This thread reminded me that when I was a kid, my dad spent many hours talking to me about his ideas for a magnetic engine. He would do drawings and talk about the practical problems. I seem to recall that the his idea of the most difficult problem to surmount would be the cooling of the magnet. Unfortunately he never had the money or space to build one to see if it actually worked before he died.
Reading the thread on electric cars, it made me wonder if Dad had something there?
(Hijacking my own OP, I have to take a minute to tell you about my dad. He was from an extremely poor family and dropped out of high school around 1931 because the kids there made fun of his one outfit of clothing. The principal offered to buy him clothes for school if he would stay, but he was too proud. He served in the CCC for a couple of years, and then started working as a mechanic, which he continued to do for the rest of his career. He married my mom, had 11 kids and a huge problem with alcohol, which he eventually conquered but unfortunately not until a couple of years before he died of cancer when he was 65.
The stories and designs he told me of were often told on nights when we kids took turns sitting up with him to make sure he didn’t pass out drunk with a lit cigarette in his hand. One thing I remember him telling me was that he had had an idea for an engine that someone had built and patented later on (I am not of a mechanical mind, I want to say the internal combustion engine but I honestly don’t know if that’s correct or predates him). He wasn’t angry about it; just frustrated that he didn’t have the resources to build what he could ‘see’ in his mind.
Being a kid, I took his ramblings as the gospel truth. Later, I grew skeptical of the things he told me, wondering if they could really be true. But one thing really sticks with me and makes me wonder if he was on the level - after my mom died and we sorted out the house, we found pencil drawings of a videotape, with written explanations of how it would work. The papers we found them with were things that dated from the late '60s - early '70s. Dad couldn’t have seen one - he died in 1981, before our town even had cable and several years before VCRs came into our lives. It made me think twice about all the other things he told me.
Sorry for the hijack, but it seemed like the place to tell my dad’s story - to the other smartest group of people I ever knew.)