Early electric motors

Posted by jerry on September 27th, 2004 — Posted in DIY, Technology, Woodwork

A while ago I made a primitive electric motor using instructions from an old school science book – My excuse was that I wanted my then pre-teen daughter to see how they worked, but really it was as much for my own satisfaction and fun 😉

The one I made used a large bolt (with corresponding nut and washers at each end for balance) which was inserted transversely through a pre-drilled hole in a cylinder of wood. The axis of the cylinder had a couple of nails inserted as axles – and the rotor assembly was supported on thick wire supports. I wound a fairly long length of insulated wire around the bolt and set up two electromagnets made the same way and lined up with the head and nut of the bolt. I used a couple of pieces of tin can tacked to the wooden shaft as contacts for the brushes (which were themselves made from the springy tin cut from a tin can and sanded to make a good contact surface. There were not that many windings so it took four of the big square ‘dolphin torch’ batteries to make it go – but it worked – to the amazement of my neighbour 🙂

A slightly similar (and simpler) one can be found at this site – their motor looks like this:

Electric motor

and they give instructions for making it.

Today, doing a bit of surfing I came across a web site with images of a wide range of early electric motors and their precursors – some fascinating devices! I loved the magnetic beam engine…

Magnetic beam engine




Comment by David House

We make wonderful kits of old electro magnetic engines.

Worth a look,


Posted on December 24, 2007 at 12:51 am

Comment by Alina

Спасибо, люблю читать ваши посты очень интересно

Posted on May 10, 2009 at 6:59 pm

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