Falkirk Boatlift Wheel

The proposed Falkirk Millennium Boatlift Wheel is a large Ferris wheel designed to transfer boats between the Forth & Clyde Canal and the Union Canal near Falkirk, Scotland. The development, which is being engineered by Binnie Black & Veach in association with Kenneth Grubb Associates, is part of the Millennium Link project sponsored by British Waterways Scotland and will be a landmark development for the local area. The target completion date is in 2001.

BMT Fluid Mechanics Limited were contracted by Kenneth Grubb Associates, the structural engineers for the Wheel, to carry out a wind tunnel study to establish the peak wind loading on the structure and to provide advice on the design wind speeds and the application of the design wind loads.

The Wheel will be situated between the two canals and will transfer vessels between a holding bay and an aqueduct which is about 27 metres above the holding bay. The Wheel will have four fully enclosed gondolas for transporting boats between the two levels.

Wind tunnel model of Falkirk Boatlift Wheel

Wind effects were an important consideration for the design of the primary Wheel structure, the Wheel supports and the gondolas because of the scale of the Wheel and its location on a highly exposed site with relatively high design wind speeds. The peak wind loads were measured in BMT’s large boundary layer wind tunnel using a 1:50 scale working model of the wheel and aqueduct with the wheel in various rotational positions. In addition, the wind loads acting on the individual gondolas were measure directly by instrumenting one of the gondolas with an internal force transducer.

The test work performed by BMT has enabled the scheme design to be completed by Kenneth Grubb Associates on the basis of the measured wind loads.

From the website of BMT Fluid Mechanics Limited