by A.C. Greene
Not long ago, Texas Sketches told the story of Henry "Dad" Garrett
and his son C.H.'s water-fueled automobile, which was successfully
demonstrated in 1935 at White Rock Lake in Dallas.
Eugene Langkop of Dallas (a Packard lover, like so many of us) notes
that the "wonder car" of the future may be a resurrection of the
electric car. It uses no gasoline, no oil - just some grease
fittings - has no radiator to fill or freeze, no carburetor
problems, no muffler to replace and gives off no pollutants.
Famous former electrics include Columbia, Rauch & Lang and Detroit
Dallas had electric delivery trucks in the 1920s and 30s. Many
electric delivery vehicles were used in big cities into the 1960s.
The problem with electrics was slow speed and short range.
Within the past decade two Richardson men, George Thiess and Jack
Hooker, claimed to have used batteries operating on magnesium from
seawater to increase the range of their electric automobile from 100
miles to 400 or 500 miles.
But it is 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.
A.C. Greene is an author and Texas historian who lives in Salado.
*** The original article from which Mr. Greene gleaned the above
*** info was from a Packard Newsletter. Mr. Gene Langkopf kindly
*** sent us a copy of that article which now follows.
The Forgotten Art of Electric - Powered Automobiles
by Arthur Abrom
Electric powered automobiles were one of the earliest considerations
and this mode of propulsion enjoyed a brief but short reign. The
development of electricity as a workable source of power for mankind
has been studded with great controversy.
Thomas A. Edison was the first to start to market systems (i.e.
electric generators) of any commercial value. His research and
developmental skills were utilized to market a "direct current"
system of electricity. Ships were equipped with D.C. systems and
municipalities began lighting their streets with this revolutionary
D.C. electric system. (At that time) Edison was the sole source of
While in the process of commercializing electricity, Thomas Edison
hired men who knew of the new scientific gift to the world and were
capable of new applications for electricity. One such man was a
foreigner named Nikola Tesla. This man, although not known to many
of us today, was without a doubt the greatest scientific mind that
has ever lived. His accomplishments dwarfed even Thomas Edison's!
Whereas Mr. Edison was a great experimenter, Mr. Tesla was a great
theoretician. Nikola Tesla became frustrated and very much annoyed
at the procedures Edison followed.
Tesla would rather calculate the possibility of something working
(i.e. mathematical investigation) than the hit and miss technique of
constant experimentation. So in the heat of an argument, he quit
one day and stormed out of Edison's laboratory in West Orange, New
Working on his own, Tesla conceived and built the first working
alternating current generator. He, and he alone, is responsible for
all of the advantages we enjoy today because of A.C. electric power.
Angered by Edison, Tesla sold his new patents to George Westinghouse
for 15 million dollars in the very early 1900's. Tesla became
totally independent and proceeded to carry on his investigative
research in his laboratory on 5th Avenue in New York City.
George Westinghouse began to market this new system of electric
generators and was in competition with Edison. Westinghouse
prevailed because of the greater superiority of the A.C. generators
over the less efficient D.C. power supplies of Thomas Edison.
Today, A.C. power is the only source of electricity the world uses.
And, please remember, Nikola Tesla is the man who developed it.
Now specifically dealing with automobiles in the infant days of
their development, electric propulsion was considered and used. An
electric powered automobile possessed many advantages that the
noisy, cantankerous, smoke-belching gasoline cars could not offer.
First and foremost is the absolute silence one experiences when
riding in an electrically powered vehicle. There is not even a hint
of noise. One simply turns a key and steps on the accelerator - the
vehicle moves instantly! No cranking from the start, no crank to
turn (this was before electric starters), no pumping of the
accelerator, no spark control to advance and no throttle linkage to
pre-set before starting. One simply turned the ignition switch to
Second, is a sense of power. If one wants to increase speed, you
simply depress the accelerator further - there is never any
hesitation. Releasing the accelerator causes the vehicle to slow
down immediately - you are always in complete control. It is not
difficult to understand why these vehicles were so very popular
around the turn of the century and until 1912 or so.
The big disadvantage to these cars was their range and need for re-
charging every single night. All of these electric vehicles used a
series of batteries and a D.C. motor to move itself about. The
batteries require recharging every night and the range of travel was
restricted to about 100 miles. Understand that this restriction was
not a serious one in the early part of this century. Doctors began
making house calls with electric cars (do you remember doctors
making house calls?) because he no longer needed to tend to the
horse at night time - just plug the car into an electric socket! No
feeding, no rub-down and no mess to clean up!
Many of the large department stores in metropolitan areas began
purchasing delivery trucks that were electrically powered. They
were silent and emitted no pollutants. And, maintenance was a
minimum on electrically powered vehicles. There were few mechanics
and garages in operation in the early 1900's. So city life and
travel appeared to be willing to embrace the electric automobile.
Remember, these masterfully built vehicles all ran on D.C. current.
Two things happened to dampen the popularity of the electric
automobile. One was the subconscious craving for speed that gripped
all auto enthusisasts of this era. Each manufacturer was eager to
show how far his car could travel (i.e. the transcontinental races)
and what was its top speed! Col. Vanderbilt constructed the first
all concrete race track in Long Island and racing became the passion
for the well-to-do. Newspapers constantly record new records of
speed achieved by so-in-so. And, of course, the automobile
manufacturers were quick to capitalize on the advertising effect of
these new peaks of speed. Both of these events made the
electrically powered vehicles appear to only belong to the "little
old lady" down the street or the old retired gentleman who talked
about the "good old days".
Electric vehicles could not reach speeds of 45 or 50 m.p.h. for this
would have destroyed the batteries in moments. Bursts of speeds of
25 to 35 m.p.h. could be maintained for a moment or so. Normal
driving speed-depending upon traffic conditions, was 15 to 20 m.p.h.
by 1900 to 1910 standards, this was an acceptable speed limit to
obtain from your electric vehicle.
Please note that none of the manufacturers of electric cars ever
installed a D.C. generator. This would have put a small charge back
into the batteries as the car moved about and would have thereby
increased its operating range. This was considered by some to be
approaching perpetual motion - and that, of course, was utterly
impossible! Actually, D.C. generators would have worked and helped
the electric car cause.
As mentioned earlier, Mr. Westinghouse's A.C. current generating
equipment was being sold and installed about the country. The
earlier D.C. equipment was being retired and disregarded. As a side
note, Consolidated Edison Power Company of New York City still has
one of Thomas Edison's D.C. generators installed in its 14th St.
powerhouse - it still works! About this time, another giant
corporation was formed and entered the A.C. generating equipment
field - General Electric. This spelled the absolute end for
Edison's D.C. power supply systems as a commercial means of
generating and distributing electric power.
The electric automobile could not be adapted to accomodate and
utilize a polyphase motor (i.e. A.C. power). Since they used
batteries as a source of power, their extinction was sealed. No
battery can put out an A.C. signal. True, a converter could be
utilized (i.e. convert the D.C. signal from the battery to an A.C.
signal), but the size of the equipment at this time was too large to
fit in an automobile - even one with the generous dimensions of this
So, somewhere around 1915 or so, the electric automobile became a
memory. True, United Parcel Service still utilizes several electric
trucks in New York City today but the bulk of their fleet of
vehicles utilizes gasoline or diesel fuel. For all intensive
purposes, the electrically powered automobile is dead - they are
considered dinosaurs of the past.
But, let us stop a moment and consider the advantages of utilizing
electric power as a means of propelling vehicles. Maintenance is
absolutely minimal for the only oil required is for the two bearings
in the motor and the necessary grease fittings. There is no oil to
change, no radiator to clean and fill, no transmission to foul up,
no fuel pump, no water pump, no carburetion problems, no muffler to
rot out or replace and no pollutants emitted into the atmosphere.
It appears as though it might be the answer we have been searching
Therefore, the two problems facing us become top speed and range of
driving - providing, of course, the A.C. and D.C. problems could be
worked out. With today's technology this does not seem to be
insurmountable. In fact, the entire problem has already been solved
- in the past, the distant past and the not so distant! Stop! Re-
read the last sentence again. Ponder it for a few moments before
Several times earlier in this article, I mentioned the man, Nikola
Tesla and stated that he was the greatest mind that ever lived. The
U.S. Patent Office has 1,200 patents registered in the name of
Nikola Tesla and it is estimated that he could have patented an
additional 1,000 or so from memory!
But, back to our 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
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!
In 1969, Joseph R. Zubris took his 1961 Mercury and pulled out the
Detroit internal combustion engine. He then installed an electric
motor as a source of power. His unique wiring system cuts the
energy drain at starting to 75% of normal and doubles the electrical
efficiency of the electric motor when it is operating! The U.S.
Patent Office issued him a patent No. 3,809,978. Although he
approached many concerns for marketing, no one really seemed to be
interested. And, his unique system is still not on the market.
In the 1970's, an inventor used an Ev-Gray generator, which
intensified battery current, the voltage being induced to the field
coils by a simple programmer (sequencer). By allowing the motor to
charge separate batteries as the device ran, phenomenally tiny
currents were needed. The device was tested at the Crosby Research
Institute of Beverly Hills, Ca., a 10-horepower EMA motor ran for
over a week (9 days) on four standard automobile batteries.
The inventors estimated that a 50-horsepower electric motor could
traverse 300 miles at 50 m.p.h. before needing a re-charge. Dr.
Keith E. Kenyon, the inventor of Van Nuys, California discovered a
discrepancy in the normal and long accepted laws relating to
electric motor magnets. Dr. Kenyon demonstrated his invention for
many scientists and engineers in 1976 but their reaction was
astounding. Although admitting Dr. Kenyon's device worked, they saw
little or no practical application for it!
So the ultimate source for our electrically powered automobile would
be to have an electric motor that required no outside source of
power. Sounds impossible because it violates all scientific
thought! But it has been invented and H.R. Johnson has been issued
a patent No. 4,151,431 on April 24, 1979 on such a device!
This new design although originally suggested by Nikola Tesla in
1905, is a permanent magnet motor. Mr. Johnson has arranged a
series of permanent magnets on the rotor and a corresponding series
- with different spacing - on the stator. One simply has to move
the stator into position and rotation of the rotor begins
His patent states,
"The invention is directed to the method of utilizing the
unpaired electron spins in ferro magnetic and other materials
as a source of magnetic fields for producing power without any
electron flow as occurs in normal conductors and to permanent
magnet motors for utilization of this method to produce a power
In the practice of this invention, the unpaired electron spins
occurring within permanent magnets are utilized to produce a
motive power source solely through the super-conducting
characteristics of a permanent magnet and the magnetic flux
created by the magnets are controlled and concentrated to
orient the magnetic forces generated in such a manner to do
useful continuous work such as the displacement of a rotor with
respect to a stator.
The timing and orientation of magnetic forces at the rotor and
stator components produced by permanent magnets to produce a
motor is accomplished with the proper geometrical relationship
of these components".
Now before you dismiss the idea of a magnetically run motor - a free
energy source, consider the following :
Engineers of Hitachi Magnetics Corp. of California have stated
that a motor run solely by magnets is feasible and logical but
the politics of the matter make it impossible for them to
pursue developing a magnet motor or any device that would
compete with the energy cartels.
In a book entitled, "Keely and His Discoveries" by Clara B. Moore
published in 1893, we find the following statemtents,
"The magnet that lifts a pound today if the load is gradually
increased day by day will lift double that amount in time.
Whence comes this energy? Keely teaches that it comes from
sympathetic association with one of the currents of the polar
stream and that its energy increases as long as the sympathetic
flow lasts, which is through eternity".
Now consider some basic observations concerning magnets:
1) Two permanent magnets can either attract or repel depending
on the arrangement of the magnetic poles.
2) Two magnets repel further than they attract because of
friction and inertia forces.
3) Most of our energy comes directly or indirectly from
electromagnetic energy of the sun, e.g. photosynthesis and
watercycle of ocean to water vapor to rain or snow to ocean.
4) Magnetic energy "travels" between poles at the speed of
5) Permanent magnets on both sides of an iron shield are
attracted to the shield and only weakly to each other at
close proximity to the shield.
6) Permanent magnets are ferrous metals and are attractive only.
Attraction is an inverse square force.
7) Magnetic energy can be shielded.
8) The sliding or perpendicular force of a keeper is much less
than the force in the direction of the field to remove the
9) Most of the magnetic energy is concentrated at the poles of
10) A permanent magnet loses little strength unless dropped or
heated. Heating misaligns the magnetic elements within the
11) If a weight lifted by a permanet magnet is slowly increased,
the lifting power of the magnet can be increased until all
the magnetic domains in the magnet are aligned in the same
direction. This becomes the limit.
12) Using magnets to repel tends to weaken them as it causes more
misalignment of the domains.
13) A magnetic material placed between two magnets will always be
attracted to the stronger magnet.
So, our ultimate motor becomes a permanent magnet motor of proper
size with speed being controlled through the automobiles
transmission. And, here is the biggest plus, permanent magnets keep
their strength for a minimum of 95 years! So here we have a fuel-
less automobile that would last us our lifetime.
There is only one drawback to an automobile powered by a permanent
magnet motor - if the vehicle gets involved in an accident, the
shock of the crash could jar the magnets and cause them to lose
power! But this seems to be a small price to pay for an automobile
that could run all day at 60 m.p.h. - use no fuel - and never need a
Now the only question left to be answered is, "Where do you buy
one?" or perhaps, "When will we be able to buy one?" At present
there are several companies offering interim solutions. Some offer
electric powered designs - but this is strictly batteries, while
others offer a hybrid combination of batteries and small gasoline
engines. All of these so-called "modern alternatives" suffer from
the same lack of accessories we've become accustomed to.
They do not, or cannot offer power steering, brakes or windows or
air-conditioning, etc. Since they are small aerodynamically shaped
packages holding only two people, their appeal is distinctly
When someone constructs an automobile run by a permanent magnet
motor attached to the differential thus eliminating the
transmission, the world will beat a path to his door - providing the
energy cartel doesn't find him first!
In Richardson, Texas last year, two men - George Thiess and Jack
Hooker have advanced the storage battery to a new level. Their new
batteries will operate on magnesium made from seawater. The
magnesium is used to charge the battery while in an electrolene
solution and the range of their auto is increased by replacing the
magnesium rods every 400 to 500 miles. Their studies are being
officially watched by the Department of Energy. Perhaps an all new
era of electrically powered automobiles may be on its way to
This subject is intensely interesting to many researchers so if you
have any suggestions or comments, we here at KeelyNet would greatly
appreciate your sharing with us.
There are three files that link to this particular subject and all
will be bundled as follows :
TESLAFE1.ASC - original articles TESLAFE1.GIF - PARALLEL version
TESLAFE2.ASC - this commentary TESLAFE2.GIF - SERIES version
TESLAFE .ZIP - all of the above bundled into one file
Additonal related information can be found
on KeelyNet as TESLAFE2.ASC.
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