Mendocino Motor

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Project by Jim Jakosh posted 06-04-2012 07:46 PM 7150 views 56 times favorited 24 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is a project that I thought I posted but did not. I built this in ‘06 and it is still running. It is called a Mendocino motor and it totally powered by the sun and does not store electricity in a battery but uses it right now. It only runs when the sun is out.
The frame is made from red oak and a the armature is wrapped around balsa wood with an aluminum tube shaft and a hardened point . The spindle seem to want to push forward when it is running so the glass mirror is the front bearing. There are no shaft bearings because it is levitated between the magnets on the shaft and the fixed magnets- friction free!! The big center block magnet is the “field”. The magnets and solar cells were from Radio Shack.

It is a typical DC electric motor that I wound so when the one solar cell powered magnet goes past center the polarity is reversed to push and thus keeps the motor spinning. Turn it around and it turns in the opposite direction. As the sun gets brighter, it spins all the faster.

It has no real purpose except a great conversation piece and demonstration model for a solar motor. I was given the plans from a guy I talked to while buying V belts on line….................Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

24 comments so far

View waho6o9's profile


5596 posts in 1394 days

#1 posted 06-04-2012 08:10 PM

Too cool

View whitewulf's profile


450 posts in 1755 days

#2 posted 06-04-2012 08:55 PM


It looks as if an arrow was used for the shaft?
I have been tinkering with solar cells, never seen one this clever. Is there a link?


-- "ButI'mMuchBetterNow"

View rdjack21's profile


265 posts in 1745 days

#3 posted 06-04-2012 09:07 PM

That is to cool and I agree do you have a link to the plans?

-- --- Richard Jackson

View Roger's profile


16049 posts in 1622 days

#4 posted 06-04-2012 09:31 PM

Wonderful! Can we build a bigger one and install it to run our cars with?

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe.

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

8067 posts in 2870 days

#5 posted 06-04-2012 09:58 PM

That is Fantastic!


Possible to get more details… plans?

Thank you.

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View Oldtool's profile


1984 posts in 1008 days

#6 posted 06-04-2012 10:07 PM

Can you put a circular blade on the shaft? LOL.
Neat. My grandson would like to make on of these. I’ll search the Internet for instructions.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View Nalter's profile


5 posts in 1511 days

#7 posted 06-04-2012 10:18 PM

That is awesome.

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

2470 posts in 2255 days

#8 posted 06-04-2012 11:07 PM

Very cool. What keeps the shaft from sliding left or right as it is spinning suspended?

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View Bob Collins's profile

Bob Collins

1608 posts in 2501 days

#9 posted 06-04-2012 11:42 PM

Great project Jim.

-- Bob C, Australia. I love sharing as long as it is not my tools

View SteveMI's profile


875 posts in 2112 days

#10 posted 06-05-2012 12:57 AM

Very Cool, I need to put this on the list!!
Any notes on the wire size and number of coils?


View fredf's profile


495 posts in 2528 days

#11 posted 06-05-2012 01:34 AM

Are the wire loop and the upright dowels really needed?? I have seen other versions where there was nothing other than perhaps a divot in the upright where the point rests.

-- Fred, Springfield, Ma

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

12505 posts in 1923 days

#12 posted 06-05-2012 02:06 AM

I thought you all would like it.The link for the plans is at the end of this note.. Mine were given to me. It was quite a lot of pages as I recall.
I changed a few things, like how I secured the magnets. I think they said to just glue them down. I liked having them in pockets..
The uprights and the loop around the tail are needed. Some times it gets going so fast it starts to whip because it is not perfectly balanced. It threw out the armature a few times and bent it. Some of the solar cells chipped off in the fall but it still works good.

You could put a fan blade on the shaft, but it would have to be balanced very good or it will add to the wobble.

The position of the magnets on the shaft in relation to the fixed magnets gives it a constant pull toward the mirror. The north- south location is also very important,too.

Here is the link to U tube and where you can get the plans:


-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View eddie's profile


7640 posts in 1432 days

#13 posted 06-05-2012 03:17 AM

thanks Jim to cool

-- Jesus Is Alright with me

View LeroyTheLips's profile


229 posts in 1065 days

#14 posted 06-05-2012 04:36 AM

I’m retired from our localnpower company where I worked in the engineering section – I love it. Never seen anything so cool

View mafe's profile


9852 posts in 1907 days

#15 posted 06-05-2012 08:27 AM

I love that motor, like a eternal engine – untill the sun goes down.
Best thoughts,

-- Mad F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

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