Restoring a 24 Plate Frank S Betz
Toepler Holtz Machine
Featured Collector: Daniel Cuscela
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
was originally made in the late 1890s as a self-powered X-Ray and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!
machine weighs in at around 6000 pounds. Or at least it felt like
that much! (At least a half ton!)
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
go through here. Let's design a machine with as many holes in
glass as possible. Oh wait - here it is.
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
is really a tight squeeze! There is little room to maneuver
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!
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
and some help from the Doctor.
I'm 5 foot 6 and not exactly feeling tall.
were happy as can be until we realized we had to remove 4 plates!
can't even tie my own shoes so I let Dan do this. I can hold the
knot but that's about it.
I say shoes? Hey, there's a spare Hogan coil on the shelf!
Fortunately Dan has 112 foot ceilings in his house.
easier said than done!
Dad came to help.
hardly working or working hardly!
I'm holding a glove. Safety first.
never saw 3 foot diameter glass dominoes before.
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.
for Cavallo. I nearly drooled on this book! There are only a
few of us collectors who really appreciate electrical books from the
The main reason is that they cost as much as a *(%#*$(*%$ing mortgage
Holding a piece of electrical history from the early days of our
country's independence is priceless. The works of Benjamin
Joseph Priestly, Tiberius Cavallo, and L'Abbe Nollet are not only
fascinating but beautifully written beyond words. For those who
electricity 150 years before most homes actually made use of it was an
incredible feat of ingenuity.
Wow. Wow! Relearn history in this book, it was all done
before, but 200 years before you thought!
the name of sanity...
There's a reason that hand only has 3 fingers. The other was blown
Franklin's physician. Dan has one nice library!
in blue ink, a very very very interesting book.
boy. Enough rest. Dan did an incredible job restoring the
woodwork on this machine and soaking every iron piece until they all had
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
Can be cured of various ailments. Like this:
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
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.
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
A three-minute video of quieter
C) Jeff Behary, 2011