Antonio de la Torre

From Kook Science

Antonio de la Torre was a Cuban-born mechanical engineer of Italian-descent who, while a resident of San Francisco, California in 1894, was reported to have built a perpetual motion machine. The Torre machine was described as "a revolving circle driven by rolling spheres," the problem of friction being "overcome by an Archimedean screw," and was backed by the Universal Automatic Motor Company, a business said to have been organised by the lately deceased B. F. Carto, "who spent a fortune in the effort to discover perpetual motion;"[A] by February 1895, the machine was declared to be a failure, and the backers went out of business.[B]

A report of the New York Advertiser stated Torre had learnt mechanical engineering in England, and that he was "a thorough-going bohemian" who had "realized and spent half a dozen fortunes upon inventions," including a vacuum sugar pan, an automatic fan, a car track, and a railroad brake.[C]

"PERPETUAL MOTION AGAIN." (Hawaiian Star, 23 Apr. 1894)

Press Coverage

  • RIA (13 Mar. 1894), "Perpetual Motion", Rock Island Argus (Rock Island, IL): 2, 

    SAN FRANCISCO, Cal., March 13. — The model of a machine, said by prominent but unnamed mechanical engineers to represent the operation of perpetual motion, is being exhibited by Antonio de la Torre, an Italian engineer. It is in the form of a revolving circle driven by rolling spheres. The friction problem is said to have been overcome by an Archimedean screw. Torre is said to be backed by the Universal Automatic Motor company, which was organized by the late B. F. Carto, who spent a fortune in the effort to discover perpetual motion. He finally died a few weeks ago, broken in heart and purse.

  • HI (23 Apr. 1894), "PERPETUAL MOTION AGAIN. This Time a Cosmopolitan of San Francisco Claims to Have Solved the Problem.", Hawaiian Star (Honolulu, HI): 1, 

    Antonio de la Torre is a little, stout built mechanical engineer of Cuban birth and Italian parentage who resides at present in San Francisco, but has at various periods in his half century of existence lived in nearly every country on the globe. Antonio is certainly a great traveler. If he isn’t a fakir, he is also — or will be — a great man, for Antonio claims to have solved one of the problems of the ages — to have discovered perpetual motion, or rather to have invented and constructed a machine which produces perpetual motion.

    He has exhibited a working model of his invention to several persons of competent judgment under circumstances that seemed to preclude the possibility of deception, and they have all and severally pronounced it a success and marveled at its wonderful simplicity. It is an adaptation of the revolving circle and rolling balls idea that has haunted the minds of seekers after perpetual motion for ages, but it apparently overcomes the difficulties of friction and gravitation in a manner never before dreamed of.

    To the ordinary observer Antonio's motor looks like a flat brass wheel with a cogged surface revolving laterally in a little wooden tub. In the center is an up-right shaft about a foot in height, which is connected with the brass wheel by light metal supports. Half way up the shaft is fixed a little circular platform, from the edge of which two Archimedean screws slant downward, forming a triangle with a five inch base, the space between their lower ends being bridged by a slightly curved trough of brass. The screws revolve in opposite directions, and close examination shows that they are not mates. The left screw has one “worm” more than its fellow, a deeper flange and a different pitch. Each of the screws revolves on a steel shaft which runs up through its center to the little platform. Three steel marbles weighing something less than three ounces each complete the apparatus Antonio requires to produce perpetual motion with a considerable amount of power.

    The marbles are dropped into the thread of the screws — two in the deep screw and one in the shallow screw. The two in the deep screw descend by gravitation with sufficient force to revolve the flat brass wheel, which turns the shallow screw and sends the marble therein scurrying up to the little platform, where it drops into the flange of the deep screw and becomes in its turn a generator of force at the same instant that one of the other balls, having reached the bottom, is filliped across the brass trough bridge by an ingenious spring attachment at the base of the deep screw's shaft and begins the ascent of the flange of the shallow screw.

    There are always two balls descending the deep screw while the third is ascending the shallow screw, and apparently there is nothing to prevent them going on thus forever. By the aid of multipliers the speed is increased so that a little copper fan which acts as a balance wheel revolves 1,500 times in a minute at the end of one horizontal shaft, while a miniature pump works away with considerable power lifting water at the end of another. There is apparently no chance for trickery of any sort, and if everything is as square it looks Antonio de la Torre has written his name high on the roll of the world’s immortals.

  • N.Y. Advertiser (18 Aug. 1894), "NEW IDEA IN POWER. The Inventor's Model Surprises All Practical Mechanics That Inspect It at Work. Three Marbles Play Tag — They Keep Wheels Moving Steadily and Smoothly — Speed Comes from Gearing.", Galvestone Daily News (Galveston, TX): 8, 
  • MC (20 Feb. 1895), "LOCAL NEWS IN BRIEF.", The Morning Call (San Francisco, CA): 7,