The Falkirk Wheel, Uniquely Scottish

By: | February 13th, 2013

The Falkirk Wheel

Scotland is a land that has been linked to a mystical past. Druids, Nessie and men in skirts – you never know what they’ll do next. Scotland also gave us Sean Connery, the best James Bond according to my unabashed mother.

A bit more functional than spies or legends, Scotland has also constructed a unique massive spinning wheel that grabs boats from one river and plops them down safely into another, 25 meters below. This is not fantasy. This is Scotland.

The Falkirk Wheel

The Falkirk Wheel

Based on Archimedes’ principle, floating objects displace their own weight in water, so the caissons always weigh the same! Always remember the classics. By this method, the wheel is always balanced, allowing the most mind-blowing statistic about this wonder to exist—the Falkirk Wheel uses only 30.2 horsepower to rotate! In just over five minutes the wheel makes a half rotation, moving 600 tons to its new canal, using a measly 1.5 kW/h. The same amount of power used to boil eight kettles.

Upper Level of the Falkirk Wheel

Upper Level of the Falkirk Wheel

Lower Level of the Falkirk Wheel

Lower Level of the Falkirk Wheel

The rotating boat lift is used to connect the Forth and Clyde Canals near the town of Falkirk. It opened in 2002, carrying boats from one canal to the other over a vertical difference of 24 meters.

The unique and innovative Falkirk Wheel—the only one of its kind in the world—is regarded as a landmark in engineering attributed to the Scottish.

Jeremy Helms

Jeremy Helms is an engineering enthusiast. You can also find Jeremy on Google+.

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