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The components
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The componentsThe frame of the EDF Energy London Eye is a huge latticed 'bicycle wheel' structure, with a diameter of 135m which weighs some 1,500 tonnes. It is the only cantilevered structure of its kind in the world and is the only one ever built over water. A cantilevered structure is one that is supported on one side, in this case with A-frame legs.

The central hub rotates on a spindle that is 25m long, and is fixed to the rim by two sets of cables: one holding the rim in place, the other ensuring the hub and rim move together as the wheel turns.

Shipping these components up the river brought its own set of complications. Delivery had to be carefully timed to co-ordinate with the tides, so that the large parts could be safely negotiated under London's bridges. Southwark Bridge was the tightest squeeze, with clearance reaching as little as 40 centimetres. One of the world's tallest floating cranes was used to lift the massive quarter sections of the rim onto eight temporary platforms, where they were welded together.

The central spindle of the wheel and the hub (two cast steel rings 4.5 metres in diameter) were held in position on a central platform as the cables were fixed. The radial cables are only 70mm thick and made up of 121 individual strands in six layers. To this scale, a bicycle wheel's spokes would be only 0.33mm thick. They were laid out on a barge, fixed in position and tightened. The great A-frame legs - 58 metres long and straddling 20 metres - are supported by massive foundations and tied back by further cables anchored below Jubilee Gardens.

"The wheel is entirely open and democratic, lighter and airier than any other structure in the land" - Andrew Marr, The Observer, 2000

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