World’s only rotating boat lift gets MOT

The Falkirk Wheel Scottish Canal will carry out maintenance work on The Falkirk Wheel until 7 March
Industry Database

The world’s only rotating boat lift will be drained of water as part of maintenance to ensure it keeps turning.

Work on The Falkirk Wheel in Scotland will involve Scottish Canals’ engineering team carrying out a programme of inspections, maintenance and replacements covering everything from the structure’s mechanical and electrical systems to its surrounding infrastructure.

Richard Millar, director of infrastructure at Scottish Canals, said: “Throughout February, our team will be inspecting, repairing and replacing many of the thousands of individual components that make up this amazing fusion of art and engineering, from the tiny nuts and bolts of its electric motors to the gates of its gigantic gondolas.”

Inspection follows drainage

Once The Wheel has been drained its thousands of mechanical parts will be inspected. The basin and aqueduct will also be drained to allow further inspection of the supporting infrastructure, such as the pumps and sluices and dredging along their length.

When one of the structure’s gondolas is lowered, the opposite one rises, keeping the 1800 tonne boat lift in balance as it carries canal barges 35m into the air.

Opened in 2002, The Wheel replaced a flight of 11 locks that once stepped the Union Canal down to the level of the Forth & Clyde, over 100 feet below. Formerly, travellers had to open and close 44 lock gates to transit between the two waterways, but now vessels can do so in a few minutes.

The work is due to finish on 7 March.

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