The Falkirk Wheel is a rotating boat lift in Tamfourhill, Falkirk, in central Scotland, connecting the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal. It reconnects the two canals for the first time since the 1930s. It opened in 2002 as part of the Millennium Link project.A real time view of the Falkirk Wheel turning 180 degrees. The wheel joins two canals and gives access to Glasgow and Edinburgh. It is an engineering masterpiece and a must visit attraction in Scotland.
The wheel has an overall diameter of 35 m and consists of two opposing arms extending 15 m beyond the central axle and taking the shape of a Celtic-inspired, double-headed axe.Two sets of these axe-shaped arms are connected to a 3.8 m diameter central axle of length 28 m. Two diametrically opposed water-filled caissons, each with a capacity of 250,000 litres, are fitted between the ends of the arms.
The caissons or gondolas always carry a combined weight of 500 tonnes of water and boats, with the gondolas themselves each weighing 50 tonnes. Care is taken to maintain the water levels on each side, thus balancing the weight on each arm. According to Archimedes’ principle, floating objects displace their own weight in water, so when the boat enters, the amount of water leaving the caisson weighs exactly the same as the boat.
This is achieved by maintaining the water levels on each side to within a difference of 37 mm (1.5 in) using a site-wide computer control system comprising water level sensors, automated sluices and pumps.It takes 22.5 kilowatts (30.2 hp) to power ten hydraulic motors, which consume 1.5 kilowatt-hours (5,100 BTU) per half-turn, roughly the same as boiling eight kettles of water.