Leonardo Perpetual Motion Machines


Leonardo da Vinci’s perpetual motion machines


The research on the possibility of Leonardo da Vinci perpetual motion machines was very thorough and scientific at the time. He has two pages of notes with several designs showing possible perpetual motion wheel.

Leonardo da Vinci wheels (the first, second, and third designs, from the left)


Among perpetual motion inventions, Leonardo’s first design is a simple overbalanced wheel. In this design, the weight of the ball bearings within the machine will always shift the wheel’s center of gravity away from the center point, thereby allowing continuous rotation. The design has 4 tracks in total, each with its own ball bearing running within it.

His second design incorporates levers and a pawl and racket system into the overbalanced wheel. The design of the wheel’s central hub is such that the levers are held in a controlled position throughout the rotation of the wheel. The pawl and ratchet system ensures that the wheel can only rotate counter-clockwise. This can be seen in the images above and will be shown in operation in the video at the bottom of the page.

His third and most elegant design is for another overbalanced wheel. This design has twelve tracks in total with a ball bearing in each. Once again the center of gravity is constantly shifted by the movement of the balls along the curved tracks during the rotation of the wheel. This design can be seen in the images above and will be shown in operation in the video at the end of the page.

We think his fourth design is a masterpiece of mechanical engineering and conceptual design. It is almost too difficult to explain how it works using words, instead, we will simply add some images of it and allow you to watch the video just below if you have not seen it already – the fourth machine can be seen at 3 minutes 22 seconds. You may have noticed that this model is missing from our set, to be honest, the simple reason why is that we could not manufacture this model without acquiring a 5 axis CNC machine – how someone could design this machine in their head is beyond comprehension, the man was a genius of the highest order.



Leonardo decided against investigating perpetual motion any further after he wrote (in mirror writing) beside the designs – “for every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction” (the machines will not work). That quote is also Isaac Newtons Third Law of Motion, 200 years before Newton was born!!!