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London Eye set to start revolution this week


TRIAL ROTATION of the London Eye Millennium Wheel is planned for the end of this week.

The wheel will begin to spin once drive mechanisms are installed following last weekend's successful operation to swing the structure into its final vertical position.

Design and build contractor Hollandia must also complete the installation of the spindle's forced flow oil lubrication system and clear the temporary works used to erect the 135m diameter wheel before rotation begins.

But Mace project manager Tim Renwick confirmed this week that the project's target was to start attaching the 32 passenger-carrying gondolas 'in earnest' by the end of the month. These are being stored at Dartford and will start being brought up the river the week after next.

Renwick said he was still confident that the New Year's Eve deadline to carry passengers will be achieved.

The weekend's activities saw the 1600 tonne wheel swung gently to the vertical position and the temporary lifting frame removed from site. Temporary auxiliary lifting cables must also be detached and the temporary supporting pontoons in the river removed in preparation for the arrival of the gondolas.

Each of the French-built cabins will be mounted on the rim of the wheel from a platform which will be built in the river beneath the wheel next week. The units are bolted to mounting lugs on the rim and have self-contained gear-driven mechanisms to keep passengers on an even keel as the wheel rotates. All are expected to be in place by mid-November.

Work to install the foundations for a new pier will also start in the next few weeks. The prefabricated unit is also in storage down river and will be floated up when required.

Antony Oliver

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