The Wheel Of Fortune

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

Due to good fortune and the WUWT readership, we got the chance to not only see the Falkirk Wheel, but to take a ride on it … what a marvelous piece of Scottish engineering. No wonder the engineer on the Starship Enterprise was “Scotty” … here’s the wheel, on a lovely day of rain and sun, but mostly rain. Or what is known as “un-made whisky”, as I’m told rain is called locally:

falkirk wheetThe wheel rotates to move boats up and down, in lieu of a system of locks, to overcome the difference in height between two canals above and below. When you’ve been moved up from the bottom to the top, you are looking out along an elevated waterway that you can see below:

falkirk wheel 2

We didn’t go far on the canal, just through the tunnel and back. The gorgeous ex-fiancée and I take care of her father, who is 85 and legally blind. We’re always looking for things that he can do, and so we were graciously given a very short ride on a boat that is used to carry disabled people along the canals, so that they can be safely out and moving in the fresh air. It would be perfect for the old man, he loves the water but has trouble on the ocean, so we’ll see if we can find something equivalent back in the States.

The boat is one of ten that is operated by a charity called the “Seagull Trust Cruises”. I have been amazed by the amount and extent of work that is done by various charities in the UK. Many things that are done (poorly) by the government in the US are done, and done well, by the charities in the UK. For example, the Seagull Trust Cruises operates totally on public donations, and is staffed entirely by volunteers … and they’ve given free rides to over a million disabled people to date. What a wonderful gift for someone cooped up in a nursing home, or homebound for some chronic medical problem, to be able to take a canal cruise.

So I put £20 into the charity right there on the spot, and if anyone else is so inclined, their website is here, it’s a good cause. They’re set up to take people on wheelchairs, and every penny of the money goes to the actual operating expenses—no one, from the highest to the lowest, takes any money at all for their time.

The engineering on the Falkirk Wheel is so well-balanced that it only takes about the amount of energy needed to toast three slices of toast to rotate the wheel by a half turn, boats, water and all … it’s all computer controlled, and if the water levels in the two chambers are different by more than 75 mm (3″), the whole thing stops. Here’s a view from the top of the wheel, just prior to starting back down:

falkirk wheel 3And here are the gears that make it all go round …

falkirk wheel gears

From there, an old sea-dog who reads WUWT took us on a tour of the “kirk”, or church, for which Falkirk is named. First, though, we stopped at the Antonine wall. It served the same purpose as the better-known Hadrians wall, regulating commerce. Unlike Hadrian’s Wall, however, it was built of turf, and has since disappeared. All that is left are the trench that was excavated to provide the turf for the wall and increase its height, and the heap of earth on the left that is where the wall once stood:

antonine wallI was irresistibly reminded of Matsuo Basho’s haiku, written on a battlefield that was already ancient in the 1600’s …

Summer grass
Of stalwart warriors’ spendid dreams
The aftermath …

We were then taken on a guided tour of the Falkirk church. “Falkirk” means “spotted church”, because the original church (built in 36,000BC or some such date) was built with stones of different colors. The church feed lunch every day to the homeless, and the cost of that is recovered by selling the same meals to anyone who comes in … so we started out with lunch at the church. Like the Seagull Trust, the restaurant is completely staffed by volunteers.

Inside, the church is very unusual, because it’s rounded. Unlike most churches, it felt well-worn and well-loved. The best part of the tour, though, was we went up into the belfry.

falkirk bells

I’ve never been up in an actual belfry before, in the US churches generally have loudspeakers … the old sea-dog said bells were a gift from the Dollar family of San Francisco … “The owners of the Dollar Steamship Lines?” I asked, because that name is very familiar on the West Coast. Yes, I was told, the family came from Falkirk, and they had the bells made in the US and shipped back to the old country after they’d made their fortune.

And wonder of wonders, I was invited to play the bells! Rather than subject the entire city to a novice, I just played a few notes … I’ve never, ever played an acoustic instrument of that power, it was astonishing. The only thing I can compare it to, which some may understand, is driving a D10 Caterpillar dozer … raw unbridled strength at my fingertips.

falkirk bells II

Parts of the church are made of sandstone … and it is so old that the very stones themselves have been worn away, not by people or by traffic, but by the rain … where I grew up, that only happens to mountains. The folks of Falkirk appear to be harder than their sandstone, however, if this plaque near the church is accurate …

falkirk mottoThe old sea-dog had graciously invited us to spend the night at his home, and on the way there we stopped at the Carron Iron Works … or more accurately, a monument to the former Carron works, cheaper ironwork from the Japanese drove them out of business. There I learned that a “carronade”, which is a small cannon which I’d read about in many histories of the period, was named after the Carron works. It’s a lethal affair designed to shoot “grape-shot” at infantry, basically a shotgun on steroids.

All that’s left of the works now are a couple of cannons and carronades … the cannon in the background is one of two surviving cannons from the battle of Waterloo, the other is to the left of it just out of the picture.

falkirk carronadeThe Carron Iron Works was also the company that made the first steam boiler for James Watt, a part of which is mounted in the wall of the monument:

falkirk watt's boiler“Stalwart warriors’ splendid dreams” indeed …

We had a lovely evening with the old sea-dog and his good lady, listening to stories of life at sea as recounted by he and his wife, who had accompanied him around the world, and tales of battles in Falkirk won and lost. I can’t thank them enough for their hospitality and the insights into Scotland and life in the north.

The next day we rolled on to Edinburgh, where we are now … but that’s a story for another day, we’re off to see Mary King’s Close.

My best to all, more to come,

w.

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114 thoughts on “The Wheel Of Fortune

  1. so glad you found the time to visit the falkirk wheel willis,indeed that you have come to scotland ,an oft forgotten small nation that has punched well above its weight in scientific discovery and engineering endeavour .
    i suspect the wheel will remain working long after the last wind farm has collapsed in to the north sea.
    have a great time on the remainder of your trip ,but please pick an indoor activity for sunday. it appears we have an extreme climate event happening,more commonly referred to in scotland as a driech day,or a bit wet and windy.

  2. For science-y stuff, you might want to visit the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh and say hello to Dolly the Sheep, amongst other wonders of course :)

  3. Scottish explorers, inventors, engineers, soldiers and administrators conquered and ran the British Empire for a couple of centuries: I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that without the Scots England would have found it impossible to build and run its global fiefdom. I’m not Scottish by the way.

    What a wonderfully diverse collection of images and experiences Willis! I’m so enjoying this vicarious trip up North, where I’ve not ventured in decades

  4. Willis:

    Thankyou for another wonderful report of your travels in our isles.

    You say

    I have been amazed by the amount and extent of work that is done by various charities in the UK. Many things that are done (poorly) by the government in the US are done, and done well, by the charities in the UK.

    Perhaps the clearest example of how we use charities is the Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI). You and some of your American readers may want to compare the RNLI to some of the duties conducted by the US Coastguard.

    This link goes to the RNLI homepage

    http://rnli.org/Pages/Default.aspx

    Richard

  5. We have a pair of Falkirk 6 pounders in our garage, made around 1800 for the Reed Shipping Line to sail the South China seas out of Cardiff. A little of the original green paint survives on one of the carriages. We load two pounds of porridge oats over half a pound of black powder once a year and it rolls like thunder.

  6. Mike H says:
    September 14, 2013 at 8:13 am

    > Very ingenious. A little video of the Falkirk Wheel.

    Your URL was missing a slash, this should work:

    The photos now make a lot more sense!

  7. If you like canal boat lifts, here is the original of all lifts, built in 1875.
    The Anderton Boat Lift, in Cheshire.

    .

  8. … the old sea-dog said bells were a gift from the Dollar family of San Francisco … “The owners of the Dollar Steamship Lines?” I asked, because that name is very familiar on the West Coast.

    The name is also very familiar on the East Coast, well known around Pennsylvania, except here someone from the family invested in retail sales. Likely there was some inter-family competition as it shows up on several chains. We have Dollar General stores, Dollar Bargain, even some plain Dollar Stores. Quite impressive.

  9. Perhaps I should add that the original Anderton lift was water-hydraulic – as one caisson falls, its weight pushes the other up, so very little energy was required to make the system work.

    And if you like peculiar early engineering, take a look at the swing bridges in Northwich (just below the Anderton Boat Lift). These were built in 1899. Notince anything odd?

    The strange thing is that these swing bridges were made as boats – they float. The problem they had in Northwich was terrible subsidence, caused by salt mining. So it was deemed impossible to sink a great pillar-foundation into the ground, as it would be leaning over within 10 years. So the answer, was to make the bridge sit on a big ‘boat’ – a large empty cylinder. This has the added advantage of making the bridge very easy to swing, as there is (was) zero resistance. One horse could swing it around.

    .

  10. Hi Willis,

    Good to know you’re enjoying the local features. The distant Ochil Hills at upper-right in third pic brood over the home of a big fan of yours where he’s just about to go and get scrubbed-up before meeting with a bunch of friends for a bite and later, a dram or six. It’s a certainty that some of them will be raised in your direction ;-).

    Have a great holiday.

    Slàinte mhòr!

  11. Sam the First – the Scots took advantage of English domination!

    I have been on the Falkirk Wheel – its great. You might almost imagine a space ship shooting out through those rings. In fact you get a canal boat!

  12. richardscourtney says:
    September 14, 2013 at 9:01 am

    Perhaps the clearest example of how we use charities is the Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI). You and some of your American readers may want to compare the RNLI to some of the duties conducted by the US Coastguard.

    This link goes to the RNLI homepage

    http://rnli.org/Pages/Default.aspx

    Thanks, Richard. As a seaman, I am indeed aware (and continually amazed) by the bravery and dedication of the RNLI volunteers. The number of lives that they have saved, and their actions in the face of incredible danger and hardship, have brought them world-wide renown among sailors the world over.

    w.

  13. The carronade was used extensively for naval ordnance as although it”s short barrel gave it limited accuracy at range, it’s wide bore (firing solid shot) at short range was extremely destructive. I believe the USS Constitution has a battery of carronade on her upper deck.

  14. Willis

    The RNLI have a string of life boat stations down the east coast. Many will allow people to come in and look at the lifeboats and most will have little gift shops ideal for your Christmas presents. I just bought my diary at the RNLI in teignmouth but held off on Christmas cards as its three months too early.

    By the way are you aware of the ‘Mobility’ scheme present in towns of any size? They allow disability aids to be hired by the hour or day. They usually have a fine range of wheelchairs and electric scooters. My mother had severe arthritis and very poor sight but enjoyed it when we hired an electric scooter for her. Best used in pedestrianised areas or on sea side promenades. I don’t know of they have anything similar in the states, if nt it would be a fine amenity for people.

    Tonyb

  15. Thanks , Willis, for the image of the carronade. I’ve vaguely wondered what these devices looked like since reading the incomparable Patrick O’Brian seafaring novels.

    Funny how one seldom remembers to look up less pressing issues online. I guess it’s because the thought occurs when a computer is not handy, and then one forgets. Last time I paused to think about what a carronade might look like was when visiting the Tower of London about a month ago, on a (way too brief) five-day stopover in England. Lots of cannons and mortars in the Tower….

    I am really enjoying travelling vicariously with you on your enviably protracted journey across England and Scotland. I’m looking forward to the next installment.

  16. Can anyone comment on the points that protrude on the “leading” side of the wheel? Something functional, for better balance or more for aesthetics?

  17. Summer grass
    Of stalwart warriors’ spendid dreams
    The aftermath …

    In similar vein, noted Lakota medicine man Black Elk was reported to have said several times, when telling stories of his former, but deceased companions, “He is now grass”.

  18. George V says:
    September 14, 2013 at 10:52 am

    Can anyone comment on the points that protrude on the “leading” side of the wheel? Something functional, for better balance or more for aesthetics?

    The old sea dog told us that the points were not functional, but just for beauty, and that they are modeled on old Scottish war axes. He said that after a long night’s debate on the shape, they were sketched out on a napkin or an envelope or something … and that’s what they used.

    I do like the fact that they are not functional, no reason for such a thing to be ugly, particularly since the rest of it has such artistic lines.

    w.

  19. vigilantfish says:
    September 14, 2013 at 10:32 am (Edit)

    Thanks , Willis, for the image of the carronade. I’ve vaguely wondered what these devices looked like since reading the incomparable Patrick O’Brian seafaring novels.

    I think I’ve read every one of those great stories, and while I knew that a carronade was a small cannon, I had no idea of the history.

    w.

  20. Can you check your Waterloo reference or local source please?

    Waterloo was, of course, an “unscheduled” or meeting land battle, over the channel several dozens of miles inland from the coast. It wasn’t a siege or setpiece battle, and the smaller English cannons fired there would have been mounted on wooden field carriages (double large wooden wheels with two large wood beams dragged behind caissons with a team of 4 to six horses). Siege cannons would be larger, heavier and probably dragged by oxen: slower but more powerful, but then again, who’s going to move the fort you’re going to besiege?

    Many, not all!, of the field artillery of all armies of that era by that time actually copied the French “Napoleon” because it was so successful: a reliable and not-to-heavy bronze cannon firing about a 2-1/2 to 3 inch dia solid shot. Thje two Waterloo cannons might have been remounted on the cast iron/small iron wheel mounts they are shown with in your photo, but all of my cannon references and smoothbore muzzle-loading cannon reconstruction books of that era (Henry VIII through the sea coast forts of the 1890’s) for England show iron mounts only used on the stone works of forts.

    Which makes sense, you can’t drag small iron wheel through mud and up hills,but they are better under the low arches inside a stone-walled, stone foundation fort.

  21. Willis Eschenbach says:
    September 14, 2013 at 11:07 am (replying to)

    vigilantfish says:
    September 14, 2013 at 10:32 am

    Thanks , Willis, for the image of the carronade. I’ve vaguely wondered what these devices looked like since reading the incomparable Patrick O’Brian seafaring novels.

    I think I’ve read every one of those great stories, and while I knew that a carronade was a small cannon, I had no idea of the history.

    The carronades solved many problems, and it is no surprise they quickly became popular once invented. They were lighter, needed fewer crew to fire, and were quicker to reload. (Shorter, wider barrel was easier to clean and faster to swab out, ram new powder, new wadding, new shot new wadding in to the base of the barrel.) The cannon were longer range, were heavier though, but fired a smaller shot. But, in balance with the broadside tactics of naval fighting, it made sense to use both: Load up the frigate or ship with “lighter-weight” carronades on the upper decks to blast the enemy one you got close alongside, but have the heavier but longer-range cannon on the lower deck to get as many long range shots as possible. Shore side, cannonades couldn’t control the entrance to a harbor well (remember that shorter range) but were well-shooted to serve against enemy close-in troops. They’d be used like a rapidly firing shotgun would, compared to a sniper rifle of today.

  22. Steve says: September 14, 2013 at 11:55 am
    Ironically, “Scotty” was played by James Doohan, who was the son of Irish immigrants…
    _______________________________

    Aye, laddie.

    But you would be a-knowing that it was Ireland that was called Scotland and Hibernia, long before we were a-giving our name to that other Scotland.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scotia

    We’ll be a-taking that factor of 5 for the Warp now, t’be sure, t’be sure…….

    ;-)

  23. RACookPE1978 says:
    September 14, 2013 at 11:18 am

    Can you check your Waterloo reference or local source please?

    Waterloo was, of course, an “unscheduled” or meeting land battle, over the channel several dozens of miles inland from the coast. It wasn’t a siege or setpiece battle, and the smaller English cannons fired there would have been mounted on wooden field carriages (double large wooden wheels with two large wood beams dragged behind caissons with a team of 4 to six horses). Siege cannons would be larger, heavier and probably dragged by oxen: slower but more powerful, but then again, who’s going to move the fort you’re going to besiege?

    Thanks, RA. The claim is from the memorial itself. It said that the two cannons were verified, by means of their numbers and characteristics, as being used in the battle. See here for another photo, the quote is from the memorial.

    The company is now known as “Carron Phoenix”, the Waterloo claim is reported here.

    w.

  24. I, too, visited the Falkirk Wheel, about 5 years ago. My daughter and I also walked along the Antoinine Wall, which is nearby. I recommend it for anyone who visits Scotland. Falkirk is a stop on the Edinburgh to Glasgow rail line, and there is a bus that runs from near the rail station to the wheel.

  25. So David Cameron’s Big Society impressed you?
    Or perhaps the long tradition of public service that is deeply ingrained in British society impressed you. The Scottish Church predates the current Government (or the Tory party for that matter) and I doubt David Cameron has much influence on their provision of care for the destitute.

    But I am surprised at the implication that such a tradition is not prevalent in the USA, as well. We hear that US churches run food-banks for the poor just like UK churches. We hear that the very successful in the US give their wealth to great, speculative endeavours for the benefit of others (like curing malaria, for instance) just as we Brits have the Wellcome Trust.

    No young, fit Brit who takes up jogging lasts too many months before being asked to do a sponsored run for some good cause. You Americans have marathons; it must be the same.

    Surely, many things are done well by the charities in the USA?

  26. can’t find it now and don’t have time to search but I thought I had read this somehow used the flow of water to help power the system.
    am I remembering wrong?

  27. Aw shucks, Willis, you are embawwassing me …… .

    Seriously, though, it was a delight to entertain you and your ladies, the evening flew by as the coversation ranged widely, and so far as I recall neither global warming nor climate change were mentioned at any time!
    And thanks for the STC plug.

  28. oldseadog… of course it does. I didn’t really doubt it.

    I only used the Kirk as the example because it was the more extreme case (and there were already Star Trek references in this post).

  29. The points that protrude on the “leading” side of the wheel would help avoid a tidal wave when it enters the water.

  30. Be careful, now, with the weather. The St. Leger has been run this afternoon, and, as the folk of Doncaster will tell you, the last horse always brings winter on its tail.

  31. M Courtney says:
    September 14, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    So David Cameron’s Big Society impressed you?

    Um … er … sorry, but I haven’t a clue what that means.

    Or perhaps the long tradition of public service that is deeply ingrained in British society impressed you. The Scottish Church predates the current Government (or the Tory party for that matter) and I doubt David Cameron has much influence on their provision of care for the destitute.

    Again, say what? I was indeed impressed by the tradition of public service, and I obviously know who Cameron is … but I haven’t a clue what you are on about. It sounds like you have some political axe to grind, and I haven’t any idea what that might be.

    But I am surprised at the implication that such a tradition is not prevalent in the USA, as well. We hear that US churches run food-banks for the poor just like UK churches. We hear that the very successful in the US give their wealth to great, speculative endeavours for the benefit of others (like curing malaria, for instance) just as we Brits have the Wellcome Trust.

    No young, fit Brit who takes up jogging lasts too many months before being asked to do a sponsored run for some good cause. You Americans have marathons; it must be the same.

    Surely, many things are done well by the charities in the USA?

    You are correct that many things are indeed done well by the charities in the US, and I mean no disrespect for them at all. And certainly, some of the rich give of their time and money for good causes.

    However, many things that are done in Britain by charities, for example the Lifeboat Association, and the folks that take care of the London Tower, are done by the Government in the US. Nor is there any provision like the “Gift Act For Charities” in the US tax law. So while there are obvious similarities, there are also obvious differences.

    Regards,

    w.

  32. Ian Wilson says:
    September 14, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    make sure you visit the Forth Bridge – awesome

    I did visit it and you are entirely correct.

    w.

  33. jaymam says:
    September 14, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    The points that protrude on the “leading” side of the wheel would help avoid a tidal wave when it enters the water.

    This is not a Disney ride, the sucker moves about a foot per second or so when entering the water … almost boring, if it weren’t so awesome.

    w.

  34. Radical Rodent says:
    September 14, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    Be careful, now, with the weather. The St. Leger has been run this afternoon, and, as the folk of Doncaster will tell you, the last horse always brings winter on its tail.

    And indeed, tomorrow is supposed to be cold and rainy … go figure.

    w.

  35. Willis,
    Great job and keep up the good work- many thanks!

    My grandfather was quick to point out our Highlander Scot heritage and if you’re around some of our old Clan Donnachaidh stomping grounds, I hear that Loch Duhn Alastair offers some of the best wild trout fishing available.

    Of course, since I’m American, one might guess that there may be other nationalities in my heritage, as well.

    [Dang ... what was your first clue? -w.]

  36. The Falkirk wheel replaced a series of 11 earlier locks in the canal that had fallen into disuse. Total level change is 24 meters. The beauty of it is that according to Archimedes’ principle it does not matter what the weights of the boats on the upper and lower buckets are. As long as the water level is identical in both buckets the total weight (bucket + boats) on each arm will be identical, and therefore the wheel is balanced. It is only necessary to overcome bearing friction to rotate the wheel. In principle buckets of any size will work, but eventually bearings will fail, establishing the practical limits of the design.

  37. I love to see where people have been doing the same thing for hundreds of years, until somebody does it so differently and with elegance. Mankind is not even close to discovering/inventing all that will be.

  38. From Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7 on September 14, 2013 at 5:13 pm:

    The beauty of it is that according to Archimedes’ principle it does not matter what the weights of the boats on the upper and lower buckets are. As long as the water level is identical in both buckets the total weight (bucket + boats) on each arm will be identical, and therefore the wheel is balanced.

    Umm, that’s not Archimedes’ Principle.

    The relative water levels of the chambers are set by the waterways, and are near-identical by design of the wheel as those are the levels the chambers are filled at. They don’t change unless the level of one or more waterways change.

    Any object, wholly or partially immersed in a fluid, is buoyed up by a force equal to the weight of the fluid displaced by the object.
    — Archimedes of Syracuse

    Displace a pound of water, buoyancy supplies an upward force of one pound.

    Hopefully you can see there could be a concrete barge in one chamber, a small rowboat in the other, the water level relative to the chambers would be the same in both while the total weights are not the same.

  39. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:
    September 14, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    OK. Then do the math with me – I’m not getting those results.

    Two chambers, each carrying 1000 tons of water, both empty of ships, both at the same height of water. They weigh the same, if both are assumed in the same gravitation field at the same distance from that gravitation field.

    I float in a 1 ton dry weight rowboat into the first, and I float a 100 ton dry weight concrete barge into the second. Now, which has a higher height of water, and what is the final balanced weight in each?

  40. @ RACookPE1978 on September 14, 2013 at 7:39 pm:

    That’s a good approach, if you are dropping the vessels into containers from above by crane.

    But the chambers are open when loading, any water displaced merely sloshes back into its respective waterway. 100 ton barge in one, 1 ton rowboat (which sounds freaking enormous, please do a perspective check before tossing out numbers like that) in the other, the water levels when the chambers are closed will still be that of their respective waterways.

    You may now proceed to *foreheadslap* or *facepalm*, your choice, and the utterance of “Duh!” or “D’oh!”, your choice.

  41. Nah. A 2000 lb boat is small, compared to most in the southern US bass lakes. 8<)

    But you have begun exactly as should be done: Drive both boats into the two containers. Let the water equalize in both with the assumed upper and lower canal levels. Volume canal much, than volume of container, right? Now, what is the weight of both containers?

  42. Another wonderful travelogue by the Master! Please, keep ‘em coming.

    As I am genetically half Scots [and half Smokey!] I immensely enjoyed reading about the melding of our respective cultures. We are really the same, culturally, despite minor accent differences.

    I believe strongly that the ingenuity displayed by the world’s English speakers is the real reason that led directly to the landing on the moon, with many other triumphs along the way, such as the Falkirk ‘wheel of fortune’.

    The Chinese never did it, nor did the East Indians, nor the Russians, nor the Incas. Amerinds never even invented the wheel [I am certain that I am stepping on plenty of toes here — but now we are all Westerners, so we're on the same team]. Not that there is anything wrong with any of them! ☺ It’s hard to argue with success, no? Even if it is politically incorrect.

    History is my real passion. We are descendants of truly great people; solitary inventors who had an idea, and then made it happen; twenty years to invent a clock that was accurate enough to determine Longitude, for example.

    Please keep the stories coming, Willis. You’re one in a million. When I win the Lotto grand prize, I will subsidize your travels just for the pleasure of reading about your historical explanations!

  43. Ric Werme. Thanks.
    Sorry for the delayed response. Working on a new back deck railing all day then on the porch sharing some wine with some friends.

  44. Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7 says: September 14, 2013 at 5:13 pm
    The beauty of it is that according to Archimedes’ principle it does not matter what the weights of the boats on the upper and lower buckets are. As long as the water level is identical in both buckets the total weight (bucket + boats) on each arm will be identical, and therefore the wheel is balanced.
    ——————————————————————
    The displacement of the lower bucket changes as it enters and exits the water. Granted, the sine of that angle is near zero, but it still takes a torque to submerge the bucket. Or am I missing something?

  45. Would it though?

    There are certainly minor friction (water resistance to movement) losses as the container rolls into the water, but the velocity is slow slow (foot per second range), I would think those are minor. And the steel and aluminum of the container below final water level would displace the water in the lower bay (entrance channel) as it rolls down, but that would reduce the force on the lever arm holding the channel as the midpoint, right? In midair, the lever arm has to hold everything, but there is less weight as the steel goes underwater after the container goes down since some of the steel is displacing water not air.

  46. Gravity still works, what a relief!

    Excuse me, but what exactly does this tour series through England, Ireland, Wales, and Scotland have to do with Climate Change/Heating/Cooling/Whatever?

    While I think Mr. Willis Eschenbach’s stories are of some entertainment/interest value, they really are way off topic for this site, aren’t they? Better suited to a tour through the UK series…

    Or is the climate watch series of stories so slow now that that travel-logs are of importance to the folks that follow WUWT?

    I thought there were topics of more specific interest relating to the controversy over Anthropomorphic heating/cooling/CO2 than this exploratorium to examine.

    Back to waiting for some real controversy…

  47. That is no surprise to me. As a Brit who has studied history, the Scottish people have been streets ahead of the rest of the UK. If I( want to find a fellow englishman I need to delve very deeply and even going back in time you have to look passed the money. Steam Engines and trains are a classic example of the truth being hidden and the credit given to others.

  48. If you want a real treat visit the far Northwest coast of Scotland – between Kyle of Lochalsh and Durness. I’ve been in lots of places all around the world and have yet to find anywhere to compare with the beauty of that coast. It is remote so very few people visit.

  49. John Robertson:

    Your post at September 14, 2013 at 11:37 pm asks

    While I think Mr. Willis Eschenbach’s stories are of some entertainment/interest value, they really are way off topic for this site, aren’t they? Better suited to a tour through the UK series…

    No, they are very on topic. The top of each WUWT page is labelled

    Commentary on puzzling things in life, nature, science weather, climate change, technology, and recent news by Anth*ny W*tts.

    The above article mentions most of those subjects and is approved by Anth*ny W*tts because he has allowed it on his blog.

    The purpose of your post is clear from this of its statements

    I thought there were topics of more specific interest relating to the controversy over Anthropomorphic heating/cooling/CO2 than this exploratorium to examine.

    Mockey Mouse is anthropomorphic.

    Warmunists claim CO2 is inducing climate change which is anthropogenic.
    Anybody who knows anything about the climate controversy knows that.
    Clearly, you don’t know what you are talking about and have posted to denigrate.

    If you don’t want to read an article then don’t, and keep your ignorant opinions to yourself because they may spoil enjoyment of the article by other people.

    Richard

  50. richardscourteney, you beat me to it. I was just checking the exact wording on the heading of WUWT.
    As the wife of a retired lifeboatman I echo your earlier sentiments regarding the RNLI.

  51. Jaymam; the points don’t actually go into the water, they go down into a dry sump under the Wheel.

    Alan Watt; “Gondolas”, not “buckets”. Good grief, man, where is your sense of romanticism?

    dbstealey; actually TFW is based on a Russian design from 1911 which was never built because the First World War, and then The Revolution, happened.

  52. Dan and RACook; see above. The Gondola sides are never immersed.
    Go to the web site of Scottish Canals for more info.

  53. Stupid computer: World War not Word War.

    [Fixed ... although I did like the idea of the "First Word War". -w.]

  54. Hi Willis
    Two additions to everything people have added here which may interest you.

    The Carron Iron Company were also on of the first producers of the famous red post boxes in the UK. and this video of the Anderton Lift – http://youtu.be/n6tfrS-Lkek

  55. Dear Willis
    Thank you for another great post which educates, informs and entertains? Are you going to reveal who the old sea dog is or do I have to submit a FOI request :-)
    I hope you will visit the land of my fathers?
    To Andrew above who seems to take pleasure in denigrating the English contribution to science, engineering and invention, I suggest you do some more research and come back and apologise?

  56. I’ve been on the Falkirk Wheel and I loved it. One of my favourite stories about it is that they had to extend the canal to the location of the wheel. They also had to repair the existing canal, clear it of garbage and reconnect it where it had been blocked (often by new roads).

    Anyway, they then planted new vegetation to stabilise and beautify the canal banks. They needed to protect the new plants from foraging by rabbits and other animals. They wanted something to protect the plants from animals but allow sunlight and rain onto the plants.

    So what did they use?

    Shopping trolleys. There were enough shopping trolleys dumped in the canals to recover and use as plant protection.

  57. John Robertson says:
    September 14, 2013 at 11:37 pm

    Gravity still works, what a relief!

    Excuse me, but what exactly does this tour series through England, Ireland, Wales, and Scotland have to do with Climate Change/Heating/Cooling/Whatever?

    Check the masthead, John. This blog is not just about climate science, and it is not just about science. It says “Comments on puzzling things in life, nature, science …”

    If you don’t like my contributions, then SKIP THEM … how tough can that be? Because reading them, and then whining about them, just makes people point and laugh. As the comments show, many people enjoy my non-scientific writings greatly, and encourage me to write more, so you are in a distinct minority.

    w.

  58. Stacey says:
    September 15, 2013 at 2:44 am

    Dear Willis
    Thank you for another great post which educates, informs and entertains? Are you going to reveal who the old sea dog is or do I have to submit a FOI request :-)

    Sorry, but at the sea dog’s request, that’s between him and me.

    And the NSA, of course …

    w.

  59. @Sam the First

    Scottish explorers, inventors, engineers, soldiers and administrators conquered and ran the British Empire for a couple of centuries: ‘I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that without the Scots England would have found it impossible to build and run its global fiefdom. I’m not Scottish by the way.

    And that’s why it’s called the British Empire. not the English Empire. We should not forget the contributions of the Welsh and the Irish either.

    Our constitutional arrangements are not hard to understand. England, Wales, Scotland and (Northern) Ireland come together to make the ‘United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’. Just like 50 or so states come together to make the USA. England is the biggest of the four but it is as wrong to refer to the UK as England as it is to refer to the USA as Texas..or vice versa.

  60. Willis, I am sure you will be visiting the Forth Bridge whilst in Edinburgh. Both my parents ashes were spread from the middle span of the rail bridge. It is quite a walk from Dalmeny station along the side of the track to the middle span. It was my fathers request as he regarded it as his “gateway” home from his travels around the world when in the army during WW2 back to his home in Aberdeen..
    When my younger brother died 5 years ago he also wanted the same done with his ashes. Unfortunately due to health and safety reasons ScotRail Engineering wouldn’t let us, and so we thankfully gained permission from the Forth Road Bridge authority.

  61. Ah Willis just because its you I won’t pursue the FOI request;-)

    You have proven though that there are some things we just can’t google?

    Enjoy the rest of your trip and keep the reports coming.

  62. On your way south try to drive over the world’s (now 2nd) longest suspension bridge over the river Humber.

  63. tobias:

    At September 15, 2013 at 2:50 am you ask

    Where would be without the wheel ?

    I don’t know, but we would be nowhere without string which is the second greatest human invention (use of fire being the greatest).

    String permits, masonry, geometry, trigonometry, cloth, sewing, rope, pulleys, ties, animal halters, etc., etc,. etc.

    Richard

  64. Willis>

    “the cannon in the background is one of two surviving cannons from the battle of Waterloo”

    Not sure if you intended to imply there are only two surviving Waterloo cannon, or if it was merely clumsy phrasing, but there are of course many more than that.

    On the subject of the gun-carriage, I suspect the one in your picture is on something called an armoury mount, or some such, rather than a field mount. I’ve never seen one definitively labelled, but it sounds like descriptions I’ve read.

  65. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says: September 14, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    Umm, that’s not Archimedes’ Principle. ….. Hopefully you can see there could be a concrete barge in one chamber, a small rowboat in the other, the water level relative to the chambers would be the same in both while the total weights are not the same.

    The total weights ARE the same. Imagine two sealed-off caissons each with the same amount of water. One remains empty and in the other you place a barge. The caisson with the barge will now weigh more than the empty one by the amount of the weight of the barge. The level of water in the caisson with the barge will now also be higher. The amount of water that rose will weigh exactly the weight of the added barge. (Drain that much water off to make its water level the same as the empty one and the caissons weigh the same again.)

    I think that is indeed Archimedes Principle. “Buoyant force” in any object that floats is ALWAYS equal to the weight of the object.

  66. richardscourtney says:

    I don’t consider fire itself as being an “invention”; It was around a long time before we were. I think using fire to cook food is an invention for example, (arguably the most important thing we ever did to help insure our success as a species), using fire to clear a field for planting is an invention, figuring ways to create fire, etc., but not fire itself.

    Personally I would put cutting tools above string/rope; how do you make string without cutting tools to gather/prepare what you need to make the string?

  67. Dave says:
    September 15, 2013 at 5:30 am

    Willis>

    “the cannon in the background is one of two surviving cannons from the battle of Waterloo”

    Not sure if you intended to imply there are only two surviving Waterloo cannon, or if it was merely clumsy phrasing, but there are of course many more than that.

    Thanks, Dave. It was indeed careless phrasing. What it actually said was that these were the only two cannons that could be verified from British army records to have been at the battle of Waterloo.

    w.

  68. Go anywhere in the world and look at anything older than about 70 years made out of cast-iron and it may well have Made In Falkirk on it. I saw a big cooking pot – missionary size – in Botswana , (sans missionary)- made in Falkirk. They could make anything from a small kettle to a salt drying pan 10 foot diameter and quarter inch thick to great lumps of architectural iron. It was the universal material. Old cast iron band-stands all over the world have Made in Glasgow moulded on them.

  69. Mike M:

    I am replying to your post at September 15, 2013 at 7:11 am.

    Firstly, I did not say “fire” is an invention. I said “use of fire” is the greatest invention.

    Many would claim that agriculture is the second greatest invention.

    But I claimed (and I stand by) string is the second greatest invention. I listed some of what it enables and indicated there are others (e.g. nets, fishing lines, etc.). But you suggest cutting tools were a greater invention than string. Perhaps. Then you ask me

    how do you make string without cutting tools to gather/prepare what you need to make the string?

    Any fiber can be used to make string. Many plant and animal fibers can be gathered – not cut – to make string.

    To this day people in the Andes collect grass which they fashion into thick string (i.e. ropes) from which they construct suspension bridges across gorges.

    Indeed, knotted string made from grass was a form of writing in South America.

    However, string would be cut if rubbed against sharp stones. The earliest known cutting tools are made from stone. It is possible (I say no more than possible) that the existence of string provided the invention of cutting tools.

    Plumblines provide verticals, and knotted string provides right angles. So, string leads directly to masonry and mathematics. Thus string enables both practical and philosophical developments. Cutting tools don’t.

    Richard

  70. dbstealey says:
    September 14, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    [snip]
    History is my real passion. We are descendants of truly great people; solitary inventors who had an idea, and then made it happen; twenty years to invent a clock that was accurate enough to determine Latitude, for example.
    [snip]

    Well, you’re on a roll!

  71. There should be an award for every ill-mannered clown that comes on here and asks why an article that isn’t about global warming has been included.

    These posts are great.

  72. John Robertson says:
    September 14, 2013 at 11:37 pm

    Back to waiting for some real controversy…

    What? The interpretation of Archimedes’ Principle doesn’t count?

    Here’s a thought experiment to demonstrate the correct answer regarding the relative weights of water + boats in each bucket gondola.

    Put a canoe in a swimming pool with a canoeist and a bunch of large rocks (or to keep more in the character of this travel post — cannonballs). Have the canoeist paddle to the middle of the pool and drop the cannonballs out of the canoe and into the pool. Will the level of water in the pool rise, fall or remain the same? Why?

    Do not actually attempt this at a local public swimming pool.

    I assure any doubters the total weights of the two gondolas are always the same, as long as the water levels are equal. It does not matter if one is empty and the other holds a fully loaded cement barge. So long as a boat floats, it will displace an amount of water exactly equal to its total weight The displaced water is forced out of the gondola, thus removing a weight of water exactly equal to the weight of the boat.

    The Falkirk wheel is an elegant application of this simple principle. And it’s beautiful as well.

    (Kadaka: this observation is also credited to Archimedes, as your Wiki cite confirms, so I lump it together under the term “Archimedes’ Principle”. Maybe it’s more correct to call it the first corollary, but it is definitely part of the same fundamental insight).

  73. WJohn says: September 15, 2013 at 7:43 am
    ————————————————-
    Missionary size cooking pot. Now THAT’s funny!!

  74. Mike M says: September 15, 2013 at 6:54 am
    The total weights ARE the same.
    —————————————————————-
    Ha! My boss has a standard question he asks of engineers during the hiring interview: You have a swimming pool with a rowboat. Inside the rowboat there’s a guy with a big rock. What happens to the water level in the pool when the guy throws the rock overboard and it sinks to the bottom?

    Points out the difference between displacement and buoyancy. And oldseadog, yes I missed the fact that the lower bucket drops into a dry sump. Elegant.
    Dan

  75. The grass is always greener…. In the UK we are often told that philanthropy and good works are more prevalent in the USA!

  76. From Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7 on September 15, 2013 at 9:00 am:

    Put a canoe in a swimming pool with a canoeist and a bunch of large rocks (or to keep more in the character of this travel post — cannonballs). Have the canoeist paddle to the middle of the pool and drop the cannonballs out of the canoe and into the pool. Will the level of water in the pool rise, fall or remain the same? Why?

    Plastic cereal bowl was floated on water in a larger stainless steel mixing bowl, considerable amount of pocket change was placed in cereal bowl, water level was topped off until level with mixing bowl edge.

    Change was then dumped from cereal bowl into mixing bowl where it promptly fell to the bottom, cereal bowl was placed back on the water. Water level had dropped.

    Why?

    When the pocket change is resting on the bottom of the cereal bowl, its weight is supported by the water. Per Archimedes, water is displaced whose weight equals the change’s weight. When the pocket change is resting on the bottom of the bowl, the counter top is supporting its weight. Water does not have to be displaced to support its weight, thus the level has dropped.

    For the wheel, as long as the vessels in the compartments are fully floating, on loading no vessel is allowed to make resting contact with its compartment, then the weights should be close enough to equal.

    Note: Thought experiments are as computer models, you think science and logic are being used to show you what would be reality, but assumptions and misapplications can lead you astray. Check thought experiments against real experiments as needed.

  77. Wonderful story as usual Willis. Just one small thing – the Falkirk Wheel was built in Ripley; that’s in England!

  78. kadaka: “…then the weights should be close enough to equal.”

    No, not ‘close enough’. If everything is floating and the water level is exactly the same then the sum of the weight of the water plus ANY amount of weight of something floating in it, (including zero), will be EXACTLY the same. (Dumping rocks out of a canoe has nothing to do with this because that ain’t happening here.)

  79. From Mike M on September 15, 2013 at 11:02 am:

    kadaka: “…then the weights should be close enough to equal.”

    No, not ‘close enough’. If everything is floating and the water level is exactly the same then the sum of the weight of the water plus ANY amount of weight of something floating in it, (including zero), will be EXACTLY the same.

    I was wondering if anyone would be twitchy enough to jump on that. It arises in the transition from clean thought experiment to actual gritty reality.

    Willis clearly wrote: “… if the water levels in the two chambers are different by more than 75 mm (3″), the whole thing stops.” Freely interpret as there can be up to a 75mm water level difference. When the relative water levels are not equal, the weights are not equal. And how often will you get relative water levels EXACTLY the same without an active level equalizing system?

    But for the purposes of wheel operation, the weights should be close enough to equal.

    BTW, “in theory” you can build a wheel large enough that the height difference yields water at the top with a significantly lower density, such as if top and bottom had the same relative level then top would be significantly lighter. This wheel is small enough that the difference in weights from that is infinitesimal, ignorable.

  80. oldseadog what goes round comes round. If you ever plan a trip to Paris ask Anthony or the mods for my email. Looking forward to meeting you.

  81. For what it’s worth the Falkirk wheel was designed and constructed by Butterly engineering in Derby, England. I did lots of work with them over the years. It is a marvelous execution of the ship lift in engineering terms explained in most enjoyable discussions with staff of Butterly. And I’m Irish. Rgds

  82. Some more technical info on the carronade: Developed specifically for ships. In an era when long-range fire was innacurate, weight of broadside was vital. The distinctive characteristics of the carronade is that the chamber is smaller than the bore, and the barrel is shorter than a similar long-gun, so a carronade for a particular size ball could be as little as a third the weight of a comparative long-gun. The muzzle velocity was also much slower, resulting in more damage. Ships mounted with carronades could therefore:
    A) be mounted with bigger or more guns (for heavier broadside)
    B) be built more heavily (for better protection)
    C) neither of the above (making them faster)
    Although it could be (and was often) used as a giant shotgun, this was not its only or intended purpose. Guns of this type were especially useful for merchantmen trying to fight off privateers. (or privateers trying to board a warship mounted only with long-guns). A carronade used at Waterloo would have been as an emergency measure, probably jury-rigged onto a caisson for use in the campaign. It would no doubt have been returned to its intended use (and mount) later.

  83. My mistake – you did not say the carronade was used at Waterloo. (Artillery trivia: The earliest carronades had trunions, but evolved into pintle-mounted guns. A later variety, called a gunnade, was then invented using trunions so merchantmen could mount carronades on standard naval carriages.)

  84. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:
    September 15, 2013 at 10:28 am


    Plastic cereal bowl was floated on water in a larger stainless steel mixing bowl, considerable amount of pocket change was placed in cereal bowl, water level was topped off until level with mixing bowl edge.

    When the pocket change is resting on the bottom of the cereal bowl, its weight is supported by the water. Per Archimedes, water is displaced whose weight equals the change’s weight. When the pocket change is resting on the bottom of the bowl, the counter top is supporting its weight. Water does not have to be displaced to support its weight, thus the level has dropped.

    I really hate to detract from Willis’ wonderful essay by extending this detour, but this is not the reason the water level drops. Whether the coins/cannonballs are in the floating cereal bowl/canoe or entirely submerged in the water they are still displacing water. While an object floats, it displaces a volume of water equal to its weight. Once submerged an object displaces water equal to its volume, and weighs (presses upon the bottom) less by the weight of the displaced water. Since objects which sink by definition displace more water by weight than by volume, the volume displaced decreases when weights are tossed off a floating platform and sink into the supporting water.

    I glossed over Willis’ detail about 75mm of water difference being the maximum the wheel can tolerate, but that just makes my original point. The weight of the volume of water calculated by the area of the gondola times 75mm is the maximum the rotation motor can overcome. So if the wheel is properly sited, and the levels in the upper and lower watercourses are the same relative to the gondolas at the top/bottom of travel, then the bucket weights will be equal, regardless of the weight of the boats in each gondola.

    The word “exactly” means different things to mathematicians and and engineers. Nothing is ever exact in engineering, so rather than say the weights are “exactly equal”, I will say instead they are equal within design tolerance of the system. And if they are not equal, due to water levels slightly off the norm, it still has nothing to do with the weight of the boats — the same inequality would apply if both gondolas were empty.

    The wheel is an elegant piece of engineering and a delight to behold. And it works by a natural principle first formalized (as far as we know) by Archimedes of Syracuse almost 2300 years ago.

  85. Been away from the web for a few days so I’m late to this.
    Perhaps someone will correct me, but my understanding is that the wheel needs a three inch difference between the upper and lower vessels.
    My understanding of how the wheel works is that the buoyancy of the part submerged arm gives some upwards impetus, whilst the upper arm gives some downwards impetus.
    Once the slightly heavier upper vessel is past TDC, its weight alone is enough to transport the two vessels.
    The reason for the tapered arms is to give progressive assistance to braking as the wheel reaches its new parked position.
    If someone has already given a similar explanation or otherwise managed to prove me wrong, sorry, not read the whole thread, just Willis’ posts to see if anyone else had posted a similar explanation.
    Anywho, 3 inches water effective flow is minuscule compared with the series of locks required for that drop.
    You may already have got past Newcastle Willis. Hope you didn’t miss Parsons Turbinia on the way.
    A few funicular railways on the way down the east coast too.
    Can’t offhand remember some of the other thing I suggested apart from Beamish open air museum. Not sure if you can still go down their drift mine but I’m sure you’ve seen a few of them.
    DaveE.

  86. Oh. As I commented in my text Willis, it’s almost worth going to Beamish to see the signpost to No Place.
    DaveE.

  87. David A. Evans says:
    September 15, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    Perhaps someone will correct me, but my understanding is that the wheel needs a three inch difference between the upper and lower vessels.

    The wheel will tolerate up to a three inch difference in the water levels of the two gondolas; it does not need one.

    If the wheel is balanced, which it will be water levels of the upper and lower gondolas are the same, then there is no need for breaking — to the contrary force is required to overcome friction and inertia. The wheel turns slowly enough that breaking is not required. If the water levels are not equal then additional force is required either to lift the heavier gondola if it is on the bottom, or to retard the fall of the heavier gondola if it is at the top.

    See my comment immediately preceding yours. If this does does not make it clear, then I must confess my writing skills are inadequate to my intent.

    • I later read your comment, Sorry but in my view, braking can be achieved with regenerative braking, but only if the upper gondola is heavier than the lower one. The tapered tips will provide additional proportional braking because their buoyancy is applied proportionately. The mass of this wheel is enormous. It must need brakes to stop it at the end of its travel.
      The arms provide both assistance in overcoming inertial to start the wheel and also in stopping it.
      DaveE.

  88. George V: “Can anyone comment on the points that protrude on the “leading” side of the wheel? Something functional, for better balance or more for aesthetics?”. I wondered exactly that as we went up and there is absolutely no indication of any function to the protrusions so they are clearly aesthetic.

    But then the whole wheel is purely aesthetic because there used to be a sequence of something like 10? locks before they were removed. The wheel and tunnel are a modern replacement for the earlier engineering which required NO ENERGY to work (or more accurately all came from the movement of water and a few hefty pushes on the lock gate).

  89. David Evans: see above, the tapered tips do not go in the water, the whole gondola dips into a dry sump – only the ends of the gondolas get wet.

  90. Remakable that you know Basho.

    “I wanted to sail down the River Mogami, but while I was waiting for fair weather at Oishida, I was told that the old seed of linked verse once strewn here by the scattering wind had taken root, still bearing its own flowers each year and thus softening the minds of rough villagers like the clear note of a reed pipe, but that these rural poets were now merely struggling to find their way in a forest of error, unable to distinguish between the new and the old style, for there was no one to guide them. At their request, therefore, I sat with them to compose a book of linked verse, and left it behind me as a gift. It was indeed a great pleasure for me to be of such help during my wandering journey. “

    I live in Oishida.

  91. From Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7 on September 15, 2013 at 4:04 pm:

    I really hate to detract from Willis’ wonderful essay by extending this detour, but this is not the reason the water level drops. Whether the coins/cannonballs are in the floating cereal bowl/canoe or entirely submerged in the water they are still displacing water.

    I was wondering if an and what sort of asinine pedant would jump at my attempt at simplified writing. At least you’re one of those who means well.

    As I carefully and succinctly worded: “Water does not have to be displaced to support its weight, thus the level has dropped.” That the physical volume of the coins on the bottom would be displaced was so obvious it was cluttering up the originally planned wording so I dropped it.

    The difference between displacing enough water to support the weight, to incidentally displacing water by having physical volume, yields the water level drop.

    BTW, your original canoe in a swimming pool example, likely wouldn’t have worked as planned. Any swimming pool large enough to not look completely ridiculous with a canoe in it, most likely has automatic level control, as with an outdoor pool that removes excess water during rainfall, to any pool that corrects for evaporation. Thus the water level drop should not have materialized except perhaps as one or more brief pulses, unless the change was so small it didn’t trip the fill mechanism.

    While an object floats, it displaces a volume of water equal to its weight.

    Sloppy wording, units don’t match.

    Once submerged an object displaces water equal to its volume, and weighs (presses upon the bottom) less by the weight of the displaced water.

    Thus when the mixing bowl rests on a scale, does the scale measure less weight when the coins are in the cereal bowl or when they rest on the bottom?

    The apparent weight of an object may change when submerged, but the force of gravity has not, well not significantly unless the object when sinking drops a significant distance.

    Since objects which sink by definition displace more water by weight than by volume, the volume displaced decreases when weights are tossed off a floating platform and sink into the supporting water.

    That first part is just confusing. When they sink the displacing is due to the volume of the object, not their weight (their mass?). A floating object must necessarily displace more volume than a sinking object.

    The second part you got correct.

  92. Amerinds never even invented the wheel [I am certain that I am stepping on plenty of toes here — but now we are all Westerners, so we're on the same team].

    Partially true. Central American cultures had them on toys, but never, apparently, anything larger.

  93. OK, here’s my 2¢ worth.

    The Falkirk Wheel absolutely depends on the Archimedes principle. Indeed, one of the boats that regularly carries tourists is called the “Archimedes”.

    In a perfect world, because of Archimedes principle, no matter the weight of the boat, it displaces the exact amount of water equal to its weight. As a result, the two chambers, whether or not one or the other contains a boat, weigh exactly the same.

    The problem arises when the doors are closed to seal off the chamber and allow the wheel to rotate. Because they are physical doors, when they close it can change the water level slightly, so that one chamber will weigh slightly more than the other. This difference will, of course, be reflected in a difference in the water height in the two chambers.

    The driving motor and the entire system can accommodate a slight imbalance in the weight. The limit has been set at a difference of 75mm (3″) of difference between the two. This is monitored by computer. If the level exceeds that, the wheel won’t turn. If this is the case, a bit of water is pumped out of the heavier chamber and back into its canal. Once it is balanced, the wheel can turn.

    Finally, the amount of energy used to spin the wheel is about enough to toast three slices of toast. This is expended in overcoming friction. There is no brake. Instead, less and less power is put into turning it as the wheel approaches the final location, and friction brings it to a halt. At that point, a pin is pushed hydraulically into a socket on the wheel to lock it into place, the doors are opened as necessary, and the boat(s) leave the wheel.

    As a side note, as the wheel is turning passengers absolutely can’t step off the boat and stand on the side walkways … or the water level may drop because of the change in weight of the boat, and if it goes more than 3″ the computer will bring the wheel to a halt until the passengers re-board the boat.

    w.

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