The Millenary Sculpture

Falkirk Wheel

The Falkirk Wheel is the world first rotating boat lift of its kind in Scotland, which is a part of Millennium Link project. Read the full details.

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  • The Falkirk Wheel, the world first rotating boat lift of its kind in Scotland.
  •  It is not only the extraordinary structure of the 21st century but also a combination of state-of-the engineering and marine architecture.
  • Falkirk Wheel designed to connect Forth & Clyde Canal with Union Canal which is a part of Millennium Link project, a plan to reconnect central Scotland and reconnect Glasgow and Edinburgh.
  •  It is a landmark structure to reconnect the canal, instant of simply connected canals with “Lock Flight” structure.
  • The Wheel lifts boats by 24 meters, but there is still 11 meters difference between Union canal and aqueduct so boats have to through a pair of locks between top of the wheel and Union canal.
falkirk wheel

Necessity and Proposal OF FALKIRK WHEEL: -

  • The Forth and Clyde canal was opened in 1790 to provide coast to coast route as a shortcut for Scottish trade. 
  • Then after 30years in 1820 Union canal was opened to link up Glasgow with Edinburgh, connected with the stairway of 11 locks with a height of 35 meters.
  • It was a very effective way of carrying cargo and travel which take only 7 hours. But railways come up as more efficient, low cost and time-saving substitute of canal route.
  • By 1930 both canals fell into disuse and locks were demolished in 1933. 
  • The Forth and Clyde Canal was closed at the end of 1962 and next months the British Water Board (BWB) was established on 1 January 1963, with the objective of finding a new and efficient solution for future of canals in the UK.
  • In 1994, the Millennium Link project was announced, that plan was to reopen both canals and construct a significant structure to connect them, and the solution was Falkirk Wheel. 
  • The cost of the project was £ 78 million, £ 32 million came from the Millennium Commission and rest funded by BWB.
falkirk wheel

Design and Structure: -

  • The wheel has a diameter of 35m, and consists of two opposite arms of 15m taking shape of Celtic inspired axe. 
  • Both pair of axe-shaped arms are connected to a central axle diameter 3.8 m and length 28m.
  • The two diametrically opposed water-filled caissons are fitted between the ends of the arms. 
  • Both of the caissons are 6.5 m wide and 28 m long, each with the capacity of 250,000 L of water and carry up to 8 boats at a time.
  •  The combined load carry capacity of caissons is 500 tons.
  • Hydraulic steel gats are provided at both ends of two caissons, an upper structure, and lower dock pit to provide a watertight seal with automated water level sensors to balance the level of water between caissons and canals.
falkirk wheel

Principle and Mechanism: -

  • The principle behind this structure on which it based is Archimedes principle of displacement which states that mass of the boat moving into the caissons will displace an exactly proportional volume of water, so the weight in each caisson remain same no matter how much boats are lifted or lowered.
  • This keeps the caissons in equilibrium, allow them to take turns of 180degree only in few minutes. Because of balancing of weights at both ends, it consumes very less energy to rotate, equal to 1.5 KWH per half-turn (enough to boil 8 cattle of water) and torque is generated by 10 hydraulic motors of 30.2 HP.
  • Now, it is necessary for caissons to remain in level while the wheel is stable and horizontal during rotation, each end of each caisson is supported by wheels which run on tracks on the inside face of a diameter of 8 m holes at the end of arms. 
  • The rotation of axle is controlled by a series of synchronous gears, this allows the gear train system to accept structural deflection due to movement of caissons.
falkirk wheel

Technical Consideration: -

  • The land on which Falkirk Wheel is built was contaminated because that land previously used for making coal Tar. 
  • The field was also unfit for foundation due to unpacked backfill soil of mining operation, so engineers recommend the foundation of deep piling of 22m onto bedrock were used.
  • Due to the continuous rotation of the wheel in an alternative direction, some section experience hug stresses.
  •  In order to overcome deformation and cracks, all sections were connected with bolt instant of welding.
  • Falkirk wheel is a unbeatable landmark which hold the imagination of people and realize us that we live in the 21st century. 
  • It comes up clear on our expectation, either it is for high efficiency or less energy consumption.
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