Aaron Beaman

From Kook Science

Aaron Beaman
Born 26 June 1805(1805-06-26)
Northborough, Worcester Co., Massachusetts
Died 16 October 1895 (90)[1]
Holbrook, Norfolk Co., Massachusetts

Aaron Beaman (June 26, 1805 - October 16, 1895) was an American clock- and watchmaker who, it was reported in July 1886, claimed certain success toward the devising of a perpetual motion machine at his home in Holbrook, Norfolk Co., Massachusetts, but that it had been halted by his children having him placed under guardianship of his assets owing to his interest in such industry. When he passed away just over nine years later in October 1895, an obituary notice mentioned the pursuit, though offered no suggestion of his achievement of it.

Press Coverage

  • "BY HIS OWN BOOT-STRAPS. How Aaron Beaman of Holbrook Claims He Can Lift Himself 'With a Little Aid' — His Perpetual Motion Machine.", Boston Globe (Boston, MA): 5, 9 July 1886, 

    HOLBROOK, Mass., July 9. — “I understand that you have nearly perfected a machine whereby perpetual motion is attained,” remarked a GLOBE reporter recently at the house of a well-known resident of this town. “Would you mind telling me a little about it?”

    The person addressed was Aaron Beaman of Holbrook, who lives on South Franklin street — a man who has excited a great deal of curiosity by what seems to every one but himself to be his chimeral idea that he can capture the most deeply-hidden secret of nature, if she has such a one, and make her do what she never has done yet. After some persuasion Mr. Beaman said that he was willing to talk of himself and his invention; and it will be seen that his “great discovery” has made the course of his life not a little interesting.

    “I am willing to talk with any one who shows an interest in machinery,” he began. “I have a machine, and I am sure that it is constructed on principles different from any now known. I have not given my full time and attention to it: but if I had I would have done it done long before this.

    “As far as myself is concerned, I was born in Northboro, Worcester county, in June, 1805; therefore I was 81 years of age in June. I removed from there in 1826, and, with an exception of four years, have resided in this town. My wife died April 4, 1883. Just after her death, my children got frightened and said I would spend my money for naught, and I was summoned to appear at Probate Court to be held at Middleboro on the last week in April, 1884, to show cause, if I had any, why I should not be placed under guardianship, as a person insane on the subject of perpetual motion. My son and daughter, Augustus and Sarah Beaman, testified that I had spent a good deal of time and $600 in money to build a water-power engine, which I expected would produce twice the power that would be required to carry the same, and that I talked of selling my real estate to raise money to continue my work until I could find somebody to come to my assistance, which I acknowledge to be mainly correct. The judge then gave me permission to be heard. I told him that this opposition to perpetual motion arose from erroneous rules laid down in natural philosophy and taught to our children, until the whole community were led astray by them. For example, Quackenbos, in his natural philosophy, tells us that we can do more work with a machine in the same time than we can do with our hands alone. He says machines merely aid power in its action; they cannot create power. ‘The mightiest engine, therefore, remains at rest until acted upon by some motive power, and, when thus acted on, it cannot increase the power in the least degree, but, on the other hand, diminishes it more or less, according to the friction of its parts, and be illustrates in this way: ‘If a man standing over a pit 100 feet deep can in the space of a minute just pull to the top a tub containing 100 pounds of coal, no machine can enable him to raise a single pound more in the same time.’ By using pulleys he may raise 600, 800 or 1000 pounds at a time, but it will take him six, eight or ten times as long as before, and, therefore, in the same time, he will do no more than with his hands alone, but less, on account of the friction of the pulleys; and, finally, he says, under no circumstances can there be a gain in units of work without a corresponding loss of time, or a gain in time without a corresponding loss of units of work. Hence perpetual motion is impossible. And so, I say it would be if this was correct, but it is not correct, as I can show with machinery in practical operation all around us. Two men with a derrick can do more work in less time than thirty can do by hand.”

    Mr. Beaman next described a train of wheels and pinions, such as clocks and watches contained, and said that a one-day clock had a short train and a three-pound weight, which he could raise with a limber brush by turning the escape wheels backwards. An eight-day clock, he said, has a longer train and seven-pound weight, which the same brush will raise, and by cutting off one inch of the brush the second inch would be firm enough to wind nearly the longest clock made.

    “This is to show you,” said Mr. Beaman, “that a very little power with machinery will produce very much power. Quackenbos, in reconstructing his late edition of natural philosophy, tells us he has corrected several errors that had unfortunately crept into works of this kind. and I claim the same right to correct those he has left in. I expect that when my machine is completed it will be powerful enough to take the place of a pair of horses on a horse railroad, saw wood and pump water, and to do general work. There has been a man from the patent office at Washington to see my machine. Esquire White asked me if expected I could lift myself by my boot-straps, and I told him there was no trouble in a man raising himself up by pulling upon his boot-straps if he would use a little machinery. If he would take one pulley and hitch it up over an attic window, and put a rope over it long enough for both ends to reach the ground, he may hitch one end to his boot straps, and by pulling on the other raise himself. In consequence of being deprived of the use of my property, and being desirous of seeing my plans consummated, I offer to give to any responsible party all the machinery that I have suitable to be used in the engine that I have commenced, together with a valuable rotary pump, with its hose and belting, provided he will finish it after the plans I have matured for the last five years; also the right to use the same free of royalty. And as to it being sure to work satisfactorily, it is as sure to work as it is sure that one horse with machinery can move a building that fifty horses cannot move without machinery, as the principle is the same.”

    On invitation, the reporter visited the room in an adjoining building, and the machine with its workings were exhibited. The machine, including a tank, occupies a space of about ten feet. A rotary pump is used to draw the water from a half-hogshead on the floor to a tank above the machine. The water flows from this tank out upon an iron water wheel, three feet in width, the paddles being concave. Beneath are two similar wheels of the same diameter but one-half the width. These were assisted in their revolutions, not only by the water flowing from the upper wheel, but by small cog-wheels. A hollow log was placed in close proximity to the pump extending from the tank and entering another hollow log which was termed a barrel, placed in a horizontal position. A small aperture directly under, in the centre, allowed the water to pass out into square cups on the rims of two small iron wheels. These he termed the escape wheels, which gave a double power to his engine, The water then passed into the half-hogshead, whence it was drawn. Thus the work of one would feed the other, the water flowing from the tank on the one side working the pumps on the other, while the working of the escape wheels caused by the fall in the log and the pressure from the barrel would revolve a shafting, thus producing continual perpetual motion. On the wall of the room he had a diagram of what he had proposed to do to perfect his work.

    “I first made these wheels,” Mr. Beaman said, “in the winter of 1869 and ’70. Instead of aid, I have had the whole community against me. It appears to me that our maker endows people with particular gifts. Franklin was made for the purpose of bottling lighting. Here I am squabbling along, but I still hope to obtain assistance. I have made all my own patterns and invented all my machines to make them with.” (A number of which he exhibited to the reporter.) “People have been taught to fear friction, but I am not afraid of it. I can overcome it.”

    As the writer was about to leave, Mr. Beaman called attention to his well-curb, by which a small child would be enabled to draw water, and by which fresh water could be had at all times direct from the well and conducted to tenants in the fourth story of a house if necessary. Mr. Beaman travels about within a circuit of eight miles repairing clocks and watches at the residences of the owners. He also removes corns without cutting the flesh, drawing blood or producing pain. He lives alone in a portion of his own house, renting the remainder, and his wants are attended to by his son and daughter.

  • "Obituary Notice", Boston Evening Transcript (Boston, MA): 12, 16 Oct. 1895,, "Mr. Aaron Beaman of Holbrook, Mass., a nonagenarian, is dead. For many years he was well known throughout the Old Colony district as a repairer of clocks, and one given over to scientific pursuits. He became greatly engaged, some twenty-five years ago, in the matter of perpetual motion, and gave to the subject much of his time and means. Machinery constructed by him in the loft of his stable by which he hoped to discover the secret of perpetual motion, excited much interest, and people far and near visited the same. Several children survive him."