Mendocino Motor

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Project by Jim Jakosh posted 781 days ago 5924 views 53 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


4747 posts in 1175 days

#1 posted 781 days ago

Too cool

View whitewulf's profile


438 posts in 1535 days

#2 posted 781 days ago


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 1526 days

#3 posted 781 days ago

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

-- --- Richard Jackson

View Roger's profile


14114 posts in 1402 days

#4 posted 781 days ago

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

7620 posts in 2651 days

#5 posted 781 days ago

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


1745 posts in 789 days

#6 posted 781 days ago

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 1291 days

#7 posted 781 days ago

That is awesome.

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

2364 posts in 2036 days

#8 posted 781 days ago

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

1507 posts in 2282 days

#9 posted 781 days ago

Great project Jim.

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

View SteveMI's profile


845 posts in 1893 days

#10 posted 780 days ago

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 2308 days

#11 posted 780 days ago

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

11063 posts in 1704 days

#12 posted 780 days ago

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


6986 posts in 1212 days

#13 posted 780 days ago

thanks Jim to cool

-- Jesus Is Alright with me

View LeroyTheLips's profile


204 posts in 846 days

#14 posted 780 days ago

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


9456 posts in 1688 days

#15 posted 780 days ago

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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