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I remember reading a sci fi novel many years ago about a guy that finds a toroid and when he put a shaft in the middle it started rotating. He mounted it in an airplane and flew it to the moon. My ex sold my collection of old novels and I want to read this one again. I just don't remember the author or the title. Help?

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    How long ago is many years ago?
    – Edlothiad
    Apr 28 '17 at 2:04
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    Did your ex tell you that she sold them? Maybe she burned them in a fit of rage. Always ask questions bro.
    – Möoz
    Apr 28 '17 at 2:14
  • Was the main character like a Professor or Engineer? Was the setting some where in the late 50's early 60's? If so, seems the Military or Government was after it as well and there was contention between the MC and them Apr 28 '17 at 2:15
  • Vaguely - very vaguely - reminiscent of Theodore Sturgeon's "Mewhu's Jet." Apr 28 '17 at 2:27
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    @OrganicMarble The one I remember is a crashed alien ship eons ago, Toroid is found and taken to the Barn/Shop. Accidentally sticks the shaft into the center and it begins to spin. Creates an Electric Plane(Mono Engine) and maybe goes to the moon not sure I remember that part. The rate of spin could be varied by moving the shaft .... Poor memory. Apr 28 '17 at 2:55
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I believe you are thinking of Moonbeast or The Beast by A E Van Vogt.

The hero - who has a missing arm - finds a strange engine on a hill. When he is experimenting with it he discovers that if he places a shaft into the centre of the engine it will spin. Different elements spin at different rates. There are a couple of strange effects - the shaft can only be pushed through the engine but not pulled and under certain circumstances the engine seems to negate gravity.

I have read parts of this book as a short story and there have also been a couple of novels with the same general premise but differing slightly in story line.

Having hit google for assistance, try http://filthycreations.proboards.com/thread/60/changling-beast-moonbeast-van-vogt - the chap there has a paragraph or two at the bottom that describes things better than I can.

Based upon the stories The Great Engine, The Changeling (aka The Wonderful Man) and The Beast. This cannibalised novel opens with The Great Engine - published many times as a short story. Pendrake finds the smooth metal doughnut-shaped alien engine on the hillside and takes it home for scrap. But there are others looking for the engine. The Lambton corporation is sending young couples to form a colony on Venus. As the plot segues into The Changeling, Pendrake’s arm has begun to regrow from the radiation of the engine - in fact he has begun to change into a superman, or 'toti-potent,' He is kidnapped by a group of armed women and taken to meet the President of the United States. These women, the President's personal corp, are 'equalised' women - they have taken the Makes You the Equal of a Man drug - which would doubtless have feminists today coughing as if they had fish bones stuck in their thr oats. Men find these 'equalised' women 'queer' and unattractive, while other women are uncomfortable around them.

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  • "The Beast" - amazon.com/Beast-Van-Vogt/dp/0881848832 Clicking the Book, lets you read the first few pages. I would think that is enough to jog the OP's memory if this is the story. As it gives the fundamentals of the Engine. Apr 28 '17 at 6:06
  • At the end of the day, this( goodreads.com/book/show/3244471-the-beast ) probably hits the OP's question very close, the Reviewer "Denis" - "This fix-up was cobbled together by using three short stories that were originally published Astounding Science Fiction magazine: "The Great Engine"- July 1943 (Chapters 1-5) "The Changeling"- April 1944 (Chapters 5-11) Linking material (Chapters 12-13) "The Beast"- November 1943 (Chapters 14-31 and Epilogue)" Apr 28 '17 at 6:13
  • "The Great Engine part is a very good start. It would, perhaps have been a much better novel if he would have simply taken that and expanded it with new material. Jim Pendrake, a discharged war vet (after losing an arm in combat) stumbles upon a mysterious highly advanced engine buried in a hill... " Apr 28 '17 at 6:13
  • ‘James’ Pendrake rather than Jim? - something to do with altered identity... I think) is made aware that he is “toti-potent” (due to the exposure to the found machine) which means he now has super powers - both mental and physical - he even has the ability to regrow limbs - a good thing as it happens quite often - and of course he can live longer than a normal human being as well. Apr 28 '17 at 6:14
  • The third part involves East-Germans (Nazis) and stereotypical south-western cowboys secretly living inside the Moon ruled by a Neanderthal known as the “Big Oaf”and the Beast is a saber tooth tiger living in the bottom of a pit... Yeah, you see? It’s a bit much of a stretch to somehow tie these three story lines together. Even for van Vogt. But this is why I read him. You just don't know what you are going to get wit his books. What he is going to do with the story (stories). Apr 28 '17 at 6:15
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Added as a clarification to user22225's apparently correct answer: the original story was titled "The Great Engine".

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