Keely's Secret.

Two major questions remain. Did Keely have a 'secret' and did he commit fraud.

In spite of what I have said earlier the answer to both questions unfortunately is yes.

Let me reiterate that there is no doubt in my mind that Keely's machines did work. Over a million people saw over the years his motor run on a number of trade shows, exhibitions and demonstrations. He was never caught in a fraud and his machines were carefully examined by a number of experts on many occasions. To say that his motors were operated by compressed air, secret springs and so forth is ludicrous. Such an arrangement would have been obvious to even a casual observer.

The secret and the fraud lies elsewhere.

It must have been obvious to Keely fairly early on that even though he could get his motor to RUN it would never be able to perform any actual WORK. Keely's motor, the way it was designed will never be more than an EXPENSIVE TOY!

Let me tell you why.

Because his system relies on resonance alone all the component parts of his equipment have to be in perfect harmonic relationship to each other for it to work.

Even the most carefully tuned musical instrument will detune after a while, whether it is played or not. This is true even for pipe organs. Changing conditions like temperature, humidity, external vibrations, dirt, minor structural damage etc. etc. bring about a rapid deterioration of the carefully arranged harmonic relationships and render the structure discordant, a fatal flaw in Keely's machines.

Keely had no feedback system that could compensate for these changes. The technology of his day did not allow for it. Only careful manual re-tuning would render the apparatus operable again.

Outside vibration and wear were Keely's biggest enemies. That is why we see in Keely's demonstrations evidence of the infinite care that Keely took to avoid the accidental introduction of discordant vibrations through for instance the engine mounts etc. etc.

If for instance a jackhammer had been working in the vicinity of his machines his motor would at once have come to a standstill.

It had to.

Keely demonstrated the starting and stopping of his motor by producing a single chord on a violin, harmonica or zither.

It absolutely amazes me that no-one in his time noticed that this was a fatal flaw in his design.

Real work situations are always filled with uncontrollable sounds and noises.

Many of these noises, like hammer blows, grinding noises, bumps and so forth are rich in harmonics, some of which would have been picked up by Keely's ultra sensitive equipment throwing the carefully arranged harmonic relationships out of balance and stopping the mechanism or sending it into an uncontrollable spin, perhaps even exploding it. I feel that many of the explosions that dogged Keely all his life were due to the influence of uncontrollable extraneous vibrations.

Even the addition of a drive shaft , gearbox or pulley to one of his motors would have introduced waveforms that made his equipment inoperable.

Keely HAD to know this.

That is why his later researches concentrated on airships, such structures not being so susceptible to the influence of extraneous vibrations.

THAT was Keely's secret, and at the same time his fraud.

Had he admitted that, his funds would have dried up immediately, possibly landing him in goal.

Many of his frustrations and disappointment can now be understood and even his victories and monumental discoveries must have been tainted by the knowledge that his superb machines, even at best, would be little more than an interesting scientific experiment that could only be demonstrated in a carefully controlled environment.

Keely was once asked what he wanted for an epitaph.

His answer truthfully and accurately described the way he felt about himself. He said: "Keely, the greatest humbug of the 19th century".

So, where does all this lead? Does that mean that Keely's discoveries and inventions are doomed forever to be nothing further than a scientific curiosity, if that? No, it does not. In time, Keely will be vindicated. His findings will eventually be the foundation of a new way of looking at the universe.

Next Chapter:


Hans von Lieven, copyright 2007