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Category: Machines Of Unusual Size

Raising The Cheonan

Salvaging the South Korean corvette “Cheonan” is old news now that the US has a major ecological disaster to contend with (the Deepwater Horizon oil spill), but these AP photos of the bow section of the Cheonan being raised are pretty amazing. It’s hard to believe a world that has the technology to grab a sunken battleship off the seafloor after a few short days can’t plug an itty bitty mile-deep runaway oil well any faster.

Wreck of the Selendang Ayu, Alaska

The Selendang Ayu disaster caught my attention as the wreck happened almost two years ago. The Coast Guard photos are phenomenal, with the developing tragedy pictured against the Alaskan winter. Click the photos below to see them full-size.

wreck of the Selendang Ayu
Dec. 8, 2004: still in one piece with Unalaska Island looming, before the anchor lines parted

wreck of the Selendang Ayu
Dec 9, 2004: bow & stern sections of the Selendang Ayu after it broke in half

wreck of the Selendang Ayu
Dec. 11, 2004: stern section takes a beating

wreck of the Selendang Ayu
Jan. 4, 2005: things are not looking good for the bow section

wreck of the Selendang Ayu
Feb. 1, 2005: last view of the bow section. 8 days later, it completely submerges. The stern section remained grounded & visible above water until October 24, 2005.

“For nearly two weeks the Malaysian-flagged freighter Selendang Ayu had been struggling through deteriorating weather to carry a load of soybeans from Seattle to Xiamen, China. Day in and day out, the crew of 26 rode the seven-year-old, 738-ft. ship like a roller coaster, lurching through gale-force winds, snow and 15-ft. seas.

The Bering Sea during winter is one of the most treacherous bodies of water in the world. Conditions change from fair to ferocious in an instant, and winds can rage in excess of 140 mph. Each year, thousands of ships test the sea’s temperament as they follow a major shipping lane along the Alaskan coast and through the Aleutian Islands. The route, connecting North America and Asia, is perilous on the best of days. Add a fierce storm and a run of bad luck, and it can become deadly.”

What Went Wrong: Wreck of the Selendang Ayu »
by Jeff Wise, Popular Mechanics, May 2005

Unified Command: M/V Selendang Ayu photos »

Falkirk Wheel rotating boat lift, Scotland

Falkirk Wheel, ScotlandPutting ordinary canal locks everywhere to shame, the Falkirk Wheel is a rotating boat lift in Falkirk, Scotland, & is a rather facinating example of Archimedes’ principle. More large-scale public works projects should be constructed with as much artistic vision as the Falkirk Wheel.

“…Despite its enormous mass, it rotates through 180° in less than four minutes while using very little power. It takes just 22.5 kilowatts (kW) to power the electric motors, which consume just 1.5 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy in four minutes, roughly the same as boiling eight kettles of water. The wheel is the only rotating boat lift of its kind in the world, and is regarded as an engineering landmark for Scotland.”

The Falkirk Wheel is constructed in the shape of a Celtic-inspired double-headed axe, & uses a planetary gear system to keep the 80,000 gallon caissons level.

Wikipedia: Falkirk Wheel »

Strépy-Thieu boat lift » .. another neat boat lift in Belgium, the tallest in the world.

Bagger 288 bucket-wheel excavator, Germany

Bagger 288 bucket wheel excavatorI assumed NASA’s Crawler-Transporter was the largest tracked vehicle in the world.. but no! Years ago, German engineers developed something much, MUCH larger, in every sense of the word. The Bagger 288 is a bucket-wheel excavator mobile strip mining machine. It is the largest tracked vehicle in the world at 13,500 tons — in comparison, the Crawler-Transporter weighs a measily 2,700 tons.

There is something I find facinating about large machines. It’s unfortunate this particular machine’s primary purpose is strip mining. Incidentally, the bucket-wheel excavator & its devastating effect on landscape can be easily seen in Google Maps satellite photos. The power supply required for operation is the same as for a small city. The Bagger 288 was the inspiration behind my blog category, Machines Of Unusual Size — yes, M.O.U.S.’s. Watch out for them. Fire swamps have large coal deposits, no doubt.

Wikipedia: Bagger 288 »

more Bagger 288 photos »

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