The Turn Of The Century Electrotherapy Museum
(C) Jeff Behary 2011 

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Restoring a 24 Plate Frank S Betz Toepler Holtz Machine
Featured Collector:  Daniel Cuscela

"Before" Photo...

Dan and I ready to tackle his beast of a static machine!

Dan and I have been waiting all year to do this!  This machine, a 24-plate Toepler Holtz Static Electric Machine,
was originally made in the late 1890s as a self-powered X-Ray and Franklinic Treatment machine.   It is in all likelihood
the largest (now) fully-functional static machine of this era to exist in the United States.  I have spent over 15 years
collecting and restoring hundreds of apparatus, and built many hundreds of replicas and experiments.  This machine
is one of the most impressive apparatus in operation I have ever witnessed.  Hats off to Dan for bidding on this item from
the Leland Keller collection, and giving it the care and attention it deserves.  Though hats off more to Rita, for shouting
words that would probably remove this webpage from most search engines each time Dan got outbid.  We were all three
on separate phones, all on speaker, making telephone bids for various items and completely draining our bank accounts.
Leland Keller had one of the nicest collections anyone has ever seen.  Glad to see some of us preserving it for the future!

The machine weighs in at around 6000 pounds.  Or at least it felt like that much!  (At least a half ton!)

This is tedious.  Dan introduced me to safety items, like gloves.  This part was easier said than done, and I still have most of my fingers intact.

Dischargers go through here.  Let's design a machine with as many holes in glass as possible.  Oh wait - here it is.

Balance 500 pounds of plates and then take out supports to add another...  This took 6 hours!
The inventor of this machine also invented the phrase "Charlie Horse".

This is really a tight squeeze!  There is little room to maneuver anything!
Frank S Betz's granddaugter Bettie Betz wrote the comic "Dollface" in the 50s and lived on Palm Beach Island.  I have corresponded
with his grandson, but unfortunately learned of her too late - she has already passed away.  A sad missed chance, but perhaps one day
we could entertain his grandson.  Betz was a German immigrant and a major supplier of medical items from the 1890s - 1930s.  
They were later Betzco and were afterward bought out by AS Aloe and moved to St Louis MO.

Here is Frank S Betz.   Is he a long lost relative of Frank Jones?  He looks about the same height!

Dan did an amazing job shellacing these.  He's a pro now, 24 glass plates in all!  For those who like to calculate surface area,
that's a lot of ^%%$#$)%()( amber shellac.  Our next project is going to involve genetic mutations of female lac bugs and perhaps a TARDIS
and some help from the Doctor.

I'm 5 foot 6 and not exactly feeling tall.  

We were happy as can be until we realized we had to remove 4 plates!

I can't even tie my own shoes so I let Dan do this.  I can hold the knot but that's about it.

Did I say shoes?  Hey, there's a spare Hogan coil on the shelf!

Fortunately Dan has 112 foot ceilings in his house.  

Yeah, easier said than done!

My Dad came to help.

Even my Mom.

We're hardly working or working hardly!

See I'm holding a glove.  Safety first.  

I never saw 3 foot diameter glass dominoes before.

When all is done, the axle needs to be pushed into the front bearing...with 12 rotating plates and 12 stationary plates to crash and
seize along the way.  Walking on eggshells is fun, especially after a few Pilsner Urquell's.

Pause for Cavallo.  I nearly drooled on this book!  There are only a few of us collectors who really appreciate electrical books from the 1700s.
The main reason is that they cost as much as a *(%#*$(*%$ing mortgage payment.

Holding a piece of electrical history from the early days of our country's independence is priceless.  The works of Benjamin Franklin,
Joseph Priestly, Tiberius Cavallo, and L'Abbe Nollet are not only fascinating but beautifully written beyond words.  For those who explored
electricity 150 years before most homes actually made use of it was an incredible feat of ingenuity.  

Wow.  Wow.  Wow!  Relearn history in this book, it was all done before, but 200 years before you thought!


In the name of sanity...


Volunteers?  There's a reason that hand only has 3 fingers.  The other was blown off.  

Ben Franklin's physician.  Dan has one nice library!

Printed in blue ink, a very very very interesting book.

Oh boy.  Enough rest.  Dan did an incredible job restoring the woodwork on this machine and soaking every iron piece until they all had life again.
It took him months of work on end.  I had the job of piecing all of the accessories together.  Fortunately I have a photographic memory when it comes
to useless things like patents filed in the late 1800s, or which of my thousands of books and documents has a pole-changer with an adjustable spark gap
to regulate the vacuum inside of an X-Ray tube when attached to a 24 plate static machine.  No, I am indeed useless with things like toothbrushes or mobile phones.

Getting Cranky?  

If this were in my house a bulldog would be chewing one leg and a cat having a hairball inside of the case.
Dan needs a pet.

Mounting the dischargers on front.  I did a lot of work on those to get them back together again - they were all in pieces, and extremely dented.
I made cement moulds to reform them manually, and restored some of the broken ebonite rods insulating them from the base.
That poor Leyden Jar to the left was nearly decapitated by a piercing crackle some minutes after testing it!  Dan did a great job polishing the jars!

The lamp makes a nice ground.  "When is a ground not a ground?  When its a-float!"  (Bill Wysock, Long Island)
There is a large glass legged table that can be stood upon or sat upon in a wooden chair to apply Franklinic currents to the body and insulate oneself
from the earth.  This means you can stand on the table and be charged to a quarter of a million volts, and by approaching various static electrodes...
Can be cured of various ailments.  Like this:

180 degree crack!  Today we call them capacitors, back then a Leyden Jar, back in Franklin's time they were "Leyden Phials".
This glass jar can knock your ass into next week, if not into your next life.

If you don't believe me, does a picture help?

Same spark but without jars.  Discharge is 10"+, and this is without fine tuning!!
Even in humid weather, a few turns of the crank will have the machine spitting out a quarter of a million volts.

Inside one can see the nickel-plated brass collectors and  neutralizers.

Please visit our YouTube videos below for movies
of this machine in operation!

A brief video (23 seconds) of some powerful sparks:

A three-minute video of quieter sparks:

C) Jeff Behary, 2011