Dailey Static Electric Motor

Dailey Static Electric Motor

<< >>
Usage conditions apply
Description (Brief)
This machine operates by the direct action of static electric attractions and repulsions. It is constructed entirely of fine wood, glass and hard rubber, there being no magnetic materials used. The flywheel is of laminated, soft wood and runs in journal bearings of very small diameter. The moving balls, mounted on the walking beam of vulcanite, are made of wood, hollowed out so that the walls are about 2 millimeters thick. They are covered with aluminum foil for static conductivity. The stationary balls are of solid wood. Made by Elijah M. Dailey in 1880, in Battle Creek, MI.
To operate the engine the stationary balls are charged with electricity from a static electric generator, such as a Holtz machine, the upper balls being connected through the brass ball to one pole of the machine while the lower stationary balls are connected through the binding post on the bed frame of the opposite pole of the machine. Under proper conditions, when charged the engine will make about 375 revolutions per minute. The walnut base upon which the engine is mounted is 14" long, 4" wide and 1 3/4" thick. The movable balls are about 1.5" in diameter; the upper stationary balls are 1.75" in diameter; and the lower stationary balls, 1.5". The four glass rods, mounted vertically, are about 6" high and spaced 6 inches apart along the bed. The diameter of the flywheel is 5.75". It is gilded and has small wire spokes. The connecting rod is 7" in length.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Electrostatic Engine
Other Terms
Electrostatic Engine; Electrostatic Devices
date made
overall: 1 3/4 in x 4 in x 14 in; 4.445 cm x 10.16 cm x 35.56 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
from Howard B. Dailey
See more items in
Work and Industry: Electricity
Data Source
National Museum of American History
Nominate this object for photography.   

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.


Add a comment about this object