Re: Tesla's "mercury break"

From: 	Gomez[SMTP:gomez-at-netherworld-dot-com]
Reply To: 	gomez-at-netherworld-dot-com
Sent: 	Saturday, December 06, 1997 11:29 AM
To: 	Tesla List
Subject: 	Re: Tesla's "mercury break"


My, you do like exclamation points, don't you?

> I AM differentiating "spark gap" from "primary break device" because they
> ARE fundamentaly different regardless if they serve the same purpose or
> not!

Okay, fine, whatever.  I assumed you meant that he hadn't used mercury in 
the primary break, which usually consisted (on the big machine) of both 
spark gaps and the "mercury contactor".

> It seems your streatching definitions to suit you purpose! You mean a
> vibrating interuptor on an 3 inch induction coil is a spark gap to you?

Of course not.  That sparking occurs after the contacts open- Tesla saw 
sparking as the stream _approached_ the terminals, which is an arc 
struck by the high voltage.  _that_ is spark gap action, whether you like it 
or not.

> > Dr. Tesla makes frequent mention in his Colorado Springs Notes of a
> > "mercury break" that is run from an electric motor, not a turbine.
> It is refered to as a turbine in Tesla's patents because of the driver for
> creating the mercury stream inside the break device (see the patent, I can
> provide the patent number if you need it)

#'s 609245;  609246; 609247; 609248; 609249; 609251; 611719;
613735- yes, I've read them.

> > These were operated at 12kV and more on his big oscillator.
> That I don't remember reading, please quote the page(s) and paragraph(s) at
> your earliest convience.

I left my copy of the Notes at work- will bring it home Monday.  Note that 
in most of the comments, Dr. Tesla does not mention the voltage across the 
gaps, or across the mercury break itself, only the voltage at which the big 
Westinghouse transformer is being operated.

> > I recall one passage that mentioned he had operated one of these "mercury breaks"
> > at a sufficiently low voltage as to "eliminate any arc whatsoever"
> > implying that this was a mercury-commutated gap.  (this was in a
> > discussion of the rotary break used in his large oscillator)
> That is what I remember reading!
Well, at least we are in agreement about something.

> > I will search through the book when I get the time and will quote
> > chapter and verse when (if) I find it.  Be patient, I'm in the middle of
> > moving, plus working various side jobs, plus my full-time contracts, and
> > it's a thick book!
> I too will search through my copy at my earliest convience!
> > So, are we arguing semantics, or did I misunderstand your post?
> Misunderstanding is always a posibility, but in so far as arguing
> semantics, I don't have the time nor the inclination for such triviality,
> if indeed it were to turn out to be such I would be the first to
> appologize! Though I seriously doubt that is the case. 

Well, it seems to be the case to me.  If I gave offense, I apologize.  Other 
than that, I don't see the point in debating what the primary break devices 
may be called, so long as we all agree on their purpose and the optimum 
operational behaviors which the chosen combination of devices should 

When talking to coilers, I (and most of the coilers I know) use the term 
"gap", which is short for, or derived from, "spark gap"; as the term for 
the primary break device, even when someone is talking about some 
esoteric method which may or may not involve classical "spark gap switch" 

I am sorry if I have tread carelessly on anyone's delicate sensibilities.


Gomez: certifiable mad scientist, extreme fetishist, fiction dabbler, 
pyrophiliac, technomage, goth, faan, lighting designer, dominant 
pervert, and juggler of labels... http://www-dot-netherworld-dot-com/~gomez