Restoring a Wimshurst machine

Hans, a maker from Trondheim, Norway, sent us a link to this Wimshurst Influence Machine he bought. He asked about the history of the device from the seller and found out that it was used in a grade school, from 1911 to 1951, and was owned by the principal. Nice job on the restoration:

The original disks on the machine were too warped and worn to be successfully restored. All the sectors were also missing from the disks. I acquired a large 3 mm thick bakelite sheet from a local plastics supplier and used this as a base material for cutting out a pair of new disks. The disks were then painted with black acrylic paint and sectors of aluminoum tape were then added to the disks.

Influence machine restoration

We’ve covered other Wimshurst machines here on MAKE

From MAKE magazine:


Check out MAKE, Volume 17: The Lost Knowledge issue!
Buy your copy in the Maker Shed, Subscribe to MAKE, or access the Digital Edition (if you’re already a subscriber).

In Volume 17, MAKE goes really old school with the Lost Knowledge issue, featuring projects and articles covering the steampunk scene — makers creating their own alternative Victorian world through modified computers, phones, cars, costumes, and other fantastic creations. Projects include an elegant Wimshurst Influence Machine (an electrostatic generator built entirely from Home Depot parts), a Florence Siphon coffee brewer, and a teacup-powered Stirling engine. This special section also covers watchmaking, letterpress printing, the early multimedia art of William Blake, and other wondrous and lost (or fading) pre-20th-century technologies.


Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy man’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.

View more articles by Gareth Branwyn