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Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Falkirk Wheel

The last stop on our tour with Dave was in Falkirk to see the impressive Falkirk Wheel.    When the decision was made to reconnect two canals so to connect Glasgow and Edinburgh by waterway, there was the not-so-small issue that the canals were separated by a level of almost 80 feet!  Compound that with the fact that the area of connection is right next to the historic Roman times Antonine Wall. 

So this cool looking mechanism was invented.  It is the world’s only rotating boat lift.

You can tour it by taking part of a boat ride to see how it works.  This is the boat we were on… right up in the front seat! 

There were two operators who told us about The Wheel and then actually drove the boat for the tour.  They were great fun with stories, jokes, and information as we puttered slowly along. 

The boat moves into this ‘trough’ that has a twin on the other end of the rotating arm.  Water is displaced in proportion to the weight of the boat entering; so it is always the exact same weight as its twin. 

Then it starts to rotate! 

Up to the top of the aqueduct.

The trip to the top takes only 5 and a half minutes and is so incredibly energy efficient it uses the same amount of power it would take to boil 8 pots of water in 4 minutes.  Once at the top, two gates open to bring the aqueduct water into the trough and the boat motors out into the canal to continue its journey.  
For the tour, it goes down a bit thru a tunnel before turning around to come back down via The Wheel to where we started from. 

It looks a wee bit scary as you approach on the return and look off into… nothing!  Boating thru an infinity pool can make one pause.

Especially as the boat pulls all the way forward!  That is a long way down!

And just a few minutes later we were at the bottom and our ride was over.   
I definitely recommend visiting here if you have any interest in cool engineering feats!   Below is a time-lapse video so you can see how it works. 


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